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WVSOM, University of Charleston partnership will allow students to earn dual D.O./MBA degree

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LEWISBURG, W.Va. – Starting this summer, students at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) will have the option of learning to manage a business while learning to manage the health of their future patients.

On April 17, WVSOM officially entered into a partnership with the University of Charleston that will allow the medical school’s students to supplement their Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree through a program that lasts a total of five years.

During a ceremony livestreamed from WVSOM’s Lewisburg campus, the presidents of both institutions signed a memorandum of understanding describing the program’s admission procedures, academic policies, tuition and billing, and other elements of the partnership. The D.O./MBA program will begin in July 2023 and will be available to any second-year WVSOM student in good academic standing.

James W. Nemitz, Ph.D., WVSOM’s president, said the agreement will allow the school to better serve students who are motivated to learn about the business side of health care.

“Today’s medical students want the flexibility to seek out additional education that will help them build successful practices,” Nemitz said. “The University of Charleston is an outstanding institution, and we’re happy to work with their administration to offer this option to our hard-working future physicians.”

Marty Roth, Ph.D., MBA, president of the University of Charleston, detailed some of the ways the partnership will help physicians take roles as leaders.

“At the University of Charleston, we are always looking for innovative ways to help students achieve their personal goals and professional success,” Roth said. “This partnership is a unique and exciting opportunity for students to position themselves for roles that require a combination of patient care, management skills and leadership expertise. Our MBA program offers students exceptional applied learning opportunities for advancing their business proficiency and organizational capabilities. We are proud to work with WVSOM to help the next generation of physicians face the changing field of health care, offer exemplary care to their communities, and grow as professionals and individuals.”

The partnership establishes a path for interested students to attend osteopathic medical school for two years of preclinical education before starting a 10-month online program at the University of Charleston, leading to the awarding of an MBA degree. Following completion of the MBA program, students will return to WVSOM to complete third- and fourth-year studies at rotation sites in the school’s Statewide Campus, where learning occurs in clinical settings such as physician offices, medical centers and hospitals.

The MBA program includes courses in applied marketing, health care economics, management, quantitative methods, managerial accounting, health care policy and ethics, managerial economics, managerial finance, international business, strategic decision making, and health care informatics.

Brian Griffith, Ph.D., an associate professor in WVSOM’s Department of Biomedical Sciences who serves as the school’s director of affiliated programs, worked with the University of Charleston to establish the dual degree program. Griffith said the program positions WVSOM to produce medical students who have the business skills to build successful careers. It will also give students an advantage during the residency selection process that takes place before the completion of medical school, he said.

“Health care knowledge is only one part of being a successful physician, so earning two degrees will better prepare our students to enter the health care profession,” Griffith said. “Learning about managing businesses will give them a better understanding of how to run an individual or group practice, or to work in health care administration. We also hope the program will help students be selected for top-tier residency programs, because they will have an additional degree.”

Linda Boyd, D.O., WVSOM’s vice president for academic affairs and dean, said she is pleased that the partnership provides the school’s medical students an educational option they haven’t had in the past.

“Many applicants to medical school look for opportunities to expand their education by getting a dual degree. An MBA is one of the most popular degrees to get while in medical school. The University of Charleston brings students a quality education at an affordable cost, and we are thrilled to offer this opportunity to our students who choose to learn more about the business of health care,” Boyd said.

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WVSOM is a national leader in educating osteopathic physicians for primary care medicine in rural areas. Visit WVSOM online at