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Student design partners help shape the future for fellow medical students


Student design partners are helping shape the future curriculum at Penn State College of Medicine. The design partners are Morgan Decker, Thomas Laux, Duncan McDermond, Jason Spicher and Vanessa Vides.

When Duncan McDermond studied abroad in a rural African hospital during college, he saw firsthand the correlation between doctors who live among their patients and their ability to understand, gain trust and ultimately provide better medical care.

It’s that kind of holistic approach to medicine that drew McDermond to apply for an innovative program where students are helping to shape Penn State College of Medicine’s curriculum.

“If medical providers do not understand the needs of a community, they will be inherently less effective at treating them,” said McDermond, a Messiah College graduate who is interested in carrying on the legacy of his grandfather, a missionary doctor, who founded the rural hospital in Zambia where he studied abroad.

The ability of firsthand experience to inform and reinforce education is nothing new, but at the College of Medicine, the idea is being given top priority in a first-of-its-kind initiative that could serve as a national model to transform how medicine is taught.

McDermond and four other student design partners – students who have been accepted to the College of Medicine but will defer enrollment until the fall of 2017 – are now College of Medicine employees at University Park. They will work with faculty to develop and pilot a flexible and integrated program of study.


October 26, 2016 at 12:55 pm Leave a comment

From military to civilian life: Dr. Mark Stephens walks into new chapter of his life


Dr. Mark Stephens (photo courtesy of THON).

Transitioning from military to civilian life can be a bumpy adjustment. Dr. Mark Stephens saw the potential struggles and decided to do something about it: he took a walk – a long one.

Stephens recently retired from the U.S. Navy and is now helping develop a new curriculum at Penn State College of Medicine University Park Regional Campus. Stephens thought the long walk would be a symbolic way to transition from one stage of his life to the next.

“I have watched enough friends and colleagues struggle during the transition from military to civilian life,” he said. “I wanted to have the time and space for contemplation. It’s hard to turn off the Navy one day and turn on Penn State the next.” (more…)

October 13, 2016 at 12:28 pm Leave a comment

Inspired student Sarayna Schock delivers produce program

A photo of Sarayna Shock at Beaver Stadium

Sarayna Schock

When Sarayna Schock sets her mind to something, there’s no stopping her. The second year Penn State College of Medicine student shows an admirable level of dedication to service while achieving her own goals. Her personal story drives her to help others with similar challenges and to make a difference in her community, including serving with LionCare, the student-run medical clinic in downtown Harrisburg, and abroad in Zambia with the College’s Global Health Scholars program.

To get there required four years in the Air Force and two years in the reserves. Serving in the military was the way Schock funded her medical education. Enlisting, however, required some changes. (more…)

October 6, 2016 at 8:04 am Leave a comment

Training grant addresses need for physician scientists

Zanuil Hasanali had many options for an MD/PhD program, but chose Penn State College of Medicine. He had good reasons to do so.

“I liked the student body, the easily traveled area and the atmosphere of collegiality that was missing from other schools where I had interviewed,” said the 29-year-old MD/PhD student who came to Penn State College of Medicine in 2009.

With an interest in leukemia research, he was particularly impressed by the medical school’s commitment to expanding and improving cancer care.

A new National Institutes of Health-sponsored training grant awarded to the MD/PhD program adds another good reason to choose Penn State College of Medicine.

The Medical Scientist Training Program award addresses the need to develop physician-scientists who are well trained in basic, translational and clinical research. The award will help train medical students interested in pursuing careers in biomedical research and academic medicine. (more…)

September 26, 2016 at 9:52 am Leave a comment

College of Medicine students take on interpreter roles

You’re in a foreign country, unfamiliar with the language and you suddenly are in an emergency room gravely ill. No one speaks your language. You’re frightened, confused and miming your symptoms to a doctor who is actually trying to ask about family history or medication allergies.

This scenario is common for many immigrants to the United States and the health care providers who care for them.

To address this situation, bilingual medical students attending Penn State College of Medicine can now participate in a medical interpreter training and certification program through the Health Federation of Philadelphia.

The program was the result of happenstance when Dr. Patricia Silveyra, assistant professor of pediatrics, biochemistry and molecular biology, and humanities, attended a meeting of the Latin American Medical Student Association where a group of bilingual students questioned why they couldn’t use their second language to help their patients.

“You can’t just show up and translate because you’re bilingual,” Silveyra explained. Medical interpreters require training and certifications, and they need to understand the value of cultural competency. (more…)

September 14, 2016 at 9:14 am 1 comment

Remembering Dr. Thomas L. Leaman: A pioneer in family medicine


Dr. Thomas Leaman’s chair portrait

As Penn State College of Medicine’s founding Dean Dr. George T. Harrell met with the local practitioners at Hershey Hospital in the early 1960s, the story goes that he laid out three conditions for employment at the soon-to-be built Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

First, they had to give up their private practices and move their offices into the Medical Center. Second, they had to accept an academic salary. And third, they had to complete a year of training at their own expense working with medical students and residents.

Dr. Thomas Leaman was the only one who agreed.

“The other doctors from town – around 10 or 15 of them – were incensed,” recalled Dr. C. Max Lang, who came to Hershey in 1966 as the founding chair of the Department of Comparative Medicine. “Tom didn’t agree right away. Some of the doctors asked Tom to go talk with Dr. Harrell and he made an appointment to do so. Dr. Harrell began to explain his vision where teaching would come first, then patient care, then research. By the time the meeting was over, Tom said he would like to join.”

Leaman, the founding chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine – the first of its kind in the United States – died on Friday, Sept. 2. (more…)

September 7, 2016 at 11:57 am Leave a comment

Successful research requires teamwork

Successful research often requires a combination of resources and cooperation that can be challenging to coordinate.

Case in point: Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s participation in a clinical trial studying the safety of MRI use in patients who are implanted with a specific brand of defibrillator and lead that brings together faculty in the Penn State Heart and Vascular Institute and the hospitals’ Department of Radiology .

The Medical Center was approached to participate in the study by device manufacturer St. Jude Medical because it has patients already implanted with the devices. (more…)

August 29, 2016 at 9:53 am Leave a comment

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