Posts filed under ‘Features’

Hershey welcomes three international students for exchange program


Students in the Penn State International Health Exchange program work in the Cubs Caring for the Community tent at the Farmer’s Market in Hershey.

If there is one thing that Wei Ting (Shaba) Chien has learned during his time in the United States, it’s that no country has a perfect public health system.

The senior medical student from Taiwan was one of three international students from Taiwan and Republic of Georgia to spend two weeks training on and around the Penn State College of Medicine campus in July as part of the Penn State International Health Exchange Program.

“I wanted to see how the Western world is like us, and how the system is different here,” he said.

Students in Penn State’s Master of Public Health program can complete international internships and fieldwork as part of their global health practice-based learning, but this summer, for the first time, students from partner institutions abroad have come to Hershey.

“The Penn State International Health Exchange Program is a significant step for our global health program, which aims to bring students, faculty and health professionals together to examine public health issues affecting the world,” said Dr. Vernon M. Chinchilli, distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences.

The Master of Public Health program is designed to prepare future public health leaders, improve population health and reduce health disparities on local, national and international levels through education, research and service.

“The training was modeled after our Master of Public Health program, which emphasizes first-hand knowledge of public health practice,” said Julie Lentes, assistant director for health communication in the Department of Public Health Sciences. “We wanted our international students to have the opportunity to learn from key public health leaders in the region and how they interact.”IMG_1258

Students in the program met with legislative staff on Capitol Hill and visited the Baltimore City Health Department to hear from senior staff entrenched in that city’s major health issues. They attended presentations by Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Karen Murphy and Physician General Rachel Levine. They also heard from College of Medicine faculty and visited the Lion Reach mobile education center for medical professionals.

The students engaged with the local community by serving dinner at the Ronald McDonald House and shadowing medical students caring for the homeless at Bethesda Mission in Harrisburg. They also interacted with local children at Penn State Hershey’s Cubs Caring for the Community tent at the Farmer’s Market in Hershey.

Yi-Ting (Judy) Wu, a doctoral pharmacy student at Taipei University, said her country talks a lot about a low birth rate and caring for the elderly – two issues she didn’t hear much about here. “It is a lot of pressure on our future generations,” she said.

Wu said the medical and legal partnerships she observed during her stay were a new concept for her, and one from which she thinks her home country could benefit from. Health equity, health security and women’s health also were issues to which she hadn’t been exposed to very much prior to her visit.

Chien was surprised at the number of times healthcare workers and leaders talked about problems with abuse of narcotics and opiates. “They told us it is a major cause of accidental deaths – more than even car accidents,” he said. “That is very shocking to me because it’s not as serious of a problem in Taiwan. We have different laws.”

He said the United States is unique in that it has the highest health expenditures in the world, yet similar outcomes as his home country of Taiwan, which provides national health insurance for its citizens.

“All systems have their advantages and disadvantages though,” he said. “Maybe (in my country) people will start to abuse the system because it is so easy and efficient to get care.”

Ana Jalaghonia from the Republic of Georgia said she wants to be a general surgeon, so she was most impressed by a tour of the simulation center that introduced her to devices such as the daVinci robotic surgical system. In her final presentation, she compared advances in U.S. medical technologies compared to those in her home country.

Jalaghonia also observed that American doctors spend more time with their patients than those in the Republic of Georgia. “American doctors are so nice and have good conversations with their patients,” she said.

Lentes said it was especially rewarding for the College of Medicine’s Master of Public Health students to have personal interactions with the international students, especially those who haven’t had an opportunity to travel internationally.

Jessica Parascando, a second-year Penn State Master of Public Health student from New Jersey, said she enjoyed the opportunity to participate in site visits with the international students since she didn’t have a chance to take one of the international trips offered through the program.

“We do a lot of research to see what other countries are doing, but to have them come here and hear about things rather than reading it in a paper is amazing,” she said. “They always had great questions and a different perspective.”

Although it was interesting to note differences among the countries – students in both Taiwan and Georgia typically start medical school much earlier – the similarities were what surprised her most. “Not only how our hospital systems run, but family dynamics too,” she said. “We talked a lot about the stigmas associated with addictions and how it looks bad for families. They have issues like that there, too.”

Having a chance to share other international public health experiences with each other and compare notes was another valuable part of the program for both the international and Penn State students. “I think the more you know, the more you will find something new and interesting that might be good,” Chien said.

Wu agreed, adding: “Something that is a national public health issue could become a global one in the future, but we can come together to address it.”

“One of the main goals of the Penn State International Health Exchange Program is to introduce both international and Penn State students to the public health systems in other countries, as well as social systems that may impact health,” said Dr. Kristin Sznajder, associate director for international initiatives. “Ultimately, we aim to provide opportunities for knowledge exchange that could lead to global public health improvements.”

Lentes said the international students added a diverse element to the student body that was rewarding for the about 50 Master of Public Health students.

“The program may grow or evolve into something different based on our learning experiences,” she said. “But we are excited to do it again.”

  • By Jennifer Vogelsong

August 18, 2016 at 1:54 pm Leave a comment

Camp Lionheart: A place for young heart warriors

Camp LionheartSome young campers celebrated the fifth birthday of a little girl they never knew on Aug. 2, although they had a lot in common.

“My little girl was a heart warrior like you guys,” Williamsport resident Jennifer Ayers told the 15 campers at Camp Lionheart. “ It means a lot for me to be able to have this camp for you so you can meet other heart warriors.”

The inaugural session of Camp Lionheart at Camp Kirchenwald in Colebrook, Lebanon County welcomed campers age 11-18 who share an important bond with Ayer’s daughter, Ellie, who was born on Aug. 2, 2011 and died from cardiomyopathy (heart disease) on April 25, 2012.


August 10, 2016 at 3:12 pm 1 comment

Cancer survivorship clinics support patients through recovery

The Cancer Institute will host its annual National Cancer Survivors Day Celebration on Friday, June 10, 2016 that will include an educational seminar on topics relating to survivorship wellness such as exercise, diet and creative writing. For more information, visit or

Although she’s a cancer survivor, neither word is in Nancy Schlegel’s vocabulary. Instead she considers herself a thriver who conquered her foe.

“I don’t use the word ‘survivor’ and I don’t use the word ‘cancer’,” Schlegel, 77, of Manheim Township said. “It’s not something I focus on and never have, even after I was diagnosed.”

Schlegel refuses to let cancer define her. It’s how she copes with life after cancer, one of many cancer patients who are treated in survivorship clinics at Penn State Cancer Institute. (more…)

June 7, 2016 at 1:55 pm Leave a comment

From the military to becoming a physician assistant

Editor’s Note: The Commencement Ceremony for the graduating Class of 2016 will take place on Sunday, May 15, 2016. For more information on Commencement, visit this site. 

A little more than two years ago, Myra Galusha was looking for a physician assistant program that would be tough enough to balance out her lack of medical background.

At Penn State College of Medicine, the 32-year-old Michigan native found that and more: “That part was not a let-down,” she laughed.

Galusha is one of 144 medical students, 81 graduate students, and 30 physician assistants who will receive degrees this Sunday.

Myra Galusha

Myra Galusha

Galusha completed the military academy at West Point, majored in law, and then spent more than five years in the Army. After multiple deployments and time overseas, she eventually left the military. She and her husband, Colt – who is from the Gettysburg area – decided to move back to Pennsylvania when he got a job at Fort Indiantown Gap as an instructor pilot.

After leaving her work in military intelligence, Galusha’s sports background – and history of multiple sports injuries – drew her to the medical field. Being a new mother, she didn’t want to attempt medical school, so a physician assistant program seemed like a better fit. (more…)

May 12, 2016 at 10:30 am 1 comment

Clues to child abuse: Dr. Lori Frasier on the frontline of new training

“If it’s never on your radar screen, you’re never going to see it.”

That’s the philosophy that drives Dr. Lori Frasier in her efforts to better train pediatricians and other clinicians to be aware of clues that might suggest abuse.

Frasier is director of Penn State Center for the Protection of Children, division chief of child abuse pediatrics at Penn State Children’s Hospital and is board-certified in child abuse pediatrics. She will take her expertise statewide as she partners with the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance to provide new, state-mandated training of medically licensed professionals that will hopefully lead to better reporting of suspected child abuse. In 2014, 30 children died from abuse. (more…)

April 11, 2016 at 7:56 am Leave a comment

Epilepsy Monitoring Unit celebrates 25 years

Epilepsy Monitoring Group

The Epilepsy Monitoring Unit conducts a surgical conference where team members discuss patient situations and treatment plans.

Like many mothers, Lorraine Schaeffer wanted to give her daughter every childhood opportunity possible, from play dates to participation in school and community activities.

Her epilepsy, however, stood in the way.

“I had to tell her ‘no’ so many times,” recalled the East Hanover Township resident. “It hurt me and I knew it hurt her even more. My daughter was getting ripped off in life because of my problem.”

The neurological disease had been Schaeffer’s nemesis since high school, when she experienced strange times of feeling like a “volcano” overtook her body and literally stopped her in her tracks. (more…)

March 23, 2016 at 11:18 am Leave a comment

New technology center builds on promises of College groundbreaking 50 years ago

Penn State Hershey groundbreaking

Eric Walker, president of The Pennsylvania State University; Sam Hinkle, Hershey Trust Company; Captain R.W. Roland, Penn State Board of Trustees president; and Arthur Whiteman, Hershey Trust Company, break snow-covered ground to signal the start of the construction of the Penn State Hershey campus on Feb. 26, 1966.

We’re all walking around with at least six billion pieces of information in our personal genome that, as the field of personalized medicine grows, can provide valuable clues to future health. When paired with clinical data from the electronic medical record (EMR), physicians will be able to provide individualized, precision medical care. The potential implications for improved health and efficiency of health care delivery are huge. So too are the technology needs to support that future.

In the not too distant future, every patient seen by providers at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Center will be offered genome analysis, something the organization’s founders could have never conceived of 50 years ago when the first shovel was plunged into the farm fields on Feb. 26, 1966, of what would become Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine. The groundbreaking was a short three years after a $50 million gift offer from the M.S. Hershey Foundation to Penn State to establish a medical school and teaching hospital in Hershey.

“This is the most exciting time to be in medicine in terms of research capabilities and outcome for patients,” said Dr. James Broach, director of Penn State Hershey Institute for Personalized Medicine. “The first genome sequence was generated in 2003 and that took 10 years and $3 billion. Now, in one day for about $1,000, we can do the same thing.”


February 26, 2016 at 10:24 am 1 comment

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