Six Minot State University students in a cancer biology class got a firsthand look this semester at how cancer is treated during a pilot partnership between Trinity Health and Minot State University.
"It helps us apply what we've learned," said senior biology major Amber Kroke, who hopes to become a dentist.
Kroke and her classmates in biology professor Heidi Super's class traveled once a week to Trinity's CancerCare Center since mid-September and observed cancer drugs being mixed in the pharmacy, witnessed cancer treatments, and saw how radiation therapy is planned and delivered. Super said students heard about the use of certain targeted cancer therapies based on genes from Dr. Kevin Collins, medical director of the CancerCare Center, the same week Super had discussed them in class. Collins said he also spoke with students about the importance of early cancer detection and how there are more options for treatment when an early diagnosis is made.
Heidi Super, who teaches the cancer biology class at Minot State University, and Dr. Kevin Collins, medical director of Trinity Health’s CancerCare Center, speak Friday with students in the class about their experiences observing cancer care specialists this semester.
Collins said he remembered taking a class on chemistry and cancer as an undergraduate and enjoyed having the opportunity to work with this class. He hopes it will be the first of other collaborations between Minot State University and the center and that the model could be used for other classes. When this class is offered again, Collins said he would like to include input from a cancer survivor, so students can hear about the experiences of cancer patients as well as observe treatment and the work of specialists. Students didn't have a chance to speak with cancer patients in this class, but all cancer patients they saw receiving treatment had consented and students agreed to exercise confidentiality and their presence in the CancerCare Center was approved prior to their participation.
Collins said Trinity already educates people training for medical careers, so expanding the program to include undergradutes was a natural fit. Collins and Super said they also also envision a pre-professionals club for future medical professionals. MSU has clubs for biology majors and other majors, but not for people who are pre-med, said Super. Super said Minot State emphasizes providing research experiences for undergraduates, so this particular partnership with Trinity CancerCare is a good fit. The biology majors in the class have different careers in mind, from Kroke's dentistry to veterinary medicine to scientific illustration to high school biology teaching. Kroke, who said she will likely see oral cancer or tumors in her future career, said it was an advantage for undergraduates to see work in the field.
Kroke said students will be sponsoring a dodgeball tournament Nov. 30 at MSU's Swain Hall. Proceeds from the tournament will go to help pay for travel and medication expenses for local cancer patients. For more information, e-mail
Kroke at firstname.lastname@example.org.