The public is being offered an opportunity to comment on the quality of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM), as part of the institution’s pursuit of accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Since WVSOM graduated its first class in 1978, WVSOM has remained fully accredited by the appropriate body of the American Osteopathic Association, currently their Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA). In 2009, WVSOM’s Board of Governors decided that the school should voluntarily seek additional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). WVSOM was granted the status of candidate for accreditation by the HLC Board of Trustees in 2012. The next step in the HLC accreditation process is an evaluation site visit scheduled for April 7-9, 2014, to determine initial accreditation.
“Medical education is a huge investment of a student’s time and money,” said James W. Nemitz, Ph.D., WVSOM vice president for administration and external relations. “We want to demonstrate that WVSOM is meeting the highest standards of institutional quality, fulfilling its mission now and able to do so for the foreseeable future. The HLC accreditation provides that extra stamp of approval.”
As part of the review process, the public is invited to submit written comments regarding the quality of the institution or its academic program. Comments may be made online at http://www.ncahlc.org/Information-for-the-Public/third-party-comment.html or by mail to: Third Party Comment on West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine; The Higher Learning Commission; 230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500; Chicago, IL 60604-1411. To ensure that comments can be considered in advance of the site visit, they are due no later than Mar. 7.
The mission of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine is to educate students from diverse backgrounds as lifelong learners in osteopathic medicine and complementary health related programs; to advance scientific knowledge through academic clinical and basic science research; and to promote patient-centered, evidence based medicine. WVSOM is dedicated to serve, first and foremost, the state of West Virginia and the special health care needs of its residents, emphasizing primary care in rural areas.
WVSOM lives its mission every day. As of September 2012, 603 of WVSOM graduates are practicing medicine in West Virginia, with 309 practicing primary care in rural areas. WVSOM has graduates practicing in 46 of the 55 counties in West Virginia. A 2010 peer-reviewed article in “Academic Medicine” identified WVSOM as having the highest percentage of recent graduates in rural practice of any D.O. or M.D. granting school in the country.
In the fall of 2013, 63 West Virginia residents were among the 193 new students admitted into WVSOM’s four-year curriculum. The program continues to emphasize service to West Virginia – particularly in rural areas. Furthermore, from WVSOM’s class of 2013, 68 percent of graduates entered primary care residencies (family medicine, internal medicine, combined internal medicine/pediatrics, or obstetrics and gynecology.)
“WVSOM faculty members are dedicated teachers who do more than instruct, they pass along their passion for quality patient care to the next generation of osteopathic physicians,” Nemitz said. “As WVSOM performs an aggressive self-evaluation in preparation for our HLC site review, we further improve the quality of our programs.”