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Students gain early insight into medical school through Primary Care Scholars program

Nearly 50 pre-med students from 19 universities got an inside look at medical school and opportunities in primary care through Penn State College of Medicine’s annual Primary Care Scholars program held May 21 to June 1, 2018. Now in its 25th year, the program has drawn graduates to attend the College of Medicine, and a few have become faculty members.

The selective two-week program allows participants to spend time with medical students and primary care physicians in a variety of practice settings, learn about the medical school application process and get introduced to curriculum.

“The Primary Care Scholars Program was immensely helpful in my decision to go to medical school,” wrote Kayla McCandless of Allegheny College.

“This has been a life-changing experience,” Niki Price of Penn State University Park commented.

Four days of classes in Hershey include information on medical school admissions, the College of Medicine's Family Medicine Accelerated Program and a problem-based learning case discussion. Participants also learn about the philosophy and practice of primary care in the disciplines of family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics. A panel of current College of Medicine students shares insights into student life.

During the second week of the program, each participant shadows a family physician, general pediatrician or general internist. Students have the option of attending the clinical experience near their college, home or at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

“The Primary Care Scholars program is an effort to attract more students into fields of primary care, as there continues to be a shortage of primary care physicians in the U.S.,” explained Dr. Dennis Gingrich, a professor in the departments of Family and Community Medicine and Humanities. “More primary care physicians would provide continuity and cost-effective, coordinated care for patients from cradle to grave.”

The program is coordinated by Gingrich; Dr. Andrew Lutzkanin, an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine; Dr. Lisa Sherwood, an internist at Hershey Medical Center; and Dr. Kathryn Crowell, a pediatrician at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital, with assistance from Diane Ferron in the Department of Family and Community Medicine.

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