2 students standing next to teacher as they examine a sheep's brain.

Kristal Tucker, far right, with two Penn State Greater Allegheny students.

Image: Penn State

Clinical research course and internship to be established at Greater Allegheny

MCKEESPORT, Pa. — Penn State Greater Allegheny is providing its biobehavioral health and psychology students with new opportunities in clinical research. Beginning Spring 2020, Greater Allegheny will be partnering with the Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Research Institute to create hands-on training experiences in the clinical setting.   

Students will be able to take a 3-credit lecture course in clinical research that could help them earn a summer internship with the Pittsburgh-based health network.  

“By taking this course, students will be able to gain a working knowledge of clinical research practice, differentiating [Greater Allegheny’s] biobehavioral health and psychology students when it comes time for graduate and medical school interviews, and for direct, competitive placement into the world of work,” said Kyle Bird, director of the AHN Research Institute. “This is an excellent opportunity for Greater Allegheny students to receive hands-on training and working experience from a potential employer and make valuable connections with potential peers and patients while adding valuable experience to their resume.”    

The course will be taught in three subcategories: Research Theory; Historical Perspectives of Research and Misconduct; and Tactics and Strategies to Deploy Clinical Research.  

“The partnership with Allegheny Health Network Research Institute provides Penn State Greater Allegheny students hands-on training in clinical research and experience with patients in a clinical setting, things you can’t get from a textbook,” said Kristal Tucker, assistant professor of biology at Greater Allegheny. “At the moment, Penn State Greater Allegheny is the only Penn State campus that offers this type of experience for undergraduates.”   

AHN seeks to train the next generation of healthcare workers. The partnership between both institutions will provide a mutually beneficial experience to both Greater Allegheny students and AHN as both partners advance their research and education missions.

Students who secure an internship should expect to be assigned to a department based on their interests.  

“The internship consists of one-on-one mentorships with an experienced clinical research coordinator in Allegheny Health Network’s Cancer Institute, Cardiovascular Institute, Orthopedics Institute, Surgery Institute and the Women and Children’s Institute,” said Bird. 

The partnership came into fruition when Kyle Bird contacted John Peles, coordinator of the Biobehavioral Health Program at Greater Allegheny. 

“Mr. Bird was interested in developing a pipeline of college graduates trained to do clinical research for positions he constantly has available within Allegheny Health Network,” said Tucker. “This partnership will provide him with a trained workforce, and our students with training and experience to get positions in a high demand health care field.”

Internships with AHN are slated for the Summer 2020 semester, and may consist of work within Oncology, the Cardiovascular Institute, Neuroscience, or the Department of Medicine, Surgery and Orthopedics. 

For more information on both the course and the internship, please contact Tucker at krt18@psu.edu or Bird at kkb5676@psu.edu.