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Geisinger becomes the first member of Risant Health

Medical students receive tuition relief, stipend and learn unique approach that places primary care at center of patient first medicine

Primary care is claiming a central role at Geisinger and nowhere is its fundamental position more evident than in a new program at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (GCSOM). Last fall, GCSOM announced the Geisinger Primary Care Scholars Program, in which selected scholars receive a monthly stipend and pay no tuition or fees in exchange for an obligation to work in a primary care area (family medicine, internal medicine or medicine-pediatrics) at Geisinger once they finish residency. Today, GCSOM announces the first cohort of students accepted to the program. In addition to the tuition relief and stipend, the scholars will also receive mentorship and training in Geisinger’s newly redesigned practices where primary care is emphasized as the most important doctor-patient relationships are built. The redesign has elevated primary care and provided clinicians with more time and resources to focus on patients, not administrative tasks.
“I am proud to announce the first students admitted to the Geisinger Primary Care Scholars program,” said Steven J. Scheinman, MD, GCSOM president and dean and executive vice president, Geisinger. “They have all demonstrated a strong commitment to primary care. A common theme among these students is a deep desire to be a lifelong positive force in the lives of their patients and the broader community. In this way, they are the perfect embodiment of Geisinger’s vision for primary care and its power to promote wellness by building close doctor-patient bonds.”
Tiffany Garcia of Reading is among the first group of Geisinger Primary Care Scholars. She said, “I am drawn to primary care because it’s the center point for patients. The primary care doctor guides patients and knows everything about them.” Scholar Christopher Kropiewnicki of Nanticoke did a gap year between graduate school and medical school, during which time he worked in an internist’s office. “I observed his relationships with patients. He had known them for years and he seemed to be everybody’s best friend. I decided I want those relationships and that rapport,” he said. Kara Romanowski of Swoyersville has selected medicine-pediatrics as her specialty. “I know I’ll like the continuity of care in med/peds. I enjoy watching kids grow and getting to know people over their lifetimes – and I am excited about staying in NEPA. I have roots here and friends. I am happy to serve my neighbors,” she said.
The announcement marks the first Geisinger Primary Care Scholars program awards distribution to qualified medical students at GCSOM. The students were chosen through a competitive application process. Those selected for the program will receive a monthly stipend and will pay no tuition, in exchange for an obligation to work in a primary care field at Geisinger once they finish residency. Preference is given to students who express a desire to care for the communities Geisinger serves. Selection criteria includes commitment to primary care, demonstrated financial need, academic merit, diversity and predictors of whether the applicant is likely to stay in the region Geisinger serves. According to Dr. Scheinman, up to 40 awards will be made annually.
The first Geisinger Primary Care Scholars are:
MD Class of 2022
  • Sajal Datta of State College
  • Tiffany Garcia of Reading
  • Christopher Kropiewnicki of Nanticoke
  • Steven Picozzo of Moscow

MD Class of 2023
  • Scott Delenick of Pottsville
  • Joseph Hagedorn of Rochester, MN
  • Automm Lombardo of Yardley
  • Kara Romanowski of Swoyersville
  • Thomas Timmerman of Newtown
  • Alison Varano of Mount Carmel
  • Calum Wallace of Stewartstown
Geisinger Primary Care Scholars

About Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine

Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (GCSOM) is a member of the Geisinger family. GCSOM offers a community-based model of medical education with campuses in Danville, Lewistown, Scranton, Sayre and Wilkes-Barre. Geisinger Commonwealth offers Doctor of Medicine (MD) and a portfolio of graduate degrees. The school’s innovative curriculum, focused on caring for people in the context of their lives and their community, attracts the next generation of physicians and scientists from within its region, as well as from across the state and the nation. Geisinger Commonwealth is committed to non-discrimination in all employment and educational opportunities. Visit

About Geisinger
Geisinger is among the nation’s leading providers of value-based care, serving 1.2 million people in urban and rural communities across Pennsylvania. Founded in 1915 by philanthropist Abigail Geisinger, the non-profit system generates $10 billion in annual revenues across 134 care sites - including 10 hospital campuses, and Geisinger Health Plan, with 600,000 members in commercial and government plans. The Geisinger College of Health Sciences educates more than 5,000 medical professionals annually and conducts more than 1,400 clinical research studies. With 26,000 employees, including 1,600 employed physicians, Geisinger is among Pennsylvania’s largest employers with an estimated economic impact of $14 billion to the state’s economy. On March 31, 2024, Geisinger became the first member of Risant Health, a new nonprofit charitable organization created to expand and accelerate value-based care across the country.  Learn more at or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and X.

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Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine
Elizabeth Zygmunt
Director, Media and Public Relations 
Office: 570-504-9687
On Call: 570-687-9703
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