May 5, 2008 - Harrogate, Tennessee – The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation has awarded a grant in the amount of $250,000 to Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM). Representatives from the BlueCross Tennessee Health Foundation were on the LMU campus today to present the grant to University officials.

“The DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine provides Lincoln Memorial University another wonderful opportunity to fulfill its mission to serve the region,” said LMU President Dr. Nancy B. Moody. “In keeping with the mission of LMU and the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, hundreds of doctors, nurses, other health care providers and residents will benefit from this grant which will increase access to quality healthcare throughout this region of the country.”

The funding will be used for the 2,400 square foot clinical exam suite in the LMU-DCOM building. The suite consists of ten technology-enhanced clinical exam rooms staged, furnished and equipped similarly to a physician’s office. Testing scenarios in this exam suite allow osteopathic medical students to interact with standardized patients to simulate “real” patient-physician encounters. A standardized patient is a person trained to portray an actual patient with a specific medical history and physical exam findings for the purpose of instructing medical students to examine, diagnose, and communicate effectively with patients. Approximately 45 community members from the region currently serve as standardized patients for LMU-DCOM. Cameras and software incorporated into each room digitally capture medical student interactions with standardized patients to allow for faculty review and assessment and to develop interactive learning opportunities through discussion between faculty and students.

“Technology continues to play an ever-increasing role in the delivery of health care,” said Dr. Steve Coulter, president of government business at BlueCross. “By investing in these technology-rich exam rooms, BlueCross is not only helping to better prepare Tennessee’s next generation of doctors, but we’re also helping to increase access to primary care physicians in our state.

LMU-DCOM students will come into contact with approximately 18 standardized patient cases on campus before beginning rotations in their third year of medical school. The opportunity to practice and hone skills is an invaluable component of their medical education. Examinations and encounters allow faculty the opportunity to point out mistakes and areas of improvement in a safe learning environment. Medical students must pass examinations with standardized patients before progressing to the next level of their education.

“Because osteopathic physicians predominately practice primary care, LMU-DCOM is poised to greatly increase the number of doctors serving in our underserved region,” said Dr. Ray E. Stowers, vice president and dean of LMU-DCOM. “Thorough training in what we think of as a doctor’s ‘bedside manner,’ which occurs in the clinical exam suite, is crucial to our mission to create high-quality osteopathic physicians who live and work in this area.”

Agencies such as the Appalachian Regional Commission have documented the severe shortage of primary care physicians in rural southern communities. Over 60% of licensed osteopathic physicians practice primary care. Nationally, the proportion of medical students entering primary care has dropped from 50% in 1998 to 38% in 2006.

Additional programmatic growth at LMU has also strengthened the University’s mission to serve the healthcare needs of the region. LMU celebrated the graduation of its first class in the Master of Science in Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner degree program in December 2007. The University is also moving forward with proposed MSN Nurse Anesthetist and Physician Assistant programs to meet additional needs of healthcare providers. Students in each of these programs will benefit greatly through access to LMU-DCOM facilities and usage of clinical examination rooms and simulation laboratories.

The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, Inc. (THF) was established in December, 2003 as a 501(c)(3) foundation organized to promote the philanthropic mission of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee by awarding grants focused on high-impact initiatives across the state, which promote healthy lifestyle choices and help control health care costs for all Tennessee residents. THF, working with civic and economic partners, is dedicated to the support of research, innovative programs and creative approaches to improve the health and quality of life of Tennesseans for generations to come.

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, or visit us online at

Caption: Dr. Ray Stowers, vice president and dean of LMU-DCOM and Dr. Nancy Moody, president of LMU accept a grant check from the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation from Dr. Steve Coulter, president of government business at BlueCross.

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