DuBOIS — Three medical students have been making the area home – or home again – while doing their core rotations at Penn Highlands Healthcare.
Penn Highlands Healthcare joined with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, or LECOM, and is a clinical site for core rotations for third-year and fourth-year medical students. As part of the program, they visit all four Penn Highlands Healthcare hospitals – Penn Highlands Brookville, Penn Highlands Clearfield, Penn Highlands DuBois and Penn Highlands Elk – and work alongside physicians in obstetrics-gynecology, general surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics and psychiatry. In addition, many will complete rotations in family medicine, sports medicine, emergency medicine and various other areas.
The three students this year are Alexis Braid, a DuBois native; Kaylin Strauser-Curtis of Parker and Elizabeth Yordy of Milton.
Braid is a 2012 graduate of DuBois Area High School. She graduated from Duquesne University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in health management systems and is currently in a dual degree program with LECOM to get her master’s degree in Health Services Administration along with her doctor of osteopathic medicine degree.
“My dad is a pharmacist so growing up I always had an interest in medicine,” Braid said. “However, deciding to go to medical school was a decision I began to make when I was a freshman in high school. In 2008, I went on my first medical mission trip to Honduras with the Rice Foundation. And since then, I have been on ten total trips.”
“Through those opportunities my love for medicine and my desire to help others continued to grow and mission work really become a major aspect of my life,” Braid continued. “Working alongside all of the physicians on those trips has inspired and motivated me to continue following this path towards becoming a doctor. I truly cannot wait to put all my hard work to use in the future as a physician in DuBois as well as in other countries as a medical missionary.”
She picked Penn Highlands because she has been away for school for the past six years. “I am happy to have the opportunity to move back home and still be at a great hospital to further my education and have a great learning experience,” she said. “Everyone has been very friendly.”
Strauser-Curtis is a 2010 graduate of A-C Valley Junior/Senior High School. She already has a bachelor’s degree in biology, a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in biotechnology from Clarion University.
She chose to go into medicine because “I was born with an Atrial Septal Defect, which I had repaired at five-years-old. Most of my early childhood memories involve doctors’ appointments, so growing up I decided I wanted to help others live a long healthy life like I was given,” she said.
Stauser-Curtis came to Penn Highlands because “my husband is from Punxsutawney, and I am from just south of Clarion, so moving back towards our hometowns was always something we wanted to do. I’ve been watching Penn Highlands change and grow over the years, and I want to be a part of a health system that is truly dedicated to patients’ well-being.”
“I think Penn Highlands is far exceeding my expectations,” she said. “Everyone I have met and worked with so far have been wonderful teachers and I cannot wait to learn more. I am also very excited to be a part of the changes occurring over the next few years and hope to continue my education here in the Family Medicine Residency Program.”
Yordy is a 2012 graduate of Meadowbrook Christian School. She has her bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in psychology from Houghton College in Houghton, N.Y.
She decided to pursue a career in medicine because “since high school and onward, and after participating in a number of community outreach opportunities over the years, I knew that I wanted to be in a career in which I could help people and leave a lasting positive impact on the world around me.”
“Growing up I watched my father, who is a family physician, treat patients and show compassion along the way,” Yordy said. “In college, I found myself drawn towards psychology and the study of the human mind. It is my goal to pursue a career in psychiatry and show patients compassion and provide care to the best of my abilities.”
“I picked Penn Highlands because I wanted a hospital of a decent size that was located in a more rural community. DuBois is also only two hours from my hometown, so I am the closest to home I have been in the past six years of my education, for which I am thankful,” Yordy said.
She has enjoyed her rotations at Penn Highlands. “The one-on-one with the attending physicians is proving to be an excellent teaching and learning experience. I am learning more by being given more responsibilities. It is challenging, but rewarding,” Yordy concluded.
All three students would recommend Penn Highlands to a fellow student. “I feel like coming to a smaller rural hospital allows students to receive more one on one interaction with their attending,” Stauser-Curtis said. “Here at Penn Highlands I know I will be able to work closely with my attending and learn as much from them as possible.”
During their time on rotation, medical school students are always supervised by an attending physician, according to Dr. Lisa Witherite-Rieg, director of Medical Education at Penn Highlands Healthcare and family physician. She oversees the program along with Kathy Scott, MLS, who serves as the coordinator of students along with her role as librarian and CME coordinator at PH DuBois.
In addition to LECOM, Penn Highlands Healthcare has affiliation agreements with Penn State Hershey College of Medicine and The Commonwealth Medical College. Students from these schools will be on Penn Highlands campuses completing various rotations, too.