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West Virginia Wesleyan College President Dr. Joel Thierstein, at right, and West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine President Dr. James W. Nemitz said the ‘Go D.O.’ Early Scholars Program is currently accepting applications.

WVWC and WVSOM team up to offer accessible pathway to medical school for high school seniors

BUCKHANNON – West Virginia Wesleyan College and the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine have partnered together to roll out a unique program for aspiring medical school students in the Mountain State and across the U.S.

West Virginia Wesleyan College President Dr. Joel Thierstein and West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine President Dr. James W. Nemitz said the ‘Go D.O.’ Early Scholars Program is taking applications now, and students will start participating fall semester 2021.

The program will offer qualifying high school seniors entry to medical school at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg, W.Va., with their undergraduate admission to Wesleyan. In addition, qualifying students will receive guaranteed acceptance into the WVSOM upon successful completion of undergraduate program requirements and interview as well as a waived MCAT, according to a Wesleyan press release.

As many as 10 prospective students will be admitted to the program on a yearly basis.

“West Virginia Wesleyan College has a proud tradition of excellence, one that we are building on today,” Thierstein said. “Now more than ever, colleges and universities need to work together in innovative ways to create opportunities for those who they serve. Today, I’m pleased to announce the West Virginia Wesleyan College and the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine are teaming up to open the doors of opportunity for students from West Virginia and across the nation.”

The ‘Go D.O.’ Early Scholars Program gives students the chance to attend WVWC for their undergraduate education and WVSOM in Lewisburg, W.Va., for medical school.

“Wesleyan has a strong track record of preparing undergraduate students for medical school,” Thierstein said. “Now, we have the opportunity to have a direct connection with a great medical school, the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. Public-private partnerships are often touted as the future of education, and for that matter, in our economy, it’s often difficult to find real, tangible ways to benefit both the public and private sectors, but this partnership does exactly that.”

To qualify for the program, a student needs a 3.75 GPA or better, a 1390 on the SAT or a 30 or better on the ACT, along with successful interviews with WVWC and WVSOM.

WVWC President Dr. Joel Thierstein at Tuesday’s announcement.

“One of the founding ideals of the ‘Go D.O.’ Early Scholars program is to keep the best and brightest students of West Virginia in West Virginia,” Thierstein said. “By the same token, we want to attract the best and brightest students from other states to come to West Virginia and the ‘Go D.O.’ Early Scholars Program does just that. According to the College Board, there are currently 867 West Virginia high school seniors who meet the high-level criteria for admission to the ‘Go D.O.’ Early Scholars Program.”

Nemitz said the program encourages talented, motivated students and future physicians to stay in West Virginia.

At center, Dr. James W. Nemitz, president of West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, signs a joint agreement between WVSOM and West Virginia Wesleyan College, enabling qualifying high school seniors to gain entry to medical school at WVSOM with their undergraduate admission to WVWC. At right is WVWC President Dr. Joel Thierstein.

“We need to retain our students here in West Virginia, and we need to attract those best and brightest from out of state to come to our state and to serve as well,” Nemitz said. “This partnership is a great example of our students being able to come to this fine institution, to be able to do their studies here at West Virginia Wesleyan and then go on to do their medical studies at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.”

He said the program also takes the stress off undergraduate students because once accepted into the ‘Go D.O.’ Early Scholars Program, they will no longer have to worry about which medical school to apply for or about not making the cut after college.

“Imagine what it’s like to be accepted at a medical school while you’re going through your undergraduate education – it puts all their focus their studies rather than worrying about getting in, and then it’s a win for the state because what we want to do is retain these people,” Nemitz said. “We want them to stay here, practice here, and serve in our communities like so many WVSOM graduates do as well as West Virginia Wesleyan graduates do.”

He said WVSOM wanted to partner with Wesleyan for this program because their students are responsible and perform at a high level.

“We crunch data all the time, and we’ve done the numbers and we know that West Virginia Wesleyan students perform at a certain level at this school and they’re going to do well in our program,” Nemitz said. “It’s a win-win, so we know when we accept a West Virginia Wesleyan student, we know that they’re going to be a good student in our program, a strong student, a responsible student.”

Wesleyan’s Chief Development and Marketing Officer Talley Sergent said college administrators are aware of several students in the Buckhannon-Upshur community who would qualify.

“We know of several who would qualify, and we will work to recruit those students,” Sergent said. “This will also benefit rural communities from the standpoint of addressing a shortage of doctors and other healthcare professionals in rural medicine.”

A separate branch of medicine in the U.S., osteopathic medicine emphasizes the interrelated unity of all systems in the body, each working with the other to heal in times of illness, according to the American Osteopathic Association.

The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine is a publicly funded, four-year medical school located in Lewisburg. WVSOM has received recognition for 22 years in a row as a leader in primary care, family medicine and rural medicine in the U.S. News & World Report’s annual “Best Graduate Schools” listings.

Students interested in the program and looking to apply may go here.

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