LEWISBURG, W.Va. — A local public health hero will tell her story when the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) hosts its annual Celebrate Osteopathic Medicine (COM) Week, which this year will take place April 11-18.
WVSOM will host a presentation titled “Why I Chose Osteopathic Medicine and Rural Public Health” by Carolyn “Bridgett” Morrison, D.O., health officer and medical director of the Greenbrier County Health Department, at noon, April 13. The virtual event will be recorded and will be viewable by the public at WVSOM’s website (www.wvsom.edu) starting April 14.
Lewisburg Mayor Beverly White signed a proclamation on April 7 declaring April 11-18 to be Celebrate Osteopathic Medicine Week in the city.
“WVSOM hosts one public event each year to celebrate the week and bring attention to the value of osteopathic medicine and the contributions our graduates are making,” said Bob Foster, D.O., the school’s assistant dean for osteopathic medical education and the organizer of COM Week. “This is a unique year, and Dr. Morrison has had a great impact on our county and region.”
Morrison helped lead Greenbrier County’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. She will discuss her journey in medicine and what makes someone choose osteopathic medicine as a career, as well as the value of public health and how a physician can develop a practice in the specialty.
Morrison was raised in southeastern West Virginia and worked as a paramedic, a 911 dispatcher and a county medical examiner before attending WVSOM. After receiving her medical degree in 2007, she completed a family medicine residency at Greenbrier Valley Medical Center in Ronceverte, W.Va., where she now serves as director of medical education. In addition to her position at the Greenbrier County Health Department, Morrison has worked in primary care and as an emergency physician, a hospitalist, a nursing home attending physician, and as a faculty member in WVSOM’s clinical sciences department.
White also proclaimed April 14 to be “Standardized Patient Day in the Life of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine,” in honor of individuals from the community who have been trained to portray the role of a patient with a specific medical condition.
WVSOM’s COM Week accompanies the American Osteopathic Association’s National Osteopathic Medicine (NOM) Week, observed this year on April 18-24. NOM Week is intended to bring members of the osteopathic community together to raise national awareness of osteopathic medicine.
Osteopathic physicians can prescribe medicine and practice in all medical specialties, including surgical specialties. They are trained to evaluate the whole body and to use their hands to help diagnose and treat patients. In West Virginia, more than 1,200 osteopathic physicians work to improve the health of state residents, Foster said.
Earlier this week, WVSOM was once again recognized by the U.S. News & World Report “America’s Best Graduate Schools” recognized WVSOM for the 23rd consecutive year for its 2022 edition.
The school is ranked No. 16 in the percentage of 2012 to 2014 graduates practicing direct patient care in rural areas and is ranked No. 14 in the percentage of 2012 to 2014 graduates practicing in primary care specialties. The school is also ranked No. 41 in graduates practicing direct patient care in areas with health professional shortages during that three-year period.
This year, the school was listed fourth in the nation by the publication for producing the most primary care residents. The report shows that 69% of WVSOM graduates from 2018 to 2020 entered primary care residencies upon completing medical school.
Part of WVSOM’s mission is to provide a curriculum that encourages medical students to practice primary care in rural areas.
“A commitment to educating primary care physicians who will serve in rural areas is at the heart of our mission,” said WVSOM President James W. Nemitz, Ph.D. “WVSOM’s recognition as a top medical school in primary care speaks to the dedication of the school’s faculty and staff to delivering an education that will enable our students to provide holistic, compassionate and quality care to their future patients.”
Primary care, which includes family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics, is the leading specialty of WVSOM graduates, but they may choose to practice in any specialty.
“While WVSOM does place an emphasis on educating students who want to enter primary care residencies, our graduates are represented in most specialty areas,” said Craig Boisvert, D.O., WVSOM’s vice president for academic affairs and dean. “From the moment students begin their medical school journey, we offer a robust curriculum to help them explore their health care interests as well as many supporting programs that help them determine which specialty is right for them. We encourage primary care specialties, especially in underserved communities, but WVSOM graduates leave medical school with an education and training that is ideal for any specialty.”
Additionally, WVSOM was listed in the category of research and ranked No. 56 in the category of diversity.
Medical school deans and senior faculty from across the U.S. determined the U.S. News & World Report listings based on educational programs. Results were collected from a survey of accredited allopathic and osteopathic medical schools across the country. The full report recognizes institutions that offer top programs in fields of study such as business, law, medicine, engineering and education.