According to a report issued by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) had the lowest 2021-22 tuition costs of the state’s three medical schools for both in-state and out-of-state students. The report also noted that in-state tuition at all West Virginia medical schools is among the most affordable in the nation.
The commission’s report found that WVSOM produces more graduates who choose primary care residencies than West Virginia’s other two medical schools combined. In 2022, a total of 114 new WVSOM graduates — 58 percent of the class — entered primary care residencies. The report stated that the national rate for graduates entering primary care residencies was 50 percent.
The report also found that WVSOM leads the state in the number of alumni who practice primary care in West Virginia, with 110 primary care physicians who graduated from the medical school between 2012 and 2017, compared with 77 from the second-highest school and 41 from the third-highest school.
The report defines primary care as encompassing family medicine, internal medicine, internal medicine/pediatrics, OB-GYN and pediatrics.
Additionally, WVSOM produces the highest number of physicians who practice in the Mountain State in all specialties, as well as the largest number who practice in rural areas of West Virginia. A total of 164 WVSOM alumni from graduating classes between 2012 and 2017 practice in West Virginia, compared with 148 from the second-highest school and 84 from the third-highest school. A total of 74 physicians who graduated from WVSOM during those years practice in rural areas of the state, nearly double the number of physicians from the other two schools combined.
The figures appear in the 2022 West Virginia Health Sciences and Rural Health Report, published in December.
Linda Boyd, D.O., WVSOM’s vice president of academic affairs and dean, said the report reflects WVSOM’s commitment to serve, first and foremost, West Virginia and the health care needs of its residents.
“We’re proud that we produce the largest number of medical students in West Virginia going into primary care each year,” Boyd said. “Additionally, we are the medical school in West Virginia that retains more of our students to practice in West Virginia, and to practice in rural areas of the state. WVSOM truly serves West Virginia by populating the state with doctors who are interested in working in small communities.”
Additionally, for the 2021-22 academic year, WVSOM received more applications for its entering class than either of the state’s other medical schools. At about 200 students in each class, WVSOM is the largest medical school in West Virginia.
The report noted that, combined, West Virginia’s three medical schools enroll more medical students per capita than any other state, and that in the past academic year, 44 percent of the state’s 392 first-year medical students were West Virginia residents.
James W. Nemitz, Ph.D., WVSOM’s president, said he was pleased with the report’s findings in regard to the school.
“The commission’s report demonstrates WVSOM's critical role in supplying physicians for West Virginia communities, especially in rural areas and small towns. WVSOM's contribution not only impacts the health care needs of the state; it also provides a significant economic impact in these communities,” Nemitz said.
The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission is the entity that oversees the state’s higher education institutions.