Drexel University College of Medicine at Tower Health Opens with Celebration
July 28, 2021
By Lisa Ryan
Drexel University College of Medicine, Tower Health and local community members came together Tuesday, July 27 to celebrate the grand opening of the new four-year regional medical campus, Drexel University College of Medicine at Tower Health. The campus, located less than one mile and within walking distance to Reading Hospital, will welcome its inaugural class of 40 first-year medical students in early August.
Charles B. Cairns, MD, the Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg Dean, and senior vice president of medical affairs, said he looks forward to the impact of the campus on its community and on medical education.
“The opening of this campus is so gratifying and solidifies our college’s vision for a truly community-integrated medical college that spans urban, suburban and rural populations,” Cairns said. “This campus will serve as the intersecting point of our high-quality medical education, patient care, research and service missions.”
The College of Medicine at Tower Health’s four-story campus building includes state-of-the-art medical education technology, and its lecture halls, classrooms and common spaces are built to promote collaborative work. The facility also has a fitness center, library, lounges, game room and café space to enhance student wellness.
Students will work together to connect basic science concepts to medical cases, symptoms and disease presentation in the first-floor bioskills laboratory, and practice crucial skills in the adjacent anatomy laboratory.
On the upper floor, future physicians will hone their diagnostic and interpersonal communication techniques in simulated hospital settings. Students practice medical interviewing, physical exams and patient counseling with standardized patients, who are trained to portray scenarios and specific medical conditions.
To build skills in scenarios that would be uncomfortable or unsafe to create with a standardized patient, such as a live birth or bout of high blood pressure, students turn to the Simulation Laboratory. The Simulation Lab’s patient rooms are home to computer-controlled robotic manikins whose vital signs and responses to “treatment” are managed by technicians. Sim Lab sessions are filmed for student and faculty review and skills assessment.
“This building and its layout will help the campus to build community and also encourage our students to make strong connections to faculty, staff and professionals,” said Orcel Kounga, director of admissions and student affairs. “Education, innovation, research and collaboration will thrive in one central, unifying space.”
The class of 2025 will study the same outstanding curriculum as their peers at Philadelphia’s Queen Lane campus, who have the opportunity to join them for clinical rotations at Reading Hospital in their final years of medical school.
Reading Hospital, recently named one of U.S. News & World Report’s top 10 hospitals in Pennsylvania, is Tower Health’s flagship location and the largest hospital between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
The hospital has been a key site of clinical education for College of Medicine students for more than 20 years. Drexel University President John Fry noted that the opening of the new campus allows for increased collaboration between the organizations, which are both invested in quality medical education.
“This incredible new campus builds on this great foundation in service of Drexel University, Tower Health, and Reading Hospital’s shared educational missions,” Fry said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that our partnership will impact this community positively in so many ways. And as for our students, it will provide great opportunities to train and go on to be leaders in medicine, especially in areas in need of more doctors.”
West Reading is home to a diverse and underserved community, which will allow students to learn from and serve patients with varied backgrounds and life experiences. The area is also experiencing economic growth, which College of Medicine at Tower Health faculty members see as a positive catalyst in providing further opportunities for medical students’ community engagement and collaborative learning.
Tower Health President and CEO P. Sue Perrotty often hears from residents and local business-owners who are excited for medical students to join the community.
“They know this partnership will train new physicians to care for their family, friends and neighbors,” Perrotty said. “The medical students, their families and the instructors will live here, work here and they will become customers at local business and restaurants – all making a significant positive impact on the local economy.”
Alexis Price-Moyer, MD Program Class of 2025, grew up in West Reading and said the tight-knit community is ready to bring medical students into the fold. She’s confident the new campus will benefit future physicians and the community alike.
“Having a medical college here will absolutely change the lives of those that may not be as fortunate to see a physician due to cost, and it gives the younger population a clear view that they have the option to pursue a career in medicine,” Price-Moyer said. “It touches my heart that I will be able to give back to a community that I love and have a deep connection to.”
Photo Credit: Lauren Little