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TENNESSEE'S NEWEST MEDICAL SCHOOL TO CELEBRATE OPENING DAY



July 25, 2007 - HARROGATE, TN – Since early spring, the website of Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine(LMU-DCOM) has counted down the days, hours, minutes and seconds left until the first day of new student orientation.

On Wednesday, August 1, 2007, at 8:15 am, 155 LMU-DCOM students will sit in the auditorium of this brand-new medical school and watch as the school’s online countdown clock ticks down to zero, marking the beginning of their osteopathic medical education.

At that moment, a new countdown will begin. The LMU-DCOM students will have two years of intensive on-campus coursework in Harrogate in medical sciences, clinical skills and osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM), followed by two years of clinical rotations in hospitals and doctor’s offices throughout Tennessee and Kentucky. Then they will graduate as doctors of osteopathic medicine (D.O.s) in June 2011.

The LMU-DCOM inaugural class is approximately 60% male, 40% female. Roughly 40% of the class members hail from the tri-state region. The rest come from virtually every state in the nation, from California to New York. The average age is 25. At their interviews, these students shared common themes: a life-long interest in science and medicine, a passion for helping others and giving back to the community, and a drive to become a physician.

One of these students is Tara Gansheimer, 25, from Memphis, Tennessee, who graduated from the University of Rochester in New York with majors in English and history. Gansheimer’s interest in medicine began when she was very young. “Growing up, my dad had diabetes, open heart surgery, congestive heart failure…you name it, he had it,” she said. She attended all of her father’s medical appointments, and by age eight or nine, she was giving her dad his daily insulin shots – but only after much practicing on an orange first.

To a new medical student, four years of coursework and clinical rotations must sometimes seem like a mountain to climb in his or her quest to become a physician. Yet, LMU-DCOM itself has come into full realization in a mere three years, hopefully showing these new osteopathic medical students the full realm of possibility.

“The mission of Lincoln Memorial University has always been to educate the people of Appalachia. Throughout its more than a century of service, LMU has evolved to meet the needs of the people in this area,” said O.V. “Pete” DeBusk, chairman of the LMU Board of Trustees and LMU-DCOM’s namesake. “We caught the first glimpse of the emerging healthcare crisis years ago and launched a world-class nursing program in 1974. Today we are stepping up our efforts to fend off this crisis, by providing a place to educate the next generation of doctors, nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and physician assistants to serve the people in the Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, Western Carolinas, Northern Georgia and Northern Alabama areas primarily."

“Osteopathic medicine was founded more than a century ago by Dr. A. T. Still, a native of Jonesville, Virginia, and the American Osteopathic Association was founded in 1897, the same year that LMU was chartered,” said Ray Stowers, D.O., F.A.C.O.F.P, vice president and dean of LMU-DCOM. “It is extraordinary that the similar missions of the osteopathic profession and the University have converged in such a special place at such a special time.”

Over 2,000 applicants sought out a spot in the LMU-DCOM inaugural class, meaning there were 13 applications for each seat in the class. School officials conducted almost 500 on-campus interviews for the coveted spots in the Class of 2011.

“I have had an opportunity to meet many of our incoming students,” LMU President Dr. Nancy B. Moody said. “I am impressed by their eagerness to begin their medical education and to give back to underserved regions of the country. These students have the opportunity to study in a state-of-the-art educational facility and to learn from a group of stellar faculty from all over the country. Both the students and the faculty will set the standard for LMU-DCOM, and will ‘continue the legacy’ of President Abraham Lincoln and the father of osteopathic medicine, Dr. A.T. Still.”

Many LMU-DCOM students already have strong connections to this legacy. Marcus Winkler, 25, was born and raised in Tazewell, Tennessee, and earned his medical technology degree from LMU. “Everything I’ve been doing since high school has led me up to this point,” Winkler said. “[LMU-DCOM] is local. It’s good to see the college grow. I wanted to be part of the first class. LMU is going to take care of us all the way through.”

The Appalachian service area continues to have a severe shortage of well trained primary care physicians, and has long been designated as medically underserved by the federal government. LMU-DCOM’s mission is to prepare outstanding osteopathic physicians who are committed to the premise that the cornerstone of meaningful existence is service to humanity. This mission is achieved, in part, by serving the health and wellness needs of people within the Appalachian region and beyond. LMU-DCOM anticipates that a majority of its graduates will practice medicine throughout Appalachia. A study released by Oklahoma State University this year estimates that the introduction of one new physician into a rural community infuses roughly $1.5 million and 23 new jobs into the local economy.

Ian Huff, 27, from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, completed his athletic training degree at Middle Tennessee State University. He has a one-word answer when asked why he wants to be an osteopathic physician: “People. People have no real reason to trust you except that you are the doctor,” he said. “They invite you into their private lives. A doctor should be a member of a community. Here, you are a member of the community.”

Andi Wenner, 30, from Fort Worth, Texas, earned her degree in animal science from Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas. LMU-DCOM was the first medical school at which Wenner interviewed. “I came over the hill and thought, ‘oh, this is so beautiful. I feel so comfortable here.’ I feel strongly about rural medicine. This is absolutely the place for me to be.”

An osteopathic physician (D.O.), like an allopathic physician (M.D.), is fully qualified and licensed to practice medicine and surgery in all 50 states. Both enter into all specialties, attend medical school for four years, must pass comparable state licensing requirements and work side-by-side in fully accredited and licensed health care facilities. However, D.O.s receive extra training in the musculoskeletal system, learn to use their hands to both diagnose and treat illnesses, and place emphasis on preventative health care. Many D.O.s work in underserved areas, and approximately 65% of D.O.s have primary care practices.

Wenner is interested in pursuing a residency in family medicine and OMM, and looks forward to the ability to use OMM in her medical practice. “I cannot wait to start OMM classes,” Wenner said.

For Wenner and her classmates, the wait is over. They will attend their first class, anatomy, on Friday, August 3. For the inaugural class of LMU-DCOM, the wait for opening day is over, but the countdown to graduation day has just begun.

The DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine is located on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee. LMU-DCOM is an integral part of LMU’s values-based learning community, and is dedicated to preparing the next generation of osteopathic physicians to provide healthcare in the often underserved region of Appalachia and beyond. For more information about LMU-DCOM, call 1-800-325-0900, ext. 7082, e-mail dcom@lmunet.edu, or visit us online at www.lmunet.edu/dcom.

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