School of Medicine


Temple/St. Luke’s School of Medicine Graduates 38 New Doctors
May 15, 2024

Graduating from the Temple/St. Luke’s School of Medicine was dream come true for Ankita Bassi, MD, who has focused on becoming a doctor for as long as she can remember. The longtime Palmer Township resident achieved this goal on May 10 at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, along with her 37 St. Luke’s classmates, who trained to become doctors for the past four years at St. Luke’s University Health Network in Bethlehem.

“I can’t see myself in any other profession,” said the longtime resident of Palmer Township, who grew up as a St. Luke’s patient, volunteered and did research there before entering med school. Next, she will train in the St. Luke’s Family Medicine residency at its Anderson Campus, not far from her home.

“My life has revolved around getting these two letters (MD—medical doctor) after my name, so I can take care of my community where I’ve lived since I was 8 years old,” added the graduate of Moravian University in Bethlehem. 

Ten other newly minted physicians at St. Luke’s will begin advanced residency training in July at the Bethlehem-based network. This medical school class is the first one ever that trained in the St. Luke’s network during all four years.

Temple/St. Luke’s is the Lehigh Valley’s first and only four-year medical school. By cultivating the region’s brightest home-grown medical talent, such as Bassi, who hopes to stay in the Lehigh Valley as a practicing physician, St. Luke’s is helping the region to secure its health and well-being amid a worsening doctor shortage nationally.

Dr. Bassi’s classmate, Ariel Pawlo, MD, will next train in St. Luke’s Emergency Medicine (EM) residency, a specialty that she admits fits her need for speed.

“I almost chose in-line speedskating as a profession (which she does to relax!), because I like to move fast,” Dr. Pawlo, of Morristown, NJ, adds with a smile. “As an EM doctor, I’ll look forward to doing procedures, treating all kinds of medical conditions and building relationships with patients of all ages, all at a fast pace.” In three lightning-fast years, she will be among the first residents to complete the program at the Anderson Campus.

Vanden Grube, MD, a Lancaster County native, is entering the four-year-old Dermatology residency also at St. Luke’s Anderson Campus. This specialty attracts him because, “Dermatologists wear many hats: surgeon, pathologist, infectious disease specialist, immunologist. We treat conditions on the surface of the skin and below at a cellular level.”

He’s excited to be training in the Lehigh Valley with many of his Temple/St. Luke’s classmates and the faculty physicians he has learned from and forged friendships with over the past four years. “Staying at St. Luke’s for residency and taking care of the community will be an honor.” 

 According to a very proud Shaden Eldakar-Hein, MD, the Medical School’s senior associate dean, “Any hospital and residency program will be fortunate to welcome one of our graduates. Each member of our 2024 class has demonstrated repeatedly that they will make skilled, thoughtful, and compassionate physicians.” St. Luke’s helps each med student—many of whom are becoming the first doctor in their family—pay for their education through a yearly $10,000 scholarship, and provides $20,000 in debt relief to doctors who stay here and train as residents in primary care.

Dr. Bassi was grateful, though surprised, to receive her $20,000 check just before graduation, which will help reduce her considerable medical school debt.

“I was stunned, but happy, to get this nice incentive,” she beamed.

Dr. Grube called the yearly scholarship “a blessing.”

Added Dr. Pawlo, “in addition to this medical school being a great learning experience, the $10,000 definitely played a role in my choice to come here, and it’s another reason I’m eager to repay it by serving this community.”

“It’s worth saying how grateful we are to this network for all the opportunities and support we’ve been given to help us achieve these goals,” she continued. “They’ve been the hardest four years of our lives so far, and we couldn’t have done it without all the support from St. Luke’s.”