How do you earn the West Virginia Rural Health Association’s (WVRHA) Outstanding Rural Health Provider award?
In the case of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine’s (WVSOM) Mark Waddell, D.O., you work to improve rural health care in West Virginia and around the world which included him serving for 18 years as medical director for Braxton County Memorial Hospital’s emergency department.
Waddell is the winner of the WVRHA’s 2023 Outstanding Rural Health Provider award, receiving the honor during a Nov. 16 luncheon at the 31st annual WVRHA conference at Oglebay Resort in Wheeling.
The WVRHA advocates for empowering all West Virginians to advance their quality of life, well-being and access to excellence in rural health care. Its mission is to unite people, communities and organizations to strengthen rural health in West Virginia.
The association’s provider award recognizes a direct service provider who has exhibited outstanding leadership in the improvement of health care services in rural areas of West Virginia.
WVSOM Class of 2024 student Jessica Brumbaugh nominated Waddell for the award and outlined his efforts in a letter to the WVRHA:
“Through his many academic roles he has inspired and taught hundreds of students across West Virginia. He has personally persuaded many medical students to remain in West Virginia to provide medical care and continue his legacy. … In everything he does, Dr. Waddell lives using the model of servant leadership, and his ultimate impact on the health care of West Virginia may never be fully known.”
While the award is presented by a West Virginia-based association, Brumbaugh’s letter notes that Waddell’s influence extends beyond the state.
“It is clear that Dr. Waddell has a passion for providing health care to the underserved in West Virginia, but a unique aspect of his work is his ability to see the bigger picture. Dr. Waddell has taken his leadership and experience in rural West Virginia to be a medical provider and leader in nine countries … in more than 27 international short-term mission trips across five continents,” Brumbaugh said. Waddell, who has a history of service across West Virginia, thinks the award is the result of cumulative professional achievements, more than any singular effort in 2023.
“I look at it, honestly, as a lifetime achievement award. I’m being recognized in 2023, but they are looking back at everything I have done,” Waddell said.
Being a rural health provider, he said, has always been his goal. “I’m a foot soldier, a trench physician,” Waddell said. “If you go back to the beginning, I’ve always been drawn to rural areas. … One of my passions is wilderness medicine. One of the things I love about West Virginia is the outdoors.”
His work, however, benefits more than his native state.
“Because of my faith, I also am strongly pulled to developing world medical missions. My wife is a nurse, and we have been on 28 short-term international trips. … I just got back from Peru. We’re taking another group to Peru this coming March: the DOCARE students,” he said.
Waddell, who joined WVSOM’s clinical sciences faculty in 2020, is the school’s global health coordinator and an associate professor. He currently practices at CAMC Greenbrier Valley Medical Center in Ronceverte, where he is assistant director of the family medicine residency program, and at the Robert C. Byrd Clinic in Lewisburg.
Prior to receiving his D.O. degree from WVSOM in 1990, Waddell received a Bachelor of Science degree from Alderson Broaddus College in Philippi, in business management and management information systems.
Waddell also has served as a WVSOM preceptor and advanced cardiac life support instructor. Additionally, he assists with the school’s wilderness medicine program.
He helped design the 2022 International Mines Rescue Competition for the National Mine Health and Safety Academy, which is operated by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration. Miners from eight nations competed and hundreds of miners and other industry personnel attended the competition.
Waddell was named the WVSOM Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni of the Year for 2022.
Waddell joins Carolyn Bridgett Morrison, D.O., in 2020, and Bob Foster, D.O., in 2019 as WVSOM faculty members who previously won the WVRHA provider award.
Nominees for the award can include health care providers from any discipline, including physicians, physician associates, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, social workers, nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists and psychologists.