For nearly 50 years, CAMC has been committed to the mission of education, training thousands of physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other advanced practice professionals. On any given day, there are about 800 learners in CAMC’s facilities.
In fact, teaching and training medical students and resident physicians was one of the main reasons for the 1972 merger of Memorial Hospital and General Hospital to create Charleston Area Medical Center.
Since then, one-third of the medical students at West Virginia University in Morgantown have come to WVU’s Charleston Division and CAMC for their third and fourth years of medical school. The students spend those two years here, and often longer if they continue their residency at CAMC. This affiliation created the oldest regional medical education campus in the United States. There are 85 WVU medical students assigned to CAMC facilities for the 2019-2020 academic year.
CAMC also provides a regional campus site for the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) in Lewisburg, training more than 40 third and fourth year students on-site. CAMC and WVSOM recently signed an expanded affiliation agreement to host even more students at CAMC locations for the 2020-2021 year.
Half of the physicians on CAMC’s medical staff received training here.
“Training tomorrow’s workforce is a critical part of our mission,” said CAMC President and CEO David Ramsey. “That means training nurses, physicians, pharmacists, radiology and lab technicians, and dozens of other key clinical positions that are needed to operate a comprehensive academic center.”
CAMC also features the CAMC School of Anesthesia (affiliated with Marshall University) and a clinical psychology internship. The CAMC Health Education and Research Institute provides continuing medical education, outreach education and research support to physicians, allied medical professionals as well as patient and consumer health service projects in West Virginia and the region. Because of CAMC’s expansive clinical opportunities, other West Virginia/regional residency programs are affiliated with CAMC for a part of their training experiences, including residents/fellows from WVU and Marshall University.
“The teaching programs (residents, fellows and teaching faculty) provide a lot of patient care at CAMC,” said Sharon Hall, president of the CAMC Health Education and Research Institute. “Under supervision, residents are working in our clinics and operating rooms. These physicians in training are an important part of our care team at CAMC. They help us care for patients 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The academic mission also provides health care providers for the region with approximately one-third of graduates annually remaining in West Virginia to practice or to continue training.
“CAMC’s teaching mission adds a learning focus to our entire hospital culture,” Hall said. “The learning that goes on between the faculty and the students and residents, along with the research they are conducting, create an environment of constant improvement and learning.”
CAMC also serves as the clinical teaching site for numerous health professionals, helping them to obtain the clinical experiences they need to learn to care for patients. In the academic year ending in 2019, CAMC served as a clinical training site for 1,537 learners through 148 educational affiliations with West Virginia and regional colleges and universities.
Nurses are the largest component of the health care workforce, and there has been a national nursing shortage for several years.
One innovative approach CAMC has taken to combat the shortage is to provide scholarships and loan forgiveness to employees who want to go to nursing school and for students currently in a nursing program.
“It’s a win, win, win scenario,” Ramsey said. “Students get financial assistance and are guaranteed a job, and CAMC gets employees in needed positions.”
For several years, CAMC has collaborated with BridgeValley Community and Technical College on a nursing program that graduates students each December. This helps increase the number of graduate nurses available in the winter, as opposed to only having a new group of nurses each spring.
“We had this big void for the rest of the year and found ourselves short of nursing talent in the winter months, so we decided to design a program that addressed our need,” Ramsey said.
Not only is CAMC training future clinicians, it is also providing critical services locally so patients do not have to travel for care.
“The commitment that CAMC has to provide state-of-the-art health care to our region, and to train clinicians for the future, is very significant and expanding,” Ramsey said.