Posts filed under ‘Profiles’

Medical student asks the right questions and finishes second on recent episode of Jeopardy!

Each of the past three or four years, second-year medical student Johnna Mahoney took a timed, 50-question online qualification test to see if she could advance toward becoming a contestant on Jeopardy!, the popular TV quiz show she grew up watching.

In April of this year, the Penn State College of Medicine student finally got an e-mail inviting her to travel to New York City for an in-person audition – an honor given to only about 2,500 people annually. About 400 people appear on the game show each year.

“I always thought it was really cool – all the smartest people were on Jeopardy!” she said.

Mahoney appeared on an episode of the show that aired in November, taking second-place and winning $2,000. To get there, she would go from a hope in Hershey to the audition in New York and then a taping in Los Angeles, finishing her Jeopardy! journey back home with family and friends in Lancaster when the episode finally aired and she could talk about the experience. (more…)

December 10, 2013 at 3:42 pm 1 comment

Initiative prepares Penn State medical students to care for veterans

Several events focusing on veterans and military medicine will take place on the Penn State Hershey campus to celebrate Joining Forces Wellness Week, in partnership with the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC).

The College of Medicine is part of the AAMC’s Joining Forces Initiative, which works to train future physicians to better understand, diagnose and treat the health care needs of veterans, service members and their families.

Second-year medical student Eric Jung is part of the AAMC’s Organization of Student Representatives, making military issues a priority on campus.

Working together with the Office of Diversity, Jung received a $500 grant from the AAMC to pay for events and activities celebrating veterans and educating the campus community on issues that veterans and active-duty military often face.

Veterans GroupsStudents

“We have a traditional medical school curriculum here, but there are topics that we don’t get a lot of exposure to, so this is a good way to include some of that,” he said. (more…)

November 9, 2013 at 3:00 pm 1 comment

Vets bring military service – and sensibilities – to work at Penn State Hershey

More than 30 years ago, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Kurt Holtzer and fellow Navy sailors played cat-and-mouse with enemy Russian ships.

Sometimes, the ships passed so close they could see Russian sailors on deck. At times, they exchanged waves of greeting. In other instances, the gestures were less pleasant. Always, they prepared for battle – ready to take aggressive measures against each other if given the order.

Fast forward to 2012.

Andrey Chuprin and Kurt Holtzer

Andrey Chuprin and Kurt Holtzer

Holtzer, a supervisor for the Penn State Hershey biomedical team, has just been diagnosed with leukemia and is being cared for by oncology nurse Andrey Chuprin. As the two become close and swap stories, Holtzer discovers that Chuprin had served in the Russian Navy in the same part of the Pacific Ocean at the same time he was there.

“On that water, we were mortal enemies,” Holtzer said. “But as I lay in my oncology bed, Andrey (was) fighting to save my life. Today, we are like brothers. What a tremendous turn of events.”

Like any large employer, Penn State Hershey has its share of veterans – men and women who served their country before coming to serve on campus. They aren’t always easy to spot, but they are all over campus, putting the skills and experiences they gained during their time in the service to work for patients and their families. (more…)

November 9, 2013 at 9:00 am 1 comment

Medical student reflects on collaborative Hershey and University Park medical service trip

Top Left to Right: Dr. Hennrikus, Dan Brill, Spencer Johnson, Dana Schirk, Amy Du, Alicia Evans, Dr. Hennrikus Bottom Left to Right: Caitlin Armstrong, Dr. Bandini (local Panamanian physician), Syeda Ahmad, and Eve Thau

Top (L to R): Dr. Eileen Hennrikus, Dan Brill, Spencer Johnson, Dana Schirk, Amy Du, Alicia Evans, Dr. William Hennrikus. Bottom (L to R): Caitlin Armstrong, Dr. Bandini (local Panamanian physician), Syeda Ahmad, and Eve Thau

This spring brought the first collaborative spring break service trip for University Park undergraduates and Penn State Hershey medical students and physicians. From March 2 to 9, the team of two physicians, eight medical students, and thirty-two undergraduates served in the Darien province of Panama—an area reputed in the States as a jungle ridden with malaria and yellow fever.

During the week-long trip, the team provided medical services under the auspices of the Global Brigades organization. These services were much needed by the Darien population of 50,000. According to a local physician, Darien has only five medical specialists and three ambulances to cover an area the size of Connecticut. In contrast, Connecticut has more than 17,000 physicians and 60,000 registered nurses.

After months of preparation and twenty-one hours of travel, the team arrived at 5:30 a.m. at their compound in Santa Fe, where they would serve locals in El Tirao, Panama. Despite a mere four hours of sleep, the team persevered through “frigid showers, putrid porti-potties, and unpredictable electricity,” medical student Dan Brill said, to sort medical supplies provided by generous contributions of donors and team participants.

Over the next three days, the team used these supplies to operate a clinic out of a local elementary school. Using the Global Brigades model, they established five stations to provide care to more than 300 Panaminians:  Triage, Consultation, Dental, Laboratory, and Pharmacy stations allocated space for checking vital signs, conducting patient interviews and exams, providing oral care, performing diagnostic tests, and dispensing drugs, respectively. (more…)

June 11, 2013 at 6:52 am Leave a comment

Profile: The public health and homeland security connection—How a deployment works with the College of Medicine and World Campus

Lt. Col. Guy Moon

Lt. Col. Guy Moon

You would be hard pressed to find a student more perfectly suited for a Penn State Master’s Degree in Homeland Security—Public Health Preparedness (MHS-PHP) than Lt. Col. Guy Moon. A full-time active duty officer with the Nebraska Army National Guard, Moon completed part of his degree while on a deployment in Afghanistan. He formally received his degree from Penn State College of Medicine at its 2013 commencement today.

Moon’s position as the guard’s statewide education services officer put him in a unique position to know exactly what he wanted in an online program and, more importantly, how such a program should work. “I fully understand the value of education for military personal regardless of where they are in the career,” Moon says. He consulted higher education rankings that named Penn State as a military-friendly school and looked for an online program that offered homeland security programs. Moon narrowed his search down to three to four different schools, which he studied closely before make his choice.

So, why Penn State?

(more…)

May 19, 2013 at 1:00 pm Leave a comment

Profile: The road of life leads College of Medicine student to Hershey

Meagan Horst

Meagan Horst

Penn State Hershey used to be a place of grief for Meagan Horst.

It was the place she went to say goodbye to her father when he died of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma at the age of 44. Fourteen years old, she was the oldest of four children, waiting her turn to go into his room and say her final goodbyes.

As she sat with her siblings, she saw a little boy walk by, clutching an IV pole. He seemed so happy, excited by the simplest of things. “I knew right then that I was going to be a doctor,” she said. “I knew I was going to grow up to take care of people like him. He was just so happy to be alive.”

After high school, Horst spent a summer between her sophomore and junior years of college in Honduras and the Dominican Republic, shadowing doctors and learning about the world of medicine. There, her experiences in the operating room convinced her she wanted to become an anesthesiologist. “I was always interested in the other side of the curtain, and it just felt right,” she said. “I love everything about it.”

The following summer she traveled to Peru, interpreting for a medical team that needed help with Spanish. “I’ve always been ambitious and had lots of goals,” she said.

(more…)

May 17, 2013 at 1:11 pm 5 comments

Profile: College of Medicine graduate overcomes barriers

Elom Amoussou-Kpeto

Elom Amoussou-Kpeto

Growing up in Togo, West Africa, Elom Amoussou-Kpeto was acutely aware of the barriers that kept people from accessing quality health care. Not only was there a lack of highly skilled providers, but transportation was a challenge.

He spent a lot of time with his grandfather, a nurse, who cared for the whole community “doing almost what a doctor would do,” he said.

Amoussou-Kpeto realized that by becoming a doctor, he could give so much back to the community: “That is my ultimate objective.”

So, upon graduating high school with good grades, he applied to Camden Community College near Philadelphia, where an uncle lived. Once accepted, he began the process of obtaining a Visa to come study in the United States, where he felt like he would get a better education.

After two years studying biology there, he transferred to Temple University to finish a degree in biochemistry. It was a rocky road though.

Language was a huge barrier. Amoussou-Kpeto grew up speaking Ewe and French. In school, he learned to read and write some English, but had difficulty expressing himself in the new language. “I felt like time was constantly working against me–especially with standardized tests,” he said. “I felt like I was fighting a combat on two fronts–between who I am and who I want to be.” (more…)

May 15, 2013 at 2:45 pm Leave a comment

Navigating unfamiliar terrain: Book offers lessons for couples coping with cancer

Shapiro Book1_Picture a stormy sea, ominous sky, and a small boat being tossed about by threatening waves and gusty winds. Alone in the boat, a couple struggles to keep from going under.

This is the metaphor at the heart of Dr. Dan Shapiro’s new book, And in Health: A Guide for Couples Facing Cancer Together, that was released today (May 14). Part lifejacket, part buoy, the book offers practical advice for spouses and partners whose lives have been upended by cancer.

Shapiro, a clinical psychologist, knows this landscape firsthand. For five years when he was in his 20s, he battled lymphatic cancer, undergoing chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant and relying upon his spouse Terry for support. A dozen years later, the roles were reversed when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Despite living in the cancer world since the 1980s, I underestimated how intense, painful and difficult it is to be the spouse and how important it is to understand that both roles are challenging,” said Shapiro, also chairman of the Department of Humanities, Penn State College of Medicine.

“We’re talking about really practical things we can do to make the experience easier and strengthen our relationship.”

Those “practical things” range from how to interact with the medical team and deal with emotions to how to talk about sex, to name a few of the chapter topics. The chapters themselves contain a mix of personal anecdotes, research findings and specific recommendations such as working less to scheduling weekly date nights when talking about cancer is prohibited.

All are aimed at helping couples navigate this unfamiliar and scary terrain that can include radical body changes, job loss, and role shifts.

(more…)

May 14, 2013 at 1:49 pm Leave a comment

Documenting illness: Medical students’ films capture how patients, caregivers live with illness

They came without warning and didn’t go away: uncontrollable muscle twitches, weakness in his arms and hands, slurring of speech.

Even before the diagnosis in August 2011, Don Farrell and his wife Joan Darrah had figured out what they were confronting: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurological disease that is 100 percent fatal within two to five years after onset of symptoms.

“I can tell you that after the initial shock and grief, one makes a decision to move forward or not,” says Farrell in a documentary made by Penn State College of Medicine students Arissa Torrie and Brian Kinsman.

“It stimulated me to complete my life—not that I know what my life should be—but it stimulated me to finish it out strong, however that may be.”

Told through photographs and audio, “Don Farrell” is one of ten student documentaries that explore in searing and haunting detail the lives of patients facing debilitating diseases and terminal illnesses. Screened on May 1, the “Video Slam: Patient Project Documentary Films” is part of Penn State College of Medicine’s yearlong curriculum focused on giving first-year medical students insights into how patients live with illness.

(more…)

May 10, 2013 at 9:58 am Leave a comment

Man and niece who share a liver now share their story to tout the benefits of living donor transplants

UB&I two weeks post surgery2

Karen MacKay and Bill Counsil, taken two weeks after surgery

Bill Counsil will never forget that moment three years ago in April, sitting around his brother’s kitchen table in Mechanicsburg, talking about the kinds of things families talk about when they get together. Suddenly, during a pause in the conversation, his then 33-year-old niece Karen MacKay of Dillsburg said, “So, Uncle Bill, about this liver thing, when do you want to do it? I’ve been approved.”

In January 2010, doctors at Penn State Hershey had told the then 57-year-old man from Mill Hall, Pa., he would need a liver transplant. A throng of family members had come along to hear the options, his niece Karen among them. With such a large family and strong support, doctors said living donation might be the best option. If someone were willing—and could make it through the rigorous pre-donation testing—he could get a liver without becoming one of the 15,800 people nationwide trying not to get sicker while waiting for a liver from a deceased donor match.

MacKay went home from the meeting and told her husband she wanted to start the evaluation process. She wanted to find out if she could donate half of her liver to her uncle. “I couldn’t just sit around and wait for somebody else to come forward or hope someone else would be a match,” she said. “I had to at least try.”

(more…)

April 30, 2013 at 2:57 pm Leave a comment

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