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Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Region: Virginia Country: USA

Message from the Dean
Dixe Tooke-Rawlins, D.O.Welcome to the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine. The Virginia Campus is located in Blacksburg, Virginia, in the Corporate Research Center of Virginia Tech and operates as a private/public partnership under a collaborative agreement with the University. Located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains area, the campus is surrounded by beautiful mountain views, clear streams, and an exciting university community. The partnership with Virginia Tech allows students to enjoy the activities (including arts and sporting events) of a large university (including arts and sporting events) while maintaining the small-family feel of a private college. The Virginia campus includes four buildings and a 13-acre campus.

The Carolinas campus is located in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Supported and embraced by the community, VCOM is Spartanburg's newest pride. In a small city of many colleges, VCOM has partnered with Wofford University for shared college activities. These include sporting events and use of many of the campus study and exercise facilities. The VCOM Carolinas campus includes a 19-acre campus with walking trails and a beautiful new facility.

The mission of VCOM is to provide medical education and research that will prepare globally minded, community-focused physicians and improve human health, especially for those most in need. To meet this mission, VCOM offers a dynamic, systems-integrated, clinical case-based curriculum that spans four years. The curriculum includes early clinical experiences and medical simulation to assure students are well prepared for the clinical setting. VCOM partners with many hospitals throughout Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, where VCOM hires Directors of Student Medical Education and faculty to assure students have a well-developed clinical training program with exposure to multiple residencies for a continuum of medical education.

In addition to education, VCOM faculty and students provide preventive health programs and osteopathic medical care to the medically underserved populations in Appalachia and developing countries. In Southwest Virginia, VCOM faculty and students provide medical care in free clinics, prevention programs, mini-medical schools to 20 rural high schools, and medical care/prevention programs to remote communities. In Spartanburg we are partnering once again with area free clinics and outreach programs. The international outreach program has been successful in establishing three sustainable, year-round clinical programs in Honduras, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic. Collectively, these clinics and programs provide care to hundreds of patients who would otherwise be without access to care. VCOM has won many awards as a leader in rural health, healthcare for underserved populations and in global health.

VCOM has many other award-winning programs including our sports medicine program with a fellowship and faculty physicians who provide care for the Virginia Tech Hokies, the Radford University Highlanders, the U.S. Olympic Ski Team, and the Greenbrier Classic PGA tournaments. Students work with the sports medicine fellows to provide sports physicals and team coverage for many area colleges and high schools. Also among VCOM's award-winning programs includes our Mini-Medical School outreach and three faculty named in recent years as Educator of the Year by the Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA) Northrup award or American Osteopathic Foundation (AOF) awards.

VCOM has won recognition as a leader in offering opportunities to minority students and has been one of the top schools for Hispanic students for many years. VCOM is also one of the top schools for students entering primary care. VCOM students are leaders and hold national positions of recognition in their professional student organizations. I hope you will visit "VCOM in the News" section to see our latest annual report and visit the leadership section to see the many VCOM graduates who have become chief interns and chief residents over the past five years.

VCOM's most exciting accomplishment in 2011 is the opening of the new campus in Spartanburg, South Carolina. As a branch campus with common mission, goals and curriculum, the exciting work will now span three states: Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

The role of VCOM faculty in biomedical, translational and clinical research is to improve the health of society. VCOM faculty research programs have grown steadily, even in a time when national NIH funds have decreased. VCOM continues to add research facilities and resources to promote the growth of our research programs. VCOM offers students summer experiences and for some, year-round research opportunities. VCOM also offers joint programs for our students with Virginia Tech including M.P.H., M.B.A. and Ph.D. opportunities.

VCOM is committed to the mission, to the well being of our students and to producing high-quality physicians. We are proud of our accomplishments and hope you will review the website to see what has been accomplished by our faculty and students. I encourage you to read more about VCOM and the amazing opportunities it provides.

Shortage of Rural Physicians
The decision to establish the College was made after the leaders of the Harvey W. Peters Research Foundation and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) studied the health care needs of Virginia. That study revealed that Southside and the Southwest geographical areas of Virginia had an extreme health care shortage, with 30 counties considered to have critical shortages (HPSA) designations and greater than 70 having medically under served areas (MUAs). The three existing medical schools in Virginia, being located in the eastern half of the state, were producing a relatively small number of primary care physicians or physicians for Southwest Virginia.

Moreover, few graduates chose primary care. It was evident from the study that the health care shortage in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina would continue to grow. In addition, a 2002 national study, reported initially in Health Affairs, estimated a shortage of 50,000 physicians by 2010 and shortage of more than 100,000 physicians by 2020. The need was evident, and plans to establish the first College moved forward. John Rocovich, Jr., J.D., L.L.M. (Rector for VT at that time and President of the Harvey Peter's Research Center and Sue Ellen Rocovich, D.O., Ph.D., worked with Edward Via to establish the College in his name.

The Founding of the College

Ribbon CuttingVCOM is a non-profit, private 501 c-3 charitable organization initially funded by several foundations that were established by the late Marion Bradley Via to benefit Virginia Tech and Southwest Virginia. Marion Bradley's son, Edward Via was the person instrumental in funding this initiative. John Rocovich, Jr., J.D., L.L.M. and Sue Ellen Rocovich, D.O., Ph.D., were the individuals instrumental in founding the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine, laying all the groundwork to establish the College. At the time of initial development, VCOM's vision was to provide healthcare for Southwest Virginia, Western North Carolina, and the Appalachian Region, and to promote biomedical research with Virginia Tech.

In 2001, VCOM hired the founding President James Wolfe Ph.D. and the founding Executive Vice President and Dean, Dixie Tooke-Rawlins D.O. This team of individuals developed the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in the Corporate Research Center of Virginia Tech including facility plans and building, academic program planning, accreditation approvals, and the hiring of the initial faculty and staff. The College opened their doors to the first students in fall of 2003 and graduated the first class in 2007.

VCOM's Founding Board of Directors included: William Anderson, D.O.; Neal Castagnoli, Jr, Ph.D.; A. Cifala, D.O.; Roy E. Heaton, D.O.; Mark G. McNamee, Ph.D.; John Rocovich, Jr., J.D., L.L.M., Chairman of the Board; Sue Ellen B. Rocovich, D.O., Ph.D.; Minnis Ridenhour, Ph.D.; James F. Wolfe, Ph.D. and Eugene T. Zachary, D.O

"The credit for the success of the founding of the first Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine belongs to more than the initial founders listed above. It also belongs to the first faculty and staff, the board of directors, the many supporters for their contributions, and most of all the first students (Class of 2007)," said Dr. Tooke-Rawlins"

Adding A Branch Campus

Spartanburg Campus Groundbreaiking photoIn 2010, VCOM founded the Carolinas Campus of the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Instrumental in founding the college was VCOM's Chairman of the Board John Rocovich and the Board of Directors; President James Wolfe; Dean Dixie Tooke-Rawlins D.O.; Vice Dean for the Carolinas Campus, Tim Kowalski D.O.; then Spartanburg Regional Medical Center CEO, Ingo Angemieir, M.D.; and Ron Janukowski, D.O. who now serves as the Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs. Also contributing to this success were multiple community leaders including the mayor, local legislators, and community leaders.

This section on the Carolinas Campus will allow you to see the progress of the new College. Accreditation approvals from the State and those granted by COCA began in 2010. As a branch campus, the Carolinas Campus will begin as a fully accredited campus by COCA the Federally Department of Higher Education recognized body for accrediting osteopathic medical colleges. VCOM also has State approvals to operate the college as a higher education institution in South Carolina, granted in Spring of 2010. The first class begins in fall of 2011.
Osteopathic Medicine

The College offers the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree. Osteopathic physicians are licensed in every state to practice the full scope of medicine including examining patients, diagnosing illness, writing prescriptions, performing surgery, as well as providing musculoskeletal manipulation. Osteopathic physicians enter every field of medicine from family practice to neurosurgery. The majority of osteopathic physicians, however, practice primary care, with approximately one-fourth of the profession providing care in small communities and rural areas.

What is Osteopathic Medicine?
Osteopathic physicians are licensed in every state to practice the full scope of medicine and surgery. The practice of osteopathic medicine includes using the most current scientific knowledge to promote health and prevention and to diagnose and treat patients with disease. Osteopathic physicians prescribe medications, perform surgery, and use osteopathic manipulative medicine as a tool to diagnose and treat patients. The philosophy of osteopathic medicine originated from the teachings of Virginian Andrew Taylor Still over 100 years ago and is based on the beliefs that, given the optimum conditions, the human body has the amazing ability to heal, that the structure of the human body is directly related to the function, and that the health of the individual is related to the body, mind, and spirit.

The importance of maintaining optimal conditions for good health has come to the forefront of recognition by all physicians in recent years through prevention and health maintenance measures. As all medicine has evolved through the years, so has the practice of osteopathic medicine, yet many of the original values of osteopathic medicine are found within our curriculum. These osteopathic values include medicine focused on the patient rather than the disease and the importance of human touch in diagnosing and treating the patient.

Osteopathic physicians (D.O.s) and allopathic physicians (M.D.s) are the only two types of physicians who are fully trained and licensed to practice the full scope of medicine, which includes prescribing medications and performing surgery. While osteopathic physicians enter every specialty, the osteopathic curriculum at VCOM prepares the student to be a primary care physician first. This training prepares the student for primary care and provides a strong foundation for any student who may choose a specialty. To meet the mission of the VCOM, we intend to prepare the majority of our graduates to enter primary care.

More than 70,000 osteopathic physicians are expected to be practicing in the United States when those who presently are in training have completed their studies. 60% of all osteopathic physicians enter primary care. Osteopathic physicians currently care for more than 35 million Americans. Osteopathic physicians also are more likely to practice in small communities and rural areas. Twenty-six other osteopathic medical schools and two branch campuses that enroll more than 8,000 students are located within the United States.

The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) recognizes only those schools that provide four years of training leading to the full scope of the practice of medicine. Each school is accredited by the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) of the AOA. The COCA is the only accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for predoctoral osteopathic medical education,. In addition to the COCA accreditation, VCOM as other Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine must receive approval from their state boards for education.

The Healing Power of Osteopathic Medicine
The creation of an osteopathic physician goes beyond sharpening the mind and the heart of a healer - it involves instruction in a compassionate and knowledgeable touch. The curriculum in our Principles of Primary Care course integrates the osteopathic musculoskeletal exam within the physical diagnosis course to assure that every student possesses the skills to fully evaluate each patient with visual, auditory, and palpatory skill. In addition to the core curriculum found in all medical schools, VCOM students benefit from hundreds of additional hours of education in the practice unique to the osteopathic profession - osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM).

The OMM training gives VCOM students the education and practical experience to evaluate and treat patients with safe and effective osteopathic manipulative techniques for a variety of medical conditions including but not limited to: low back pain, joint pain, neck pain, headaches, post-surgical ileus, gastrointestinal conditions, and respiratory problems. To achieve this education, VCOM utilizes the talents of 13 faculty physician educators trained and experienced in osteopathic manipulation, with a wide variety of specialties including: family medicine, pediatrics, geriatrics, internal medicine, sports medicine and neuromusculoskeletal medicine.

This large number of board-certified physicians provides VCOM with a student-to-professor ratio (8 to 1). This does not include the senior VCOM students on rotations in the Blacksburg area who return to teach their junior colleagues. Senior students in their clinical years of training (years 3 and 4) refine their skills through monthly conferences/labs detailing advanced concepts and techniques, as well as through their clinical training on rotations.

At the conclusion of their second and third years of training, students undergo comprehensive and rigorous evaluation in an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). This testing evaluates not only their clinical training in the office assessment and management of patients, but also their abilities to interpret laboratory results, medical tests (such as X-rays, MRIs and EKGs), and their practical skills such as performing physical examinations, suturing, casting/splinting, and performing OMM.

Such training has culminated in a reputation for VCOM students as not only being willing to, but capable of, delivering high-quality OMM to their patients. VCOM students provide OMM treatments at national conferences and are sought for demonstrations by students and physicians at other osteopathic colleges! Those not familiar with such techniques have expressed in learning them after encounters with VCOM students. This has resulted in an explosion of interest by patients in the region and across the world.

Quite a few of the health care professionals in this region now recognize the brilliant orange and maroon VCOM badge on the white coat of our students as a symbol of excellence in osteopathic manipulative and clinical medicine. As evidence of this, VCOM students have won two national awards from the Undergraduate American Association of Osteopathy (UAAO).

VCOM plans to establish an OMM Center for treatment and teaching. The Center will provide care, aided by our student doctors, and overseen by OMM physician specialists. This Center will be the core practice for VCOM's OMM Research. The Center will also provide affordable osteopathic manipulation to the community and campus.

Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation
The College is accredited through the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) of the AOA, which is the only accrediting agency for predoctoral osteopathic medical education, and is recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE). On April 21, 2007, VCOM was granted full accreditation from the COCA. On August 28, 2010, VCOM was granted approval to operate the branch campus. Further information about the COCA accreditation process can be obtained via:

State Council of Higher Education of Virginia

VCOM also maintains certification from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) to offer a doctoral degree in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

South Carolina Commission on Higher Education

VCOM is appropriately licensed by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, 1122 Lady Street, Suite 300, Columbia, SC 29201, Telephone (803) 737-2260. Licensure by SCCHE indicates only that minimum standards have been met; it is not an endorsement or guarantee of any school's quality. Licensure is not equivalent to or synonymous with accreditation by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Further information about the South Carolina licensing process can be obtained via:

On January 7, 2010, the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education approved an initial licensure for five years to VCOM to establish a branch in Spartanburg, South Carolina and to offer an educational program leading to the doctor of osteopathic medicine.

VCOM is accredited by COCA which is an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Board of Governors, The University of North Carolina
In North Carolina, VCOM currently operates third and fourth year education only. VCOM received a regular permit for licensure from The Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina to operate third and/or fourth year core rotations on a regular basis in the state of North Carolina. This license was granted on June 13, 2008. As part of the licensure requirement, VCOM holds a Guaranty Bond for prepaid tuition for those students who train in the third and/or fourth years in North Carolina. A copy of this bond is accessible in VCOM's Finance Department and may be reviewed upon request.

Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine Degree Programs :


  • Master Degree
  • Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)

Video Presentation

VCOM - Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine

The Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, Virginia is a four-year osteopathic medical school offering the degree of Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.).

The MISSION of the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) is to prepare globally minded, community-focused physicians for the rural and medically underserved areas of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and the Appalachian Region, and to improve human health especially of those most in need.

Contact Details

Address: 2265 Kraft Drive, Blacksburg, VA 24060


(540) 231-4000

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