Penn State Lehigh Valley student named to Primary Care Scholars program

A woman sitting down, hands folded, smiling

PSU-LV second-year biology major Esha Bains will attend the Primary Care Scholars Program at Penn State College of Medicine this summer. 

Credit: Esha Bains

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Esha Bains has visited several different doctors for various minor but persistent medical conditions throughout her life. She said the rapport she built with her medical professionals laid the foundation for her own future as a primary care physician. A second-year biology major at Penn State Lehigh Valley (PSU-LV), Bains will have the opportunity to learn more about this medical specialty through the Primary Care Scholars Program at Penn State College of Medicine this summer.

Students in the eight-week program learn about the philosophy and practice of primary care within the disciplines of family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics. Bains’ goal was to attend medical school, she said, but she hadn’t considered specializing in primary care until she gained a better understanding of the relationships these physicians build with their patients.

“I found something personally interesting. There’s a continuity to focusing on primary care — you build a connection with your patients. You might treat a patient and all their family members. You might see their children grow up," said Bains. "Being able to connect with patients is something I think I would want to do. I wanted to keep my mind open and thought this program would be a good opportunity to learn more about the primary care field.”

The scholars program will be held virtually this summer, but students will have opportunities to interact with professionals at the College of Medicine in Hershey through large group presentations, small discussion groups, panel discussions with students, individual application consults and a sample problem-based learning session. Students will also participate in a job shadowing experience with a primary care physician. To apply, Bains had to submit an application, advisor letter, character letter and personal statement of interest.

“I’m excited to connect with other pre-med students who might not know what they want to do, and others who probably know what they want. And getting to hear the different professors will give me a wide variety of perspectives which I think will be interesting prior to going to medical school,” Bains said. “The path will be clearer before medical school and give us a better foundation of knowledge.”

Julie Ealy, professor of chemistry and pre-health adviser at PSU-LV, praised Bains’ work ethic.

“She is a very focused, very dedicated young woman,” Ealy said of Bains. “I look for opportunities for students, especially those who I respect and are kind and considerate.”

Ealy said she felt Bains would find the Primary Care Scholars Program valuable. She’s gotten to know Bains over the past year through their research work studying the interaction of the drug Paxlovid on the active site of the protein involved with COVID. Bains is also a peer tutor for Ealy’s chemistry classes, serves as co-president of both the Health and Human Services (HHS) and STEM Education Clubs, and president of the Anime Club.

The program’s countless networking opportunities have value all their own, Ealy said.

“It will provide Esha with opportunities to get to know the physicians at Penn State College of Medicine and interact with other medical students," said Ealy. "She wants to be a primary care physician in a more rural area where she can help people. She wants to give back in terms of being a doctor. I think that’s really important — when I recommend someone for a program like this, I think it’s really important that they give back.”