Posts filed under ‘Features’

Shapiro, Saunders appointed to leadership roles at Penn State Hershey

Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center has elevated two faculty members to key leadership positions: Dr. Dan Shapiro will serve as vice dean for faculty and administrative affairs, and Dr. Erika Saunders has been named chair of the Department of Psychiatry.

Dr. Dan Shapiro

Dr. Dan Shapiro

Shapiro, currently chair of the Department of Humanities, will continue in that role as he also serves in the vice dean position. One of his priorities will be elevating the culture of respect at Penn State Hershey. He will also serve as a liaison between the dean’s office and search committees for department chairs.

Shapiro, the Garner James Cline Professor of Humanities in Medicine, joined Penn State Hershey in 2008. He earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Florida and went on to Harvard Medical School, where he completed an internship and an endowed post-doctoral fellowship. A psychologist, Shapiro’s writings about physician-patient relationships and physician wellness have appeared in the New York Times, the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA and Academic Medicine, as well as on NPR’s All Things Considered and other outlets. He is an award-winning author of three books, has served as a consultant for the television show “Grey’s Anatomy” and has also held two professorships from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

Dr. Erika Saunders

Dr. Erika Saunders

Saunders, who has served as interim psychiatry chair since December, is director of the Mood Disorders Program and an associate professor of psychiatry. She is also an adjunct research investigator with the Department of Psychiatry and Depression Center at the University of Michigan. Saunders came to Penn State Hershey in 2008 as an assistant professor of psychiatry. She received her undergraduate education from the University of Michigan and her medical degree from the University of Iowa. She completed a Howard Hughes Research Fellowship at Beth Israel Hospital and Harvard Medical School and residency training in psychiatry at the University of Michigan, and she was awarded a Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fellowship. Saunders’ work has been recognized nationally, and she has been accepted to speak about her work to the Society of Biological Psychiatry, the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology and the American Psychiatric Association. She is a member of the American College of Psychiatrists and is a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

Saunders is active in medical student and resident education, and was awarded a Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and a Psychiatry Resident’s Teaching Award. She succeeds Dr. Alan Gelenberg, who retired from the organization in December after five years as department chair.

April 21, 2015 at 6:44 am Leave a comment

James Broach and Rongling Wu named Distinguished Professors

Dr. Rongling Wu and Dr. James Broach

Dr. Rongling Wu and Dr. James Broach

Dr. James Broach, professor and chair of biochemistry and molecular biology and Dr. Rongling Wu, director of the Center for Statistical Genetics and professor of public health sciences and statistics, have been named as the 2014-2015 University Distinguished Professors for Penn State College of Medicine.

Broach is a world-renowned scientist whose work has transformed the understanding of genomics and biology. In 2012, Broach was named the inaugural director of the Penn State Hershey Institute for Personalized Medicine because of his significant achievements and his innovative approaches to translational research. Building on a strong foundation, Broach has established Penn State as a national leader in genomics, the next great frontier in medical sciences. He has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1978 and has recruited three bioinformatics faculty who are sought after nationally. In addition to his research, he maintains an extraordinarily high level of activity in teaching and mentoring students. His passion for science education and for encouraging young people to pursue careers in the sciences is immediately apparent to anyone who meets him. Click here to read more about Dr. Broach’s career.

Wu is a statistical geneticist and prolific research whose interests focus on establishing statistical tools for solving problems in genetics and genomics. His scientific contributions include pioneering a dynamic model called functional mapping, which maps genes that regulate the developmental process of complex traits. This is a computational tool aimed at identifying genes and genetic networks that control dynamic traits and can help explain the detailed genetic architecture of drug response by incorporating pharmacodynamics processes. Wu’s research is documented in more than 300 peer-reviewed articles and he has co-authored five books. He has had tremendous success in obtaining funding for his research from the NIH, the US Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Energy. His contributions to statistical genetics have contributed to the University receiving national and international recognition. Wu has directed more than 20 graduate students in their Ph.D. dissertations and another six are currently under his direction. In 2012 , the Department of Public Health Sciences initiated his biostatistics program. Click here to read more about Dr. Wu’s career.

April 14, 2015 at 9:25 am Leave a comment

Cochlear implants give 1-year-old gift of sound

Missi and Adam Prosser clapped their hands behind their six-month-old daughter’s back. They blew a whistle next to Nora when she was asleep in their Mechanicsburg home.

Nora didn’t respond.

The couple noticed that Nora wasn’t babbling like their older two daughters had at that age. She would imitate mouth movements, but no sound came out. Their pediatrician referred Nora for hearing tests, which confirmed their suspicions.

Nora had profound, congenital hearing loss in both ears.

For six months, the Prossers worked with early intervention therapists to give Nora signs and visual language to help with her diagnosed speech delay. Hearing aids didn’t seem to help.

Online research and conversations with medical professionals at Penn State Hershey led the couple to decide they would have Nora evaluated for two cochlear implants, electronic medical devices that replace the function of the damaged inner ear, providing sound signals to the brain.

First available in the 1980s, cochlear implants have become more common for both children and adults with severe-to-profound hearing loss.

The Prossers scheduled surgery for shortly after Nora’s first birthday. Three days before, she came down with a fever. They rescheduled for November, but the anesthesia team sent them home rather than risking surgery while Nora had a cold. Finally, on January 8, the Prossers spent one long day at Penn State Hershey and had Nora’s implants put in.

“If you implant kids between ages one and three, nine out of 10 of them will be able to progress with their hearing to where they can use a phone and be in mainstream classes by kindergarten,” said Jason May, the surgeon who placed Nora’s implants. “They do real well long term.”

Two months later, when things had healed and the swelling had decreased, the Prossers returned to Penn State Hershey to activate Nora’s implants. (more…)

April 6, 2015 at 10:56 am 1 comment

Story Update: MountCrest University School breaks ground on Medical School

Editor’s Note: Penn State Medicine highlighted the relationship between Penn State College of Medicine and Ghana’s MountCrest University School in January. The College of Medicine’s Dr. Ben Fredrick recently returned from Ghana to give an update. Follow Penn State Medicine for updates on the College’s work with MountCrest.

Kwaku Ansa-Asare and Helena Ansa-Asare, founders of MountCrest University School.  The school’s teaching hospital will be named after their son, Kwame Ansa-Asare, who died in 1999 at the age of 19 from leukemia.

Kwaku Ansa-Asare and Helena Ansa-Asare, founders of MountCrest University School. The school’s teaching hospital will be named after their son, Kwame Ansa-Asare, who died in 1999 at the age of 19 from leukemia.

MountCrest University School has broken ground on its medical school, the first in rural Ghana.

The school is on track to welcome its first class of medical students this September. Students will walk into a new four-story education building in the village of Larteh. The building will include lecture halls, small group rooms, and a library. Planned are a dedicated medical school building and a teaching hospital. Construction of the hospital is planned to begin May.

MountCrest will have its first White Coat Ceremony on September 5. White Coat Ceremony is when first year medical students receive their white doctor coats, signifying the beginning of medical education. Student coats are shorter than regular doctor coats, to easily identify them in the clinic setting.

“This is a significant event in Ghana because it marks an important decision by MountCrest leadership to help their health profession students develop humanistic qualities through a longitudinal humanities-in-medicine curriculum,” said Dr. Ben Fredrick (’00), director of the Global Health Center at the College of Medicine. Dr. A. Craig Hillemeier, College of Medicine dean, is expected to attend the ceremony.

The College of Medicine was recognized in MountCrest’s law school commencement and during the groundbreaking ceremony by both Mountcrest founder Kwaku Ansa-Asare and a representative of the President of Ghana.

MountCrest is establishing the first private medical school in Ghana, and is also the first to build a medical school in a rural area of Ghana. The College of Medicine is working closely with Mountcrest to support the endeavor.

(more…)

March 30, 2015 at 1:46 pm Leave a comment

As Match Day approaches, students reflect on Penn State Hershey

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.

Carina Brown, four years ago at the White Coat Ceremony. See the video at http://bit.ly/1BPoqPh. Visit Penn State Medicine online after the Match Day Ceremony on March 20 for an update on Brown.

Carina Brown, four years ago at the White Coat Ceremony. See the video at http://bit.ly/1BPoqPh. Visit Penn State Medicine online after the Match Day Ceremony on March 20 for an update on Brown.

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.

(more…)

March 19, 2015 at 11:23 am 1 comment

A day in Child Life: How child life specialists work with Penn State Hershey’s youngest patients

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.

Kate Denlinger, certified child life specialist helps patient Kaitlyn Teeter, 5, decorate her anesthesia mask with stickers prior to a procedure she regularly receives at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. "Instead of coping with a bad diagnosis, she just has to cope with the routine of coming in so that she can continue being healthy," Kate says.

Kate Denlinger, certified child life specialist helps patient Kaitlyn Teeter, 5, decorate her anesthesia mask with stickers prior to a procedure she regularly receives at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. “Instead of coping with a bad diagnosis, she just has to cope with the routine of coming in so that she can continue being healthy,” Kate says.

“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:

6:00 a.m.

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.

(more…)

March 16, 2015 at 12:48 pm 1 comment

Penn State Hershey’s Dr. Jack Myers is all heart in Ecuador: Years of life-saving surgeries performed on pediatric patients

When Ryan Mathis was a student at Hershey High School, he traveled to Guayaquil, Ecuador, with Penn State Hershey pediatric heart surgeon Dr. John “Jack” Myers. There, he saw parents canoe or carry their children across bodies of water to arrive at a hospital where they’d wait with hundreds of others for a chance to receive life-saving heart surgery.

That experience — along with a second trip with Myers while in college — reinforced Mathis’s decision to attend medical school and gave him a new appreciation for medical advances and technology in the United States.

Now a plastic surgery resident at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., Mathis hopes to form a career where he can take a month each year to share his skills with developing countries.

“You can’t even comprehend the degree of poverty there — it really puts things in perspective,” he said.

Dr. Jack Myers with a  young patient in Ecuador

Dr. Jack Myers with a young patient in Ecuador.

Myers and Dr. Stephen Cyran, Children’s Heart Group, first traveled to Ecuador 16 years ago, when the country had no surgical equipment or trained personnel to fix congenital heart problems in children.

The hospital they arrived at in the city of Guayaquil looked like a dilapidated warehouse, with corrugated steel hanging from the ceilings, bugs coming out of the water faucets and very limited resources.

“We waited for the team from Hershey to come for 15 days, hoped they would cure the biggest number of children possible while they were here, and that they would return quickly,” said Dr. David Maldonado, pediatric cardiovascular surgeon at the Hospital de Niños Roberto Gilbert E. in Guayaquil.

Each year, without fail, the team of medical professionals and students returned. Myers estimates that nearly 400 people from the Penn State Hershey community have been part of the trips over the years. (more…)

March 6, 2015 at 7:12 am Leave a comment

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