Health and Science Lab at the Lewistown Center


Your Allied Health Care Lab Close to Home

Nothing can replace hands-on clinical training for nurses and other health care professionals; yet, in rural areas like Juniata and Mifflin counties, that experience can be hard to find.

The Health and Science Lab at the Penn State Learning Center provides students and practicing health care professionals with access to a high-tech clinical experience close to home.

RN student Mark Jordan was among the first students to benefit from the new lab. He is an LPN at Lewistown Hospital and a volunteer EMT. He hopes to combine his emergency management experience with an RN degree to become a flight nurse or work in disaster relief.

“We work with patients all day, but the lab puts it all together. It is wonderful to get this hands-on experience and to get to see the intricacies of the human body,” Mark explains.

The hands-on training lab is used primarily by students pursuing degrees in:

    Meet the Sims

    They have a pulse, breath, and blood pressure — and they can fall into distress at any moment. They are lifelike human patient simulators that students are introduced to as a critical part of their education.

    Human patient simulators are great tools that can be programmed with realistic scenarios to test students’ clinical and decision-making skills.

    “These simulated sessions will better equip students with important clinical skills required to work with actual patients,” says Dr. Kirk Gilbert, science coordinator and rural health educator at the center.

    Through these simulation sessions, students experience clinical cases that they may never encounter during their rotation at a rural hospital.

    Students in Lewistown have access to seven of these simulators produced by Laerdal, including two high-fidelity models, SimMan® and SimNewB™.

    SimMan has realistic anatomy that allows students to practice advanced lifesaving skills, while SimNewB has realistic newborn traits. Being able to conduct neonatal training in Lewistown is a huge plus because students wouldn’t see many of these cases at local health care facilities.

    Two mid-fidelity Nursing Anne models allow students to explore training in women’s health, obstetrics, postpartum, wound assessment and care, and general patient assessment and care.

    The simulation experience is rounded out with two more mid-fidelity pediatric simulators, an advanced lifesaving simulator, and several task trainers that let students practice specific tasks like placing an IV.

    An Emphasis on Science

    The basic science teaching lab is another major feature of the facility. It has five fully equipped workstations complete with microscopes, dissection equipment, and standard lab appliances. This is where students do hands-on training in anatomy, physiology, chemistry, and microbiology.

    Right now the main focus of the lab is college degree work, but Dr. Gilbert would like to see its mission expand to include continuing medical education so allied health care professionals do not need to travel long distances for recertification.

    Dr. Gilbert also works with area high schools to open up the facility to their students, and offers a weeklong science camp for junior high–age students to give them a positive science experience.

    The lab is supported by Lewistown Hospital, the Lewistown School of Nursing, Mifflin–Juniata Career and Technology Center’s practical nursing program, and a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor.

    For More Information about the Lab Contact:

    Tammy Specht
    Clinical Laboratory Coordinator
    717-248-9618 or


    Penn State welcomes students with disabilities to participate in its educational programs. If you anticipate needing special accommodations or have questions about physical access, please contact the Office for Disability Services (ODS) or call 814-863-1807 (V/TTY).