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Learning From Survivors

Survivors Teaching Students(R): Saving Women’s Lives

Through the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance’s innovative educational program, Survivors Teaching Students(R): Saving Women’s Lives, future healthcare professionals — physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and physician assistants — increase their understanding of ovarian cancer symptoms and risk factors so that they can diagnose the disease when it is in its earlier, treatable stages.

Survivors Teaching Students(R) brings ovarian cancer survivors into medical school classrooms to share their stories and key information about the disease. The program is now in more than 60 medical schools around the country as well as in a number of nurse practitioner, nursing and physician assistant training programs. In Wisconsin the program can be found at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and The Medical College of Wisconsin.

During each free one-hour presentation:

●Several ovarian cancer survivors, many of whom were diagnosed at an advanced stage, tell their stories to illustrate the difficulty of early diagnosis and the resulting extended and recurring treatment, putting a face and voice to the disease.
●Students gain insights into listening to patient concerns and become sensitized to the psychosocial aspects of ovarian cancer as well as the need for early detection.
●Survivors and students directly interact to continue the students’ learning.
Students are surveyed to assess their understanding of the disease and the presentation’s value.


Reaching Medical Students

Betty Reiser, a long-term survivor and facilitator of the program, created the program at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)—New Jersey Medical School in 2002. Shortly afterward, Ovarian Cancer National Alliance’s belief that this program is a vital adjunct to the academic learning process. The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance plans to incorporate this program into every medical school in the United States. Working with our partner member the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance adopted the program. Since then, it has continued to expand and draw interest from medical school faculty across the country.

The medical students’ reactions and written evaluations have been extremely positive and reinforce the organizations and ovarian cancer advocates throughout the country, we are on the way to making this a reality.

Reaching Nurse Practitioner and Nursing Students

In 2005, the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance expanded the Survivors Teaching Students(R) program to nurse practitioner programs through a pilot in New York State with the Department of Health (NYSDOH). The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance extended the program in recognition of the vital role of other health professionals who work in partnership with physicians in delivering primary care.

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance plans to expand this program to nursing schools throughout the United States.

Reaching Physician Assistant Students

In 2006-2007 through a partnership with the NYSDOH, the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance is piloting the program to physician assistant students in New York. The pilot will help shape the resources to support existing Survivors Teaching Students(R) groups and expand presentations to this group of health professionals in training.

Implementing the Program

In Wisconsin in 2006 WOCA began participating in this program. We currently meet with third year medical students at Aurora Sinai Medical Center. Volunteer speakers are needed. Call Jamie Schmidt or Sandi Wagner at 262-797-7804 if you are willing to share your story and help save women’s lives.

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