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Our members know their states! This week we hear all about Pennsylvania from our PA member, Judd, about what makes his state a standout.

Name: Judd Mellinger-Blouch

City, State: Harrisburg PA 

Organization: Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers / Pennsylvania Primary Care Career Center  

How long have you lived in the state? Why do you choose to live there? I’ve lived here almost my entire life. Pennsylvania has everything you could want… major urban areas, mountains and waterways, close to the Atlantic beaches, history, economic vitality. I stay here mostly because of my family, but I also think it’s an underrated state for natural beauty. 

How is 3RNet impacting your state? 3RNet allows us to recruit across the nation without a lot of cost. Many Pennsylvanians go to school outside of the “Keystone State,” and they often want to come back after school. Also, we get folks moving here who have family or friends living in Philly, Pittsburgh and other areas. 

What are the best cultural events that happen in your state? Pennsylvania has numerous outdoor concert venues including Mann Music Center in Philadelphia, Hershey Stadium in Hershey PA, and Montage Mountain in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. You can see symphonies, ballets, musicals and more in many areas including Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

What loan repayment programs does your state have? Anything that makes those programs unique? The Pennsylvania Primary Care Loan Repayment program offers up to $100,000 to physicians and dentists for two years of service. This year a new Substance Abuse Disorder Loan Repayment Program will be offered. 

How is the J-1 Visa Waiver program utilized in your state? Our Conrad 30 J1 visa program is geared toward primary care, although some specialists are allowed in if there is capacity. In addition, geographically about three-quarters of the state lies within the Appalachian Regional Commission territory, meaning we can offer more than 30 visa waivers.

Are healthcare professionals valued in your state? Do you have any examples? Our current Secretary of Health, Rachel Levine, is a pediatrician. When the secretary is not a physician, Pennsylvania names a Physician General to advocate for healthcare professionals and patients.

Why do people travel to your state? There are many reasons, but two of them are history and food. From Independence Hall in Philadelphia to the battlefields of Gettysburg to Fort Duquesne in Pittsburgh, it’s hard to beat Pennsylvania’s historic past. As for food, you can choose between chocolate in Hershey or a mixture of fine cuisine and outstanding sandwiches in the bigger cities.

What sports teams does your state have? Philadelphia has four major teams – Phillies, Flyers, Eagles, Sixers – while Pittsburgh has three – Penguins, Steelers and Pirates. There are also minor league teams throughout the state. Major college sports, including Penn State and Pitt football and Villanova basketball, are beloved by many Pennsylvanians.

What is your favorite local food? Pennsylvania’s “Amish Country” is home to some delicious treats like whoopie pies (also called ‘gobs’) and Pennsylvania Dutch shoo-fly pie. 

What is the biggest misconception about your state? That Pennsylvania is all steel mills and coal mines.

What are the biggest industries in your state? Farming is a surprisingly large industry here, particularly dairy farming. Another growing industry is microbreweries. Pennsylvania produces more microbrewery beer than any other state.

How is the weather/climate in your state? Pennsylvania has a moderate climate that varies quite a bit from our northwest corner to our southeast corner. Fall is probably our most beautiful season.

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