Past CCQTP Student Profiles

jacobs_sara_hpmfellow2

Photo Credit: Devin Hubbard

 

Name: Sara Jacobs
Pre-Doctoral

Educational Background:
Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University

Prior Work Experience:
Healthcare policy consulting for Avalere Health, located in Washington, DC.

 


Professional Interests:

Continuing my cancer research, at a yet to be determined location.

Why did you choose UNC’s Cancer Care Quality Training Program (CCQTP)?
CCQTP is a perfect fit for me as it facilitates access to renowned UNC cancer faculty as well as provides generous support for my research studies. The coursework aligns with my research interests and I enjoy sharing ideas and spending time with the other CCQTP trainees.

In one sentence, describe your experience at UNC.
Deciding to complete my PhD at UNC is one of the best professional decisions that I have made!

What has been the most valuable piece of knowledge you have learned in the CCQTP to date?
Through the CCQTP coursework I have learned how to be a better researcher. I have not only learned how to conceptualize a unique and interesting research topic, but I have also learned how to put together a strong proposal.

Why does the CCQTP format work for you?
There is enough structure so I do not feel like I have to complete my dissertation research alone, but enough flexibility so I can focus on what is most interesting to me. There is a tremendous amount of support from both faculty and staff.

Describe a typical term.
Each term has been very different. It depends on if you need to take any of the required courses. I had completed the courses before beginning CCQTP, so most of my terms have been focused on completing my dissertation as well as pursuing my other research interests.

What do you like best about the CCQTP?
There is a great sense of comradery in the program, among both faculty and trainees. I also like the flexibility of the program and the ability to focus on what interests me the most.

Describe the interaction you have with the faculty in the CCQTP.
My interactions with faculty have been very positive. The faculty has been more than willing to help with anything that I need. My mentoring team is supportive of my dissertation research and working with them has been extremely easy. I have found that faculty are willing to work together to get the best results.

How do you manage your time—work/family/school balance?
CCQTP allows for maximum flexibility. I complete a lot of my work at home, so I am able to work the hours that fit best for me and my family. When I was taking courses I spent most days on campus, working more typical business hours, but now that I am more focused on research I work both at campus and at home.

What is the greatest value added from the CCQTP?
The support and ability to focus on cancer topics that are most interesting to me. Everyone is willing to work with you to customize and make the experience most beneficial to you.

Is there anything you would like to tell a prospective student about the CCQTP?
It has been a great experience. The support and mentorship has allowed me to flourish as a junior researcher and it is an excellent program to start your career!

What are your plans and goals after the CCQTP?  
I am planning to continue my current research on cancer clinical trial enrollment. I am considering either completing a post-doc or going to work at a contract research firm. I am keeping my options open. I know no matter where I go or what I do, CCQTP has positioned me well and has been a great place to start my career.


kohler_racquel_kelly_ccqtp

Photo Credit: Devin Hubbard

Name: Racquel Kelly Kohler
Pre-Doctoral
Expected Graduation:
  May 2015

Educational Background:
BS in Molecular Biology and Microbiology at University of Central Florida
MSPH in Health Policy and Management at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Prior Work Experience:
Pharmaceutical Compliance Research Assistant
Educational Leadership Consultant

Professional Interests:
I am a health services researcher committed to improving cancer care among vulnerable populations, specifically populations in resource-limited settings. My primary research interests include global oncology and cancer outcomes with a focus on breast and cervical cancer prevention and control in Africa.

Why did you choose UNC’s Cancer Care Quality Training Program (CCQTP)?
CCQTP was a good match for me given my research background and interest in cancer. The funding support allows you to focus on your dissertation research without an additional research assistantship. The program allows you to take interesting courses, but also stay on track to graduate in a timely fashion.

In one sentence, describe your experience at UNC.
The Carolina community feels like your extended family – I have been fortunate to spend the last six years in Health Policy and Management (working towards multiple degrees) – the students, faculty, and staff challenge you to do your best, support you through bumps in the road, and aren’t afraid to have fun!

What has been the most valuable piece of knowledge you have learned in the CCQTP to date?
The flexibility of CCQTP allowed me to design and implement a study collecting primary data in sub-Saharan Africa. I have learned a lot about protocol development, project management, and the challenges of conducting research in a foreign country. These skills have helped me become a better investigator as I move forward with my research career.

Why does the CCQTP format work for you?
There is enough structure so I do not feel like I have to complete my dissertation research alone, but enough flexibility so I can focus on what is most interesting to me. There is a tremendous amount of support from both faculty and staff.

Describe a typical term.
I completed the CCQTP courses early, so I was able to spend a year in Malawi collecting primary data for my dissertation research. Instead of face-to-face meetings with my mentors, I email them updates and have Skype calls regularly. I virtually attend weekly seminars and can watch recorded presentations from guest speakers online.

What do you like best about the CCQTP?
CCQTP immediately connects you with cancer researchers from different disciplines across UNC and the Triangle. Through coursework, seminars, and conferences we get to interact with experts in different cancer topic areas and research methods. The program also provides the opportunity to gain exposure to various clinical settings through tumor boards meetings and shadowing.

Describe the interaction you have with the faculty in the CCQTP.
I have enrolled in numerous seminars with CCQTP faculty. They also regularly attend Cancer Outcomes breakfast meetings, which allows additional networking outside of the classroom. Multiple CCQTP faculty are on my dissertation committee and meet with me regularly to discuss my study’s progress.

How do you manage your time—work/family/school balance?
I think it is important to enjoy one day of rest each week. I try to work diligently throughout the week, so I can take time off to spend the weekend with my family and friends. As students, we tend to go! go! go! constantly working on homework assignments, preparing for the next exam, or completing a task for your research assistantship. But it is important to remember that you are more than just a student and you need to slow down and take some time for yourself. I also clear my head by practicing yoga, biking the American Tobacco Trail, and going on long walks with my dog. Plus there are plenty of great restaurants and coffee shops around the Triangle where you can nosh on some food, sip your coffee, and send a few work/school emails.

What is the greatest value added from the CCQTP?
The support and encouragement from faculty to pursue research projects you are interested in – even if they break the norm and might be challenging.

Is there anything you would like to tell a prospective student about the CCQTP?
This is a wonderful opportunity to focus on your preferred angle of cancer care research, and the faculty will help you accomplish your goals.

What are your plans and goals after the CCQTP?
I am interested in academic research positions in global health and cancer care. I plan to continue conducting research related to global oncology by evaluating treatment and prevention strategies in low- and middle-income countries to help provide local evidence for decision makers that will build momentum to improve cancer care quality in lesser developed regions of the world.


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