Grant Funds Cancer Care Education

Karen Sussman

NorthShore patient Karen Sussman

Breast cancer patient Karen Sussman chose NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore) for her cancer journey because of the world-class care she would receive in her local community. After she finished treatment, she said it was a welcome and unexpected benefit to become part of a cancer survivorship program that helped her transition back to her new life.

Now she’s hoping an educational program being launched at NorthShore, aimed at internal medicine and family medicine residents, will give emerging healthcare professionals the knowledge they will need to care for cancer survivors: much-needed skills not typically taught in medical school.

“It’s so important for primary care doctors to understand our concerns, learn about medications’ side effects and just help coordinate our care after we’ve completed treatment and transition back to the new normal,” said Sussman, a member of the NorthShore Oncology Patient Advisory Board. About to celebrate her five year survivor mark, Sussman is one of 12 million Americans living with cancer, a wonderful milestone that puts new demands on primary caregivers. 

Funded by a grant from The Coleman Foundation and designed by Carol Rosenberg, MD, FACP, and Director and Founder of NorthShore’s LIFE (Living in the Future) Cancer Survivorship Program, the new survivorship curriculum will assist training physicians to develop skills necessary to care for the ever-growing cancer survivor population in their future practices.

“Once physicians go into practice they will need to know how to manage persistent problems, optimize health and decrease the risk for late effects of treatment in their cancer survivor patients,” said Dr. Rosenberg. The “Introduction to Cancer Survivorship” curriculum for University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine medical students and residents at NorthShore is slated to begin in May.

Jennie Kwon, DO, and a third year resident at NorthShore who shadowed Dr. Rosenberg to learn about the LIFE Program for patients, will help coordinate the program for up-and-coming providers.

“We have a new population of patients and most primary care doctors are not in a position to manage their care because they have not been trained,” said Dr. Kwon. “As a young doctor, I want to learn what to look for in cancer patients and be more comfortable with coordinating their future care.”

“NorthShore’s grant request for the new curriculum meshed with our intended impact to support cancer services from diagnosis through end of life,” said Rosa Berardi, Program Officer for The Coleman Foundation. “This curriculum will give healthcare providers the effective tools they need to support cancer survivors while also promoting communication between physicians so that the cancer patient is assisted at every step in their journey,” she said.

 “The Coleman Foundation is making a pioneering move in supporting the curriculum,” said Dr. Rosenberg. “We’re very grateful for their partnership.”

To learn more about the LIFE program, visit northshore.org/mrw.

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