Former medical doctor brings teaching skills to Harrisburg University’s Integrative Sciences program

Working as a doctor at his private medical practice in Lancaster County kept Dr. Richard Jackson wrapped up in the needs of his patients and pushed aside his heart for teaching.

But when it came time for Dr. Jackson to consider retirement, he stumbled upon an ad for Harrisburg University of Science and Technology’s corporate faculty program.

“It seemed like a great way for me to use my medical expertise and pursue that dream of being in the classroom,” he said.

After two years of working as a biology professor, Dr. Jackson joined Harrisburg University full time as an associate professor in the department of Integrative Sciences.

In the classroom, Dr. Jackson is able to go beyond what he taught medical students who used to shadow him at his Lancaster County practice. Instead of trying to balance teaching and caring for patients, Dr. Jackson is able to focus on the needs of students who will someday enter the medical field.

Harrisburg University’s students made an impression on Dr. Jackson almost immediately with their willingness to learn. Students seemed eager to learn from his classroom teachings as well his antidotes on real-world experience.  The small class sizes also allow him to advise and mentor students who he can develop academic relationships with, he said.

“The fit seemed really great for me,” Dr. Jackson said. “In my biology classes, I’m able to show examples of things I’ve encountered in the medical field. When I teach classes with students who aren’t science majors, I can break down complex theories, much as a doctor would explain a diagnosis or procedure to patients.”

Dr. Jackson also finds that his medical experience has become an asset to students who might enter the medical field, whether they are pursuing careers in pharmacy, therapy or as physician assistants.

While he admits that he still gets a little nervous standing in front of a large classroom of students, Dr. Jackson’s experience at Harrisburg University has been fulfilling. The transition from corporate faculty to a full-time position allows him to dive more deeply into relationships with students and faculty as they develop learning experiences, he said.

Going forward, Dr. Jackson hopes to continue to guide students going through the premedical program and make suggestions on curriculum that could tie in well with his knowledge of the medical industry.

“Teachers work a lot harder than I ever thought they did,” Dr. Jackson said, laughing. “Teaching at HU allows me to keep the things I love about the medical field, such as interacting with people, without continuing to work through the demands of running my own business. It was time for the next chapter of my career, and I’m happy to have found that at Harrisburg University.”