The West Virginia University School of Medicine was recently honored by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) for the large number of graduates who have chosen to train in family medicine. AAFP presented its Top Ten Awards during the recent Society of Teachers of Family Medicine Annual Conference. The awards recognize schools based on the training choices of graduates over the preceding three years.

Nearly one in four of all office visits are made to family physicians. Today, family physicians provide more care for West Virginia’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty.

WVU Department of Family Medicine Chair James Arbogast, M.D., credits special programs at all three School of Medicine campuses that encourage students to choose to practice family medicine. Those programs include a rich third year clinical rotation, including time with rural community family physicians, a fourth year Rural Scholars program, and ongoing activities, such as the homeless outreach program.

“It is our mission to give interested students the opportunity to see the rewards of being community physician leaders who impact every aspect of their patients’ lives,” Dr. Arbogast said.

The WVU School of Medicine’s family medicine program has been an important part of medical education for decades. In addition to training in the family medicine clinic on the Morgantown campus, WVU medical students and residents benefit from family medicine programs at WVU’s Eastern Division, based in Martinsburg, and at the school’s Charleston Division, affiliated with Charleston Area Medical Center.

“Family medicine faculty are essential to ensuring that students receive a high quality medical education from caring and competent family physicians. Their commitment to family medicine and their contributions to providing the best possible education are essential to the future of our specialty and to the care of patients,” AAFP President Lori Heim, M.D., said.

The 2010 award recipients and the percentage of graduates entering family medicine are:

• The University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences—20.4 percent.
• The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University—19.2 percent.
• Sanford School of Medicine of The University of South Dakota—16.9 percent.
• The University of Kansas School of Medicine—16.6 percent.
• West Virginia University School of Medicine—16.5 percent.
• The University of Minnesota Medical School—16.3 percent.
• The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences School of Medicine—16.2 percent.
• The University of Nevada School of Medicine—15.8 percent.
• James H. Quillen College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University—15.5 percent.
• The University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine—14.6 percent.

According to AAFP, the schools use several initiatives that support students who are interested in, and most likely to become, family physicians. These efforts include student outreach, admissions policies that target students from rural and medically underserved areas, clinical rotations that emphasize positive experiences in family medicine, faculty involvement in medical school committees, strong family medicine interest groups and financial aid packages that minimize student debt.

In the increasingly fragmented world of health care where many medical specialties limit their practice to a particular organ or disease, family physicians are dedicated to treating the whole person across the life span.

For more information about the WVU School of Medicine, see

AAFP news release:

AAFP media contact: Leslie Champlin, (800) 274-2237, Ext. 5224,


CONTACT: Kim Fetty, HSC News Service