PSV Virginia News

Fall 2019 Issue


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LUCOM Update

Cultivating a Heart for Healing

Jeremy M. Jones, OMS III
Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM)
Lynchburg, Virginia

Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine opened its doors to students in 2014. Despite its relative youth, there is a strong commitment to the discipline of psychiatry and to the field of mental health. The school values selfless service to others, academic research prompted by curiosity and fervor, and utilizes the principles and values of osteopathic medicine to heal body, mind and spirit. LUCOM’s emphasis on patient-centered medicine, emotional health and well-being are evidenced in the practice and values of its students and faculty.

My own personal interest in the field of psychiatry began during my undergraduate years working as a mental health technician for an inpatient psychiatric facility. I was fascinated by both the pathology and humanity of mental health and was drawn to the impact of positive support and compassion needed to treat patients. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, the next five years were spent working in the position of utilization review and as a program coordinator for a substance abuse and addiction facility. Working with psychiatrists every day, I witnessed the dedication to and influence on their patients, making a positive difference in their lives. This led to a realization that I wanted to pursue a field of medicine where helping people at the worst moments of their life can make a tangible and invaluable difference. I began to apply to medical schools that demonstrated a heart for serving and caring for patients holistically.

I was initially drawn to LUCOM because of the service-oriented mission of the school. The school offers outstanding opportunities for outreach, not only in the local Lynchburg community, but also in underserved areas of Central Virginia. As a first-year student, I was able to participate in a summer medical outreach trip to Guatemala that provided exposure to medicine in communities with limited resources and access issues. I also participated in numerous local outreach clinics where I was able to shadow mental health professionals to treat patients with little or no access to mental healthcare. By interacting with patients early-on in our pre-clinical years, LUCOM students build a foundation of patient-focused compassion and perspective that shape us into more discerning and holistic practitioners.

Osteopathic physicians offer a distinctive approach to medical care that concentrates on a whole-person centered treatment, while emphasizing wellness and the prevention of disease and disability. The utilization of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment and the focus on holistic wellness have provided strong synergy between treating physical as well as mental aspects of the patient. To this end, LUCOM joined with the other Virginia medical schools in 2017 to help develop core competencies for medical education in the areas of addiction and pain management. As a result of that work, the Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine department and the Behavioral Health department collaborated to develop a fourth-year pain management course to better prepare students for residencies. This intensive was presented at a poster session at AACOM this past Spring. A new integrated clinic is also being developed that will treat pain patients. Finally, Dr. Kribs (Chair, OMM) and Dr. Mintle (Chair, Behavioral Health) co-authored a new book for the public, Living beyond Pain (Baker Books) that will release in October of this year. The book provides evidenced-based practical solutions to better understand and help with chronic pain.

Research opportunities in behavioral health are growing and easily accessible to students. Dr. Mintle and student doctor, Lauren Russo, OMS-IV, recently published a study on the “Longitudinal Assessment of Medical Student Emotional Intelligence Over Preclinical Training” in the April 2019 Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. Currently, OMS 2 student doctor Danielle Lukish, is working with Dr. Mintle to study the role of faith as a protective factor for wellness in medical students.

There has been success in the match process for the school as well. LUCOM graduated their inaugural class in the spring of 2018.  A total of eleven students have matched into Psychiatry in the past two years, and the school has demonstrated excellent match rate numbers. The education received at LUCOM and clinical exposure during the pre-clinical and clinical years of medical school allow for strong connections to be made in the field of psychiatry.

I am very pleased to be attending LUCOM and am humbled daily by the privilege of working with and learning from the faculty who teach here. LUCOM is a rising force in the Virginia medical landscape and will continue to seek out opportunities to expose and train students to become competent psychiatrists in the future. Given the shortage of psychiatrists in so many communities, more interest in this field is desperately needed. LUCOM hopes to grow compassion and caring doctors to meet that need.

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