Students in the School of Nursing at Northern Arizona University now have access to hands-on experience at a premier cancer treatment center in Goodyear, Ariz.

An affiliation agreement is opening the way for NAU undergraduate and graduate students to fulfill degree requirements and gain intensive clinical experience at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Western Regional Medical Center.

“We now have the possibility to offer this to fantastic students who are interested in oncology,” said Debera Thomas, dean of NAU’s School of Nursing.

Thomas pointed to three specific opportunities for NAU students at the Goodyear facility. For senior nursing students, a capstone preceptorship at the cancer center could complete their coursework. Another possibility, Thomas said, is for nurse practitioner students to perform their clinical hours. Finally, a student in the new doctor of nursing practice degree program could conduct a required research project.

“This is a highly specialized place,” Thomas said. “We’re looking for a niche group of students who want a more intensive experience.”

Dee Emon, vice president of Patient Care Services at the cancer center, noted some of the specific experiences that will be available. “We are excited to provide this opportunity to the NAU nursing students and to expose them to our unique, integrated care model,” Emon said. “They will get a breadth of experience through interactions with our multidisciplinary team of experts including medical oncologists, nutritionists, naturopathic physicians, oncology nurses and mind-body therapists.”

Emon said the first NAU student is scheduled to start her internship by the end of March.

Regent Ernest Calderón, a CTCA board member and member of the Arizona Board of Regents, said “I have the highest respect for both organizations and am excited to bring them together to provide the highest-quality of future clinicians for Arizona. I know first-hand the quality and caliber of the clinical team at CTCA and the education staff at Northern Arizona University. There is no doubt this partnership is going to be equally beneficial to both organizations.”

Through this partnership, Thomas also plans to visit the center to give presentations about nursing and higher education to staff.