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LUCOM student-doctors begin work in area hospitals

October 18, 2016
Third-year student-doctor Ernesto Enrique is working at the Danville Regional Medical Center, completing his clinical rotations.

Third-year student-doctor Ernesto Enrique is working at the Danville Regional Medical Center, completing his clinical rotations. (Photo by Chris Breedlove)

Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM) saw the firstfruits of its commitment to reach the medically underserved in Southern and Southwest Virginia when student-doctors began their clinical rotations this semester in hospitals throughout those regions, where about 67 percent of the population lacks immediate access to medical care.

LUCOM is collaborating with LifePoint Health — which operates Danville Regional Medical Center (DRMC) and Memorial Hospital of Martinsville and Henry County, as well as hospitals in Clinch Valley, Galax, and Wytheville — through a six-year renewable partnership agreement.

Twenty members of LUCOM’s third-year class are living in these assigned areas for the remainder of their time at LUCOM. This training will develop their clinical knowledge and skills and prepare them for residency. Student-doctors are expected to be on-call for 12 hours a day.

Ronnie B. Martin, D.O., FACOFP-dist, founding dean of LUCOM, said that working with the DRMC (which hosts over 25 medical specialties and 14 surgical services) allows student-doctors to train for a wide range of medical specialties upon graduation. 

“These opportunities not only advance the student-doctor’s education and provide for improvements in health care access for patients in the region, but they will have a major economic impact as well,” he said.

LUCOM has also established affiliations and clinical partnerships throughout the state and in Texas and Illinois, including Centra Health, a regional nonprofit health care system based in Lynchburg, Va.; Bon Secours DePaul Medical Center, Norfolk, Va.; Chesapeake Care Clinic, Chesapeake, Va.; Johnson Health Center, Lynchburg, Va.; LifePoint Palestine Regional Medical Center, Palestine, Texas; Piedmont Access to Health Services Community Medical Centers, Danville and Martinsville, Va.; Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital, Halifax, Va.; and Saint Anthony Hospital in Effingham, Ill. These sites will train LUCOM student-doctors and assist in the development of graduate medical education opportunities, such as residencies, internships, and fellowships. (Like an M.D., every osteopathic physician [D.O.] must also complete an additional three to seven years of continued clinical education after graduation from medical school to gain full practice rights, certification, and the ability to practice independently.) 

Student-doctors are also in clinical training with members of the LUCOM faculty at the Liberty Mountain Medical Group (LMMG), a comprehensive primary care facility located just minutes from campus. The clinic is a joint venture between LUCOM and Central Virginia Family Physicians.

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