Professional Oncology Education Classes Online and for All

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Kendra Woods, Ph.D., is not your typical researcher. She refers to herself as a researcher/educator, unable to separate the two labels and perceiving one as vital to the other. Her personal goal throughout her career has been to contribute to the education of those who work to understand and better treat cancer.

It should come as no surprise to discover Woods has championed the development of the recently launched MD Anderson Professional Oncology Education classes, available to anyone with a computer and an Internet browser.

MD Anderson and Woods recognized by providing enduring foundational training to international partners, future fellows and trainees, and anyone else interested in better understanding cancer care prior to physically visiting MD Anderson, each subsequent interaction would be more productive. Not to mention, MD Anderson faculty could provide the same information to a multitude of audiences without ever having to make travel arrangements.

Watching the high-quality films will be important preparation for observers and visitors to MD Anderson, who will arrive with a core of information, thereby enhancing every minute spent on the Houston campus.

The first step in developing the courses was to figure out what defined foundational. 

What did health care professionals need and want to know that would underlie both clinical and research focused professionals? To answer this question, Woods and others at MD Anderson surveyed hundreds of researchers regarding possible topics. 

The MD Anderson group concluded the areas with the broadest appeal that would provide the greatest foundational information were:

  • Introduction to Clinical Oncology
  • Survivorship
  • Breast Cancer
  • Inflammatory Breast Cancer
  • Cancer Pathology
  • Cancer Biology

The Survivorship I course, Breast Cancer course and Inflammatory Breast Cancer course are all available online. Upcoming courses include Survivorship II and Introduction to Clinical Oncology, with the remaining categories to follow over the next year.

Another ideal group of lectures, according to Woods, would be the "Core Curriculum" Lecture Series given to incoming fellows in many departments. Woods' hope for the educational future of MD Anderson is that these courses will become part of a broader, integrated effort to disseminate cancer care information to a larger portion of oncology professionals across the globe.

She envisions the training leading to second tier education in the form of:

  • streaming media
  • webinars
  • off-site conferences
  • Internet case studies
  • onsite conferences
  • textbooks
  • collaborative user groups

"I really see this as educating the next generation of educators and researchers," Woods says. "Sharing this information does not decrease our influence, but increases our ability to further MD Anderson's mission of eradicating cancer. This will accelerate everyone's rate of discovery."

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