By RICK CURL
Of The Record Staff
Saturday will mark the beginning of a new chapter for 150 students of Campbell University’s Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine.
Not only are they completing the first of many steps to becoming physicians, they’re also making history.
The class of 2017 will be the first to complete their four years of study at the Buies Creek college which opened the first medical school in North Carolina in 35 years in August of 2013. Commencement is at 10 a.m. in the Pope Convocation Center.
“This is an exciting time,” the medical school’s founding dean and chief academic officer Dr. John M. Kauffman Jr. said. “The past four years have been full of milestones for the inaugural class and our school simultaneously, and this class of pioneers has met each benchmark with success. As they become the first class of Campbell University physicians Saturday, they will carry our mission and values into practice across the country.”
According to Sarah Bowman, director of Alumni Relations and Health Policy, all graduates will move on to residency programs.
“We had 150 students who were eligible to walk and participate in graduation on Saturday,” she said. “And all 150 of those students have placed into residency programs across the country.”
Graduates in the initial class come from as close as Dunn and as far away as the Pacific Northwestern United States. The majority of the class is made up of students from the Southeast with a significant number of them hailing from the Tarheel State.
“We have 25 staying in North Carolina to complete their residencies,” she added. “So we feel strongly they are most likely going to remain in North Carolina for their medical career.”
Graduates will scatter out See Campbell, Page 3
Campbell University Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine will graduate its inaugural class of doctors during commencement ceremony Saturday morning in the Pope Convocation Center.
Campbell University Photo
Venus Oliva and Jessica Parker will be among the 150 doctors who will graduate.
Photo/Lissa Gotwals Campbell
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across a 32 states, many are set to serve their residency as close as Fayetteville.
Many are scheduled to participate in programs at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, Campbell University partnership programs at Southeastern Health in Lumberton and Cape Fear Valley Health in Fayetteville as well as Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.
Others will be going to Duke Health to participate in a child neurology residency program and to UNC for a specialty in pediatrics.
Beyond the boarders of North Carolina students will also take advantage of special programs in their home states.
Two will be going to Boise, Idaho, for a family medical residency and one is going to a similar special program in Washington State. They will participate in programs bringing physicians to underserved communities in their respective areas.
One of the goals of the program when it was established was to educate and prepare community- based osteopathic physicians in a Christian environment to care for the rural and underserved populations in North Carolina, the Southeastern United States and the nation.
“They’re fulfilling that mission of our school,” she noted. “But some of them are staying in North Carolina to do that and others are going to underserved communities across the country.”
One small group of graduates includes members of the United States military. They were enrolled as a part of the Health Professions Scholars program. It allows active military members to pursue medical school then perform their residency requirements at places such as Walter Reed Medical Center and other military installations across the country.
“They enlist usually before they start their first year of medical school,” she said. “Four of them are going to Trippler Medical Center in Hawaii, three of them are going to Walter Reed Medical Center and then the rest are scattered between Mississippi, Texas and other states.”
Members of the class are considered pioneers by many inside the university including Campbell University President J. Bradley Creed and the namesake of the School of Medicine, Dr. Jerry Wallace, who will be the featured speaker when the students walk across the stage Saturday morning.
They have both time and again not only congratulated the students, but praised them for both their contributions to the program and their trust in the university to provide them a foundation for their medical careers.
“They’ve done so many wonderful things, they really have been pioneers,” Ms. Bowman said. “Dr. Creed and Dr. Wallace both have said that to them over and over again because it’s true. They really were pioneers, they entrusted in Campbell University, they saw the vision we had for what our medical school was going to be.”
That included not even having a building to explore when they were selected to become a part of the first class.
“The building wasn’t even completely constructed when most of them came and did their interviews,” she said. “So many committed to Campbell University before the building was even finished. Every first, every leg of that journey, they’ve been a part of that and really took pride in that and really forged ahead.”
Ms. Bowman said many have already begun to establish their legacy, not only as future physicians, but as outstanding scholars from Campbell University.
Many have taken part in research and some have already earned recognition from being published to participating in many organizations related to their chosen field of specialization to starting a student-run, free clinic for the underserved in the area.
“They had that vision right from the beginning to serve the underserved right here in Harnett County,” she said, “folks who, for whatever reason, are in that gap between Medicaid and being able to afford their own health care insurance.”
She said the clinic has seen a significant number of patients in the county and has given a helping hand to those in need.
“That was a product of this inaugural class,” she said. “Seven of those students worked diligently to get funding and to lay the groundwork for that.”
With all of the work and accolades this first class has earned, it does leave some pretty big shoes to fill when it comes to subsequent classes.
“It did leave big shoes to fill,” she said. “They’re here first, healing together and leaving a legacy. They’ve done all of those things.”
Further enhancing their dedication and commitment to the program, many of the students will graduate with honors.
There are three levels of distinction — Suma Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude and Cum Laude. Ms. Bowman says the majority of the students will fall into one distinction or another.
“It’s a fair number,” she said. “I would say the majority of the class is graduating with honors.”