WVSOM student, employee recognized at rural health conference

A West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) fourth-year student and staff member have been recognized for their contributions to rural health in the state of West Virginia. 

Lucas Hamrick received an award for “Outstanding Rural Health Student of the Year” during the West Virginia Rural Health Association’s annual Rural Health Conference. Additionally, Patti Crawford, WVSOM’s director of rural outreach, received 2017’s “Excellence in Rural Health.” 

The Outstanding Rural Health Student of the Year recognizes extraordinary student activities within the field with significant accomplishments in rural health. The Excellence in Rural Health award is given to an individual or organization in recognition of exceptional contributions to the improvement of health to the people in rural West Virginia. It honors creative work of particular effectiveness in applying knowledge or innovative organizational work to the betterment of community health.

Crawford said she was humbled to have been recognized for her work in rural communities. 

“During the past 40 years, I have been working in rural health and I have seen a lot of changes, but one thing remains constant. It is the importance of rural health care,” she said. “A person’s health should not be more determined by their zip code than by their genetic code. West Virginia must be vigilant to keep its hospitals and clinics open in rural communities for citizens to have access to health care. Training physicians who can thrive in rural communities is imperative to keeping health care available to all West Virginians.”

Craig Boisvert, D.O., WVSOM’s vice president of academic affairs and dean, also attended the award recognition luncheon. He has worked with Crawford for the past two decades and nominated her for the award. 

“Her commitment is to ensure osteopathic physicians are trained for service in rural communities and are aware of the benefits of serving rural communities,” he said in a speech during the recognition luncheon. “This directly reflects the mission of our school and her efforts have contributed greatly to our success in placing physicians in rural Appalachia and especially West Virginia. To date, WVSOM has 657 alumni practicing in 40 of West Virginia’s rural counties.” 

Hamrick, a native of Clay, W.Va., is one of the medical students being trained to become a rural physician. He is working to fulfill his dream of practicing medicine in underserved communities while completing his final year of rotations. 

“I have had the pleasure of experiencing medical practice at many flagship institutions within our state and also had the pleasure of working with the highest quality physicians. I have learned a great deal during my medical education, and I hope to continue learning during residency. I will continue to be dedicated to the practice of medicine in West Virginia and I hope to be part of innovation in health care as a whole, as well as expanding access to all services for our rural populations,” Hamrick said. “Quality health care in West Virginia is on the rise — everywhere across the state we are improving and innovating. I look forward to being a part of that in the years to come.”

Hamrick has been heavily involved with rural programs and teaching opportunities before and during his time in medical school. He was involved in the Green Coat Program before he began at WVSOM; has mentored high school students in a Just Say Know to Drugs pharmacology camp; was involved with the Community Outreach and Relief Effort (C.O.R.E.) program that involves working with hospice; and is a member of WVSOM’s Rural Health Initiative program.

Crawford has been employed by WVSOM since 1997. She began work as a regional community health promotion specialist for Southeastern West Virginia through a contract between WVSOM and the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health. During that time, she was also the campus coordinator of the West Virginia Rural Health Educational Partnership program. Crawford created the Southeastern Area Health Education Center and served as its first executive director. She now serves as the director of rural outreach and also provides supervisory oversight for WVSOM’s Rural Health Initiative program.