Page 1


FALL 2012



2 10


WVUhealth Fall 2012 Vol. 3, Issue 2

A publication of the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia



Chancellor’s Message | CHANGE AND CHALLENGE

















Administration James P. Clements, PhD President, West Virginia University Christopher C. Colenda, MD, MPH Chancellor for Health Sciences Patricia A. Chase, PhD Dean, School of Pharmacy David A. Felton, DDS, MS Dean, School of Dentistry Clark Hansbarger, MD Dean, Charleston Division Konrad C. Nau, MD Dean, Eastern Division Georgia L. Narsavage, PhD Dean, School of Nursing Arthur Ross, MD Dean, School of Medicine Alan Ducatman, MD Interim Dean, School of Public Health Judie Charlton, MD Chief Medical Officer WVU Healthcare Bruce McClymonds President and CEO, WVU Hospitals J. Thomas Jones President and CEO, WV United Health System Editorial Board Bill Case, Editor Heidi Specht, Creative Director Stephanie Bock Geri Dino, PhD Norman Ferrari, MD Amy Johns Misti Michael Gary Murdock Amy Newton Lynda B. Nine Tricia Petty Julia W. Phalunas Shelia Price, DDS Contributors Bob Beverly Aira Burkhart Danielle Conaway Jeff Driggs M. G. Ellis Autumn Hill Angela Jones Leigh Limerick Mary Ravasio Minard Michelle Moore Brian Persinger Lori Savitch Chitra Tatachar

© 2012 West Virginia University West Virginia University is governed by the West Virginia University Board of Governors and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. West Virginia University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Institution. Cover illustration: Heidi Specht



This is an exciting time at the Health Sciences Center. There is a tangible atmosphere of change and forward motion at all three of our campuses and among the faculty, students, and staff of our five schools. WVU will long remember 2012 as a watershed year. The creation of the School of Public Health – long a dream of our faculty – is a strong step forward. It supports our strategic goals of transforming the lives of our students and the people of West

Virginia and eliminating the health disparities that impact so many lives in our state. The National Institutes of Health selected WVU for an Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program for Clinical and Translational Research, worth more than $19 million over the next five years. This is a testament not only to our ability to work across disciplines and organizations on our own campuses, but of our strong linkages to health providers, state

health agencies, and other educators across West Virginia. Like every University across the nation, we will face challenges in the upcoming years, and we must make difficult decisions about how we allocate our limited resources. We are confident that we are on the right path and that our focus on the needs of our state is correct. Christopher C. Colenda, MD, MPH Chancellor for Health Sciences West Virginia University

FALL 2012 | 1


The NIH is investing $19.6 million at WVU to take science from the laboratory out into clinics and communities where it can have an immediate impact.

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin congratulates WVU and its statewide partners.

We are all too familiar with the statistics: West Virginia ranks third for adult obesity, second for diabetes, and we’re number one when it comes to smoking. Those aren’t numbers that make us proud— but they are motivating WVU researchers and health professionals to join forces to combat the issues that are keeping West Virginians unhealthy. The National Institutes of Health recently awarded WVU Health Sciences $19.6 million 2 | WVUhealth

to lead the fight to reverse persistent health disparities in the state and beyond. The grant to the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute (WVCTSI) is part of the NIH Institutional Development Award Program for Clinical and Translational Research (IDeACTR). The federal program provides funding for the development of infrastructure to enable scientists to become more competitive for NIH and other biomedical research funding opportunities over the next five years.

“This is about improving healthcare and improving lives. It is about our flagship, land-grant, research university mission. We could not be more proud or more humbled to be a part of this great initiative.” —Jim Clements, PhD WVU President

“This grant will propel WVU Health Sciences onto a higher level as a research institution.” —Christopher C. Colenda, MD, MPH Chancellor for WVU Health Sciences

WVU President Jim Clements, Governor Tomblin, Chancellor for Health Sciences Christopher C. Colenda

In addition to the NIH grant, other leading educational, health sciences, and healthcare entities from across the state have committed to providing another $33.5 million to the WVCTSI, to make the total initiative worth an unprecedented $53.1 million over the next five years. Colenda said the grant would pay for infrastructure – the people, equipment, programs, and protocols – that would qualify WVU for more and greater NIH grants in clinical translational research that would fund specific disease-related studies to target cancer, heart disease, stroke, and obesity-related diseases. Under the grant, 24 physician scientists will be hired over the next five years, along with 22 other staff and professional positions. The principal investigator is Uma Sundaram, MD, director of the WVCTSI. “Here, as at many other health centers, there is excellent research and excellent patient care. What we need is a stronger connection between the two,” Dr. Sundaram said. “WVCTSI will become that connection. What that means for the patient is a new approach and new options for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.”

WVCTSI Partners • West Virginia University • WVU Charleston Division, Charleston Area Medical Center, and CAMC Institute • West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine • West Virginia United Health System • Governor’s Office of Health Enhancement & Lifestyle Planning (GO HELP) • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) WVU’s involvement cuts across departmental and school boundaries. Participating units include: • All Health Sciences schools (Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Public Health) • Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources • College of Business and Economics • College of Human Resources and Education • P.I. Reed School of Journalism • President’s Office • WVU Research Corporation Out-of-state partners: • University of Kentucky, Ohio State University, and Indiana University

Written by Amy Johns Photographed by M. G. Ellis and Bob Beverly FALL 2012 | 3

A NEW ERA FROM BENCH TO BEDSIDE Medical research has no effect on health unless discoveries made in scientific labs translate into changes in healthcare. WVU is making sure that happens.

Gina Wood, RD, LD

Nancy Baaske, RN, Adam Baus, MA, MPH, and Mary Swim 4 | WVUhealth

Written by April Henry Photographed by M. G. Ellis Graphic courtesy NIH

Emma White, RN, and Stacey Arnold

Jimmy Rose and Donna Shanholtzer, CFNP

Donna and Marilyn Foser

DATA DRIVES DIABETES CARE There was a time when it took Marilyn Foster several hours to complete her yard work. She had to take a nap to make it through the day. During a routine check-up at Roane County Family Health Care, Foster learned she had type 2 diabetes. The Gandeeville, West Virginia, resident began asking questions and formulating a plan that would restore her health. Thanks to her determination and support from the clinic’s providers and staff, she now has energy to accomplish everyday tasks and is generally healthier. “My blood sugar is good, and my blood pressure and cholesterol are down,” Foster noted. “I feel so much better, and I can do more. It’s just easier to do what I have to do around the house, like yard work. I am able to do it in a shorter amount of time, and I don’t have to take a nap anymore.” The clinic is a pleasant place where providers and nurses greet patients by name and say goodbye with hugs. Patients feel comfortable asking questions. But, behind the scenes, the health professionals there are using a sophisticated data set to improve their patients’ care.

A Model for Success Six years ago, the doctors and nurses at the clinic began a partnership with the WVU Office of Health Services Research (OHSR) and the state’s Bureau for Public Health’s Diabetes Prevention and Control Program.

Adam Baus, MA, MPH, assistant director at OHSR and PhD student in the new School of Public Health, said the Roane County success story is a model for public health interventions in other rural and low-income communities. The clinic is one of 33 federally qualified health centers and free clinics across the state that share quarterly data—with patient names removed—with the WVU OHSR. There, the progress of 52,000 patients with diabetes, cardiovascular health conditions, and asthma is analyzed and sorted. The information is used to show which practices achieve improvements in patient outcomes. “Roane County Family Health Care is one of our strongest partners,” said Baus. “There is a high level of accountability at that clinic. We often tell other clinics about what Roane County is doing. It is an example to other sites.” Emma White, RN Continued next page FALL 2012 | 5

“Every health center, every physician — they all have this data. But, some of them are not sure how to look at it.” —Gina Wood, RD, LD West Virginia Diabetes Prevention and Control Program director

Jimmy Rose and Donna Shanholtzer, CFNP

Cecil Pollard, MA Continued from page 5

“When we wind up in places where our programs are successful, we find a person who is on a mission to help patients, who wants to find tools to help them,” said Cecil Pollard, who directs the OHSR. “In Roane County, Emma White is that person.” White, an RN who is director of nursing at the clinic, said the registry has allowed her and her co-workers to make important discoveries when reviewing patient information. “You think that you’re doing everything you need to do for that patient. Whether it’s diabetes care or something else, you have the best intentions,” she said. “Thanks to the registry, we have the data we needed to find our weaknesses.”

A Simplified Process Baus developed a diabetes dashboard, which allows White to plug data into a spreadsheet, resulting in an easy-tounderstand graph. Because providers spend most of their days seeing patients, they don’t have time to review pages and pages of statistics. “Providers can look at a graph and can see if they’re meeting their goals, are below their goals, or are above their goals,” White said. “It’s very quick and very easy for providers. It doesn’t waste their time.” But Baus said the key to the Roane clinic’s success is that the staff takes ownership of their responsibility to improve the quality of the care they provide. “Most clinics think they’re doing well,” he said. “They can be a little alarmed when they see the data.”

6 | WVUhealth

The clinic is improving diabetes care by emphasizing key services, such as regular foot checks, yearly dilated eye exams, and hemoglobin A1c screenings. Doctors and nurses now see a prompt in the electronic health record to remind them to perform these tasks. In response to the data, the clinic now has a standard procedure for making referrals to ophthalmologists and has purchased a machine to test patients’ hemoglobin A1c levels and provide them with direct feedback, rather than waiting days for the results. Patients get reminders, too. White sends out color-coded “goal letters” with lab results, with green being satisfactory, yellow signifying caution, and red depicting the need for immediate attention. “Those letters have been great because they’re very easy to understand,” White said. “We tend to use certain jargon or language, and you forget when a patient is not privy to all these medical terms.” Roane County Family Health Care also started a diabetes support group where patients can ask questions, share their concerns, and encourage each other. Ultimately, the three-prong collaboration between Roane County Family Health Care, the WVU Office of Health Services Research, and the WV Diabetes Prevention and Control Program focuses on helping diabetic patients receive better care. “If we can identify patients at a much higher risk for medical disasters, it enables clinics to intervene,” Pollard said. “If they care enough to come to the doctor, we need to do as much as we can while they’re there.”

Roane County Family Health Care’s efforts to improve diabetes care are working. This chart shows the increase in services diabetes patients are receiving.

% in 2006 % in 2011 Dialated eye exam 7.4 56.0 HbA1c test 72.2 96.8 Foot check 55.1


Influenza vaccination



Self-management goal setting



FALL 2012 | 7


Studies in urban areas have shown that educating people about heart disease can help them reduce their risk. Can the same tactics work in rural communities?

Written by April Henry Photographed by Brian Persinger and Heidi Specht 8 | WVUhealth

“The theory is, with education, you can actually reduce people’s risk just by intervening,” said WVU cardiologist Bradford Warden, MD. “It’s been demonstrated in these more urban populations but not in rural populations. We are trying to identify different things . . . that they wouldn’t have to fight in some of these urban areas. One of them is logistics. If you live in downtown Philadelphia or downtown New York, your hospital may only be four blocks away, five blocks away, so you can walk to that hospital and participate in these research events; whereas in West Virginia, a lot of patients drive 30, 60, 90 miles to get to their appointments.”

On a Mission Dr. Warden is part of a wide-ranging group of clinicians and researchers in West Virginia who are working with communities to develop new research strategies to rigorously test the impact of cardiovascular health education and awareness in a rural community. The Rural Heart/Health in Appalachian Risk and Translational (rHEART) study includes the WVU Heart Institute, the Prevention Research Center, the Center for Cardiovascular and Respiratory Sciences, the Community Engagement program of the WVCTSI, and Davis Memorial Hospital in Elkins.

Paul Chantler, PhD, and Georgia Mullens

In the Lab Paul Chantler, PhD, of the Department of Exercise Physiology, is working with patients like Valerie Lemasters and Georgia Mullens to test how aerobic exercise and resistance training can improve arterial and cardiac function in people with metabolic syndrome – a set of risk factors that triples the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and subsequent heart failure. Lemasters and Mullens not only learned about how cardiovascular exercise can improve blood flow, but they also established healthy lifestyle habits. “I liked learning, especially the information that was given about blood flow and how the blood vessels expand and contract,” Lemasters noted. “My blood pressure improved. It was just an overall good experience.”

Paul Chantler, PhD, Taura Barr, PhD, and Bradford Warden, MD

Involving patients in research does complicate the clinicians’ work. “It’s hard to just say, ‘You need to go out and walk.’ How far? How fast? Am I dressed properly? What do I wear on my feet?” said Warden, who is the interim chief of and an associate professor in the Section of Cardiology, WVU School of Medicine. “We all know these things we should be doing. If you’re a sedentary person, and you’ve been that way the whole 50 years of your life, all of a sudden you have a diagnosis of coronary disease and somebody says, ‘You have high blood pressure and all these other things.’ It’s not innate for you to all of a sudden change your lifestyle. But, maybe with education, that’s the point.”

For eight weeks, three times a week, they spent an hour on a stationary bike or treadmill. “The cardio exercise was not something I was thrilled about,” Lemasters said. “But after eight weeks, your body starts getting adjusted. I got in the habit of wanting to do the exercise.”

Out into the Community A grandmother raising her grandchildren, Mullens used the experience to benefit her whole family. “By doing the exercise, I’ve been working myself up to being able to play with them longer,” she said. “It strengthened me; it helped me at home. When I first started exercising, I thought, ‘I’m never going to make it.’ Once it was over, I felt a whole lot better. My grandkids even noticed. It’s been a lot better for all of us.”

Photo left: Georgia Mullens with her husband Larry Mullens and grandson George Mullens FALL 2012 | 9



n July 1, 2012, the West Virginia University School of Public Health emerged as the first school to be created at WVU in more than 50 years. The newly-founded school is comprised of students and professors who aim to achieve noble aspirations – to provide primary prevention, intervention, and public health research to West Virginia communities and beyond.


“West Virginia needs us to do this. Our state has some very problematic health issues, and the creation of the WVU School of Public Health is certainly part of the answer. There is great excitement that goes along with creating this new school at WVU.” ­­—Interim Dean Alan Ducatman, MD

The School of Public Health degree programs include • Master of Public Health • MS in School Health Education • PhD in Public Health Sciences The school is made up of five disciplines • Biostatistics • Epidemiology • Health policy, management, and leadership • Occupational and environmental sciences • Social and behavioral sciences

Interim Dean Alan Ducatman, MD, meets the press after announcing the launch of the School of Public Health.

Written by Danielle Conaway Photographed by Bob Beverly 10 | WVUhealth

“I want to open a hospital one day to help the people in my hometown. I’ve met very good and inspiring faculty at WVU, and it’s kind of like a family here. It’s easy to meet with your professors outside of class if you need to.” —Deeban Ganesan, a WVU School of Public Health student from Chennai, India Deeban is studying biostatistics for his master’s degree in public health. He plans to apply to a doctor of medicine program after he graduates from WVU in December.

“My students are a diverse group because public health is not a one-sizefits-all degree. You have people in biology, law, nursing, and a lot of different backgrounds. Everybody has a gift they can share, and we are educated by our students as well.” —Interim Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Ruth Kershner, EdD, RN

Facts • At the start of its first semester of

classes, 179 students were enrolled in SPH programs, both on campus and online. • The School begins its existence with a robust research component, including over $7 million in externally funded research projects. Faculty members are nationally recognized researchers who regularly publish in top peerreviewed clinical public health journals.

Ruth Kershner, far left, and School of Public Health students at an Angels on High street event, which encourages students to educate other students about drinking and driving.

• Students are involved in service activities throughout their work at WVU. Students contributed over 10,000 hours of required academic service and over 500 hours of volunteer service to communities in the past year.

Stuart Robbins, a member of the WVU Academy of Distinguished Alumni, addresses faculty and students of the School of Public Health. Robbins, with his wife Joyce, established the School’s first endowed professorship.

“Most people don’t know what public health is, but it’s a degree that you can use for almost anything. You can go into any field like politics, law, or teaching. The options you have are endless.” —Brittany Brooks, WVU SPH graduate student

School of Public Health students celebrate the start of the school. FALL 2012 | 11

Chestnut Ridge Center

Chestnut Ridge Center was recently expanded to serve a growing patient population. In November, faculty and staff will celebrate its 25th anniversary.

Since 1987, the Chestnut Ridge Center on WVU’s Morgantown campus has been a haven for West Virginians experiencing mental distress or psychiatric illness. “You probably can’t get any better care anywhere else in West Virginia,” said patient Scott Davis, who lives in Buckhannon. “The doctors, nurses, and staff are very knowledgeable, the facility is beautiful, and it’s not a place where you have anything to be scared of. They have helped me tremendously. They’re always available to listen if I have any problems, and they take really good care of me.”

created a large and vigorous child psychiatry program and an extensive substance abuse treatment program, and our adult mental health programs have grown remarkably,” said Dr. Stevenson. Chestnut Ridge Center’s multidisciplinary team of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurses, clinical staff, mental health specialists, dieticians, and educators provide support to patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

A tradition of service Helping people like Scott Davis has always been the goal for the Center’s faculty and staff, according to James Stevenson, MD, chair of the WVU Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry since 1979. “It is our responsibility to provide access to mental health care to the citizens of West Virginia,” he said. In the 25 years since the Center was built, services have been expanded to more than a dozen locations around the state to meet the needs of adults and children. “Our growth has been phenomenal, and we have broadened our services substantially throughout the state. We have Written by Danielle Conaway Photographed by Brian Persinger 12 | WVUhealth

Music and art are among the treatment tools available to patients.




of mental health services

James Stevenson, MD

“It may be a little scary at first getting treatment, but as time goes on, it gets better. The doctors, nurses, and staff were so kind to me. They’re like family.” – Chestnut Ridge patient Adults with severe and recurrent mental illness are offered partial hospitalization and an Assertive Community Treatment program to help them be successful in their communities and to limit their inpatient hospital stays. Chestnut Ridge Center’s treatment strengths are the treatment of addictive disorders, those individuals with serious mental illness, and child and adolescent psychiatry. The Center has been a model in meshing primary care into psychiatric programs in order to maintain health of mind and body.

Scott’s story For Davis, who used to work as a psychiatric nurse, a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder left him unable to work. “There had been something wrong my whole life. A lot of times I denied I was even ill. I wasn’t diagnosed until my late 30s,” he said. After several hospitalizations at Chestnut Ridge, doctors and nurses were able to get his condition stabilized. His severe

sensitivity to many medications led his doctors to suggest electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), a procedure in which electric currents are passed through the brain triggering a brief seizure. “At first, I wasn’t really keen on the idea of ECT. I just knew what I had seen in movies and things like that, but I looked it up on the computer, talked to my doctors and people I know in my field, and they said it was the way to go. I’ve had over 100 treatments now and it is a lot safer nowadays. My condition as a whole has improved,” Scott said. “I found a part of myself that I thought I’d lost.” “It took me a while to get a hold of who I am and what this disease has done to me. The reason why I don’t mind anybody knowing that I have bipolar disorder and PTSD is that I want mental illnesses to be more understood in society. Now I don’t mind telling people, and I want to be an advocate for mental health treatment,” Scott said.

FALL 2012 | 13


the art


WVU researchers and students use advanced visual tools to learn more about biological structures and processes. This summer, WVUHealth asked for examples of the best biomedical images created in research labs at the Health Sciences Center. We were rewarded with an inbox full of highly varied and informative science graphics. Judges Karen Martin, PhD, scientific and technical director of the HSC’s Microscopic Imaging Facility; Aira Burkhart, visual designer in the HSC Office of Philanthropy; and Heidi Specht, manager of marketing communications for WVU Healthcare, chose these first-, second-, and thirdplace images based on their visual interest and scientific content.

14 | WVUhealth

FIRST PLACE This is a 3D reconstruction of developing synaptic connections in the brainstem of a mouse. A neuron (silver) is contacted by several incoming axons (different colors) that compete for innervation territory. The largest nerve terminal (blue) tracks along the dendrite and is expanding over the main portion of the cell, called the cell body. Our research seeks to identify structural dynamics for assembly of the complex neural circuits of the central nervous system and the molecular factors that regulate this process.

Dakota Jackson neuroscience graduate student Paul Holcomb neuroscience graduate student George Spirou, PhD director, WVU Center for Neuroscience

FALL 2012 | 15

SECOND PLACE This is a Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) biofilm that formed on a metal implant and survived a storm by conventional antibiotics like clindamycin. Department of Orthopaedics staff: Bingyun Li, PhD, Brock Lindsey, MD, David McConda, MD, Jabeen Noore, PhD, Suzanne Smith, and Nina Clovis. Health Sciences Center students: Andrea Armstead, William Artrip, Peter Farjo, Therwa Hamza, Steven McHenry, Ketu Patel, Xianfeng Wang

16 | WVUhealth

THIRD PLACE â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Tie Telomeres cap the ends of chromosomes to protect genes. As cells divide, telomeres shorten until a critical length is reached. At that point, cells can no longer divide, which is associated with aging. Adults with Down syndrome or trisomy 21 have shorter telomeres and shorter lifespan than individuals with a normal karyotype, suggesting that their telomeres either start out shorter or undergo accelerated loss with age. A fluorescent labeled probe for telomeric sequences was used for measuring chromosome 1 telomeres in metaphases, which was significantly shorter in newborns with Down syndrome than newborns with a normal karyotype (p<0.05). Sharon L. Wenger, PhD professor, pathology

Pictured are MDA-MB-231 cells treated with blebbistatin in a threedimensional collagen matrix. Cells are immunostained for actin (red) and microtubules (cyan). Cells were imaged on a Zeiss confocal microscope with z-stacks of 0.5 um (0.5 micron) intervals. This image is part of a research project studying the role of non-muscle myosin II isoforms in breast cancer cell migration and metastasis. Bridget Hindman graduate student, cancer cell biology Laboratory of Robert Wysolmerski, PhD, professor, neurobiology and anatomy

FALL 2012 | 17


change for the citizens of our state Like thousands of other alumni and and beyond. friends of the HSC, he’s committed to helping WVU build the resources “Thousands of people, hundreds of to meet the health challenges of programs, projects, labs, clinical the future through the University’s care locations, and near endless Comprehensive Campaign. Menighan outreach efforts are linked under our is volunteering his time as the simple but all-encompassing vision: chair of the School of Pharmacy’s transform lives and eliminate health Comprehensive Campaign Committee. disparities here in West Virginia and beyond,” said Chancellor Christopher West Virginia ranks 47th-worst of C. Colenda, MD, MPH. “The support the 50 states in premature death, provided by our donors has a 49th-worst in cancer deaths, and direct, unbreakable connection to 46th-worst in cardiovascular deaths. “I’m so grateful for the training I accomplishing that vision.” received at WVU. It has enabled me to West Virginia is among the five states help so many people in so many ways, with the highest number of people For information on how you can as a pharmacist, as a businessperson, suffering from stroke, hypertension, support the HSC through the State as a leader. That’s really the heart and heart disease, diabetes, obesity, oral of Minds Campaign, please visit us health problems, and the effects of soul of the Health Sciences Center online at: education: commit yourself to learning smoking. and helping people for a lifetime.” WVU is committed to remaining a Photographed by Aira Burkhart powerful and innovative force for Tom Menighan has come a long way since he graduated from the WVU School of Pharmacy in 1974. As the CEO and executive vice president of the American Pharmacists Association, Menighan represents some 62,000 members and is involved with every issue and opportunity before the expanding profession of pharmacy. But the passion and commitment he learned for his profession at WVU still guides him every day.

18 | WVUhealth

WVU HEALTH SCIENCES CENTER SELECTED CAMPAIGN GOALS Interprofessional Programming HSC Center for Interdisciplinary Education $5 million West Virginia Center for Health Disparities and Translational Science WVU Center for Neuroscience $11 million

$30 million

HSC Facilities Dentistry Nursing Pharmacy Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center Charleston Division

$10 million $1.3 million $2 million $14 million $1.25 million

Scholarships Graduate Education Scholarship Endowment

$10 million FALL 2012 | 19

Student Debt: A Hazard to Healthcare

Tigers on the trail.

WVU Graduates Average Student Debt, 2012 Physicians






(Does not include undergraduate loans) WVU Medical Graduates Average Debt $156,000 National Average Medical School Debt $157,000 Written by Leigh Limerick 20 | WVUhealth

Graduation Day

School of Medicine’s Class of 2011 walked proudly and accepted their diplomas in May – and walked off the stage with a burden of student debt that averaged over $156,000. Our fledgling physicians aren’t alone. As the cost of providing an education rises, so does tuition in all health sciences programs, and new graduates are carrying more loan debt than ever before. The debt crisis facing new health professionals affects not just the graduates, but their patients and the nation’s health care system. It’s widening the gap between the demand for rural practitioners and the number of doctors, dentists, pharmacists, and nurses able to practice in remote communities that desperately need their services. “Our students want to make a difference, and many of them want to practice in rural areas,” said Norman Ferrari, III, MD, vice dean for education and academic affairs and chair of the Department of Medical Education at the WVU School of Medicine. “But the burden of debt, combined with the cost of starting a practice, makes it nearly impossible for a young doctor. So what do you do? You specialize, you join a larger practice. You go work in a more urban setting.”

The highly competitive West Virginia Family Medicine Rural Scholars Program provides a $10,000 stipend for select students’ fourth year of medical school, in addition to additional funding for advanced training courses. The program’s goal is to keep West Virginia doctors practicing in rural areas by keeping residents in state and lightening their debt load. Still, the program is limited to very few participants. “None of our programs has enough scholarship money for the students who need it,” stated Dr. Ferrari. “That’s a big piece of the puzzle.” Opportunities to give are unique within each school. For example, the School of Medicine offers donors the chance to become Mountaineer Mentors. Mentors provide annual scholarship assistance to qualifying medical students in each of their four years of medical school. In addition to helping scholars financially, Mentors provide advice and guidance to the student, establishing a unique relationship. “Mentors help great students become great doctors,” said Ferrari. “Our scholars know someone out in the real world is investing in their talents, not only through tuition assistance, but with their time and expertise.” FALL 2012 | 21

Rural Scholarships:

Removing financial barriers to rural health careers

Emily Mayhew knew that she would return to her Eastern Panhandle roots following her May 2012 graduation from the West Virginia University School of Dentistry. And, like most students in health professions programs, she also knew that when she arrived back in Harpers Ferry she would be bringing a significant amount of student loan debt with her. So when the opportunity to apply for the WVU Institute for Community and Rural Health’s (ICRH) inaugural round of scholarships came up, the decision on whether or not to apply was a no brainer. The scholarship can be used to reduce student-loan debt. Recipients are required to practice in a part of West Virginia that is in need of health professionals.

Mayhew was one of five students chosen for the first round of scholarships, which were presented in April. She received $50,000 for a two-year commitment to practice in the state. In applying for the scholarship, Mayhew said the money would go a long way toward relieving some of the financial burden of attending dental school.

Amy Isble, who also graduated from the School of Dentistry in May, received a $50,000 scholarship in return for a two-year commitment to practice in rural West Virginia. She returned to her home of Kanawha County.

“The scholarship would help me pay my school debt, which for my fiancé and me, is quite substantial when combined,” she wrote in her application. “Also, the stress of having to pay such high payments toward my school debt would be greatly reduced. It is also difficult to treat a large amount of West Virginia Medicaid and CHIPs (Children’s

The ICRH also awarded three medical students with scholarships: Garrett Butler, a second-year student from Mineral County; Sky Gwinn, a second-year student from Summers County; and Stephanie Sisler, a 2012 graduate from Preston County who is now a pediatrics resident at WVU. She hopes to practice in either Preston or Tucker County.

Written by Angela Jones Photographed by Autumn Hill and Bob Beverly 22 | WVUhealth

Health Insurance Program) patients without some sort of supplement… and this scholarship is that subsidy opportunity.”

Larry Rhodes, MD, director of the Institute, was very impressed by the candidates for the first round of scholarships.

Dean Dave Felton, DDS, (at left), presented the inaugural rural scholarships to 2012 School of Dentistry graduates Amy Isble and Emily Mayhew. At right are April Vestal, ICRH associate director, and Larry Rhodes, MD, ICRH director.

“We could have only dreamed of having such outstanding applicants for our inaugural awarding of scholarships to Health Sciences students. These awardees are not only representative of the most outstanding students in the Schools of Dentistry and Medicine, they each have sincere passion for providing healthcare in underserved areas of our state,” he said. “This program will have a significant impact on healthcare in rural West Virginia.”

Medical school winners Garrett Butler, Stephanie Sisler, and Sky Gwinn (front row, L-R) are congratulated by Norman Ferrari, MD, associate dean for medical education, School of Medicine Dean Arthur Ross, MD, and Dr. Rhodes. FALL 2012 | 23


Jane Horst talks with WVU medical student Roseann Nguyen at the Eastern Divsion.

A recent visit to City Hospital in Martinsburg gave Jane Horst, student services supervisor in the Eastern Division, a firsthand look at former students who are now on the front lines of medical care. “My job is working with medical students,” Horst said. “I administer their exams, schedule them for rotations, and take care of all their paperwork…But I never saw the big picture – that we were training them to be physicians and to help out people who are sick.” During her time as a patient, Horst interacted with former students Adrienne Zavala, MD, Travis Schildt, MD, and recent graduate Esther Mwilaria, MD. Faculty member Ron Best, DO, was the attending physician. Eastern Division Dean Konrad Nau, MD, agreed that being a patient certainly offers a different perspective to the training the medical school offers.

24 | WVUhealth

“We get so wrapped up in ‘Are they finishing the curriculum?’ ‘Are they where they’re supposed to be, and are they learning what they’re supposed to learn?’” Dr. Nau admitted. “When they come back and actually are taking care of patients, all that other work is worthwhile. You don’t really experience that student as the physician until you’re the subject, the customer, the patient.” Of the 87 medical graduates in the Eastern Division since 2005, 29 have returned to WVUH-East to work, are in the Family Medicine residency, or are being interviewed to return. “When a student goes from being a resident, finishes training, and comes back to our community, that is one of the highest compliments that you can receive,” Nau commented.


Yon Rojanasakul, PhD

Art Jacknowitz, PharmD Love is what carried Art Jacknowitz,

Rojanasakul named co-leader of lung cancer program Yon Rojanasakul, PhD, has been named co-leader of the Sara Crile Allen and James

PharmD, professor in the West Virginia

Frederick Allen Comprehensive Lung Cancer Program at the West Virginia University

University School of Pharmacy’s

Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center.

Department of Clinical Pharmacy, through 38 years of service — love for his profession, love for his colleagues, and love for his students. “Dr. Jacknowitz is a very special person,” Patricia Chase, PhD, dean of the WVU School of Pharmacy, said. “He leaves a

“Yon has been a valuable contributor and member of the Cancer Center for many years, and we welcome the opportunity to have him join our leadership ranks,” said Scot Remick, MD, director of WVU’s Cancer Center. As co-leader of the Allen Lung Cancer Program, Dr. Rojanasakul will work with the leadership team and the program participants to advance lung cancer research and patient care capabilities.

legacy of love. He was a true joy to work

Rojanasakul’s research includes a $1.4-million grant from the National Heart, Lung,

with, and he will be missed.”

and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health to determine if engineered

Jacknowitz mentored more than 250 pre-

nanomaterials, such as carbon nanotubes, may be linked to lung cancer.

pharmacy and pharmacy students as an

Rojanasakul is a professor in the WVU School of Pharmacy’s Department of Basic

academic advisor and taught thousands

Pharmaceutical Sciences.

of students and alumni as a faculty member. He was the founding director of the West Virginia Center for Drug and Health Information and was one of only 22 healthcare professionals named to serve on the 2010-2015 Medicare Model Guidelines Expert Panel. Colleagues and alumni have created the Arthur I. and Linda M. Jacknowitz Endowed Scholarship to support student pharmacists at WVU. To contribute, contact the school’s development office at 304-293-7731.

BUSIEST YEAR EVER WVU Healthcare served more people than ever before in 2011, recording 773,000 visits to medical offices and clinics statewide and 32,000 patient stays at Ruby Memorial Hospital and other hospital locations. More than 43,000 patients used the Ruby emergency department, and faculty surgeons performed 22,000 surgeries. More than 1,350 babies were delivered during the year.

FALL 2012 | 25

PO Box 9083 Morgantown, WV 26506 School of Dentistry School of Medicine School of Nursing School of Pharmacy School of Public Health WVU Healthcare University Health Associates West Virginia University Hospitals Member, West Virginia United Health System University Physicians of Charleston

Assistant Professor Michael McCawley hopes the inexpensive, portable air quality monitors he has designed for use around natural gas wellpads will be adopted by drillers in Appalachia’s booming gas industry. He’s using them to help West Virginia environmental regulators gather data about the effects of the state’s new drilling law. Dr. McCawley is one of the leaders of the new WVU School of Public Health. For more about the school, see page 10. Photographed by Chitra Tatachar

Nonprofit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Permit No. 230 Morgantown, WV 26506-9083

WVU Health Magazine Fall 2012  

News and information for the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center, Morgantown, WV.