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Spring 2023 News


Letter from the Editor

Rusty Crawford, BPharm (Ret.)

Greeting AVAHO members and supporters:

In this edition of the AVAHO newsletter I hope that you notice the dramatic increase in educational offerings that AVAHO is bringing to you it’s members!  For years we have wanted to move beyond being just a “once a year annual meeting” organization and have a more year-round approach to the organization, and in particular the specific educational needs of our members.

MARK your calendars, for the first time AVAHO will be sponsoring and offering THREE “regional conferences” to be held exclusively for AVAHO members that addresses some of the major issues VA oncology is dealing with in 2023.  In March a symposium was conducted in Nashville discussing CAR-T therapy in the VA, on May 6 one is scheduled in Indianapolis on the VA LPOP program and lung cancer in the VA, and in July in Seattle we will focus on female malignancies (non-breast) and their management within the VA.  These programs have all been developed between the AVAHO education committee and AVAHO members providing care in the field, and we believe the information and skills you learn will translate into improved understanding and patient care being provided to the veteran.  Keep an eye on the AVAHO website for announcements and registration information for these educational offerings being sponsored through AVAHO.

You will also notice a piece regarding the newly formulated AVAHO Advocacy Committee, and its day spent “on the hill” in Washington D.C.  The goal of this committee is to have a voice in Washington D.C. on issues related to veterans and cancer care, and I am excited to see this committee get off the ground!

Finally, none of these changes would occur without the commitment and contributions of our volunteer committee members, who listen to memberships needs and continue to strive to make AVAHO THE organization for VA employees involved in cancer care to belong to.  If you are interested in helping form the future of AVAHO, please see the article on membership engagement to determine which of these opportunities you may be best suited for.

Remember:  An organization is only as good as the input and contributions from its members, we need and want you to be involved in AVAHO and its growth for years to come.



Letter from the President

Janice Schwartz, MSN, RN, OCN

It’s a wrap!  AVAHO’s first Regional Meeting has come to a close!  Dr. David Eplin and his dream team of CAR-T Subject Matter Experts provided an amazing comprehensive CME program. They sure placed the bar high for future programing expectations!  It goes without saying, each
speaker expressed passion and enthusiasm for their role in caring for Veterans and sharing in their journey.  Unfortunately, we were not able to record the sessions.  However, we will share the slide content and the previously recorded segments on the website soon.

This year seems to be passing by so quickly!  Here it is March already.  Before you know it, we will be meeting again to learn, grown, and share ideas at the Annual Meeting!  The program committee has been diligently working to provide another meeting filled with exciting educational content.
Speaking of the Annual Meeting, several ideas were brought forward by members, and the board has listened!  We recognize the ever-changing learning needs of our members and the added value of having the ability to access information in the palm of our hands.  So, the Board has purchased a new web platform that will provide the ability to maintain a mobile application.  What does this mean for members?  It means you will soon have access to AVAHO news and oncology specific education on your mobile device:  to view content, obtain CE, or provide CE presentations to your colleagues.  While the Annual Meeting provides an opportunity to network over the course of three days, the application will provide a year-round platform for members to connect with subject matter experts and colleagues.

Decreasing the silos that exist between individual VA sites and sharing best practices is one of the most valuable aspects of attending the Annual Meeting.  I am interested to know what processes YOU may have changed or what programs YOU may have implemented because of information you obtained by attending.  Please share those accomplishments with me!
Sharing your story with membership may inspire others to take the lead towards positive change!

Thanks for all you do!


Join us May 6th in Indianapolis! Register soon - space is limited!

Save the date announcement AOCNP for 2023 annual meeting (1)

The Definition of Member Engagement

Broadly speaking, for AVAHO member engagement can be defined as: The process of actively building, nurturing and managing relationships with all segments of the membership to increase membership involvement, real value gained and knowledge obtained to take back to the patient.

The AVAHO Board strongly encourages our members to become more engaged and play an active role in the organization, something more than only being an attendee at a once-a-year annual meeting. It is the Board’s belief that members that are engaged and share their skills with the organization not only benefits AVAHO, but the members career satisfaction and development as well. Within the AVAHO organization there are a wide range of opportunities for a member to volunteer and assist the organization in meeting its goals.

Examples of member engagement include:

Attending association events and conferences (live or web-based)

  • Our current estimate for either annual membership association renewal and/or attending at least one live/virtual event per year exceeds 75%. This is an amazing success rate! But the organization is about much more than just an annual meeting.
  • Membership activities in committee or SIG (special interest groups) groups is ~1.5% of our total membership. Our 3-year goal is for a number in the range of 3-5% member involvement.

Networking with other members

  • Is consistently recognized as one of the greatest strengths of
    AVAHO in terms of members benefits and recognition for value.

Referring or recruiting new members

  • We desire not only new members, but committed and dedicated
    members who wish to be involved in the organization’s
    achievement of goals and missions.
  • We desire to increase membership in areas of specialty that are
    currently underserved (psychology, surgery, dental,
    dermatology, etc.).

Participating in an association committee or SIG group

  • Please review our committee descriptions and decide if
    you have the desire to add yourself to a committee and add to
    the values provided for our members.
  • Volunteering to serve on a committee or be involved with a SIG is an excellent way to get involved and helped make decisions that guide the organization forward.

Volunteer to serve as a mentor for a younger/newer AVAHO

  • The mentee would benefit from working with a seasoned practitioner to gain knowledge, insight, and skill sets to be exceptional in their roles that will further benefit the membership in providing the highest quality of care.
  • One on one “teaming” of an experienced VA oncology cancer
    care provider with a new member to the organization who desires to learn from that experienced practioners' experiences, knowledge and wisdom.
  • This principal could apply to all disciplines represented within the AVAHO organization:
    • Medical oncology
    • Research
    • Palliative care
    • Pharmacology
    • Nutrition support
    • Social work and cancer navigation care
    • Cancer registry and data collection
  • Establish defined goals for the year that are individualized for that mentee that they wish to gain from working with the mentor.
    • A defined and initiated research project to be completed at the end of the mentoring year with an abstract submission for the annual meeting should be an expectation regardless of the area of specialty

Submit an article to either Federal Practitioner or the AVAHO newsletter that highlights Veteran focused cancer care.

  • Federal Practitioner is PubMed recognized and a great resource
    for AVAHO members to publish their work and contributions. Federal Practitioner guidelines for submissions are found here.
  • AVAHO newsletter is published quarterly, and everything related to VA cancer care is “fair game” for submission
  • Contact either Julie Lawson or Rusty Crawford (newsletter editor) at if you have questions or are interested in submitting an article to the newsletter
  • Volunteer to be a content reviewer for Federal Practitioner (contact Julie Lawson at for more information)

Using an association mobile app or website to:

  • Consume valuable content including videos and news feeds
  • Contribute and participate in live discussion forums
  • Interact with sponsors and members
  • Join and manage committees and small groups
  • Register for events
  • Get timely and relevant content pertaining to members' interests
  • Make dues payments
  • Contribute valuable data from polls and surveys

Catalyst Grant Applications now open!

AVAHO is pleased to open applications for the 2023 Catalyst Grant. This $25,000 grant is provided to an AVAHO member in good standing, whose idea meets the following criteria:

Purpose of the Catalyst Grant
Support investigators who conduct studies that aim to:
(1) Improve the care of Veterans with cancer, and/or
(2) Expand Veteran access to cancer clinical trials

Minimum 4/8 ths appointment at a VA medical center
Masters or doctorate degree in a healthcare related area of study
Completed terminal degree or fellowship training within past 10 years

Review Criteria
Application reviews will prioritize proposals that are:
1. Innovative
2. Relevant to Veterans and the VHA
3. Conducted by investigators who have experience with the proposed
4. Collaborative with other investigators in the VA
5. Designed to support the pursuit of future funding
6. Projects for consideration do not need to be IRB approved except in situations where the investigation meets the VHA Handbook definition of “research”.

For more information or questions, please contact Julie Lawson, Executive Director, or click the button below to see the application form. GOOD LUCK to all applicants!

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