Hattiesburg, MS, May 23, 2014 - William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine (WCUCOM) will graduate the inaugural medical school class on May 24 at 10 a.m. in Smith Auditorium. Ninety-four students will receive their doctor of osteopathic medicine degrees during this historic event. Upon graduation, WCUCOM will officially obtain accreditation from the American Osteopathic Association’s Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA).
Discussions to establish the medical school developed nearly 10 years ago when William Carey University’s Board of Trustees recognized the need for primary care physicians in the region and saw an opportunity to make that dream a reality. In 2007, under the leadership of current WCU President Dr. Tommy King, a dean for the WCUCOM was hired. In January 2008, the medical school was officially founded, and in August 2010, the WCUCOM welcomed its inaugural class of 110 students.
As the 26th school of osteopathic medicine in the country and the first in the state, WCUCOM is training student doctors for careers in primary care medicine to address the physician shortage in the Gulf South Region, particularly within rural and underserved communities. WCUCOM is not only working to train students to become successful primary care physicians, but also to retain them upon graduation, providing a major source for the state healthcare workforce. Admissions preference is strongly given to applicants from Mississippi and the Gulf South U.S.
To further foster the school’s mission, the clinical curriculum is delivered by a majority of primary care physicians. In fact, over 60 percent of WCUCOM’s full-time clinical faculty members are primary care certified, while approximately 80 percent of the required clinical rotations are primary care oriented in community hospitals and clinics. The 67 hospitals and over 375 individual clinics used for core third-year student rotations are in Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, and Florida, with the majority being in-state. Combined with the over 130 hospitals in 27 states used for fourth-year student elective rotations, the WCUCOM has 866 preceptors, with some as far as California and New York.
“Until WCUCOM began classes four years ago, Mississippians who wanted to become osteopathic physicians had to go to West Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, or Florida to attend medical school and residency,” said Dr. William Mayo, owner of the Mayo Eye Center in Oxford, clinical instructor at the WCUCOM, and member of the American Osteopathic Association’s board of trustees. “It is more difficult to get physicians to return to Mississippi when they have spent several years away. It‘s vitally important that we can train our D.O.s here in Mississippi.”
WCUCOM is continually working to establish residency programs around the state to aid in retention efforts. WCUCOM Dean Dr. Jim Turner, who was recently nominated to Team Leader for COCA, stated that the next step the medical school will take is to address the development of post-graduate options in Mississippi to meet the residency training needs of WCUCOM graduates.
The medical school has already made quite an impact in Hattiesburg and the surrounding areas, and it will provide benefits for years to come; economically and educationally. Most importantly, WCUCOM will provide medical service to many whom may otherwise not have received it.
“The College of Osteopathic Medicine has brought WCU to a level that was beyond the dreams of Carey employees and alumni,” said Dr. Tommy King, president of WCU. “The graduation of the first class of doctors will be an historical occasion for Hattiesburg and Mississippi. This moment is possible through the support and hard work of Carey trustees over the past five years, Dean Turner and the entire faculty and staff, and many supporters throughout Mississippi and the Gulf Region.”
For more information on WCUCOM, contact Rebecca Holland, director of operations, at 601-318-6663 or firstname.lastname@example.org.