West Virginia’s two U.S. senators and the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) touted the significance of osteopathic medicine in the Mountain State during a week devoted to promoting the profession.
U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito were among a group of legislators who introduced a resolution designating Apr. 17-23, 2023, as National Osteopathic Medicine (NOM) Week, recognizing the service and dedication of Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine and schools of osteopathic medicine nationwide.
The senators co-sponsored the resolution along with Sens. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Manchin said osteopathic medicine plays an important role in the health of West Virginia’s population.
“Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine are a fundamental part of the Mountain State’s healthcare workforce and the well-being of West Virginians,” Manchin said. “I am proud to lead this bipartisan resolution and honor the countless contributions D.O.s as well as schools of osteopathic medicine have made to ensure Americans of all backgrounds have access to quality healthcare.”
Capito cited WVSOM – the state’s only school of osteopathic medicine – in a statement introducing the resolution.
“National Osteopathic Medicine Week provides a chance to highlight the critical role of osteopathic medicine, innovative and intelligent practitioners, our West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg, and its importance for the health of West Virginians,” Capito said.
NOM Week coincided with WVSOM’s own Celebrate Osteopathic Medicine (COM) Week. Lewisburg Mayor Beverly White signed a proclamation declaring COM Week and NOM Week in Lewisburg in an event that also included James W. Nemitz, Ph.D., WVSOM’s president, Linda Boyd, D.O., the school’s vice president for academic affairs and dean, Dawn Roberts, Ed.D., WVSOM’s associate dean for multicultural and student affairs, John Garlitz, D.O., chair of the school’s Department of Osteopathic Principles and Practice, and several WVSOM students.
In observance of COM Week, WVSOM hosted two April 18 presentations by Zinaida Pelkey, D.O., a retired physician and former president of the Osteopathic Cranial Academy. Pelkey spoke about treatments for problems in the lymphatic system that contribute to inflammation, and, in a speech open to the public, discussed the influences that led her to a career in the osteopathic profession, as well as the teachings of Andrew Taylor Still, the founder of osteopathic medicine, and William Garner Sutherland, an early osteopathic physician who developed techniques used in cranial osteopathy.
“I wanted to be a psychiatrist, but it was the 1950s and all the adults in my life told me I couldn’t be a doctor because I was a girl,” Pelkey said. “I later owned a bakery, and one day I injured my back lifting heavy sacks and decided to try the chiropractor across the street. It worked, and I thought it was nice one-on-one work that I could learn to do. So I went back to finish my bachelor’s degree, and one day the head of biology hauled me into his office and said, ‘You’re aiming too low. Apply to medical school.’”
As COM Week neared its end, WVSOM participated in the inaugural National D.O. Day of Service, a volunteer initiative established by the Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents. On Apr. 22, a total of 65 first- and second-year students took on cleanup duties on the Greenbrier River Trail and at the Greenbrier Humane Society in Lewisburg, where they also worked with animals. They helped with tasks at the Marvel Center in Rupert and cleared sticks and leaves at Greenbrier State Forest to make trails more visible, as well as picking up trash and replacing damaged trail markers.
Additionally, students assisted residents at Seasons Place in Lewisburg, did laundry at Valley Works Resource Center in Rainelle and performed work at other Greenbrier County locations.
Dante Mattioli, president of WVSOM’s Student Government Association, said he was pleased that students joined the effort in such strong numbers.
“There was a great turnout, even with the weather creating a challenge,” Mattioli said. “Service is important for medical students because we can get caught up in the stress of studying and forget why most of us came to medical school, which is to help others. When we get the chance to take a break from our schedules on days like this, it reminds us of why we go through so much stress to become physicians.”
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