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2023 Benigna Education Award

Kris Rooney

Kris McGurrin Rooney, MD ’97

The Benigna Education Award recognizes an alumna or alumnus for his or her outstanding contributions to the field of education. Administrators, college professors, elementary and secondary teachers, and all those in the teaching profession are eligible. To be considered, nominees should have made significant innovations in the teaching profession or otherwise substantially impacted the education process, and in addition, have demonstrated dedication to the community at large.

Kris McGurrin Rooney, MD ’97 is a doctor of medicine, but her work supporting young medical professionals and promoting overall well-being makes her an educator at heart.

Kris graduated magna cum laude from Moravian in 1997 with a degree in clinical psychology  and a minor in biology. She played women's tennis and women's basketball all four years. She also spent her summers at Moravian, coaching youth sports camps. Kris went on to medical school at the Penn State College of Medicine and graduated in 2004. She completed her residency and fellowship training at Penn State Children’s Hospital in Hershey and returned home, where she accepted a physician role at Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital of the Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN). She currently serves as LVHN’s Chief Wellness Officer.

Kris first found her calling in graduate medical education while serving as a rotation leader in inpatient pediatrics. She developed a formal curriculum for students and emergency and family medicine residents rotating through her clinical area. In 2012, she helped found LVHN’s Pediatric Residency Program, the network’s first accredited program of its kind. Since then, the program has graduated eight classes of pediatricians and is currently in the process of expanding.

Kris has served as a mentor to numerous resident physicians, supporting their career goals and guiding them to reach their desired fellowship programs and career sites. She has held faculty appointments at Penn State College of Medicine and currently holds an appointment at University of South Florida College of Medicine. Kris has developed and implemented a robust certifying board exam preparatory curriculum that integrates adult learning styles to improve residency board pass rates.

When the COVID pandemic forced learning to go virtual, resident physicians were at a loss in continuing their training, which requires in-person, hands-on experience. Kris developed online curricular lessons for clinical rotations, allowing residents to continue their training despite COVID restrictions and stay on track for graduation.

Kris has presented countless medical lectures, grand rounds, and symposiums through the years to medical students, residents, and faculty. She has been invited to speak at numerous regional and national education conferences, presenting on topics such as residency program development, mentorship, clinical teaching, leadership, exam preparation curriculum, and navigating residency training during the COVID pandemic. Kris is also a published author in multiple journals on the health sciences, critical care, and pediatrics.