Virtual Learning Collaborative

Creating a community-based knowledge network to support those diagnosed with breast cancer

The Virtual Learning Collaborative (VLC) is an innovative model that leverages telehealth technologies to build capacity for best practice cancer survivorship navigation in underserved communities.  The University of Ilinois Cancer Center VLC brings together survivorship experts and community-based navigators – including patient navigators, community health workers, patient advocates, promotores de salud, health ministries, and others – in a weekly series of lively, interactive 60-minute videoconference sessions.  Each session includes a brief didactic followed by discussion of real-life cases presented by community-based navigators.  The model draws upon both local knowledge of community strengths and barriers and expert knowledge of evidence-based guidelines and practices to support widespread adoption of best practices in local communities.  Studies show it takes an average of 17 years for clinical research to reach community clinical practices.1 The VLC reduces this gap in dissemination of best practices by creating learning communities that support widespread adoption and implementation of evidence-based care. Case-based discussion provides “hands-on” practice and allows participants to apply new knowledge in real world situations.2-5 This learning platform has been demonstrated to be effective in disseminating best practices in cancer care to oncologists, psychotherapists, mental health providers and nurses. The “all teach, all learn” model combines the disease expertise of specialists and the local expertise of community-based providers in bringing culturally competent, state-of-the-art care to patients in their communities.

Join Our Virtual Learning Collaborative

The VLC supports community health workers, patient advocates, patient navigators, health ministries and community-based organizations who provide support, guidance, and resources to individuals in underserved communities who have been diagnosed with cancer.  VLC participants benefit from systematic review of cancer survivorship guidelines and resources, as well as discussions with a community of peers and survivorship experts.  Cancer survivors benefit from trained navigators who have the support and guidance of a strong learning network. Finally, the VLC benefits communities by building a workforce with expertise in cancer survivorship that supports cancer survivors to:

  • Evidence-based understanding of the physical effects of cancer and cancer treatment
  • Navigate financial toxicity, insurance, and finances
  • Identify resources to address psycho-social issues at diagnosis, during treatment, and following treatment completion
  • Manage work, leave, and accommodations
  • Recognize the impact of cancer on sex and intimacy
  • Support individuals living with metastatic cancer
  • Empower patients to learn about and enroll in clinical trials
  • Promote navigator self-care and reducing burn-out
  • Identify career development opportunities

Participation in the VLC is designed to be simple and easy. Participants are supported at all stages of the VLC. All participants must make a commitment to active participation for the full 14-week series.  Participants must have direct patient/client experience.  Each participant will be required to present one de-identified client case for discussion.  Case presentations use a clear and easy-to-use form and the VLC staff support and coach people through this process! Participants who 1) attend at least 75% of the series, 2) complete a case presentation, and 3) complete evaluation surveys will be awarded a certificate of completion.

For more information or register for an upcoming series, please contact Talia at talia@uic.edu.