Tina Erhardt witnessed both the heartbreak and the promise of cancer treatment when her father was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2008.
“He had a great response to chemotherapy, and he went into remission for eight months,” Erhardt said. “He went through another round and then the remission was shorter.” Her father received a variety of treatments, and participated in clinical trials, which helped extend his life for four years.
Her father's experiences made Erhardt reassess her own career.
“A light went off in my head and I knew this is what I wanted to do and be a part of,” she said. Erhardt pursued a master’s degree in clinical research administration. She graduated shortly after her father’s death.
“Something clicked. The program I picked was something that I could really sink my heart into,” she said.
Two years ago, Erhardt and Dr. Patrick Cobb asked the St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation to provide startup funding to bring clinical trials to St. Vincent. The foundation agreed.
“Two years afterward, we are moving faster than we ever imagined and have brought more than 35 new state-of-the-art clinical trial opportunities to Billings,” said Erhardt, who is manager of oncology clinical research for St. Vincent and the Frontier Cancer Center. “While there are clinical research programs in Billings and clinical trials have been available in the area for decades, there was still a missing need,” she said.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Keeping my emotions professional. Unfortunately, not all patients have a hallmark story. Some have amazing survival stories and some patients have stories that are literally heartbreaking and devastating. You develop relationships and friendships with patients and some days you witness miracles and others tragedy, keeping the mission and vision in focus is hard someday.
What’s the best business advice you have received? “Honey determine your dream, make a plan and get there… when you get knocked down …get up… and do it again.”
Who gave you that advice? My grandma (she said this to me a dozen times when I was young and I never knew what it meant until the last few years)
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I would like to get involved in more community programs serving children and raise awareness of the number of kids in Montana who are displaced from their homes, hungry and have only the clothes on their backs. Raising this awareness and increasing the amount of people who donate their time or if they don’t have time can donate items to local non-profit organization that support these children. The children are our future and we need to take care of them because they will be the ones taking care of us one day.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: My family and traveling.
Which living person do you most admire? If I could choose any person I admire most, it would be my dad (he is no longer alive though). So, alive, my husband, he’s been my ROCK and biggest supporter in the absence of any other family.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Patient outcomes, if I can affect the outcome of just one person and give one person more time with their friends and family then that is success.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Balancing life’s commitments (mom, wife, professional) and seeing a vision and dream as my grandmother would say come to life.
I’m happiest when I’m…surrounded by my friends and family. I do also like a good Pinterest project and being crafty with my husband.