WVSOM’s Day of Service draws more than 130 student volunteers

It may have been a Saturday morning, but that didn’t stop students at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) from rolling up their sleeves on July 27 to mow, landscape, paint, clean offices, set up air conditioning units and complete other physical tasks as part of the school’s Day of Service.

An annual partnership with the United Way of Greenbrier Valley, the Day of Service connects osteopathic medical students with organizations in need of volunteer labor. The event, held as part of WVSOM’s orientation week for incoming students, introduces newcomers to Lewisburg and surrounding areas and offers them a chance to give back to the community in which they’ll live during the first two years of their medical education.

The event also allows students to earn Translating Osteopathic Understanding into Community Health (T.O.U.C.H.) hours. Students who volunteer 50 hours or more in one year receive special recognition.

More than 130 first- and second-year students took part in this year’s event. Second-year student Nathaniel Jordan, WVSOM’s T.O.U.C.H. coordinator for 2019-20, said he thinks students got even more out of the Day of Service than they put into it.

“Showing the community that we’re invested in them had a big impact on us,” he said. “Osteopathic medicine teaches us to look at the whole person, and being part of a community is an important aspect of being a whole person.”

Organizations that benefited from the 2019 Day of Service included the Child and Youth Advocacy Center, Greenbrier Community School and the Montwell Commons barn that will be used as WVSOM’s Clingman Center for Community Engagement, in Lewisburg; Eastern Greenbrier Middle School and Gateway Industries, in Ronceverte; Stratton Elementary School, in Beckley; Frankford Elementary School; White Sulphur Springs Elementary School; and Alderson Hospitality House.

Nearly half the participants volunteered at Eastern Greenbrier Middle School, where students painted walls and picnic tables, stacked books, trimmed bushes and performed general groundskeeping work. One of those volunteers, first-year student Akash Kanneganti, said he enjoyed being part of the event.

“It’s cool to get out and see what’s in the area,” he said. “I’m from New Jersey, and since I’m so far from home it’s nice to get to know a different community and be involved in it.”

Many students continue their volunteer work with area organizations throughout the school year. During the 2018-19 academic year, students volunteered a total of 10,745 hours of community service.

Belinda Evans, WVSOM’s director of student life, said the school encourages aspiring physicians to work closely with the public.

“At WVSOM, we believe community engagement is important,” she said. “In addition, osteopathic medicine involves treating mind, body and spirit. The spirit nourishes the mind, the mind takes care of the body, and giving back to the community takes care of all three components.”

WVSOM’s orientation began July 22 when first-year students pledged to abide by the school’s honor code, received laptop computers and were fitted for white coats to be worn during their years in medical school.

New students also attended an on-campus Resource Fair to learn about local services and businesses, sat in on a variety of seminars intended to help them understand what life in medical school is like, networked at a Mentor-Mentee Cookout that allowed them to learn about the experiences of students who are beginning their second years, and celebrated the start of the new academic year at the school’s annual President’s Reception.

In an address on the first day of orientation, WVSOM President James W. Nemitz, Ph.D., welcomed incoming students and urged them to accept help when they need it.

“You’re getting into a business where you’re going to care for people who are suffering, and that’s an incredible goal, but you can’t do it alone,” Nemitz said. “Please connect yourself with the people around you. We’ll go through the ups and downs together.”

Date Added: 
Monday, August 12, 2019