Left photo: Mark Waddell, D.O. Right photo: Deborah Schmidt, D.O.

WVSOM recognizes Distinguished Alumni of the Year

The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) Alumni Association has added two graduates of the school to its list of Distinguished Alumni — both of whom are also current WVSOM faculty members.

Mark Waddell, D.O., was named the 2022 Distinguished Alumni of the Year, and Deborah Schmidt, D.O., was named the 2021 Distinguished Alumni of the Year after that year’s award was postponed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both awards were announced by Manny Ballas, D.O., president of the WVSOM Alumni Association, during WVSOM’s “Cheers to 50 Years” luncheon, part of the Golden Jubilee Weekend celebrating the 50th anniversary of the school’s founding.

Waddell is a WVSOM Class of 1990 alumnus who has worked as a physician in West Virginia throughout his career, including serving for 18 years as medical director for Braxton County Memorial Hospital’s emergency department. He currently practices at Greenbrier Valley Medical Center in Ronceverte, W.Va., where he is assistant director of the family medicine residency program, and at the Robert C. Byrd Center in Lewisburg. Prior to receiving his D.O. degree, Waddell received a Bachelor of Science degree from Alderson Broaddus College in Philippi, W.Va., in business management and management information systems.

He joined WVSOM’s faculty in 2020 as an associate professor of clinical sciences. Waddell also has served as a WVSOM preceptor and advanced cardiac life support instructor, and assists with the school’s wilderness medicine program. His longtime involvement with the WVSOM Alumni Association culminated in two consecutive terms as president, from January 2014 to January 2018.

Waddell said that as someone who has presented the Distinguished Alumni of the Year award in the past, he was humbled to find himself as its recipient. Having grown up in Greenbrier County, he recalled how early experiences with local doctors influenced his career path.

“This school has shaped the course of my life since young adulthood. I learned early on that osteopathic physicians had something different: In the way they approached patients, they seemed to care more,” he said. “This is the biggest honor I’ve ever received, and it’s a wonderful thing to be given it by the people who have been like family to me for so many years. It’s especially meaningful that everyone who has received this award has been a giant not just in the profession, but in their specialties and in their communities.”

Schmidt is a WVSOM Class of 1988 alumna whose life before medical school included stints as a heavy-equipment operator, a shrimp factory employee, an asparagus sorter, a waitress and an exercise instructor. After earning a degree in pre-medicine from Ohio State University, she was accepted at the West Virginia University School of Medicine and WVSOM, choosing the osteopathic medical school because she wanted to continue to work with her hands.

She worked at community health centers in Colorado, South Carolina and Virginia before returning to Lewisburg in 1999 to teach at WVSOM as a part-time clinical instructor. The following year, Schmidt co-founded a medical practice with her husband and another partner in downtown Lewisburg that later moved to Covington, Va. She became a full-time WVSOM faculty member in 2010.

Schmidt is a WVSOM professor of osteopathic principles and practice and a former chair of the department. She is a member of the West Virginia Board of Acupuncture and has been involved in training members of approved health professions to perform the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) protocol, a form of acupuncture in which needles are placed into specific areas on the exterior of the ear to reduce drug cravings and minimize withdrawal symptoms.

In 2021, Schmidt was recognized as one of the year’s “West Virginia Wonder Women” by WV Living magazine.

Schmidt said she was honored to be recognized by her colleagues as Distinguished Alumni of the Year.

“I love working with everyone at WVSOM and in the osteopathic medical community, and I’m proud of how well the school has fulfilled its mission of providing health care to rural West Virginia by training dedicated young physicians,” she said. “Our graduates are phenomenal. They are thoughtful and compassionate physicians who make a difference in our communities. It’s a privilege to work with them.”

The 2023 Distinguished Alumni of the Year award winner will be announced during WVSOM’s Mid-Winter Osteopathic Seminar, an annual continuing medical education event scheduled for Jan. 27-29 in Charleston, W.Va.