Design and Success of a 21st Century Cancer Education Program at the University of Louisville
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Cancer incidence, morbidity, and mortality in the Commonwealth of Kentucky are among the highest in the nation. The University of Louisville was the recipient of a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-funded cancer education program grant in 1975 under the leadership of Dr. Norbert Burzynski. A new and totally redesigned performance-based University of Louisville Cancer Education Program was funded by NCI in 2011 to recruit and motivate outstanding undergraduate and health professional students to pursue further training and careers in cancer research. Here, we describe the strategy, design, methods, implementation, and accomplishments of our twenty-first century performance-based cancer education program. Our program will meet or exceed all of its 5-year performance goals, including the total number students (n = 156) and under-represented minorities (n = 53) who successfully completed the program under the mentorship of cancer research-intensive faculty members of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center (JGBCC). The mentored research program is complemented with professional development and enhancement activities, including cancer research seminars presented by faculty members actively engaged in research centered on the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of cancer, creation of individual career development plans, exploration of cancer research careers, and acquisition of professionalism skills. Student interests towards cancer research significantly increased after completion of the program compared to baseline (P = 0.02). Based on quantitative and qualitative analysis of various components of the curricula, the trainees favor practical, engaging, and interactive activities aligned within professional career goals and objectives. For instance, the trainees prefer two 30-min small group discussions on “Navigating Careers in Cancer Research” with faculty, professional students, and program alumni. Future updates to the program include new activities that capitalize on the cross-disciplinary background of our mentors and trainees as well as a team-based approach to professional development. Our cancer education program will continue to enhance the professional development of the next generation of cancer scientists and clinicians.
KeywordsCancer education Cancer research and training Summer research program Distinction in research program
This program is supported by NCI Grant R25-CA134283 and funding from the University of Louisville.
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