Community engagement is an important component to a medical student’s experience at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM).
That’s why at the beginning of each new academic year the school hosts a WVSOM Day of Service in partnership with the United Way of Greenbrier Valley. The event is where first- and second-year students volunteer at businesses and organizations in the area – offering time and physical labor for the betterment of the community.
This year, 130 students spent the first Saturday of their school year at eight sites across Greenbrier, Monroe and Pocahontas counties to assist in beautification projects.
“The WVSOM/United Way Day of Service is a way for WVSOM students to interact with community members and each other,” said Kristy Farmer, a second-year student and the Student Government Association Translating Osteopathic Understanding into Community Health (T.O.U.C.H.) coordinator. “As a diverse group of students from across the country, volunteering locally is a way to give back to the communities that support us throughout our medical education. These opportunities also allow us to enhance our communication, leadership and teamwork skills.”
Belinda Evans, WVSOM’s director of student life, said the Day of Service event is a good way to start the school year and instill in students the importance of engaging with community members.
“Even though students are only on campus for two years, WVSOM really encourages our students to be active participants in the community and community involvement,” she said. “Of course, the curriculum and classroom learning is primary, but it is also important that our students be engaged with community members because they could be their future patients. We always strive to have our students make a positive impact on the area.”
Last year, WVSOM students volunteered 11,900 hours of service to organizations in the area. This year, locations that benefited from Day of Service volunteers included the Child and Youth Advocacy Center, Greenbrier Episcopal School, Davis Stuart, Frankford Elementary School, Eastern Greenbrier Middle School, CASE WV in Union, Rock Camp/Wikel Ruritan Club and the Pocahontas County Family Resource Network – Harvest Food Pantry.