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Penn State College of Medicine celebrates University Park Curriculum success

Penn State College of Medicine honored faculty and physicians who contribute to the University Park Curriculum at a joint reception on April 10 at University Park. The University Park Curriculum is one of three different curriculum tracks offered to medical students.

Each year, Penn State College of Medicine selects 12 medical students from the incoming class to participate in the University Park Curriculum. Educators designed the curriculum to help students interact with patients and health systems early in their medical education.

The University Park Curriculum joint reception recognized the faculty and community of physicians that drive this dynamic approach to medical education. The teaching physicians at Mount Nittany Health and faculty members of the University Park Curriculum form a team that delivers a unique education to medical students.

Dr. Terry Wolpaw, vice dean for educational affairs, said the doctors at Mount Nittany Health are role models for the future physicians.

“Students value the one-on-one interaction with doctors,” Wolpaw said. “Mount Nittany Health provides a rich and authentic environment for students to see medicine practiced in a community-based medical center.”

Morgan Decker, a second-year medical student in the University Park Curriculum, credits her positive experience in clinical rotations to the faculty and physicians at Mount Nittany Health. “Not only do they spend time teaching us, they also encourage us to become involved in patient care.”

Small class sizes allow faculty members and students to have one-on-one interactions. Through these close relationships, medical students gain invaluable mentors as they prepare to practice medicine. Decker emphasized the influence that Dr. Madhavi had on her medical education. Singh is the Class of 2021’s selection for Teacher of the Year.

“She mentored me as both a clinician and as a woman in medicine,” Decker said. “She’s also very knowledgeable about personal wellness, which has done wonders to help me as I work through my medical education.”

During the joint reception, faculty members celebrated the residency matches of their students. Educators and students also selected members of the faculty and staff to receive awards including:

  • Bobbi Millard – Teacher of the Year (presented by the Class of 2022)
  • Madhavi Singh – Teacher of the Year (presented by the Class of 2021)
  • James Powell – Teacher of the Year (presented by the Class of 2019)
  • Kaitlyn Brunner – UPRC Humanism in Medicine Award
  • Sondra Struble – Crystal Apple Award for outstanding contribution to the success of medical students
  • Paul Sherbondy – Golden Apple Award for going above and beyond to create an exceptional learning experience for students

Dr. Jeff Wong, associate dean of medical education for the University Park Curriculum at Penn State College of Medicine, said students value the education they receive through the curriculum because the relevance is clear to them.

“The University Park Curriculum is a flipped medical school,” Wong said. “We put students in patient care settings from the beginning. It’s those interactions with patients that stimulate student interest and drive classroom discussions.”

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