A basketball player at Allentown Central Catholic High School and Muhlenberg College, Chris Pothering lived for hoops. Yet when he took a break to receive care for a knee condition, Pothering’s course changed.
“I had surgery from a local orthopedic surgeon,” says Pothering of Thomas DiBenedetto, MD, with Lehigh Valley Health Network. “His work was so interesting to me that he let me shadow him.”
So began Pothering’s interest in becoming a doctor. The Allentown native earned a Bachelor of Science degree at Muhlenberg, and then a master’s degree in anatomy at Penn State’s College of Medicine in Hershey, Pa. Now age 28, he’s completing second-year studies in SELECT, the health network’s medical school partnership with University of South Florida’s (USF) Morsani College of Medicine.
As part of the first class of medical students with SELECT (which stands for Scholarly Excellence. Leadership Experiences. Collaborative Training.), Pothering spent two years studying at USF in Tampa, Fla. In May, he and his 17 classmates will begin their final two years of study inside Lehigh Valley Health Network and will live in our community. “I haven’t chosen a specialty yet,” Pothering says, “but I know I want to practice in the Lehigh Valley.”
Attracting the best and brightest medical students to practice inside our community is the foundation of SELECT, says health network family medicine doctor Drew Keister, MD. That’s because health care leaders predict a potential shortage of 45,000 patient care physicians nationwide by 2020.
“Getting medical students practical experience in a teaching hospital like ours prior to their residency is an excellent learning opportunity, and a great way to showcase our community,” says Keister, one of the health network doctors teaching SELECT students.
For Pothering, returning to the Lehigh Valley is a meaningful homecoming. “I’ve had great people who raised me, doctors who influenced me, and friends and family members who helped me,” he says. “This is my chance to give back to them and the community.”