July 22, 2020 : By Christopher Breedlove - Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine
Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM) welcomed its seventh class of osteopathic medical students on Tuesday. New student-doctors from around the country entered Liberty’s Center for Medical and Health Sciences atop Liberty Mountain all with the same hope and goal — to be an osteopathic physician.
“At LUCOM, we will share our values: Christian and osteopathic principles, leadership, professionalism, service, integrity, and teamwork,” said LUCOM Dean Peter A. Bell, DO, MBA, FACOEP-dist, FACEP, who welcomed students during Tuesday’s opening orientation sessions. “It’s a big deal to be a physician. We have resources in place — academic, mental, and spiritual. We are here to help you day by day, step by step, and we will prepare you.”
By birthplace, the new class of 160 student-doctors represents 34 states and 11 foreign countries. The top states represented are Virginia, California, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Florida. There are 131 students entering Liberty’s DO program with a bachelor’s degree, 27 with a post-bac credit or a master’s degree, and two with pharmacy doctorate degrees. LUCOM’s Office of Admissions reviewed over 3,703 applications throughout the previous academic year. Of those, 433 candidates were interviewed, either in person or virtually (when COVID-19 restrictions were put in place).
Each year, the incoming class participates in a weeklong orientation to help them get to know the faculty and staff, understand academic and professional expectations, get accustomed to the culture, and join in other activities designed to enhance their experience at LUCOM. The schedule was modified this year due to COVID-19 restrictions; the traditional family picnic and service day with local youth were canceled, and several lectures and presentations were done virtually.
“We are excited to have the Class of 2024 starting LUCOM today, during this unusual time,” said Troy Burnett, associate director of student services. “This year’s orientation is a change for us, but we’re happy that our new medical students chose Liberty’s osteopathic medical college.”
To adequately observe social distancing guidelines, half of the class attended in-person morning sessions while the other half attended in the afternoon. Both lecture auditoriums were used.
Upon entry to LUCOM, each new student was provided with a cloth mask and a care package with snacks, bottled water, LUCOM and LU promotional items, their official LUCOM white coat and class polo, as well as a lab coat for gross anatomy.
For the remainder of orientation week, student-doctors will attend a number of virtual presentations and lectures, as well as outdoor social activities sponsored by LUCOM’s Student Government Association, all adhering to CDC guidelines.
“Medical school is a marathon; you have to pace yourself. And one important encouragement to remember in the days and years ahead — pay it forward,” Bell said. “Help someone you don’t even know. Do good. Kind words. You never know the positive change or outcome that will come from paying it forward.”