Survivors teaching students, lived experience of gynaecological cancer

Survivors and caregivers are in a unique position to help students understand the lived experience of a gynaecological cancer, including the emotional impact.

ANZGOG Survivors Teaching Students recently met with second year medical students to raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian and gynaecological cancers and provide opportunities for students to learn about the importance of good health communication and compassionate care.

This a very powerful learning experience and one that the students value so highly.


How has the presentation changed the way that you think about ovarian cancer?

  •  “It was really eye opening to hear from past patients about the ups and downs of their health system experience. I realised that a commonality in their experiences was the need for improved communication and empathy from clinicians.” 
  • “Taught me the importance of listening to my patients as they know their bodies best and to investigate and follow up with all their concerns – take a wholistic approach to care.”
  •  “I have always thought of ovarian cancer as a silent cancer that affects women. I have learned more about the risk factor and symptoms.”
  •  “I consider more of the whole experience now, especially the period after treatment and the lasting effects.”


Would you consider this form of experiential learning an effective method of learning more about ovarian cancer or another condition?

  •  “Definitely! This focuses less on the science and introduces the equally important human side of medicine.”
  •  “Definitely. Reading on pathology and learning statistics is good however it is crucial to hear these experiences to highlight that these patients are people with lives.”
  •  “Yes, very effective – especially when you can learn from the failures/positives of other medical professionals.”
  •  “Yes! Listening to people’s stories allow us to have a case to compare and think, I remember this person who had similar symptoms or a similar story, maybe I should consider this.”


What is the ONE most important thing you have learnt today?

  •  “While historically ovarian cancer was said to be asymptomatic it does present with symptoms which if caught early can vastly improve prognosis.”
  •  “I learned how different the symptoms and diagnosis process can look for different some with ovarian cancer, and how each person’s treatment, needs, and supports are unique to them.”
  •  “Listen to patients, listen to their concerns and anxieties, show empathy. It goes a long way.”
  •  “That it is often the period after treatment completion is the most difficult, and offering psychological support and encouraging peer support would be helpful.”

Find out more about the ANZGOG Survivors Teaching Students program.

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MD Teaching