GREENBRIER COUNTY, W.Va. — In many cases, different methods of support for students at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, located in Lewisburg, in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic are originating with the school’s Stress Relief Task Force.
“It’s hard enough to go through medical school, yet to go through med school during the COVID pandemic is unprecedented,” said Dr. James Nemitz, WVSOM president.
Julianna Quick, a learning specialist and student counselor, and Dr. Roy Russ, associate dean for preclinical education, first had the idea to create a forum for students to make administrators aware of their concerns.
Launched in September, WVSOM’s Stress Relief Task continues to be made up of one student from each of the graduating classes along with faculty from biomedical sciences, clinical sciences and the osteopathic principles and practice departments.
Additionally, staff from WVSOM’s Clinical Evaluation Center are involved along with staff from the National Boards and Exam Center, the Statewide Campus, Office of Student Life and the Office of the President.
All meet at least once a month.
Questions about personal protective equipment , details of higher education aid in the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security or CARES Act, and access to stress-relieving activities like virtual yoga sessions or socially-distanced art class have been addressed.
“We recognized very early on the huge mental health impact it (the pandemic) has on students especially, but also on employees,” said Nemitz.
“We’re constantly messaging, looking for opportunities and reaching out because everybody’s under duress. Everybody is experiencing loss in some way and I think it’s the responsibility of my institution to reach out to our students, to our employees and to the community.”
For months now, the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine has operated with many courses online, largely lectures, as part of COVID-19 protocols.
“There are still hands-on experiences that are just essential for medical education and those are ongoing, but we’re doing it safely,” said Dr. Nemitz.