News | Published December 7, 2011

Volunteer Can’t Stop Teaching Others

Most people might consider retirement at age 77, but for Dan Stern, a resident of State College, retiring from teaching at nearby South Hills School of Business four years ago, meant he needed something new to do with his free time. He discovered that volunteering at Mount Nittany Medical Center's Emergency Department fit the bill.

"Dan is a superb trainer of new volunteers. He is always finding new ways to improve processes within the emergency department and passing them along to others," said Alice Clark, volunteer services coordinator.

Some of Stern's teaching methods are now used in conjunction with the emergency department's system of Volunteer Flip Cards - permanent cards that were developed to help people navigate their way through each day of volunteering.

"Many volunteers weren't sure what to do when they didn't have instructions or weren't given tasks, but they were entirely willing and able to help in any way," said Stern. "So I developed a checklist of jobs that should be continuously performed, like making sure IV pumps are always stocked."

Stern also played an instrumental role in a focus group conducted last year to improve training and materials for the emergency department.

Now 81, Stern continues to volunteer at Mount Nittany about three days a week. He has a wealth of experience beyond teaching business that he draws upon to educate others. He started his career in the Air Force and later became a business owner before he taught at South Hills School of Business.

"It is important to feel useful no matter at what point you are in your life," said Stern. "Volunteering at Mount Nittany Medical Center provides me with a feeling of accomplishment. I feel privileged to help patients during a time in need, and to teach others when they start volunteering in the department."

Mount Nittany Medical Center is greatly benefited by the roughly 68,000 hours of service volunteers provide annually. There are many volunteer opportunities to assist staff, patients, their families and visitors of the Medical Center, from helping in a specific department to knitting a blanket at home for patients use. To learn about a variety of volunteering opportunities available at Mount Nittany, call 814.234.6170, or visit