WVU School of Medicine earns Top 10 recognition for promoting family medicine
Family medicine with a rural emphasis inspires students

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has named West Virginia University School of Medicine one of the nation’s Top 10 medical schools for producing graduates drawn to careers in family medicine.

The school’s success in fostering student interest in family medicine results in an average of 15.5 percent of medical-school graduates entering an accredited family medicine residency program each year.The national average is 7.7 percent.

 Second-year resident Evan Condee (L) and David Deci, M.D., vice chair of WVU Family Medicine, pose with the award during the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine Annual Conference May 2 in Baltimore.
“Students are drawn to family medicine, despite lower salaries than those of specialists, because there are lots of rewards besides monetary,” said James Arbogast, M.D., chair of the WVU Department of Family Medicine. “Continuity with all aspects of patients and their families – that’s what sets family medicine apart. I take care of the children of women I’ve delivered. I know what’s going on in their families. That’s very rewarding.”

Family medicine physicians take care of patients of all ages; they may do minor surgeries, deliver babies and practice geriatrics and sports medicine. Their work has an impact on the health system as well. Studies show when family medicine doctors deliver care, costs are kept more affordable nationwide, Arbogast said.

Programs that help pique students’ interest in family medicine at WVU include a Family Medicine Interest Group that offers an outreach program in Morgantown (MUSHROOM) in which students offer basic healthcare for homeless people.  Summer externships enable students to return to their hometowns or other cities for six weeks to work with family medicine doctors there. Also, a competitive rural scholars program provides a stipend during residency and includes a community research project.

“This award shows our commitment to being a health-care safety net for people in small towns all over West Virginia,” James Brick, M.D., interim dean of the School of Medicine, said. “We are so proud of the department of Family Medicine for inspiring students to bring health care directly to people where they live. This is what the late Governor Okey Patteson envisioned in the creation of West Virginia’s first medical school – operating as a force of great good for all of West Virginia.”

This is the first year that WVU has been named to the list.

AAFP surveys have shown little growth in the number of medical students choosing family medicine careers. The organization says this raises questions about health care affordability and accessibility across the country.

For more information on the WVU Department of Family Medicine, visit www..hsc.wvu.edu/som/fammed/.

- WVU -

For more information:
Amy Johns, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087
ab: 05-06-08

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