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Osteopathic medical school program sends students back home to practice medicine

By Esteban Fernandez, Times West Virginian

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. — The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine’s Site Selection program is bringing local medical talent back home, adding coverage to areas that need it.

“The whole program is really just a retention of local talent,” Dr. Eric J Radcliffe, executive director of the UHC Family Medicine department said. “I mean, just like you would with teaching, or engineering or anything else, the program is built to retain local talent. It works well. And the thinking is that if you train local positions, they’re more likely to stay here and take care of the families in West Virginia. That’s kind of our mission statement.”

The program maintains 20 base sites where WVSOM students can practice, including the WVU United Hospital Center in Bridgeport. Students who lived within a 50-mile radius of a base site at the time of their application to the school qualify for Home Site Selection. Upon selection, students have the opportunity to practice medicine near their homes. Partnerships with the WVU Medicine system provide a wide coverage net that WVSOM can fill with its students.

Rural medicine comes with its own challenges, including a lack of resources and equipment in hard-to-reach places.

“I think that there’s a lack of resources a lot of times in those communities and as a student who is training I think that sometimes it can be less inviting to go to a facility where maybe you don’t have all the resources that you might need and it can be a little bit daunting,” Alyssa Chafin, WVSOM student and class of 2025, said.

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