Tara Oreface, Tamaqua Assistant Principal; Ray Kinder, Tamaqua Superintendent; Grace Stegemerten, Tamaqua Sophomore; Walter Kruzceck, Tamaqua Blue Raider Foundation; and Wendy Lazo, President St. Luke’s Miners Campus
St. Luke’s University Health Network's Miners Campus and the Tamaqua Blue Raider Foundation will provide a Tamaqua Senior High School student with a scholarship to attend the Penn State Pre-Med Academy this summer.
This year’s scholarship recipient is Grace Stegemerten, a sophomore at Tamaqua. She will travel to University Park campus this July to participate in the six-day Academy, during which she will learn medical techniques, use medical equipment, and gain exposure to the specialties and career possibilities in the medical field.
“[I am interested] in the Penn State Pre-Med Academy to help advance my plans of going into the medical field after graduation,” Stegemerten says. “I am grateful for being given the opportunity to attend this camp, so I can learn techniques and figure out the profession I will pursue in this field.”
The partnership between St. Luke’s Miners Campus and the Tamaqua Blue Raider Foundation was formed two years ago to encourage Tamaqua students interested in the medical profession to gain experience and greater insight into their career options.
“High school students considering a career in the medical field need to make critical decisions that are going to lead them down that road,” explains Wendy Lazo, President of St. Luke's Miners Campus. “Through this partnership, St. Luke's is proud to support local students and serve as a resource for them as they navigate these decisions and learn more about career opportunities. Part of our commitment to our students is that this isn't a once-and-done investment.”
To underscore Lazo's point, the winner of the 2019 Penn State Pre-Med Academy, Lottie Mateyak, returned to St. Luke's Miners Campus for a job-shadowing experience.
“This is a phenomenal opportunity for top students interested in exploring careers in the medical field,” says Walter Kruczek of the Blue Raider Foundation. “It gives students exposure to a collegiate environment and lets them see firsthand what it takes to be successful as a medical student.”
St. Luke's Miners Campus' partnership with the Tamaqua Blue Raider Foundation is just one of the ways it is working to provide guidance to local students with career aspirations in health care. It also holds its annual Future Physicians Dinner, during which local students interested in becoming doctors have dinner with St. Luke's doctors to talk about educational and career paths, and to learn about practicing rural medicine. In 2018, St. Luke's Miners Campus also started a family medicine residency with a rural training track.
“We are now hosting and training residents who are interested in family medicine in a rural setting,” explains Micah Gursky, Director of Business Development & Physician Relations.
“Physicians are more likely to practice in the vicinity of their training. Through programs such as these, we are addressing the physician shortage in our region while providing students with exciting opportunities. We see it as a strong investment in the health of our area.”
Kruzcek lauds St. Luke’s Miners Campus for its commitment to its community.
“This is a great partnership,” he notes. “Tamaqua is not in an area that provides a lot of tax credits and we don't have major corporations in our backyard. We rely on partnerships. St. Luke's is the premier healthcare provider in the region and, with their help, we are able to provide opportunities for our students that have a positive impact on our area now and in the future.”