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PAsmart funding to be used to prepare area students for careers in medicine, science

SCRANTON – Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine has received a PAsmart Advancing Computer Science and STEM Education Grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The $494,262 award is designed to support broad, cross-sector partnerships that use an ecosystem or networked approach to:

Expand access to Computer Science (CS)/Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education and promote inclusion (especially for historically underserved students and communities) through learning experiences such as integrative CS/STEM experiences, standalone CS/STEM courses, out-of-school learning, dual enrollment, industry credentials, work-based learning, internships, and apprenticeships; and
Expand and diversify the number of CS/STEM educators at all education levels.

GCSOM will use the grant to work with partner schools to prepare students in Hazleton, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, as well as in Columbia and Northumberland counties, for future careers in medicine and STEM-related fields. The program, PA Physician Ready, will also address the physician shortage, increase diversity in medical careers, and meet the health workforce demands in Pennsylvania. The PA Physician Ready Program will serve 160 high school students who are underrepresented in STEM and economically and/or educationally disadvantaged, first-generation, and from rural areas experiencing barriers to higher education.

Through the initiative, students in grades 11 and 12 will:

Engage in summer residential enrichment programs focused on pathways and careers in medicine
Become certified in Stop the Bleed, CPR, First Aid, and Mental Health CPR 
Receive training in essential computer and research skills for healthcare professionals 
Visit GCSOM bi-monthly during the academic year to participate in workshops focused on gross anatomy, patient simulations and communication, and science experiments
Receive monthly online workshops related to college and career planning, employability skills, and STEM topics
Participate in structured clinical exposure and outreach hours in Geisinger hospitals 

Starting this fall, PA Physician Ready is modeled on GCSOM’s successful Regional Education Academy for Careers in Health – Higher Education Initiative (REACH-HEI) program. REACH-HEI boasts a 100% high school graduation rate and a 95% college-going rate, with 92% pursuing health/medical related majors.

Michelle Schmude, Ed.D., M.B.A., associate dean for admissions, enrollment management & financial aid and an associate professor at GCSOM, will serve as principal investigator for the grant. “Research shows that diverse students cite lack of mentors, limited exposure to health professionals of similar racial and ethnic backgrounds, and poor advising as barriers to entering STEM professions,” she said. “We know from REACH-HEI’s success that exposure and mentoring from URM medical students at GCSOM and diverse providers within the Geisinger system itself inspire high school students and give them the confidence to envision themselves in a STEM career. We are excited to roll the program out for 160 more students in our region who may one day deliver care in our neighborhoods. And we are grateful to the Department of Education for recognizing PA Physician Ready’s potential to transform young people’s lives.”

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

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For education media inquiries

Elizabeth Zygmunt
Marketing and Communications Strategist for Education
Office: 570-504-9687
On call: 570-687-9703

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