Rein in Sarcoma began the sarcoma scholars in the in the 2009-2010 academic year with one scholar. The number and quality of the applications increased the second year and we awarded two scholarships. In 2013 the interview committee indicated that they had three candidates that they couldn’t choose between and the board granted three scholarships. To date we have had nearly 40 scholars between the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic Medical Schools. Five scholarships are now awarded annually.
Rein in Sarcoma awards these scholarships each year thanks to a generous donation by Jan and Tim Maudlin. The program is managed for RIS by emeritus board member Katheryn Dusenbery, MD, Chair of the Department of Therapeutic Radiology-Radiation Oncology at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Scott Okuno, current board member, supervises the Mayo Clinic scholars.
The Sarcoma Scholars are involved in the following educational opportunities during their year with Rein in Sarcoma:
- UMN scholars attend the regular Thursday morning meetings of the University of MN Sarcoma Team.
- Arrange and publicize a lunch or dinner lecture on Sarcoma for second year medical students at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and Duluth, and at the Mayo Clinic Medical School.
- Opportunity to participate in research with UMN sarcoma researchers.
- Help with RIS projects such as gatherings, Sarcoma Corner at the Party in the Park and the RIS Fall Fundraiser, in order to meet and interact with sarcoma patients and survivors, families, and the larger RIS community.
- Invited to submit other ideas to educate the medical community and the public about sarcoma. The scholars work with the RIS Red Flags Education Committee to implement these projects.
As an example, scholars conceived and produced our video “From never heard of it, to We Caught it early.” The video is on RIS’ YouTube channel, and has been shown by other sarcoma organizations around the country.
In recent years, Sarcoma Scholars worked with the Red Flags Committee and Dr. Jon Halberg to produce a Hippocrates Café Production using sarcoma stories from our patients, survivors and families. They worked with Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota on educational initiatives to referring doctors around the state, and published articles on specific sarcoma sub-types on the RIS website.
Scholars have also conducted surveys of both the public and medical professionals regarding their knowledge of sarcoma cancers. These surveys have been used with hundreds of medical professionals and over 1,500 people attending the Minnesota State Fair.
The sarcoma scholars have been a cornerstone of our educational efforts as they work to educate other students and the public during their scholarship year. Perhaps more importantly, they carry the information about sarcoma with them as they practice medicine, to fellow doctors, and to patients presenting with sarcoma symptoms. Our belief is that the investment we make in our scholars will bring benefits to patients for years to come.