The Council for Tobacco Treatment Training Programs is recognizing programs who excel in meeting the highest training standards in preparing and developing professional Tobacco Treatment Specialists. One program will be chosen each month for the award, and will be highlighted with a citation, as well as recognition on the Council's website.

Program Name: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) Tobacco Treatment Specialist Training Program

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How long has the program been operating?
We have been providing TTS trainings since June 2020. At this point, we are doing Live Virtual Trainings only. In 2022 we expect do be providing in-person and Live Virtual Trainings.

Number of specialists who have completed the program?
Since 6/2020, 80 trainees have completed the program.

What have specialists who have completed your program stated in evaluations?
Trainees appreciated the "good mix of theoretical and practical training" offered by our training and found the roleplay activities to be "especially helpful." They "love the feedback provided by my colleagues, the actors/actresses, [and faculty/facilitators]." Trainees found the training to be "well organized, comprehensive and 'intimate.'" A residency site supervisor did "recommend that the residents have the opportunity to take this training in the future." An overall comment stated that "lectures have been so informative, and the group exercise provided an excellent platform to rehearse our communication with patients."

How do you tailor your program to keep learners engaged with the content and materials?
We routinely collect evaluations from trainees at the conclusion of each training day, as well as for the overall training. Our training program team reviews the data results and feedback in a larger group discussion to immediately implement any feasible improvements. During the training roleplays, trainees have the opportunity to describe clinical situations they may need to practice, so that the scenario is tailored to their experiences.

Describe your program outcomes in one word. Exceptional!

What do TTS participants report gaining from the program?
Trainees enjoy the plethora of practical experiences we offer, from the roleplays with actors playing simulated patients accompanied with faculty/actor feedback to the mock group counseling roleplay. They appreciate the support our team offers to study and prepare for the exam to gain the national NCTTP certificate.

What makes your program stand apart? What is unique about it?
Our training programs' combination of foundational knowledge offered through lectures and experiential roleplays with simulated patients effectively allows new tobacco treatment learners to gain the self-efficacy and practical counseling skills needed to become Tobacco Treatment Specialists. To our knowledge, the MSKCC training program is completely unique and novel, in that we provide training utilizing best practices, theory-based communication skills training (CST) model. This model has been used and developed at MSKCC's Comskil training lab for more than a decade and includes using NYC actors as live-simulated patient actors who are trained to act like typical complex tobacco dependent patients. Learners can develop their unique counseling tailored goals and improve specific skills, conduct counseling with the live simulated patient actors, then receive group feedback from peers and constructive feedback from the simulated patient actors. Learner centered guidance is provided all along by senior faculty.

Is your program accomplishing its intended results?
Thus far, within the one year our training program has been running, we have been effective. A clear majority of trainees who took our rigorous examination, which measured learners' tobacco treatment specific competencies and skills, successfully passed our examination. Trainees that have then gone on to take the exam for NCTTP certification have remarked on how well our program didactics, including our exam, quizzes, and learning activities, prepared them for success.

Name one challenge your program encountered and overcame.
As with other tobacco treatment specialist training programs, we have had to overcome the difficult transition to virtual learning. Due to the interruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, our first training was a virtual experience. We have worked continuously throughout 2020 to ensure that trainees felt that learning activities, such as the roleplays and mock group counseling, felt true to real clinical situations. Our extensive experience with telehealth has helped make training particularly applicable to telehealth tobacco treatment. As a result, trainees have said that our "execution of the virtual media was wonderful" and that "the personalized nature of the interactions in this Zoom based conference are exceptional." We continue to make adaptations to training lectures and learning activities for the virtual format.

What else should we know?
The MSKCC Comskil Lab trains hundreds of oncology providers on best practices in communication skills in working with medical issues involving cancer patients. Additionally, we have a 2-day training program, the Assessment and Treatment of Tobacco Dependence in Cancer Care Workshop. This addresses tobacco dependence specific skills used with cancer patients who also use tobacco products.  Finally, our training programs inform and enrich our clinical and research practices.

Thank you for your continued excellence!