Penn State College of Medicine
Alumni Update
Issue #6October/2011

Stories This Issue

Medical Education Update from

Dr. Richard Simons 

Homegrown Leadership at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center


It's Virtually Possible  

COM Alumni Weekend 


2011 White Coat Ceremony 


Career Night 2012   

Medical Center & College of Medicine and Penn State News

Final Shuttle Mission Included COM Experiment 


Medical Center Among Top 25 Connected Health Care Facilities 


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Alumni Relations Office by email or 717-531-7063 
Upcoming Events

Sunday, Oct. 16
Alumni & Friends Emergency Dept. Reception -
San Francisco, CA

Sunday, Oct. 23
Alumni & Friends Ophthalmology Dept. Reception -
Orlando, FL

Monday, Oct. 24
Alumni & Friends Surgery Dept. Reception -
San Francisco, CA

Sunday, Nov. 6
Alumni & Friends Reception at
AAMC Annual Meeting -
Denver, CO

Tuesday, Nov. 15
Alumni & Friends Reception - Pittsburgh, PA

Tuesday, Nov. 29
Alumni & Friends Radiology Dept. Reception -
Chicago, IL

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Helicopter over Medical Center
Medical Education UpdateRich Simons

Just more than five months ago, we congratulated and said goodbye to the individuals comprising the fortieth graduating class of the Penn State College of Medicine. More recently, we welcomed the Class of 2015 to our campus at the White Coat Ceremony. This is the "circle of life" here at the College of Medicine. We educate, guide, and nurture talented, committed young individuals on the journey to become the next generation of physicians and biomedical scientists.


It is hard to believe that our medical center is now forty years old as we just celebrated this special anniversary with many of our alumni at Alumni Weekend. Those of you who had not been back to campus for a number of years recognized the Crescent, but I hope you were impressed with our expanding campus including our East Campus clinical facilities, Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute and Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital now under construction on the east side of the Crescent. The physical expansion of our campus represents not only the effective leadership of our dean and leadership team, but also the hard work and accomplishments of our faculty, staff, residents and students who are committed to all of the missions of our academic medical center - education, clinical care, research, and community service. 


Founding Dean George Harrell, M.D., had a vision to build and develop a College of Medicine to graduate physicians with "hearts and handbags." As I interact with our medical students over all four years, I sense a renewed commitment and passion amongst our students to become "healers." Our students are excited about their role in patient care which has expanded to include many volunteer service activities both locally (e.g. Lion Care, our student-run medical clinic serving the homeless in Harrisburg) and globally in many third world countries through our fairly new Global Health Center. At the same time, we are in the midst of planning a major curriculum revision to ensure that Dean Harrell's vision continues to be a reality. Our focus of curriculum renewal is "patient-centeredness"; that is, we want to educate our next generation of physicians with the appropriate knowledge, skills, and attitudes to be able to provide patient care that is safe, personal, effective, evidence-based, and patient-centered. We envision more clinical activities early on in the medical school curriculum, an improved integration of basic and clinical science, more opportunities for longitudinal clinical experiences, and the continued emphasis on the medical humanities through the wisdom and guidance of our faculty members in the Department of Humanities. It is our hope that when our graduates leave here, they will be characterized not necessarily by how much they know, but by how much they care for their future patients. 


Having completed my twenty-seventh consecutive year on the faculty of this College of Medicine, I continue to be inspired by the work of my colleagues, our staff, and our students. There are many challenges that face us in the coming months and years, including threats of another recession, potential reductions in state and federal funding, and the changes in our evolving health care system. However, as I see the commitment, passion, and teamwork of the individuals who are a part of this wonderful College of Medicine and Medical Center, I am confident that the next forty years in the history of Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center will be marked by even greater accomplishments and advances in our missions. I certainly am thankful for the wonderful privilege I have to teach and guide our students here in the College of Medicine.


Richard J. Simons, M.D. '81 

Vice Dean for Educational Affairs

Professor of Medicine

Homegrown Leadership at the
Penn State Hershey Medical Center 
Homegrown Leadership

Left to right: Robert Harbaugh, M.D. '78, Thomas Terndrup, M.D. '81, and David Quillen, M.D. '90



With three of the eighteen clinical department chairs at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center having graduated from Penn State College of Medicine, the College and Medical Center are benefiting significantly from homegrown leadership.


Although they graduated in different decades, Robert Harbaugh, M.D., '78, chair of Penn State Hershey Neurosurgery, Thomas Terndrup, M.D., '81, chair of Penn State Hershey Emergency Medicine, and David Quillen, M.D., '90, chair of Penn State Hershey Ophthalmology, each has similar reasons for returning to Hershey. They have an appreciation for the excellent education they received combined with the opportunity to elevate the academic, clinical, and research missions of their departments. And elevate their departments they have.



It's Virtually Possible  

H. Theodore Harcke

The evening of September 11, 2001, H. Theodore Harcke Jr., M.D., '71, a U.S. Army Reserve colonel and radiologist and the state surgeon of the Delaware Army National Guard, received a call asking him to go to the Dover Air Force Base Port Mortuary. The radiology skills of the visiting scientist at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) in Washington, D.C., were needed to help identify the victims of the attack on the Pentagon, determine causes of death, and conduct forensic investigations.


"At the time, there was almost no such thing as forensic radiology," says Harcke, a retired pediatric radiologist from Wilmington, Delaware, "so my colleagues and I began to invent this idea of forensic radiology as a new specialty." They also began laying the groundwork for using CT scanners to conduct "virtual autopsies" - the topic of a presentation he made during the Penn State School of Medicine Alumni Weekend this past September 17.



Alumni Weekend 2011 - A Success!


A Friday evening celebration of 40 years of medical class graduates highlighted this year's Alumni Weekend festivities at Penn State College of Medicine on September 16-17. A total of 293 alumni, guests, and friends joined in the excitement as the classes of 1971, 1976, 1981 (Crescent Society), 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001, and 2006 recognized their respective reunions, including their special Saturday evening class dinners. 


Faculty, administrators, and alumni made educational presentations and provided college updates to those who attended the informational sessions on Friday and Saturday, while the rest of weekend was filled with opportunities for alumni and current students to interact as well as plenty of time for classmates and their guests to get reconnected.


George Todd, M.D. '74, the 2011 Penn State College of Medicine Alumni Fellow, was the featured speaker at Convocation. Following Convocation, a staple in the Alumni Weekend programming in recent years, there was a 40th anniversary event, where 40 years of excellence in medical education was celebrated, at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center and more than 230 alumni and friends were in attendance. It provided a venue where present and past faculty/administrators, recent and past alumni, and current students gathered to look back at the past, get a glimpse of the present, and envision the future of the College of Medicine. In addition, Edward Bollard, M.D. '93 received the 2011 Cheston M. Berlin, Jr. Service Award at the dinner.


Saturday was highlighted by the annual Mentoring Breakfast, which gave alumni the chance to share their expertise with both medical and graduate students, tours of the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, an update on the Children's Hospital, the annual All-Alumni Picnic and the individual reunion class dinners.

The date for Alumni Weekend 2012 is September 21-22. The classes of 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002, and 2007 will be celebrating reunion years, however all alumni are always encouraged to attend the two-day event.


Click here to view photos from Alumni Weekend 2011.

First-year Class Welcomed with
White Coat Ceremony


Penn State College of Medicine welcomed its first-year medical students pursuing M.D. or M.D./Ph.D. degrees with the annual White Coat Ceremony, which took place at the Hershey Lodge.


On August 5, in the presence of family, friends and peers, incoming students received their first white medical coat, a symbol of their entrance into the medical profession as student physicians. (Click here for video of the ceremony)  


"Each year, the White Coat Ceremony emphasizes the importance of duty, altruism, and trust in the practice of medicine," said Richard J. Simons, M.D. '81, vice dean for educational affairs. "The event is an opportunity for incoming students to profess their commitment to the humanistic care of their future patients." Following the distribution of white coats, 143 members of the entering class joined together to recite the Hippocratic Oath.


White Coat 2011Admission to the College is highly competitive. In fact, more than one in six prospective medical school students in the nation applies to Penn State College of Medicine. In 2010-2011 the College received over 7,300 applications for just 143 openings. The incoming class is 54 percent female and 46 percent male. They come from 23 states and six foreign countries. Of the 84 Pennsylvania residents this year, 27 are from the local region, with Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties represented.


Three members of the new class are children of current Penn State Hershey physicians. Click here to view video of these families commemorating this meaningful occasion.


The College of Medicine initiated its annual White Coat Ceremony in 1996 with funding support from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, a public foundation fostering humanism in medicine. Each year, the foundation donates lapel pins for the honorary white coats that are emblazoned with a stethoscope in the shape of a heart, surrounded by the words "Humanism in Medicine." In addition to the pin, in the pocket of each white coat is a handwritten welcome note from members of the Penn State College of Medicine Alumni Society. A White Coat Ceremony or similar rite of passage takes place at more than 90 percent of schools of medicine and osteopathy in the United States.  

Annual Career Night Set for January 2012


Career Night 2012 PromotionPlease consider joining us on Thursday, January 5, 2012 for the annual Penn State College of Medicine Career Night. 


As you know, our students face many choices as they finish their studies at the College of Medicine. Third-year medical students must choose from a myriad of specialties when they apply for residency programs at the beginning of their fourth year, and graduate students nearing completion of their programs have many career paths open to them after graduation. Through Career Night, the College seeks to help students explore their many career options by interacting with alumni who have already lived the experience. The evening includes an informal dinner at which students are seated with alumni who have chosen a career path the students are interested in exploring. Watch your email for an invitation later this fall.


Please contact with any questions regarding Career Night.