The Stem Cell Club: educating medical and nursing students to develop professional skills

Patients with blood cancers may require a stem cell transplant as part of their treatment. However, 70% of patients do not have a suitable match in their family, and must find an unrelated donor. Canada’s stem cell donor-database is used to match potential donors to patients. Individuals age 17-35 can register to join this database at stem cell drives, where they swab their cheeks to provide a tissue sample for DNA-typing. Finding a match for transplant is difficult: currently, over 500 Canadians cannot find a match. In 2011, we founded The Stem Cell Club, aiming to strengthen Canada’s stem cell donor-database. To date, we have coordinated dozens of stem cell drives at campuses across Canada and recruited over 4400 potential stem cell donors (representing over 1% of all donors on Canada’s current donor-database). Our club trains medical and nursing students to advocate for patients in need of stem cell transplant, and to develop leadership and teamwork skills. We instruct them to secure informed consent and to identify and correct medical errors. This year, we will launch Stem Cell Clubs at five additional medical schools. We will also develop online tools to improve our volunteer and club leader training program.
Principal Investigator / Supervisor
University of Toronto
BloodTechNet Award Program
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