\r\n<h1>On Friday, May 26, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia President Jim Fawcett presented the third annual Farson-Smith-Earley Award to John Ford, a 2017 graduate of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM), during the WVSOM commencement ceremonies in Lewisburg.<\/h1>\r\n\u201cHighmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia is pleased to partner with WVSOM in an effort to improve the accessibility and delivery of primary health care services in the rural areas of our state,\u201d said Fawcett. \u201cWe commend John for his decision to practice family medicine in rural West Virginia after the completion of his residency, as well as serving as a rural health advocate for our state.\u201d\r\n\r\nFord, a resident of Greenbrier County, will be serving his residency at Greenbrier Valley Medical Center, focusing on delivering primary care services to rural residents. While a medical student at WVSOM, Ford distinguished himself as a strong advocate for rural health care issues in West Virginia. In addition to participating in WVSOM\u2019s Rural Health Initiative, which prepares students to serve in rural areas of West Virginia, he also served as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Department of Osteopathic Principles and Practice.\r\n\r\nThe award, which honors three former presidents of the Blue Cross Blue Shield plan in West Virginia, Thomas D. Farson, Gregory K. Smith and J. Fred Earley II, is presented annually to an outstanding WVSOM graduate who makes a commitment to practice medicine in a rural portion of West Virginia. Farson, Smith and Earley served as presidents of Blue Cross Blue Shield from 1973 to 1995, 1995 to 2009 and 2009 to 2016, respectively.\r\n\r\nThe annual recipient receives a permanent honorary plaque at the WVSOM campus and a $2,000 stipend.