by Maggie Masterson
One facet of our curriculum that I really enjoy is the extracurricular experiences. A big difference between our first and second semester is that we’re getting more involved outside the classroom. It’s been great to interact with people in the local community here in Columbia, SC.
We began attending tumor boards this semester, to get a multidisciplinary perspective on the cancers that we’re learning about in class. It was fascinating to watch the whole healthcare team collaborate on patient care. This experience provided me a new perspective on the cancer treatment process.
Another great learning opportunity was attending and participating in support groups. The first support group I attended was for women with metastatic cancer. Getting to hear the raw thoughts and feelings of these women was an uplifting and educational experience, far beyond what we could cover in the classroom. The most insightful part of the meeting was seeing the positive outlook these women have maintained about their prognosis.
One highlight of my semester was visiting the Epworth Children’s Center, to get hands-on experience interacting with the children there. The setting at Epworth involves an inclusive space for interactions between children who are typically-developing and children with disabilities. We had so much fun playing with all the wonderful (and very cute) kids! It was amazing to see the children learn together and see the benefits of an inclusive classroom.
A unique experience that we get in our program is the chance to visit local families in their homes, and hear about how genetic syndromes have affected their lives. This really opened my eyes to the ways that a genetic diagnosis affects the whole family, not just the patient—as well as how genetic conditions manifest in everyday life. Getting to share these personal and emotional moments with individuals in our communities has been a touching and visceral experience for me.
As we continue to grow in our education, we expand into more diverse and enriching experiences. Here’s to another two semesters of growing and learning outside the classroom!