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Family and community medicine resident Zoccoli recognized for exceptional teaching

Dr. Christina Zoccoli, a family and community medicine resident at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, was recognized in October 2021 as part of the Exceptional Moments in Teaching program of Penn State Health and Penn State College of Medicine.

“On my very first rotation,” a current student wrote, “Dr. Zoccoli did a fantastic job of showing me how to keep the humanistic side of medicine, even well into residency.

“One of her patients was dying, and she only had a few days left. Dr. Zoccoli spoke with her and heard her life story – how she grew up on a dairy farm. The patient had said that she loved chocolate ice cream, so Dr. Zoccoli made it her mission to get this woman on palliative care what she wanted. She and the staff at Starbucks crafted a frozen drink as close to a chocolate shake as they could make.

“This simple act spoke volumes to me as a medical student coming right off of my didactic years. I will never forget her compassion for her patients.”

Zoccoli completed her undergraduate education at the University of Notre Dame, with double majors in biological sciences and philosophy, where she was also a National Collegiate Athletic Association athlete on the fencing team. She received her master’s degree in neuroscience from Penn State, followed by a doctorate in medicine from Emory University.

Before her medical residency, she worked as a medical research intern for the United Nations International Social Justice Commission and obtained patents for three novel medical devices of her own design. Currently, she proudly represents the Department of Family and Community Medicine in the Gold Humanism Honors Society and is looking forward to a career in veterans affairs and global health. Outside of medicine, Zoccoli enjoys camping, baking, traveling, hiking and learning new languages.

Penn State College of Medicine’s Office for a Respectful Learning Environment recognizes exceptional faculty, residents and fellows with the monthly “Exceptional Moments in Teaching” program. Each month, one faculty member and one resident/fellow are highlighted for their contributions. College of Medicine students are invited to submit narratives about faculty members, residents, nurses or any other educators who challenge them and provide an exceptional learning experience using the online nomination form.

The Office for a Respectful Learning Environment fosters an educational community at Penn State College of Medicine in which all learners and educators feel supported, challenged, valued and respected. It serves all learners at the College of Medicine: medical students, graduate students, physician assistant students, residents and fellows.

See previous faculty and resident/fellow honorees here.

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