Posts tagged ‘Penn State College of Medicine’

French, bad breath, and the Kardashians: One medical student’s reflections

If laughter really is the best medicine, Bailey Sanders is going to make a great doctor. Sanders was chosen by her peers in Penn State College of Medicine’s Class of 2014 to give this year’s student commencement address. The future doctor kept the crowd in stitches, threading together humorous examples to illustrate three components to building a life and career free of regrets.

Sanders posited that passion is one key ingredient, and for an example looked to a scientist who drank the contents of his own petri dish and “documented his subsequent suffering with regular biopsies and his mother’s opinion of how his breath smelled.” The unconventional experiment resulted in a Nobel Prize.

To hear Sanders’ full commencement speech, watch this video:

June 18, 2014 at 8:13 am 2 comments

Focused on People and Problem-Solving: Penn State Hershey’s new PA Program

Andrey Frolov left a job at the University of Kansas Cancer Center and moved halfway across the country to be part of Penn State Hershey’s new graduate-level physician assistant program.

The 38-year-old Russian scientist spent much of his career working in translational cancer research and helped develop a breakthrough drug for treatment of leukemia. While working closely with physicians as part of the clinical trials process for the drug, he realized he wanted to return to patient care.

“I never knew what a physician assistant was or what they were capable of doing before,” he says. “At my age, PA school provides nice flexibility to start practicing in a relatively short period of time.”

Physician assistants are healthcare professionals who are licensed to practice medicine as part of a team approach to healthcare, under the direction of a physician. The scope of what they can do is limited only by the doctor they practice with. Unlike nurse practitioners, who are trained in the nursing model and often specialize, physician assistants are intentionally trained to be medical generalists, extending the care of a physician by spending more time interviewing and counseling patients.

“If you’re okay working as part of a team, not being the highest in command and not having the final say, you have a lot of autonomy,” says Kyle Landis, a 27-year-old former professional baseball player for the Cleveland Indians, who decided to pursue a career as a physician assistant after an injury ended his athletic career.

The PA profession is growing rapidly as demand and eligibility for care increase, while the number of primary care physicians in practice has not. “They are doing some of the things the physicians don’t really have the time to do because they are pulled in so many directions,” says Christine Bruce, director of the new Physician Assistant Program at Penn State College of Medicine. (more…)

May 19, 2014 at 7:30 am 1 comment

Cheers, hugs, and tears at 2014 Match Day

On Friday, March 21, fourth-year medical students across the country discovered where they will spend their residencies in an annual tradition known as Match Day. For more than 120 students at Penn State College of Medicine, their Match Day event included a countdown to the moment when they ripped open the envelopes that hold their futures – a moment marked by cheers, hugs and tears. In all, 100 percent of the college’s senior medical student residency applicants matched to one of the residency programs to which they had applied. Of the 133 graduates, 26 of them will remain at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center for residency.

March 24, 2014 at 7:30 am Leave a comment

THON support for pediatric research is even more than a dream come true

Dr. Valerie Brown, associate professor of pediatrics at Penn State College of Medicine, thought THON was too good to be true when she came to Hershey in late 2013.

“I just didn’t believe that this support existed,” she says. “It was a dream come true, but even more.”

THON, or the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, is an annual fundraising event that supports the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. The Four Diamonds Fund supports the families of children with cancer Children’s Hospital and pediatric cancer research at the College of Medicine. The 2014 THON, held this past weekend in State College, raised a record $13,343,517.33 for the Four Diamonds Fund.

Portrait of Valerie Brown, M.D., Ph.D.

Valerie Brown, M.D., Ph.D., clinical director of the Experimental Therapeutics Program at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital

With the help of THON and the Four Diamonds Fund, Dr. Brown is growing a cutting-edge experimental therapeutics program for pediatric patients with cancer and has brought the Neuroblastoma and Medulloblastoma Translational Research Consortium to Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. A consortium is a collaboration of physicians and scientists with different areas of expertise working together around a specific disease or type of disease. In a translational research approach, scientists and others work across their fields of study to move discoveries made in the laboratory to use in patients, and take what they learn with patient populations back to the lab for further study.

One of the goals of the consortium is to improve the outcomes for children with cancer by quickly determining a specialized treatment.

“A lot of treatment for patients with a disease that has come back or mutated is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic after it hits the iceberg,” says Dr. Brown. “You can’t avoid the iceberg, and so you need to have better lifeboats. Early phase clinical trials help us to build a better lifeboat.” (more…)

February 24, 2014 at 8:18 am Leave a comment

Researcher calls THON an inspiration for his work

Hong-Gang Wang, Ph.D., director of the molecular oncology program at Penn State College of Medicine, has the same energy and devotion as THON participants about finding the cure for pediatric cancer.

“THON is not simply a fundraising event, it generates inspiration,” he says.

The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, or THON, is an annual fundraising event that supports the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. The Four Diamonds Fund supports families of children with cancer at the Children’s Hospital and pediatric cancer research at the College of Medicine.

Hong-Gang Wang, Ph.D., Four Diamonds Fund-supported molecular oncology researcher at Penn State College of Medicine

Hong-Gang Wang, Ph.D., Four Diamonds Fund-supported molecular oncology researcher at Penn State College of Medicine

Wang has been studying pediatric cancer since he arrived at the College of Medicine in 2008. As a father, he understands what families with sick children endure. As a researcher, he always looks towards the future. His research focuses on autophagy, a process where the cancer cells eat themselves, resulting in a recycling process.

“Autophagy helps tumor cells survive the assaults of treatment,” Wang says. Cancer treatment causes stress to the cancer cells, which is supposed to kill them. Through autophagy, cancer cells are relieved from this stress and recycle toxic materials for survival.

(more…)

February 21, 2014 at 10:36 am Leave a comment

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

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

Penn State Hershey nurses help provide student health screenings in Lebanon

In a typical school year, it takes the nurses of the Lebanon School District four months to conduct health screenings of the entire student body. This year, that effort is expected to take just two days thanks to the involvement of nurses from Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

The Medical Center nurses are teaming up with the district’s nursing staff to conduct vision, hearing, height, weight and scoliosis screenings for students. Nearly 60 Penn State Hershey nurses visited three of the district’s schools on December 7 and more than 75 have returned to the remaining four schools today (December 14). Normally, district nurses would team up to do the student health screenings, leaving their own buildings short-staffed. But this initiative spares the nurses precious time that they can now spend helping students in their respective schools.

Nurse and young girl conducting a hearing test

Hearing tests are part of the health screenings that Penn State Hershey nurses are helping conduct in the Lebanon School District.

Some of the information gathered will be provided to parents in the form of letters stating their child’s height, weight and body mass index (BMI). So-called BMI letters are common. In fact, every year, parents of all school-age children in Pennsylvania receive one from their schools. But this effort is unique because some of the letters sent out in Lebanon will feature a new format. The Center for Nutrition and Activity Promotion (CNAP), which is part of the Department of Public Health Sciences at Penn State College of Medicine, has drafted a revised BMI letter based on survey feedback from parents across Pennsylvania who said they wanted better explanations of health risks and a more detailed course of corrective action. CNAP plans to submit the revised letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Health next year in hopes that the new format will be adopted by all public school districts across the commonwealth. CNAP’s efforts to revise the BMI letter are funded by a grant from the Highmark Foundation. (more…)

December 14, 2012 at 4:44 pm 1 comment

Penn State Hershey offers science outreach program to local high school students and faculty

Classroom setting for SEPA-CREST: Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) - Collaborative Research Experiences for Students and Teachers (CREST)

Michael Chorney, Ph.D. and Gail Matters, Ph.D., both of Penn State Hershey, lead a lecture on immunology to Susquehanna Township students.

As part of an initiative to educate students in the surrounding areas about research related to health, faculty members from Penn State College of Medicine, in conjunction with colleagues from Penn State Harrisburg, Juniata College, and the Raystown Field Station offered 16 sophomores from Susquehanna Township High School and five of their teachers a week-long, summer opportunity to take a closer look at environmental and medical research techniques, and the interchange between the two areas of science. The formal title of the program is SEPA-CREST, so named for the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) that funded it and the opportunity it provided for Collaborative Research Experiences for Students and Teachers (CREST). It serves not only as a vehicle for students and teachers to gain more intensive experience in science, but also as a research opportunity for college faculty to gauge their ability to improve science literacy with these groups.

Participants travelled to the Raystown Field Station, an environmental center in Huntingdon, PA operated by Juniata College for a multidisciplinary study of the interactions between humans and the environment.

“The great thing about a week-long experience like this is that we’ve been able to address a wide range of topics and techniques,” said Sarah Bronson, Ph.D., associate professor of cellular and molecular physiology, Penn State College of Medicine. “Each of the students are drawn to different areas in science, so this approach raises the likelihood that we’ll score a hit with one of the 16 kids and they think, ‘I want to know more about that’ or ‘I’d like to do that when I grow up.’” (more…)

November 1, 2012 at 2:58 pm Leave a comment

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