Osteopathic medical school set for completion in April

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AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Construction of the building that will house the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) in the Auburn University Research Park is on schedule for completion in April 2015, and the college is now accepting applicants for its inaugural class.

"The building is custom designed implementing successful features from the college's other two campuses in Blacksburg, Virginia, and Spartanburg, South Carolina, as well as many additions," said Bill Price, associate vice president for operations. He added that the 90,000-square-foot, four-story, state-of-the art facility sits on 15 acres adjacent to Auburn University. The design includes classrooms, small-group meeting rooms, laboratories and a technology center.

VCOM signed a contract with Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood architectural firm in January 2013 and a ground lease with Auburn University in August 2013. It awarded a construction bid to Brasfield & Gorrie in Fall 2013 before starting construction in December of last year.

Auburn University announced plans for the facility and its partnership with VCOM in August 2012.

Graduates of the college will earn a doctorate of osteopathic medicine (DO). Osteopathic medicine combines the benefits of modern medicine with hands-on therapeutic techniques in the treatment of muscular and skeletal injuries. It uses prescription drugs, surgery and technology for diagnosis and treatment as well as highlighting overall wellness through a holistic approach.

"Osteopathic medicine emphasizes helping each person achieve a high level of wellness by focusing on health promotion and disease prevention," according to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine website.

According to Jasmine Oliver, director of admissions at VCOM-Auburn, Auburn became a participant with the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS) in June, enabling students to apply to VCOM-Auburn.

"We were then approved by our accrediting body to accept applications in September of 2014," Oliver said.

VCOM-Auburn began interviewing and accepting applicants in October, and more than 2,000 potential students have applied to the campus to date.

The college has extended invitations for admission to more than 100 applicants, and plans to accept a total of 150 for the Fall 2015 class.

"Students may apply up to Feb. 15; however, classes for that academic year can fill up before that date due to rolling admission, so students are always encouraged to apply early," Oliver said. "Auburn looks to select candidates from Alabama and southern Appalachian states and those who closely align to our mission."

When students apply to one of VCOM's campuses, they will also have the ability to extend their application to all three, added Dixie Tooke-Rawlins, DO, president and provost.

"VCOM has many applications from Alabama and bordering states that will allow them to meet the mission of the college in Alabama," Tooke-Rawlins said.

Part of that mission will involve allowing students to learn through partnerships with local hospitals to provide clinical education in the third and fourth year of medical school.

"This aspect of their education provides students with opportunities to learn to care for patients under the supervision of faculty physicians," said Elizabeth Palmarozzi, DO, dean of VCOM-Auburn.

Students from VCOM's other two campuses started clinical rotations at East Alabama Medical Center in 2013.

"They have been making rotations with nearly 50 different EAMC physicians in the areas of internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, psychiatry, geriatrics, family medicine, OB/GYN and rural/underserved care," Palmarozzi said.

Jack Hughston Memorial Hospital in Phenix City, Crestwood Medical Center in Huntsville and Gadsden Regional Medical Center in Gadsden have also partnered with VCOM.

"VCOM has students from the current Virginia and South Carolina campuses whose home states are Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi already completing their clinical education in these hospitals, paving the way for the increased number of students who will come their way in 2017," Tooke-Rawlins said. "VCOM is also committed to rural health education, and will be utilizing partners such as hospitals in Enterprise, DeKalb, Cherokee and Lanett."


Information from: Opelika-Auburn News, http://www.oanow.com/

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