IU School of Public Health student creates self-examination curriculum for area schools

Samantha Ginther’s task started out simple: help the Olcott Center for Cancer Education update its breast and testicular cancer self-examination curriculum.

A Master of Public Health student at the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington, Ginther originally set out to simply help the center — which taught a self-examination curriculum in area high schools — update its presentation.

Samantha Ginther

Samantha Ginther

But with the help of her fellow students, professors and a local school corporation, Ginther, who has since graduated and works for My Public Health Direct at IU, was able to create a completely new curriculum that teachers could utilize on their own.

“Due to a lack of resources, the Olcott Center realized it was no longer able to provide the curriculum to schools in the area,” Ginther said. “So we all worked together to develop a comprehensive, completely digital curriculum that teachers can deliver in their classrooms.”

The project began in the spring and continued throughout the summer and into the fall semester. Students from the School of Public Health-Bloomington, the School of Nursing and the School of Education all worked on the project, along with representatives from the Olcott Center and the Monroe County Community School Corp.

The end result is an online, interactive curriculum called “Check It Out” that teachers can access at any time to teach students about breast and testicular self-examinations, a requirement by the state.

“The online program is an innovative option for high school teachers teaching the self-exam curriculum,” said Lisa Petscher, manager of coordinated school health for IU Health Bloomington. “The teachers now have the flexibility to teach the class as a whole or assign the course to the students individually. Students are able to complete the course on their own pace and have immediate access to reliable, credible resources they may need if questions arise.”

The curriculum aims to increase high school students’ knowledge of breast and testicular cancer, create a positive attitude toward self-examination, increase overall practice of self-examination and increase student engagement in preventative self-care. Breast cancer is the No. 1 diagnosed cancer in women and testicular cancer is the No. 1 occurring cancer among males 20 to 35 years of age.

Check It Out

“Check It Out” provides teachers the tools to teach breast and testicular self-examination curriculum.

The one-hour curriculum features the basics of cancer, cancer myths, facts and statistics, risk factors, early detection and treatment, risk minimization and self-examanition practice.

In addition to creating the online module, Master of Public Health students and IU School of Nursing students will be available in the spring to answer students’ questions when they are taught the curriculum.

“This was a great opportunity for our students,” said Lesa Huber, clinical associate professor of applied health in the School of Public Health-Bloomington. “It gave students a chance to do something that helps the community, and it showed students what is needed in the community.”

Not only did Ginther provide local educators with a valuable tool, the experience also provided her with an invaluable hands-on experience.

“The most rewarding part, for me, was knowing my work was going to be able to help people,” Ginther said. “This work will help students realize the importance of self-exams, of being aware of their bodies and thinking about prevention.”

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