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Students, doctors make connections

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    Dr. Gregory Dobash speaks with students during the 10th annual Future Physicians Dinner, sponsored by St. Luke’s Miners Campus. CASSANDRA JOHNSTONE/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

Published March 25. 2019 12:09PM


The 10th annual Future Physicians Dinner, sponsored by St. Luke’s Miners Campus, was held Saturday at the Tamaqua Train Station Restaurant.

St. Luke’s sponsors this dinner annually to give local students a chance to make connections with doctors.

“This is a very informal event. We want the students to feel comfortable and get the most out of their conversations with the doctors,” Micah Gursky, administrator of St. Luke’s Rural Health Clinics, said.

The tables were filled with a perfect mixture of high school and college students, residents and doctors. The room quickly filled with chatter and all seemed nervous yet eager to get the most out of the experience.

One person in attendance had this experience as a student and was now attending as a doctor 10 years later.

Dr. Daniel Plavin was a Jim Thorpe Area High School senior when he attended the same dinner in 2010. He returned to this year’s dinner as a new upcoming resident with the St. Luke’s Family Medicine Rural Residency Training Track Program.

Plavin was recruited into the St. Luke’s Future Physicians Program in his junior year at Jim Thorpe. He also worked EMS locally and saw firsthand the need for more medical professionals in the area.

“My dream was to always come back to this area and work for St. Luke’s, ever since high school,” Plavin said, noting that his plans include family medicine and urgent care services due to his EMS background.

More than a handful of students attended from area schools, including Jim Thorpe, Panther Valley, Lehighton and Marian Catholic.

Samantha Banning is a senior at Lehighton High School. She attended the dinner because she is looking to enter the medical field.

“I wanted to see what opportunities that St. Luke’s can give to students around this local area,” Banning said.

She is thinking about medical school and was accepted into the Penn State College of Nursing, but she is “weighing all of the options and looking at different medical schools as well.”

Samantha’s father, Dr. Todd Banning, is a cardiologist with St. Luke’s.

She said, “He sees all the great opportunities they can give him and he really enjoys working for St. Luke’s.”

Dr. Gregory Dobash is a physician with St. Luke’s Ashland Family Practice, the director of the Rural Health Centers at Miners Campus, and the site director for the Residency Training Track program, Hometown Rural Health Center in Tamaqua.

Samantha Banning, as well as other high school students and a new resident with St. Luke’s Residency Training Track, Dr. Alexandra Rebuck of Danville, discussed the health care industry with Dobash during dinner.

“There is a nationwide physician shortage, and our area, and rural areas in general, are especially hard hit. We are training the next generation of rural family physicians, and we are encouraging our residents to enter rural practice. The goal of the program is to train and retain future physicians to serve our communities here,” Dobash said.

The annual “Dinner with a Doc” is an opportunity for the students to network and ask questions. Students can take what they learn here and use that information to help them with their future college and career decisions. The connections made at the event can help them down the road when seeking internships or shadowing for real-life experience. Some may even decide to get into the St. Luke’s Future Physicians Program, like Plavin, and may come back to practice in our area as well.


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