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KYCOM joins consortium to improve region’s health care

November 11, 2015 12:00 AM
Pikeville, Ky.
The University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine (KYCOM) is one of three regional osteopathic medical schools that have committed to combine efforts in a consortium to improve health care access for medically underserved populations in Central Appalachia.

Boyd R. Buser, D.O., FACOFP, vice president for health affairs and dean of KYCOM, joined officials from Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine based in Athens, Ohio, and Lincoln Memorial University DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine in Harrogate, Tenn., in signing a memorandum of understanding affirming the three schools as founding members of the Central Appalachian Consortium of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (CACCOM).

“The University of Pikeville, through our Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine, is pleased to be a founding member of the Central Appalachian Consortium of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine,” said Paul Patton, chancellor and interim president of the University of Pikeville. “Improving health outcomes in Central Appalachia through innovations in the preparation of the osteopathic physician workforce is an important endeavor. This consortium strengthens our collective missions of service and commitment to advancing medical education opportunities in Appalachia.”

All three colleges are based in parts of Central Appalachia with high levels of medically underserved communities and significant health professional shortages. Through involvement in CACCOM, they hope to coordinate efforts to supply more well-trained health professionals committed to providing care in underserved areas.

The memorandum of understanding lays out a plan for an initial collaborative effort in which researchers from the three colleges will assess the region’s health care workforce. The coalition will produce a publication summarizing its findings and providing tools and methods schools can use to create new, region-specific strategies for improving physician workforce preparation. The schools will be looking at factors they can control, such as admissions policies and curriculum, and will focus on activities that they can do better together than alone.

Funding for the initial research and consortium development will come from the historic $105 million gift, made to the Heritage College in 2011 by the Ohio-based Osteopathic Heritage Foundation. Of that award, $1.7 million has been directed to this initiative.

Stephen C. Shannon, D.O., M.P.H., president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, said the new group “will help the osteopathic medical community explore the many possibilities for innovation focused on primary care research and medical education. The consortium also has the potential to foster a strong culture of collaboration, empowering colleges of osteopathic medicine to more effectively synergize resources, share research-based innovations and ultimately improve patient outcomes in the areas of primary care.”

The consortium has the support and engagement of federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; directors of the Office of Rural Health Policy, National Center for Health Workforce Analysis, Office of Planning and Evaluation and multiple Rural Health Research Centers; and the Appalachian Regional Commission. Marcia Brand, who during her 2009-2015 service as deputy director of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) was a strong supporter of the consortium, said the project has great potential for positive change.

“I look forward to hearing about the consortium’s progress and its impact on the health outcomes of people living in Appalachia,” said Brand. “The collaboration between the three colleges of osteopathic medicine has tremendous potential to leverage community, state and federal resources. It is my hope that this effort will be the catalyst for significant and sustained improvements in the region’s health care.”

Caption: In a step that holds great promise for medically underserved populations in Central Appalachia, three osteopathic medical schools in three states affirmed their commitment to working together in a new Central Appalachian Consortium of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine. Pictured from left: Michael Wieting, D.O., interim dean of the Lincoln Memorial University - DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine; Patton; Kenneth H. Johnson, D.O., executive dean of the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine; and Buser.

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