LUCOM signs new affiliation agreement with Texas hospital
Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM) is expanding its reach within medically underserved regions across the United States. Starting in August, some student-doctors will continue their medical education 1,200 miles away in Palestine, Tx., one of the top five states of recruitment for LUCOM and among the top ten states reporting a shortage of primary care physicians.
On Friday, April 1, LUCOM officially signed an affiliation agreement with Palestine Regional Medical Center (PRMC). The hospital is a member of LifePoint Health, which is a primary partner with LUCOM for clinical rotations and development of Graduate Medical Education (GME) opportunities in Virginia and across the U.S.
“We are privileged to partner with such an incredible institution like LUCOM. As the years continue, we hope to strengthen and grow this relationship,” said Alan George, PRMC chief executive officer.
Not only is PRMC is partnering with LUCOM to serve as a clinical rotation site for student-doctors in their third and fourth years of medical school, the institution has also expressed an interest in the future development of GME opportunities.
“As is consistent with LUCOM, our primary focus at PRMC is to provide ethical, compassionate, competent, patient-centered medical care with integrity and professionalism. We are confident that the medical students who are assigned here will immediately see this alignment and will feel right at home as part of our family,” said Leah Vintila, PRMC director of risk management and clinical informatics.
PRMC will offer a wide variety of general and specialty rotations for medical students in a rural setting that aligns with the vision of LUCOM to provide quality health care to the underserved areas of the U.S. and beyond.
“You do not have to go to Africa or Central America to find places in need of improved health care. You can find them from the valleys of Southern Virginia to the pines of East Texas just as well,” said Ronnie Martin, D.O., LUCOM dean.
According to Vintila, some patients in the PRMC community have to travel to larger cities for specialty services.
“For patients and families, that is an added burden factored into what is already a stressful situation for many of them,” said Vintila.
As Dr. Martin explains, the problem is that rural-area hospitals like PRMC have a difficult time attracting and retaining quality physicians, especially those in specialty fields.
“The presence of a shortage of primary care physicians combined with a growing and aging population are leading to an overabundance of pathology as a result of common chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease and psychological disorders. This fact limits the health and wellness of the citizens and the economic opportunities of the region,” said Dr. Martin.
At face value, it appears student-doctors simply have another choice in where to spend part of their medical school years. But LUCOM’s affiliation agreements serve a much deeper meaning. The goal is for student-doctors to choose to stay in Palestine for many years to come, ultimately improving the health care, economics and quality of life of the region.
“Students will find that they can develop into excellent physicians by training in community settings with quality practicing physicians like those found in Palestine. We believe that they will discover that you do not have to be in an academic health care center to learn medicine and develop quality, contributing medical careers. We further believe that they will learn you can have full and meaningful personal and professional lives outside of the major cities of the East and West Coasts,” said Dr. Martin.
Pictures provided from Palestine Regional Medical Center (PRMC).
Top picture (left to right): Eric Gish, D.O., LUCOM, Ronnie B. Martin, D.O., dean, LUCOM, and Alan George, CEO, PRMC.
Group photo (left to right): Charles Bennett, M.D., PRMC, Danny Bowman, M.D., PRMC, Leah Vintila, RN, PRMC, Alan George CEO, PRMC, Eric Gish, D.O., LUCOM, Dan Davis, PRMC, and Ronnie Martin, D.O., LUCOM.