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Did you know, DCOM is not LMU’s first medical school?

4 Oct

It’s been about six years since LMU first announced its plans to pursue what is know the LMU-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine.  I still remember one of the most interesting tidbits about the University that was unearthed in the planning for the announcement was the historical timeline for the first medical school run by LMU.

I was reminded of that history recently, when Oliver Springs native Dean Ford contacted me. Ford, who had no connection to LMU, purchased a lot of frames at an auction years ago. He said he assumed they were all blank and never went through them all. When he finally did, years later, he found a large diploma from the Medical College of Lincoln Memorial University for one Dr. Stanley Nease. The diploma was dated 1915, which would make it one of the last class years to graduate from the Medical College of Lincoln Memorial University.

The Medical Department of LMU in Knoxville, Tenn. circa 1905.

The school  dates back even earlier than LMU as it was founded in 1889 as the Tennessee Medical College. It was a private medical college located in Knoxville, Tenn. It was one of 133 medical schools in operation in the United States by 1890. Following a period of time, the school fell on hard times financially and started looking to align itself with larger schools. TMC approached LMU with an articulation agreement to make TMC the Medical Department of LMU in 1905. A contract was affirmed and ratified in 1906. By 1909, TMC was sold to LMU and became the Medical College of LMU.

The Operating room of Lincoln Memorial Hospital.

The financial troubles continued and by 1914, LMU’s board arranged for the sale of the school building and associated hospital. It concluded operation at the end of the school year and made arrangements for its students to complete their coursework elsewhere. Dr. Nease was among those who completed their degrees after the school was shuttered. Included in the back of the frame Ford found was a letter from the University of Tennessee certifying that Nease had in fact completed his studies.

Dean Ford presents Stanley Nease's diploma to Senior Director of Marketing and Public Relations Kate Reagan.

After his discovery, Ford tried to find a living relative of Dr. Nease to give the diploma to. After a exhaustive search, he contacted his friend John Rice Irwin, the founder of the Museum of Appalachia, to see if he would be interested in adding the diploma to the museum’s collection. Irwin, a longtime friend of LMU, referred Ford to the University and last week I met him at the LMU-Cedar Bluff Extended Learning Site. He generously gave LMU the diploma, which is nearing 100 years old. It had been damaged by water and time.

 I turned the Nease diploma over to University Archivist Michelle Ganz. She indicated that the document was likely beyond repair for display, but it was still an important piece of LMU history that would be saved in our collection. When she returned to the archives she discovered that our collection already boasted several duplicate diplomas or diplomas that were never picked up from the Medical College at LMU from that time period.

My newest project will be to take one or two from the archives and prepare them for exhibit at LMU-DCOM. On the heels of the Inaugural Class graduation in May, I think it would be great to display one of the first LMU-DCOM diplomas alongside one of the last Medical College at LMU diplomas.

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They’re baaack!

28 Sep

Prospective students visiting DCOM for interviews listen ad Class of 2015 President Kirubakaran Sivagurunathan makes a presentation.

Walking through DCOM this morning, I passed the fishbowl (the first floor conference room with a glass wall) and spotted the black suits for the first time this year. It’s hard to see the black suits and not sense their excitement and nervousness.

 Twice a week from mid-September to mid-May, twelve fresh faces arrive in Harrogate, Tenn., for in-person interviews as part of the medical school application process. We call them the black suits, because most of them where black suits to their interviews.

 Every Tuesday and Wednesday, 12 DCOM hopefuls get a chance to see why at least thirteen people have applied for each and every seat since the school opened in 2007. Typically in a year, 500 black suits will filter through for interviews.

 

The official interview comes after the admissions committee reviews the applicant’s AACOMAS application, supplemental application and test scores. The personal interview itself is 30 minutes, long but interviewees go through a full day of programming.

 

Since the second class went through interviews, DCOM’s Student Osteopathic Medicine Association (SOMA) has sponsored an informal pizza night to give prospective students a chance to meet current students and ask a wide range of questions in a relaxed atmosphere.  Pizza night occurs the evening before the interviews. Often, attendance is determined by travel schedule as applicants travel from across the country to check out DCOM.

 

On the actual interview day, the black suits will be shuttled from hotels in Middlesboro to the LMU campus. One of the comments we often hear after interviews is how friendly and relaxed our process is. From the start, our visitors are welcomed into the LMU family whether they ultimately choose to attend DCOM or not. Our greatest ambassador is our shuttle driver, Bob Jackson. Bob has been with DCOM from the beginning, when he volunteered to help with whatever the medical school needed because he was proud of its mission and wanted to be a part of it. Bob picks the black suits up in the morning and helps them to relax on the short drive to campus. When their day is done, he picks them back up and gives them a quick driving tour of LMU and often visits some of the highlights in the area, like the Pinnacle in nearby Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.

 

The day officially gets underway with a welcome session conducted by the admissions staff. When he is in town, Dean Ray Stowers also makes a special point to welcome the black suits. The welcome session is followed by a financial aid overview as well as information about the preclinical and clinical curriculum from faculty. Next, the prospective students are interviewed in one on two sessions with faculty. The students will be paired with a DO and a PhD for the individual interviews. Current DCOM students also make a point to drop in and talk with interviewees while they wait for their time to interview.

 

Following the interviews, DCOM student ambassadors give tours of the building. The black suits are then joined by current students for a lunch in LMU’s dining hall. After lunch, Bob gives his tour and takes them back to the hotels.

 

The admissions committee typically meets on Thursdays, following the interview days. This helps the committee make decisions while the interviews are fresh in their minds. The admissions staff tries to have letters out no later than Monday of the next week, but it often depends on the Dean’s schedule as he has final say and review on all applicants. The letters can also be delayed, because Dean Stowers enjoys calling the accepted students personally to offer them a seat in the class.

White Coats & Tradition

21 Sep

As traditions go, 18 years is relatively new. That is exactly how long medical schools in America have been “coating” first year students in a ceremony that has become a rite of passage for medical student. The first White Coat Ceremony was held in 1993 at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and is now a standard ritual in medical schools across the country. During the Ceremony, each medical student is presented and “robed” with his or her short white laboratory coat, formalizing and welcoming the student’s entrance into the study of medicine.

 

Of course when you are talking about new traditions, it seems that is all that the DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine has. Now in its fifth year and celebrating its fifth entering class, DCOM’s White Coat Ceremony, set for Saturday, will be steeped in the young traditions of the new school.

 

Traditions like a DCOM family barbeque in Democrat Hollow the evening before the ceremony. It’s the first opportunity for the extended family of the newest DCOMers to meet and mingle with faculty, staff and other families. A fresh take on the tradition this year is that the meal will be prepared by  Dean Ray Stowers and Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation/OPP and Assistant Vice President for Program Development Michael Wieting. The pair are certified barbeque judges and the “two Docs” of Two Docs Barbeque. They hosted a similar event during the Inaugural Class Commencement week.

 

Since the very first White Coat Ceremony in 2007, the Tennessee Osteopathic Medicine Association (TOMA) has provided the white coats for the students of Tennessee’s only osteopathic medical school. During the ceremony, a TOMA representative, usually the president of the organization, makes a presentation to the class. The students are actually “robed” by faculty representatives. Another DCOM tradition is closing with the Osteopathic Oath of Commitment — A pledge the students will also recite during commencement.

 

The White Coat Ceremony is an important rite of passage for new medical students. The white coat is another tool of the profession. Dr. Stowers said few new students really understand the confidence a white coat can instill in a patient.

3 Sep

The Claiborne County Relay for Life event last Friday was a great success, raising a total of $137,231.13 to benefit the American Cancer Society. Claiborne County has now surpassed $1,000,000 in giving since Relay for Life began in the county. LMU once agian played a big role in the event acting as corporate sponsor. Additionally, three LMU administrators were a partof the leadership team, the LMU community was represented by three teams and Railsplitter Athletes volunteered with everything from logistics to clean-up.

The LMU faculty, staff and student team, The Relay Railsplitters, raised $5,481.44 for the cause.The J. Frank White Academy used the theme "The Cure is Up There."The LMU-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine team raised $1,346.44.

What’s Happening: PA Graduation

30 Jul
 

LMU Chairman Autry O.V. "Pete" DeBusk welcomes the graduates.

The Lincoln Memorial University Board of Trustees, President B. James Dawson, Dean Ray E. Stowers and the Faculty of the Physician Assistant Program welcomed friends, family and special guests of the inaugural class of the Physician Assistant Program at Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM) to commencement exercises earlier today.

 

Dr. J. Dennis Blessing gives the keynote address

The class of 32 new health practitioners gathered at the Sam and Sue Mars Performing Arts Center in the Duke Hall of Citizenship on the LMU main campus in Harrogate, Tenn. Dr. J. Dennis Blessing, associate dean for South Texas Programs and chair of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio served as the keynote speaker.

 

CONGRATULATIONS GRADUATES.

 

 

 

The Lincoln Memorial University Physician Assistant Inaugural Class celebrates following the ceremony.

 

 

The Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine Class of 2011.

 

Degree = job? There is no sure bet, but this one is close.

29 Jul

So Forbes has a list for everything. Want to know the largest private companies, most expensive zip codes, most powerful women or world’s billionaires? Forbes can tell you. Now, how important or useful that information is, is all in the eye of the beholder. However, back in June Forbes published a list I hope most college students took notice of.

The Best and Worst Master’s Degrees for Jobs (http://blogs.forbes.com/jacquelynsmith/2011/06/06/the-best-and-worst-masters-degrees-for-jobs/) identified the physician assistant degree as the top degree on the list, tied with computer science. The science behind the list had Forbes tracking the median pay for 35 of the most popular graduate degrees using payscale.com. Next the study looked at Bureau of Labor Statistics’ employment projection data to identify fields with high growth projections. Finally, the study ranked the degrees from one to 35 by averaging the degree pay rank and estimated growth.

It is really no surprise that PAs are in high demand. There aren’t enough doctors to keep up with our aging population and there aren’t enough medical school seats to produce the doctors to keep up. Logic tells you that alternative measures are needed. Enter the physician assistant. A physician assistant is educated in the medical model. PAs are nationally certified and work side by side with both osteopathic and allopathic physicians in every medical specialty. PAs are licensed to diagnose illness, prescribe medications and assist in surgery. They conduct physical exams, order and interpret medical tests and provide counseling on preventive health care. A PA has at least six years of education: a four-year undergraduate degree and the physician assistant degree. PA students complete more than 2,400 hours of clinical rotations prior to graduation.

PAs aren’t paid quite as highly as doctors; nevertheless, the Forbes article points out the mid-career median pay exceeds $100,000. The growth of the PA job market is also expected to grow by 39% over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The PA works as part of the health care team. The profession originated at Duke University in the 1960s after medics returning from the Vietnam War discovered there was really no civilian equivalent to their former military profession. From the beginning, the physician assistant profession has embraced a teamwork approach to health care, providing mid-level practitioners who can work side-by-side with physicians to provide efficient and effective health care to patients in need.

 

LMU PA Program Inaugural Class. Photo courtesy of Ray Wolfe.

The inaugural class of the Physician Assistant Program at Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM) will celebrate its commencement on Saturday, July 30, at 10 a.m. at the Sam and Sue Mars Performing Arts Center in the Duke Hall of Citizenship on the LMU main campus in Harrogate, Tenn. The class of 32 new health practitioners are ready to make an impact on our region and beyond. Many have already secured clinical positions and will be immediately helping to serve the health care needs of the region.

 

LMU-DCOM Welcomes Class of 2015

26 Jul

Assistant Director of Financial Aid Amy Arnold helps register the Class of 2015.

Around this time about five years ago, there was a clocking ticking down to the opening of the DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine. As the days, hours, minutes and seconds ticked by, the excitement on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University grew. Ushering in the Inaugural Class was a milestone for the University and there was a sense of achievement for everyone involved.

Today, LMU-DCOM opened its doors to 162 new students. There was no clock ticking down. The excitement level for the campus as a whole was considerably less. After five years, welcoming a new class of osteopathic medical students to campus is routine. However, there was no mistaking the crackle of excitement the reverberated throughout the auditorium as the LMU-DCOM Class of 2015 waited to take the giant leap into medical school.

Members of the Class of 2015 listen as Dean Ray E. Stowers welcomes them to LMU-Debusk College of Osteopathic Medicine.

As Dean Ray Stowers addressed the class he reminded them that they had already accomplished so much, just by being there. He said less than one tenth of one percent of students who graduate high school and enter college actually make it to medical school. That accomplishment is a credit to the students’ commitment to their education and their family and friends support.

LMU President Jim Dawson and Chairman of the Board Autry O.V. “Pete” DeBusk also welcomed the students this morning. There were 2,849 applications, or 17 for every one seat, for a spot in the class. The chosen 162 hail from across the country. Seventy-eight are native to the immediate tri-state region of Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia, accounting for 48% of the class. The class is 47.5% male and 52.5% female.

LMU Chairman Pete DeBusk welcomes students during LMU-DCOM Orientation.

LMU-DCOM’s fifth class of students will spend most of this week in orientation. Today, most of the housekeeping items were checked off the orientation list with forms filled out, ID badges made, parking stickers distributed and financial aid information presented. Spouses of osteopathic medical students were included in the day’s activities. The Student Advocate Association, a spouse and significant other support group, presented its own orientation for spouses in the afternoon. As the week progresses, the Class of 2015 will receive training on the tablet computers each student is issued upon matriculation and meet with faculty advisors. The first anatomy class will be held on Friday.

The excitement will wear off as the Class of 2015 progress into its studies, but the sense of their accomplishment should never go away.