GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A group of students training to become dermatologists are working pre-emptively by teaching kids and teens about the causes and dangers of skin cancer.

“I think it’s so great that we’re able to teach them early on because, like we say in our presentations, early prevention really is key,” said Kavya Shivaram, a dermatology student at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

Shivaram and her classmate Christina Druskovich are second-year medical students. When they’re not in class or studying, they’re volunteering their time teaching kids in West Michigan about skin cancer.

“I really wanted to spread the word to high schoolers and some middle schoolers just because it’s something I really wasn’t aware of growing up and I could see working in dermatology the detrimental effects it can take on people,” Druskovich said.

Their lesson is through the Sun Protection Outreach Teaching for Students, or SPOTS, which is completely run by medical students. The Michigan State University College of Human Medicine chapter just started up this year.

“Melanoma can kill 8,000 people per year. Basal cell can take off noses, it can take off ears. So I just really want to like spread the awareness and it’s just something I’m passionate about,” Druskovich said.

There are about 30 volunteer medical students at the MSU campus in Grand Rapids taking the SPOTS lessons into schools. At first, they were reaching out to schools offering their lesson. Now, schools are calling them.

“What we really hope that kids take out of this (is) the importance of this education, not for just themselves, but also for family members and loved ones. We really hope that just by starting in the schools, we can have this message, reach the community as a whole,” Shivaram said.

The hour-long lesson includes information about the ABCDEs of melanoma (an acronym to remember what to look for), the damaging effects of the sun, and the importance of sunscreen. At the end of the lesson, the med students share what it’s like to be in medical school, allowing students to ask questions and showing people of all backgrounds can become medical professionals.

“We’ve educated over a thousand students this year in Traverse City, Detroit, Grand Rapids. We’re just hoping to expand even further. I think the dream would be like every MSU campus. Flint, Marquette, Southfield, like all those areas, too,” Druskovich said.

If you would like the SPOTS volunteers to share a lesson with your class, contact Christina Druskovich at or Kavya Shivaram at