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Temple/St. Luke’s School of Medicine a ‘Golden Gem’ for the Lehigh Valley

By Colin McEvoy on September 13, 2021

The Temple/St. Luke’s School of Medicine is a four-year school serving 160 students, located on the St. Luke’s University Hospital – Bethlehem Campus. (photo courtesy St. Luke’s University Health Network)

The Lehigh Valley is well-known for its robust health care sector. Employing more than 58,000 people, it is the region’s top industry in terms of employment, and the region’s two world-class health networks and multiple hospitals provide incredible quality-of-life assets for Lehigh Valley residents.

But even those living here may not be aware of the Temple/St. Luke’s School of Medicine, a regional medical school campus located within the St. Luke’s University Health Network, which is helping to educate and mold the physicians of tomorrow for the region and beyond.

“This school is a golden gem for our health care community, and I think there are a lot of people in the Lehigh Valley who aren’t even necessarily aware of what we have here,” said Senior Associate Dean Shaden Eldakar-Hein, who noted the same St. Luke’s professionals caring for the community through St. Luke’s are also teaching at the school.

“As the region’s only medical school, we offer the ability to frame the future of our own community’s health care, which is pretty incredible,” Eldakar-Hein said. “And our faculty are involved and engaged, which helps us maintain a cutting edge atmosphere.”

The Temple/St. Luke’s School of Medicine was created in 2010. It is a four-year school serving 160 students.  It is located on the St. Luke’s University Hospital – Bethlehem Campus, which was recently ranked as the #1 Major Teaching Hospital in the country by IBM Watson.

Medical School graduates next complete residencies and fellowships before beginning the work in their chosen field.  St. Luke’s currently hosts residents and fellows in 38 separate programs at its campuses, making it the largest teaching hospital in the region.  “After completing their medical school work, I look forward to recruiting the students into our graduate medical education programs,” Chief Graduate Medical Education Officer J.P. Orlando said.

Shaden Eldakar-Hein (photo courtesy St. Luke’s University Health Network)

About 30% of the students who graduated from Temple/St. Luke’s Medical School last year went on to attend a St. Luke’s graduate residency program, Eldakar-Hein said.

“This year we interviewed and matched with many individuals with local ties, which is ideal because there is a stronger possibility of them staying here if they train here – meaning more physicians particularly in high-demand specialties to help care for our community, including family medicine, emergency medicine, dermatology, neurology and cardiology” said Orlando.

St. Luke’s also has a tuition reimbursement program, which affords qualifying medical students the opportunity to become a doctor at nearly no cost to them. The program is directed to students who pursue a career in primary care medicine and chose to practice at St. Luke’s after graduation.

Eldakar-Hein was appointed Senior Associate Dean in December 2020. Her background is hospital medicine, and she previously worked at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont as assistant dean for students, as well as the associate residency program director of internal medicine.  She is also a clinical ethicist and is passionate about hospital-based medicine and her work as a consulting ethicist.

“Ethics is woven throughout every component of health care and it’s critical to educate tomorrow’s physicians to not only excel clinically, but to use ethics as their touchstone,” Eldakar-Hein said.

St. Luke’s University Health Network is a long-time investor in the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, and Ray Midlam, St. Luke’s Vice President of Business Development & Strategy, serves on the LVEDC Board of Directors.

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