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Medical Students can now Study Locally

by on September 26, 2012 6:12 AM

Michael Perone is a Penn State Hershey medical student, yet about 75 percent of his clinical rotations are done in State College.

Perone, a third year student from Pittsburgh, is one of 13 students studying at the new University Park Regional Campus of Penn State’s College of Medicine. The regional campus is a collaborative effort of local Penn State Hershey faculty, Mount Nittany Medical Center faculty, and other medical providers in the community.

While this inaugural class does take some of its courses in Hershey, all of the students live in State College, Perone said, and do most of their rotations locally.

“We didn’t have the opportunity to have that continuity before,” Perone said.

Something that’s really encouraged Perone about the regional campus is the enthusiasm of the attending physicians, he said.

“They were really dedicated,” Perone said of first meeting them, and feels they will provide a “good learning atmosphere.”

Right now Perone is studying “a little of everything,” he said. He’ll pick a concentration when he chooses his residency, he said, which will be done during his fourth year.

Some clinical rotations include surgery, psychiatry, internal medicine, family practice, gynecology, pediatrics, neurology, and rural and underserved medicine. Perone also has the opportunity to pick two elective blocks to study, he said. The end of each rotation is then followed by an exam.

The second two years in the medical program, Perone explained, can be best compared to a job, with more work time and fewer classes. Depending on the rotation, Perone works typically five days a week at Mount Nittany Medical Center.

“You learn by seeing patients … and look up diagnoses,” he said.

Perone received his undergraduate degree from Penn State, he said, so “it’s a pretty neat experience (to) go back to a place you spent four years.”

“(I’m) excited to be back,” he said. “(State College) is a good place to learn medicine for years to come.”

Sarah Smith, another student in the inaugural class, said one of the biggest benefits of being able to do rotations locally is the chance to be more involved with patients.

“We get to actively participate in a lot more things,” she said, because Mount Nittany Medical Center is a smaller hospital than Hershey.

Smith, of State College, said by not moving around as much, she and the rest of the students really get a chance to become acquainted with the doctors from different specialties.

“You slowly get to know all of the health personnel,” she said.

Smith said there is a four-week internal medicine rotation in Hershey, but in addition to that, there are some elective rotations students get to choose, also in Hershey.

Smith, who is on her second rotation of this school year, said her biggest area of interest right now is surgery.

Bringing medical students to State College from Hershey is part a mission to create an educational environment for training the next generation of healthcare providers and improve access to patient-centered, high-quality, cost-effective healthcare for local residents. Primary care and rural-based medicine are part of this mission, according to a press release by Penn State.

The regional campus will eventually train up to 48 college of medicine students each year, up to 24 in each of the third-and fourth-year medical classes. Some of the students may select to enroll in dual-degree programs as well, through the Smeal College of Business and other programs, the release states.

A residency program in family medicine is also in development, along with various collaborative research initiatives between University Park and Hershey. For more information about the University Park Regional Campus, visit

Staff Writer at The Centre County Gazette
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