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West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine

The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine educates primary care osteopathic physicians for rural communities. The school is dedicated first and foremost to service for West Virginia and prepares graduates to care for the special health care needs of West Virginia’s elderly.

School name:West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
Address:400 North Lee Street, Lewisburg, West Virginia
Zip & city:24901-1961 West Virginia
Phone:(304) 645-6270

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The four year program at WVSOM emphasizes basic and clinical sciences, training in hospital and primary care clinical settings, and extensive training in diagnostic skills including early clinical experiences.
Students are prepared for the challenges of rural practice through family medicine clerkships. The common thread of osteopathic medical principles and practices ties together all elements of WVSOM’s curriculum.


WVSOM offers two curricular tracks for its students during the first two years of the program, the Systems Based Learning Curriculum (SBL) and the Problem Based Learning Curriculum (PBL).

YEARS 1 & 2

- Classroom and lab focus
- Basic sciences (anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, etc.)
- Systems focus (cardiovascular, renal, and respiratory, etc.)
- Osteopathic principles and practices integrated with basic sciences
- Clinical skills (communication, physical diagnosis, physician skills, etc.)

- Small group and student oriented learning
- Case studies and structured exercises
- Integration of basic and clinical sciences
- Courses in osteopathic manipulative treatment, clinical skills andAnatomy

YEARS 3 & 4

- Clinical training at statewide campus

The SBL curriculum begins with a foundation of biomedical basic science courses that are presented concurrently with the clinical courses, Osteopathic Practices and Principles I and Clinical Skills I. This foundation is followed by the presentation of each major organ system of the body, in which basic and clinical sciences are integrated. In this way the clinical relevance of the basic sciences is emphasized throughout the first two years of the curriculum. The curriculum continues in years three and four with clinical training at statewide campus sites.

In the first year SBL students take courses in the basic and clinical sciences that provide the foundation for the study of the organ systems that follow. Early clinical exposure is emphasized from the first week of instruction through the clinical skills and osteopathic principles and practices courses. The clinical courses are complimented by clinically oriented basic science courses. Also, in the first year, SBL students receive instruction important to WVSOM’s mission of training primary care physicians for rural medical practice, including a focus on the special health care needs of West Virginia and the geriatric population.

Organ systems to be studied include: cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, blood and lymph, gastrointestinal, nervous, endocrine, and reproductive. During each major organ system the majority of the basic science material for Pathology, Pharmacology, and Microbiology is presented. The basic sciences are integrated with presentations in Family Medicine, Geriatrics, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Radiology, Surgery and other clinical disciplines. This integration of disciplines aids students in understanding the basic structure and function and pathophysiology of each organ system of the body. In addition, since basic science and clinical instruction are presented concurrently, the scientific basis of clinical practice is emphasized. This is especially evident in clinical case studies utilized in each system.

The Problem Based Learning (PBL) program at WVSOM is an innovative curriculum that relies heavily on small group and student-directed learning. Students use patient case studies to identify clinical “problems,” outline learning issues to pursue, and determine which issues need to be investigated further to reach a reasonable resolution to the problem. The group process is supplemented by faculty-directed problem sets and structured exercises, including laboratory experiences in biomedical sciences and osteopathic manipulative medicine.

The curriculum is designed to provide students with a rational basis for dealing with issues related to health and disease. Integral concepts of this curriculum are the inclusion of early clinical exposure, presentation of basic sciences in the context of patient care, integration and reinforcement of basic sciences during clinical training, and a logical progression of knowledge throughout medical school and postgraduate training.
PBL approaches medical learning as a continual process without separation between basic and clinical science. In this curriculum, students are exposed to basic sciences and clinical sciences on an integrated basis from the first day of studies. Each subject, from physiology to immunology to osteopathic practice, is treated as part of a sum total.

WVSOM offers students many opportunities to work directly with patients before clinical rotations in the third and fourth years of medical school. Students’ initial exposure to the clinical setting takes place early in their first year when they are assigned to the Robert C. Byrd Clinic – WVSOM’s on campus health facility – shadowing a physician and working on clinical skills and bedside manner. These sessions are essential for new students to begin to improve techniques they will use as practicing osteopathic physicians.

Beginning in their first year, students provide free health screenings for community members. They take medical histories, perform examinations, make diagnoses and provide treatments – all under the supervision of WVSOM staff physicians. Students provide various screening services at the WV State Fair, campus men’s and women’s health fairs and student osteopathic manipulation clinics in their first and second years.
Students’ exposure to clinical skills gradually increases over the first two years. They learn how to take a history, perform a physical, suture, apply and remove casts, scrub for surgical procedures and give injections as well as various other clinical skills. This early clinical skills training prepares WVSOM students well for the start of their clinical rotations.
Students learn osteopathic manipulative medicine by practicing on each other in the Osteopathic Clinical Skills Lab. WVSOM faculty and osteopathic physicians from the community instruct students during lab sessions.
Students also participate in numerous labs with standardized patients. In these labs, students practice their communication and physical and history taking skills prior to the beginning of Year 3. The first clinical rotation (Family Medicine I) is an eight week preceptorship with a rural family medicine osteopathic physician. During this training period in a family physician’s office, students develop the basic skills necessary for the conduct of the practice of osteopathic medicine. This course serves as the foundation for all future clinical rotations. Concentrated clinical training follows through the remainder of the third year and continues until graduation.
Clinical education is designed to accomplish four objectives: provide ambulatory care training; provide hospital based training; consolidate clinical knowledge and skills and how to use them in a clinical setting; and allow students, through electives, to augment their training in areas of medicine that are of special interest.

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