WVPA Sharing

West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine joins with WV Press on ‘family sponsorship plan’ for 2023

WVSOM ensuring families are cared for at 2023 WV Press Association events, including upcoming Hall of Fame Celebration

WV Press Staff Report

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine is proud that it is the medical school in the state graduating the most medical students who end up practicing in West Virginia — especially in rural areas of the state — and serving the state’s families by putting physicians in small communities.

That made partnering with the West Virginia Press Association as a “family sponsor” for 2023 a natural fit for WVSOM.

Starting with the recent WV Press Convention in August and now continuing throughout the year, WVSOM will be serving as a “family sponsor” ensuring that guests can bring their families to WV Press events at no cost.

WV Press Executive Director Don Smith said WVSOM’s sponsorship reflects the school’s service to the people of West Virginia.

“The WVSOM sponsorship means that attendees at WV Press events can bring their spouse or significant other and children without the burden of extra individual or company cost,” Smith said. “That is a tremendous benefit to our industry and our guests.

Smith said in these challenging economic times, too often employees are forced to leave family at home when traveling on company business, turning what should be an enjoyable trip into a burden. WVSOM, Smith said, is taking care of that burden.

WVSOM representatives note the school’s commitment to serve, first and foremost, West Virginia and its residents. They take great pride in the number of its graduates working in primary care in West Virginia Communities.

“We’re proud that we produce the largest number of medical students in West Virginia going into primary care each year,” said Linda Boyd, WVSOM’s vice president for academic affairs and dean. “Additionally, we are the medical school in West Virginia that retains more of our students to practice in West Virginia, and to practice in rural areas of the state. WVSOM truly serves West Virginia by populating the state with doctors who are interested in working in small communities.”

James Nemitz

WVSOM President James Nemitz recently told WV Press that since its founding more than a half-century ago, the school has established itself as a nationwide leader “in producing graduates who practice in rural settings.”

“Many of the challenges concern training new physicians in the environment they’re going to work in,” Nemitz said, in explanation of what makes WVSOM stand apart from other medical schools. “A lot of residency programs are in urban areas, and being trained in an urban area doesn’t necessarily prepare you for rural practice.”

“What WVSOM has been so successful at is exposing our students to a rural environment throughout their experience,” Nemitz continued. “The first two years, they’re here in this small town of Lewisburg. But in their third and fourth years they are distributed around the state to other rural areas.”

“Our students learn an appreciation for rural practice, and they get to see how it’s done,” Nemitz added.

“It’s these smaller, community-based residencies that really have a niche,” Nemitz said. “One of the challenges with getting physicians into rural areas is the training – training the person to deal with the issues that they’ll face in rural areas.”

Those issues, according to Nemitz, center around the isolated nature of a rural environment. Resources are often in shorter supply, and frequently farther away, while assistance is not always on the other end of a phone call. 

“These are real issues that you see in West Virginia that impact care,” Nemitz added.

“At WVSOM, we’re proud of the fact that we’ve populated pretty much all of West Virginia with our graduates,” Nemitz said, adding that WVSOM graduates are currently practicing medicine in 51 of the state’s 55 counties.

With WV Press newspapers serving every county in West Virginia, Smith said the partnership is a natural fit. “We both understand the challenges facing our residents and the equally large challenges when serving those residents.”

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