Posts filed under ‘Alumni’
Photos are now available on the Penn State Hershey flickr feed of the 45th Commencement of Penn State College of Medicine.
Last week, Penn State Medicine connected with three College of Medicine students to discuss Match Day, the day graduating medical students learn what residency programs they will attend. In this video, Carina Brown, Timothy Brown, and Jon-Ryan Burris talk about Match Day, their time at Penn State Hershey and say where they have matched to:
Today, 120 fourth-year medical students at Penn State College of Medicine learned where they will spend their residencies in an annual tradition known as Match Day. A similar scene played out with fourth-year students at medical schools across the country.
The event for Penn State’s medical school, which took place at the Hershey Country Club, included a countdown to the moment when students eagerly ripped open the envelopes that held their futures. The moment was marked by cheers, hugs and tears.
This is the culmination of a process that began months ago as students visited and evaluated residency programs – and the programs evaluated them. Today, each student learned whether he or she was successfully ‘matched’ with the residency program of their choice.
Thirty percent of the College of Medicine graduates accepting residency appointments within Pennsylvania, with half of those staying at Penn State Hershey. The rest of the students are headed for programs across the country. Of all the graduates, 38 percent accepted residencies in primary care.
Editor’s Note: Match Day pictures, videos, and match lists will be published on Penn State Medicine after the Match Day ceremony on Friday, March 20.
Four years ago, they walked across the stage at Hershey Lodge and Convention Center to receive their white coats, marking their entry into medical school and their time at Penn State College of Medicine. One by one they stepped to the microphone, said their name, hometown and school, and walked over to wear, for the first time, their shortened white doctor coats to identify them as medical students.
This Friday, the College of Medicine Class of 2015 will once again mark a milestone as its members prepare for the next phase of their careers: residency. At noon on Friday, the class members will rip open envelopes that reveal their residency destinations in an annual ritual called Match Day.
Fourth-year medical students began the residency assignment process months ago by researching, visiting and interviewing with directors of residency programs that interest them. In February, students and other applicants filed their rank-order lists of residency programs of interest. Medical program directors also filed their rank-order lists of applicants. The National Resident Matching Program, a private, not-for-profit corporation established in 1952, completes the match.
Penn State Medicine caught up with three students – Timothy Brown, Carina Brown, and Jon-Ryan Burris – shown as incoming students in a video of the 2011 White Coat Ceremony (view here), to see what they remember of that day, and how they feel as Match Day approaches.
Editor’s Note: March is Child Life Awareness Month. Penn State Hershey thanks its Child Life team for the work they do every day with our youngest patients. This story is a look at what the child life specialists add to the Penn State Hershey experience and how our patients appreciate their involvement in their care. View the “A day in Child Life” photo album.
Hospitals can be scary places for children.
Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital has a team of certified child life specialists (CCLSs) who help children feel comfortable and safe—to help them understand that the doctors and nurses want to help them get better.
While their days may seem filled with toys, games and a whole lot of Playdoh, the role of a child life specialist is so much more.
“Child life addresses the psycho-social, emotional, and developmental needs of pediatric patients and families in any kind of health care setting,” said Ashley Kane, Child Life manager.
Child life specialists are constantly on the go and reprioritizing when things do not go as planned. A day in Child Life looks something like this:
Surgical child life specialist Kate Denlinger arrives in the Children’s Hospital pre-op unit to prepare young patients for surgical procedures. “Kids come to the hospital for surgery for really simple things and things that are life changing like spinal fusions or open heart surgeries,” she says. “I try to make the hospital as normal as I can, and I try to familiarize them with all of the things they are about to see.
“There’s a lot of research that says if kids know what they’re about to experience, they’re more willing to participate in their care than they are to have things done to them,” she says.
Among her patients today is 5-year-old Kaitlyn Teeter, who relies on regular surgical procedures to help with breathing and allow her to eat properly.
“She’s really special in the sense that this is like her second home and she knows all of us,” Kate says.
Editor’s Note: Penn State’s THON Weekend is Feb. 20-22. Students will dance for 46-hours to support pediatric cancer patients. To date, $114 million has been raised and donated to Four Diamonds, a foundation that supports the families of pediatric patients at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, and the cancer research done here. For more information on THON, or to watch the activities live, visit THON.org. For more information on Four Diamonds, visit FourDiamonds.org.
When Dr. Valerie Brown was hired as clinical director of the experimental therapeutics program in the Division of Pediatric Oncology/Hematology at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, she had a vision: Develop a menu of experimental cancer treatment options not available in the region.
Through funding from Four Diamonds, her vision is becoming a reality, helping young cancer patients find alternatives when standard care isn’t enough.
Experimental therapeutics are typically phase 1 and 2 clinical trials. In phase 1 trials, researchers are looking for toxicity in the therapies. In phase 2 trials, the effectiveness of the therapies on specific cancer types is studied before testing in bigger studies.
“I really hit the ground running, and one of the things we needed to do was expand the portfolio because you don’t want to compete with other academic medical centers,” Brown said. “You want to offer things not offered at other places and be able to offer a variety of different studies for a large spectrum of cancer types.”
To help with that goal, Penn State Hershey joined several consortiums including the Neuroblastoma and Medulloblastoma Translational Research Consortium. The consortiums bring together several institutions all sharing the same goal by working together cooperatively, opening up access to a variety of clinical trials.
Brown has seen how the approach is working.
In one case, a child had neuroblastoma in remission and was set to participate in a study to keep the cancer in remission, called maintenance therapy. But as scans and imaging were completed, it was discovered that she relapsed and the cancer had returned.
“That meant she wasn’t eligible for the maintenance therapy study,” Brown said. “But instead of having to turn that child away with her disappointed mom, devastated with news that the neuroblastoma had returned, we had another protocol that is a treatment for relapsed neuroblastoma. If we didn’t have that portfolio of clinical studies ready, she would have had to leave and go somewhere else.”
In this case, the study is a personalized – or precision – medicine study. The tumor’s DNA and RNA are extracted from a piece of the tumor and are analyzed and compared against normal tissues in the body and other cancer type cells.
“Therapies are based on how the same tumor types typically react to treatment,” Brown said. “But each tumor is individual, and if the person has relapsed, we already know it isn’t reacting like a typical tumor. By analyzing the patient’s individual tumor, we try to find out what differences are making it react differently, and then we decide what we think will be the best difference to target for treatment.”
These results are then compared and prioritized by a computer program against a panel of about 200 agents – some of which are alternative like the spice curcumin, which is known to be active against cancers.
Those reports are then sent to primary investigators at the centers across the country that participate in the consortium. People are assigned to review the case and come up with a treatment plan based upon these reports, which is then discussed virtually through a tumor board.
“That day, as badly as I felt for that poor mom and child because she relapsed, I turned to our medical director and I said, ‘this is why we set up our program like we have. This is the vision we had, and it is benefitting our patients,’” Brown said.
Including studies in the Children’s Oncology Group, there are currently up to 40 trials available, with around 10 being early phase trials. Patients have travelled from nearby states to participate in the studies.
“People are coming from other states because the treatment options are not available there,” Brown said. “By word of mouth, and on social media from the parents, people have recognized that we are offering things that nobody is offering nearby.”
She continues to look for opportunities to connect Penn State Hershey doctors and scientists with peers at other institutions. She also actively looks for opportunities to move Penn State Hershey research in the laboratories into clinical trials through the consortiums.
“These parents are coming to us and are really at the end of the rope for their children,” Brown said. “You could offer, ‘I read a paper and they tried this and maybe…’ but the science side of me just can’t let that happen. We have to do this in a systematic way because we really want to make sure what we treat our children with is effective and not hurting them more. That can only be done in the context of studies and trials.”
All of this would not be possible without the support of Four Diamonds and the Penn State students who work hard throughout the year raising funds through THON.
“It takes time. It takes money. It takes resources,” Brown said. “Luckily I have a lot of those things here that I didn’t have at other places. Without the Four Diamonds’ backing, and its recognition of the importance of having an early phase program, none of this could happen and I wouldn’t be here. The money, in my opinion, has been well spent because even if these children don’t have the outcomes we want, we are contributing to the wealth of knowledge, and hopefully pushing it along so that the next child who walks through the door won’t have to go through a relapse or undergo such intense treatments.”
During this season of thanks, and in honor of National Philanthropy Day (officially celebrated on Nov. 15), Penn State College of Medicine recognizes a group of individuals who have affected the institution in countless ways—our alumni.
Since the first medical class graduated from the College of Medicine in 1971, alumni have been making important contributions to advance scientific inquiry and shape the practice of healthcare. They have:
Pioneered advances in artificial heart technology, cancer care and treatment, primary care practice, pediatric cardiac care and neonatology;
Practiced medicine in rural communities, major metropolitan areas and developing nations around the world; and
Published their research in the most prestigious scientific journals and have been recognized among the Best Doctors in America.
However, our distinguished alumni do not just pay it forward for the communities they serve, they also give back to inspire, mentor and support current students—learners who want to follow in their predecessors’ footsteps but also forge their own unique paths. (more…)