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First students arrive at WVU Eastern Division medical school

August 27, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Officials running a new medical education campus in Martinsburg that is designed to attract more doctors to the area already have their work cut out for them.

The school's first three students said Monday they were not sure if the Eastern Panhandle was where they wanted to practice.

Janna Scott, one of the students, acknowledges that staying here is a possibility, though.

Scott grew up in Inwood, attended Musselman High School and Shepherd College, where she later obtained a biology degree.

The fact that her family still lives in Inwood makes the area that much more attractive, Scott said.

Her mother, Beth Taylor, is a sixth-grade teacher at Musselman Middle School and her father, Bob Taylor, is a farmer.

"Family means the most to me," said Scott, 24.

Scott has not pinned down an area of medicine in which she would like to specialize or where she would like to practice.

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"I'm just like a sponge soaking up everything now," Scott said.

Scott, along with students Sam Deem, 27, of Lewisburg, W.Va., and Rebecca Arnott, 26, of Glen Mills, Pa., were at City Hospital as part of their orientation for the training they will receive at the West Virginia University Health Sciences Center - Eastern Division.

Students enrolled at the center will have finished their four years of undergraduate work and completed their first two years of medical school. At the WVU Health Sciences Center - Eastern Division, the students will receive their last two years of medical training with the help of three local hospitals.

Deem, who received his initial medical training at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg, said he didn't believe he would be able to receive training here because it conflicted with training he was to receive in other areas.

When he was told he could be more flexible with the time he would spend here, Deem decided to give the center a try.

"I like it. I think it's great," said Deem as he ate lunch with the two other students and the center's administrators.

But whether he would set up practice here is another issue, said Deem.

Deem said he is attracted to the southern part of the state since that is where he is from.

Arnott, a medical student from Marshall University, said she will have to experience the culture of the local community and the local medical community before deciding whether she would want to practice in the Eastern Panhandle.

Rosemarie Cannarella, assistant dean of student services for the new medical campus, said she was not worried about the students' comments.

It's not until the third year that medical students usually start deciding where they want to practice, she said.

"That's exactly what you would expect at this point in their career," said Cannarella.

Officials with the center say it is important to attract more doctors to the Eastern Panhandle because it is "medically underserved."

In West Virginia, there are 16.8 doctors per every 10,000 people, compared to 20 doctors nationally. In the Eastern Panhandle, there are 9.3 doctors for every 10,000 people, state health officials have said.

In the most recent session of the Legislature, state lawmakers awarded $1 million for the local medical campus, a funding allocation that will insure the realization of the project.

The campus will include construction of a 15,000-square-foot educational and administration building on the grounds of City Hospital along Dry Run Road.

Students will receive training in the building and at City Hospital, Jefferson Memorial Hospital, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center near Martinsburg and Harpers Ferry Family Practice Center.

Scott, Deem and Arnott met with campus administrators and toured City Hospital on Monday as part of their orientation.

Their studies are to begin today.

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