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Speaker: Doctors needed
Chamber hears more on medical school

Friday, September 13, 2013

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Wanted: Children willing to trade their jump ropes for stethoscopes.

That basically is how a board member of the Integrative Centers for Science and Medicine (ICSM), which is launching a medical school in Martinsville, sums up plans to persuade area school students to pursue medical careers.

The College of Henricopolis School of Medicine hopes to graduate doctors willing to practice in the region, according to board member Dr. Christopher Brooks, an anthropologist who is director of the School of World Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).

Anthropology is the study of human beings, both past and present.

Brooks discussed the medical school Thursday with the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors.

Based on its population and higher incidences of health problems among residents than people in many other parts of the state, the area has fewer physicians than it needs, according to Brooks.

He said representatives of the medical school hope to be able to go into local schools, identify intelligent children as young as 8 or 9 and encourage them to enter the health care field.

Brooks indicated the effort will be similar to a “Jump Rope to Stethoscope” program at VCU that teaches students in kindergarten through 12th grade about health care professions.

The medical school aims to enroll 150 medical students by the fall of 2015, Brooks said, adding that he thinks the goal is “ambitious but accomplishable.”

“Everyone seems to be shocked about the idea of (having) a medical school in Martinsville,” he said.

However, he said the city is a good place to open a medical school because of the local physician shortage.

ICSM board President Dr. Noel Boaz has said the school will focus on training primary care physicians because many medical school graduates are pursuing specialty care fields, resulting in a shortage of doctors who treat patients’ general ailments.

The college will be based in a former grocery/furniture store building at the corner of Fayette and Moss streets uptown. However, this summer it began offering an anatomy program in temporary laboratory space set up in the West Piedmont Business Development Center.

Also Thursday, the chamber board learned that:

• Chamber President Amanda Witt will visit the 2013 Worlds of Opportunity Career Expo in Mobile, Ala., later this month.

More than 10,000 people — mostly students — from eight counties in the Mobile area are expected to attend the expo, designed to help eighth-graders learn about career options and skills they need in the work force, according to Witt and information online.

Witt said the chamber is interested in replicating the event locally, but on a smaller scale.

• A “Teacher Appreciation Night” will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Virginia Museum of Natural History. The event replaces an annual get-together for new area school employees.

“We’re jazzing it up this year” and inviting all teachers “to show them we appreciate them being here (in local schools) and everything they do” to educate students, said chamber Deputy Director Sharon Shepherd.

Mexican restaurant El Norteno will supply food and drinks. There also will be door prizes and tours of the museum’s education center. Educators also will be able to examine the museum’s exhibits, a flier shows.

• Thirty-seven people are participating in the chamber’s current Leadership Development Class.

Witt said she thinks that is the second-highest number of participants ever for the class.


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