Susquehanna Health Investing in Quality Healthcare Education

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One way of ensuring and sustaining quality healthcare is investing in future healthcare providers. As part of its commitment to high quality healthcare for the communities served, Susquehanna Health (SH) offers several programs through which seasoned medical professionals provide clinical opportunities to educate future generations of medical service providers.

Susquehanna Health’s Williamsport Family Medicine Residency faculty, staff and resident physicians are pictured at Williamsport Regional Medical Center.

Everything is so interconnected—it supports our education model. It’s a good medical community and the kind that I would like to practice in.

One way of ensuring and sustaining quality healthcare is investing in future healthcare providers. As part of its commitment to high quality healthcare for the communities served, Susquehanna Health (SH) offers several programs through which seasoned medical professionals provide clinical opportunities to educate future generations of medical service providers.

Clinical Laboratory Science Program
SH’s Clinical Laboratory Science program is an intense one-year course developed to serve as the fourth or fifth year of a baccalaureate program. For this program, SH affiliated with about eight colleges and universities in Pennsylvania and is accredited with the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences. Upon completion of the course, graduates receive their bachelor’s degree from their respective school of higher education along with certification from SH as a clinical lab scientist and are prepared to sit for the national certification exam.

“This program is comparable to compressing two years of medical school into one year,” explained Program Director Ed Beitz. The curriculum includes everything from clinical chemistry and microbiology to immunology and molecular diagnostics presented via a daily lecture and hands-on instruction on state-of-the-art laboratory equipment. “We have a very strong relationship with our physicians. We work to help them with a diagnosis,” said Beitz.

Bloomsburg University student Amber Kolk is completing the laboratory science program. “It’s been very busy,” Kolk said. “I’ve learned a lot in a very short period of time.” Kolk chose the program because of the hands-on experience obtained in an hospital lab environment, as opposed to a student-lab format. She also appreciates the one-on-one training she has received from her instructors. “They really take a lot of time to make sure you understand things,” said Kolk. A graduate of Millville Jr./Sr. High School, Kolk served two years in the Army Reserves and four years of active duty with the U.S. Army before entering the program. After completing her bachelor’s degree and certification, Kolk will begin working in the Clinical Laboratory at Divine Providence Hospital in July.

Williamsport Family Medicine Residency
More than 240 family practice physicians have graduated from Susquehanna Health’s Williamsport Family Medicine Residency Program since its inception in 1974. Many of the program’s graduates have chosen to establish their practices in the region. The residency program’s mission is to “train highly competent and compassionate family physicians through academic exchange in an atmosphere of respect, friendship and professionalism.” In addition, the program values “high quality, family-centered patient care through the development of exceptional clinical skills and the pursuit of life-long learning.”

This comprehensive, three-year training program is designed for allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) residents and is accredited by the American Osteopathic Association and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Third year resident Dr. Kimberly Jones completed undergraduate studies at Lycoming College, Williamsport. In 2003, Dr. Jones trained in the Clinical Laboratory Science program at Williamsport Regional Medical Center (WRMC), pursued a career in medical technology/phlebotomy for a time, then decided to pursue her medical degree at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed her clinical rotations at Geisinger Medical Center, Danville. “I came here for college, fell in love with Williamsport and came back again,” explained Dr. Jones.

As someone who has trained in various learning environments, Dr. Jones said her experience at SH has been a very good one. “I would do it all over again, a hundred times over,” she said of her residency experience. The deepest impressions have been made upon her by the people she has encountered—from patients to clinical staff to program directors and students. “We really do embody the word family,” she said.

Upon graduating from the program in June, Dr. Jones will continue her practice with Susquehanna Health Family Medicine at Grampian Boulevard. “I have chosen to stay here because of the community and the health system as a whole,” explained Dr. Jones. “I love my patients and enjoy practicing obstetrics and the full-scope family practice. That has really made the decision easy for me.”

The Commonwealth Medical College
In 2009, SH partnered with The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC), Scranton to provide a regional campus center serving Bradford, Clinton, Lycoming, Tioga and Sullivan counties at WRMC. Jessica Warnke, Richmond, VA, and Kenneth Potter, Camp Hill, PA, are third year medical students at TCMC. Both are members of the charter class and are assigned to the WRMC campus. The couple’s placement together is perhaps their destiny: in addition to anticipating graduation from TCMC’s program next spring, Potter and Warnke are also planning a March 2013 wedding.

Warnke holds bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry and molecular biology/biology from the University of Richmond. She chose TCMC because of the school’s values and goals and because she has family in the Bethlehem, PA area. “I absolutely love it here,” said Warnke. “I think everyone is very supportive of all of us.” Warnke also appreciates the way physicians work together in Williamsport. “Everything is so interconnected—it supports our education model. It’s a good medical community and the kind that I would like to practice in.”

Potter is a graduate of Lebanon Valley College, Annville, PA. A triple-major, he earned degrees in biochemistry, molecular biology and psychobiology. Potter is also the recipient of the Williamsport campus’s charter scholarship of $20,000 per year toward his medical education at TCMC. “Not a day goes by that I am not grateful,” he said. Potter appreciates the seamlessness of the partnership between SH and TCMC. “The unified front with Susquehanna Health has made it easy for us not to worry about anything more than going to work to learn,” said Potter. “Everything we need, if we ask, they are willing to deliver.”

According to Potter, physicians have been very accommodating by allowing a student to follow a patient’s case, which he believes is just as beneficial to the patient as it is the student. “Doctors with whom I work know which patients I work with, and often schedule those patients when I am working. This helps the patient because they are able to see a familiar face,” Potter said. The medical students have also been impressed that they have had an opportunity to speak with SH President and CEO Steve Johnson and that he is interested in their progress, according to Potter. “I honestly believe that if we had a concern, they would want to help,” he said. “Dr. Shenberger [Associate Dean for Regional Campus Development] and the office staff are also really great advocates for us.”

For more information on the medical education programs offered by Susquehanna Health, visit SusquehannaHealth.org.

About Susquehanna Health
Susquehanna Health is a three-hospital integrated health system including Divine Providence Hospital, Muncy Valley Hospital and Williamsport Regional Medical Center located in northcentral Pennsylvania. Serving patients from an 11-county region, Susquehanna Health is a healthcare leader and has been recognized at the national and state levels for quality of care. Susquehanna Health offers a wide array of services that include cancer treatment, heart and vascular care/heart surgery, neurosciences including neurosurgery, orthopedics, urology, OB/GYN, gastrointestinal services, behavioral health, physical rehabilitation, home care, long term care, assisted living and paramedic/ambulance services.

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Gwynne Kinley
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