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West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine building bridges to medical education around the Mountain State

By Derek Redd, The Intelligencer

WHEELING, W.Va. — If one looks around the hospitals throughout the state of West Virginia, they’ll find multiple graduates of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in their ranks, WVSOM President James Nemitz said.

The school desires the opportunity to have a statewide impact. It’s why, Nemitz said, the school has built a statewide campus, placing third- and fourth-year students throughout the Mountain State. It’s also why WVSOM has built partnerships with colleges and universities throughout West Virginia.

Nemitz and his staff want undergraduate students at those institutions to feel that a medical school education is within reach. And, starting next year, WVSOM’s curriculum will evolve to create a learning environment that, in school officials’ minds, will become even more mindful of student wellness.

Osteopathic doctors, or D.O.s, have much in common with M.D.s. They are complete physicians licensed to prescribe medicine and perform surgeries in all 50 states. DOs, Nemitz said, take a “whole person” approach to medicine, treating the entire person rather than just the symptoms with a focus on preventive care.

WVSOM is the state’s largest medical school, with an annual enrollment of more than 800 students.

Based in Lewisburg, the school administers a statewide campus concept for its older students, dividing West Virginia into seven regions and placing students in each of those seven.

“As a result, we have developed relationships with every single hospital system in the state, long term relationships that benefit those hospitals as well as benefit WVSOM and our students,” Nemitz said, “because they provide training in a clinical setting for our students in all the specialties. And in return our students are helping with the delivery of medical care while they’re learning — under supervision, of course – and contributing to healthcare in the state.”

WVSOM students are also required to take a rural rotation in their studies, Nemitz said. That’s not difficult to accomplish, as the entirety of West Virginia can be classified as rural. With those rural rotations, Nemitz said, they become familiar with West Virginia’s hospital systems and often enter residency programs in West Virginia, where there’s a much higher probability of them staying to practice medicine there as a fully licensed physician. …

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