Penn State Hershey’s first wilderness medicine training prepares emergency doctors

Emergency medicine leaders, faculty, residents, and students participated in wilderness training.

Emergency Medicine leaders, faculty, residents, and students participated in wilderness training.

Identifying poisonous snakes and knotting climbing ropes to form a makeshift litter are not typically taught in medical school.

But emergency medicine doctors need to be creative, flexible and have a broad knowledge base.

That’s why Dr. Jeff Lubin, associate professor of emergency medicine and Life Lion division chief, took emergency medicine residents and medical students out of the emergency department and into the wild.

“It is very applicable,” Lubin said of the first wilderness medicine training offered by Penn State Hershey. “One of the things they need to understand is what happens outside the hospital, because they are going to be receiving those patients.”

Lubin worked with Life Lion flight paramedic and wilderness medicine enthusiast Saul Elertas to design the training at the Boy Scouts of America’s Camp Bashore near Jonestown in Dauphin County.

Dressed in fleece, sweatshirts and hiking boots against an unseasonably cool May morning, Elertas reminded the residents of basic rules about making assumptions, planning ahead and taking care of themselves outdoors.

None were complaining about the assignment.

“This was mandatory, but I would have volunteered anyway,” said Keane McCullum, a first-year medical student who is working as Lubin’s research assistant for the summer.

<< Click here to view photos from the day’s activities. >>

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June 23, 2015 at 7:31 am Leave a comment

Dr. Neal Thomas looks to expand Penn State Hershey’s clinical research in associate dean role

Dr. Neal Thomas

Dr. Neal Thomas

Dr. Neal Thomas has made research his life’s work.

The newly named associate dean for clinical research hopes to help Penn State Hershey’s clinical research mission grow. One reason he is vested in seeing the expansion of clinical research is because he was personally affected by it — twice.

“In 2002, my youngest son was born premature and was given a medicine called surfactant into his lungs to combat lung disease that can happen from prematurity,” Thomas, a professor of pediatrics and public health sciences, said.

Being a researcher involved with surfactant use in older children, and also studying the surfactant genes and their impact on young children with lung disease, he was aware of the early clinical trial literature treating premature lungs. The fact that his son benefited from that early work would strengthen Thomas’s research interest in surfactant for years to come.

“It probably saved his life, but it certainly affected his lungs so that he is completely healthy now,” Thomas said.  ”That wouldn’t have happened if scientists and physicians hadn’t conducted the clinical research to get to that point.”

He personally benefited from clinical research last year after having a heart attack.

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June 15, 2015 at 10:06 am Leave a comment

Dr. Rodrigue Mortel named an Honorary Alumni by Penn State

Dr. Rodrique Mortel

Dr. Rodrique Mortel

Dr. Rodrigue Mortel has received the Penn State Alumni Association’s Honorary Alumni Award. This award recognizes those who are not Penn State graduates but have made significant contributions to the university’s welfare through their commitment and service.

Dr. Mortel joins fewer than 100 people who have earned this distinction since its establishment in 1973.

“I know that only two to four people are selected each year, and that since the award has been set up, only three faculty from the College of Medicine have been recipients of this award,” Mortel said. “I am proud to find myself in a very small circle of distinguished people to be selected from the College of Medicine.”

Mortel served in a number of positions during his 30 years at Penn State Hershey. He was promoted to full professor in 1977, only five years after joining the faculty, and later became the chair of obstetrics and gynecology in 1983.“His leadership at Penn State has been so very instrumental in establishing this Medical Center as one of the premier institutions in the country,” said Dr. Chester Berlin, professor of pediatrics, in a nomination letter for Mortel. “Penn State was so very fortunate in having Dr. Mortel in leadership positions so early in the life of Penn State Hershey.”

Added Dr. A. Craig Hillemeier, dean, Penn State College of Medicine, CEO, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Health System and senior vice president for health affairs, Penn State, “Dr. Mortel’s prolific efforts over the years have supported the growth and reputation of Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. By helping train aspiring physicians and conducting groundbreaking research in our labs, Dr. Mortel deserves to be recognized for his service to Penn State.”

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June 8, 2015 at 11:19 am Leave a comment

Advances in women’s health highlight of research day at Penn State Hershey

In 1977 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned women “of child-bearing potential” from participating in clinical trials. This was in part due to thousands of children worldwide being born with missing and malformed limbs after their mothers had taken thalidomide — often prescribed in the 1950s for nausea and as a sleep aid.

A decade and a half later, in 1993, the FDA lifted this ban after Congress passed the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act. However, as Alina Salganicoff noted in her keynote address at Penn State’s 2015 Women’s Health Research Day on April 28, women are still poorly represented in research and clinical trials.

Women’s Health Research Day was held at the Penn State College of Medicine campus for the second year in a row and researchers from both the Hershey and University Park campuses attended. Due to the number of applications this year, two more research presentation slots and 11 more poster presentations were added.

Poster presentations featured the work of faculty members, residents, graduate students and medical students. The researchers’ fields of expertise ranged from obstetrics and gynecology to kinesiology to public health sciences, and seemingly everywhere in between, covering a vast array of women’s health topics.

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June 2, 2015 at 8:16 am Leave a comment

Newborn weight tool created through Children’s Miracle Network support

http://www.pennstatehershey.org/findaprovider/provider/932

Dr. Ian Paul (’98), a professor of pediatrics and public health sciences at Penn State College of Medicine and a pediatrician at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, developed NeWT, an online tool to advise health care providers on newborn weight. The project was supported by the Children’s Miracle Network.

Dr. Ian Paul knows the importance of Children’s Miracle Network first hand. Through its funding, he helped create a tool for health care providers to determine whether a breastfed newborn is losing too much weight during the first few days of life.

A third of Children’s Miracle Network annual funding is used for pediatric research like Paul’s. Donations to Children’s Miracle Network through events like this weekend’s Telethon on WGAL-TV 8, help purchase equipment like giraffe omnibeds, a pediatric ambulance and a heart-lung bypass machine. Funds also support vital patient programs like Child Life.

As an academic medical center, Penn State Hershey helps improve pediatric care through educating the next generation of providers and through research and development of new technologies. The first of its kind Newborn Weight Tool, or NeWT, is one example of that.

“Funding from Children’s Miracle Network at Penn State Hershey was crucial to allow us to take our research findings regarding newborn weight loss and share them with pediatricians, lactation consultants, nurses, and even parents, around the world,” said Paul, a professor of pediatrics and public health sciences at Penn State College of Medicine and a pediatrician at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. “The funding allowed us to build a website that can be used anywhere on a desktop computer, tablet, or smart phone to help individual babies and their mothers in real time.”

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May 28, 2015 at 7:15 am Leave a comment

Remembering Dr. Jerry Luck

Dr. Jerry C. Luck Jr.

Dr. Jerry C. Luck Jr.

While Dr. Jerry Luck was known for being an excellent clinician, it’s the influence he had on the people around him that is being most remembered.

Luck, a professor of medicine and cardiologist, passed away on Monday, May 18 at the age of 68 after a bike accident in North Carolina.

“Jerry Luck was a great clinician and an even better person,” said Dr. Larry Sinoway, director, Penn State Hershey Heart and Vascular Institute. “So many over the past week have said, in one way or another, that they wished they could be more like him. This, to me, is evidence of his impact and greatness.  It is so very sad when we lose someone so good and so vital.”

Luck joined Penn State Hershey in 1985 as director of cardiac electrophysiology. While he left in 2006 to private practice, he still taught here, and returned as a clinician last year.

Dr. Gerald Naccarelli, chief, Division of Cardiology, knew Luck since 1981, when both were in Texas – Luck as an assistant professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and Naccarelli at his first job at University of Texas Medical School.

“He was an instant favorite of the students, residents and fellows because of his ability to teach them at the highest level,” Naccarelli, who worked closely with Luck as heart rhythm specialists, said.  “Jerry was one of the most caring physicians I have ever known. His patients and staff held in him in the highest regard.  He was my father’s cardiologist before my dad died of cancer. All of us here at Hershey will miss him. “

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May 26, 2015 at 2:43 pm 1 comment

Comics and Medicine: Helping Med Students Form Their Professional Identities

Reading and creating health-themed comics helps medical students transition from laypersons to physicians, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis at Penn State College of Medicine. Researchers found that integrating comics into a medical school humanities program allowed students to reflect on the formation of their professional identities and fostered cognitive and behavioral skills needed to be good doctors.

Comics created by fourth-year medical students.

Comics created by fourth-year medical students.

Comics might not seem like required reading for medical students, but that’s just what’s on the syllabus for a unique course taught at Penn State College of Medicine. The class, called Graphic Storytelling and Medical Narratives, is offered to fourth-year students through the college’s Department of Humanities.

Michael Green, a professor of humanities and medicine, began teaching the month-long course six years ago. To date, 58 medical students have taken his seminar-style elective. The book-length graphic narratives Green selected for reading and discussion include both true and fictional accounts of patients and their loved ones dealing with illness. As the course progresses, his students create their own comic around a formative experience from medical school. Along the way, creative exercises stimulate reflection and help the students refine their drawing and writing skills.

Green’s new analysis, based on student surveys collected since the course began, found that reading and creating comics helps students with practical doctoring skills, such as experiencing more empathy, noticing non-verbal communication and being more aware of how they are seen by patients. He published his results in Academic Medicine.

Students’ comics generally express five themes: how I found my niche, the medical student as patient, reflections on a transformative experience, connecting with a patient and the triumphs and challenges of becoming a doctor.

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May 21, 2015 at 8:30 am 1 comment

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