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CHAMBERSBURG (Aug. 7, 2019) –  A unique program hosted by WellSpan Summit Health encourages medical students to consider practicing medicine in a rural setting, hopefully within the Franklin County Community.

Third-year medical students spend an entire year with community physicians in their offices and hospitals instead of a medical school setting.

Research shows most medical students decide to practice medicine within 60 miles of where they receive their training.

The program gives medical students an opportunity to connect with the community at a very early stage in their medical training.  Through the program, students develop long-lasting relationships with patients they continue to see.

Hopefully, these connections encourage students to return to practice medicine here one day, Dr. Kanika Shanker, Pediatric Endocrinologist and preceptor for the program, said.

Known as the longitudinal integrated clerkship program, it is an academic collaboration between WellSpan-Summit Health and Penn State College of Medicine.

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The idea is to improve access to patient-centered high quality, cost-effective health care for local residents by creating an educational environment for training the next generation of healthcare providers.

Unique Program Encourages Student’s Return

The program gets medical students into local facilities in hopes of encouraging them to return to Franklin County later.

“Our patients are at the center of every decision we make,” said Niki Hinckle, senior vice president of physician services for WellSpan-Summit Health. “We’re excited for this opportunity and will continue to find ways to serve our patients well.”

“Those who are involved in the program are very devoted to medical education,” Shanker said. “We believe in the philosophy of giving the gift of education to the next generation of future physicians.”

WellSpan Summit and Keystone Health providers are committed to delivering the best experience they can to the students.

Dr. Laszlo Madaras, director of the WellSpan Summit program, said the community has already realized benefit from the students.

“The students have not only received excellent education on rural medicine, but have been able to give back to the community through the experience, including the development of educational materials for patients with diabetes who cannot read,” he said.

“This program holds extreme value to our community,” Hinckle said. “It could not function without the extreme care and dedication of our preceptors, who are working very hard to share their knowledge and experience with the students.”

The program, which started in 2018, has continued to expand. For more information on WellSpan Summit Health, please visit

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