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Educating Healthcare Professionals to Meet the Future

Oct 17, 2023 09:43AM ● By Mary DeHaven, St. Luke's University Health Network
The Lehigh Valley is enriched by the many educational institutions that prepare generation after generation to join the workforce. You might be surprised to learn that one of the region’s leading employers is also one of its most prominent educators—St. Luke’s University Health Network.

As the preeminent teaching hospital in Central-Eastern Pennsylvania, St. Luke’s is committed to educating primary care physicians, physician specialists, and nurses, and to providing clinical experiences for many other healthcare professionals. The slate of students beginning their studies throughout the network this month is part of St. Luke’s efforts to ensure the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas have access to abundant, high-quality healthcare services despite national shortages of healthcare providers.

Temple/St. Luke’s School of Medicine

The Temple/St. Luke’s School of Medicine is a central part of St. Luke’s mission to train the next generation of physicians who will serve the Lehigh Valley. With a small class size, Temple/St. Luke’s offers a distinctive educational opportunity—high in quality yet intimate and personalized.
Beginning in 2006, Temple/St. Luke’s School of Medicine has worked collaboratively and in affiliation with Temple’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine in Philadelphia. Since 2020, students may choose to complete all four years of schooling at St. Luke’s Bethlehem, making it the Lehigh Valley’s only four-year medical campus.

Temple/St. Luke’s School of Medicine currently provides education to 300 medical students annually. On May 5, 30 Temple/St. Luke’s School of Medicine students graduated at a ceremony at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, of which 17 graduates will continue their education at St. Luke’s for residency.

St. Luke’s Graduate Medical Education: Training Tomorrow’s Physicians

St. Luke’s continuously expands its post-graduate residency and fellowship training programs, offering specialty medical education programs in Clinical Neurophysiology, Dermatology, Endocrinology, Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, Gynecologic Oncology, Hematology/Oncology, Internal Medicine, Neurology, OB/GYN, Otolaryngology, General Surgery, Pain Medicine, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Radiology, Sleep Medicine, Transitional Year, Vascular Neurology, and many more areas.

On June 16, St. Luke’s University Health Network celebrated the graduation of interns, residents, and fellows who have completed specialty training through residencies and fellowships. Of these, 62 physicians will remain with St. Luke’s. Today, over 470 residents and fellows are enrolled in 49 accredited programs, an increase from 22 in fiscal year 2018. By 2027, St Luke’s will be training more than 550 residents and fellows in 50+ accredited programs.

St. Luke’s Anderson Campus is home to most of the network’s residency and fellowship growth.

St. Luke’s Rural Medicine Program

St. Luke’s Family Medicine Rural Residency and St. Luke’s Psychiatry Rural Residency training programs prepare physicians to practice in small-town settings, strengthening rural communities. The program focuses on preventive, integrated, and chronic care management, such as diabetes, hypertension, COPD, and heart disease. Residents see patients at the St. Luke’s Rural Health Centers in Ringtown and Hometown and visit Pottsville’s homeless and domestic violence shelters.

Several Family Medicine graduates have already signed on for employment at St. Luke’s. The three-year program accepts four new physician residents yearly. With many local physicians nearing retirement, the program aims to train competent, caring physicians to take their place.

St. Luke’s School of Nursing

St. Luke’s School of Nursing,  the nation’s longest continuously-operating nursing school, graduated 79 students in August and has a total enrollment of 325. The 20-month accelerated program features 900 hours of clinical experience within St. Luke’s University Health Network and other local acute care, chronic care, and community agencies. The school offers traditional day, evening, and weekend programs—ideal for students who work or care for children or aging parents during the day.

St. Luke’s University Health Networks typically hires about 80% of nursing students upon graduation.

Other Health Care Professionals

Hundreds of other students from more than 80 colleges, universities, and technical institutes complete clinical training rotations and practicums in healthcare settings within the network. For example, each year, St. Luke’s provides clinical experiences for about 300 advanced practice students, such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and nurse anesthetists.

When it comes to healthcare, a comprehensive education is vital, and few careers are as rewarding as those in the healthcare field.