On Leadership and Legacy: Dr. H. William Craver | PCOM
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On Leadership and Legacy 
H. William Craver, III, DO ’87, FACOS, as he caps 30 years of service to the College

August 9, 2023
Dr. Craver portraitBy David McKay Wilson

H. William Craver, III, DO ’87, FACOS, dean and chief academic officer at PCOM South Georgia, retired in April, capping 30 years of service to PCOM, which included administrative stints at each of the College’s three campuses.

Dr. Craver, who completed his surgical residency at PCOM’s Osteopathic Center of Pennsylvania in 1992, devoted his career to building PCOM’s academic program while contributing to the profession at the national level.

Dr. Craver began his career in health care as a physical therapist in the field of sports medicine at Penn State University in 1979. Four years later, he enrolled at PCOM. Following his postgraduate training, he began his surgical practice while serving from 1992 to 1997 as academic coordinator of PCOM’s residency programs and teaching surgery to PCOM students and residents. He moved south to PCOM Georgia in 2010, serving as dean and chief academic officer for a decade.

During his time in Suwanee, Dr. Craver played a major role in planning for the establishment of the College’s teaching location in South Georgia, which opened in 2019.

He moved to Moultrie in 2020, shortly after PCOM South Georgia opened for its inaugural class of 59 osteopathic medical students. During the next three years, he served as dean and chief academic officer, helping to shepherd the young campus’s first cohort through to graduation in the spring of 2023.

“You can’t help but be proud of them, and to be part of it,” he said. “They all placed into residencies—significant positions in primary care and in specialties throughout the Southeast and across the nation. That is what I said I was going to do. It was a good time to move on.”

Dr. Craver, who intends to remain in Georgia to be near his two sons and grandchildren, garnered recognition on the national level, with the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) naming him a Guardian of the Profession. At the AOA, he served on the Council on Osteopathic Postdoctoral Training and was named to the AOA’s Mentor Hall of Fame. He also served as chair of the Board of Deans for the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.

He made his mark in Georgia as well. He was named Physician of the Year by the Georgia Osteopathic Medicine Association in 2017 and served on the Georgia Board of Physicians’ Workforce Medical Education Advisory Committee. The Georgia State Senate honored him with a resolution that commended him for “his efficient, effective, unselfish, and dedicated service to the state of Georgia.”

The following Q & A offers Dr. Craver’s thoughts on his time at the College and its ventures into the South. His thoughts are especially apt as PCOM moves toward its 125th anniversary.

What does it take to be a good surgeon?

You have to always plan for what could happen, making sure that you are prepared. It’s the critical analysis and preplanning. You need to think three to five steps ahead. In the operating room, you can’t wait. You have to know the danger areas. You need to have the necessary equipment. You need to know if you have to get into a major blood vessel when you will need more than two hands.

The same approach has helped in educational administration. You are trying your best to predict what’s going to be needed in the work setting five to ten years from now. You need to have your graduates positioned for those challenges.

How has the osteopathic medical field developed since PCOM Georgia opened in 2005?

When we came to Georgia in 2005, there were about 1,000 practicing DOs in the whole state. That’s what we came into: people who were unfamiliar with what DOs were, and what they could do. That was part of the excitement of coming down here—to jump into the deep end without a life preserver, to show the community what we could do.

I’ve been part of the rise in the osteopathic profession here. It starts with education—teaching and training competent practitioners and then showing what they can do in the community. When the College opened its Georgia campus, it was the second osteopathic medical school in the South, along with one in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Now there are osteopathic medical schools in North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, and several more in Florida. Today, 25 percent of medical students in the U.S. go to osteopathic medical schools.

Why was it important to open a second campus/teaching location in Georgia?

As we grew in Suwanee, we saw there was a great need in South Georgia, the most underserved part of the state. In Georgia, once you get outside of the Atlanta area, the state is very rural. In some counties in the rural southern part of the state, there’s only one primary care physician. Some counties lack a single OB/GYN.

As we were developing residencies in South Georgia, the energy was starting to build but the closest medical school was nearly 350 miles away. President Feldstein saw that nobody else was going into this forgotten area of the state. He said we should do this. It made a statement about who PCOM is. PCOM cares about rural health care. We stand by what we say. It showed that we don’t just have the rhetoric.

Why Moultrie?

We planted ourselves in Moultrie, between five community hospitals within an hour’s drive. We followed the recommendation of Sasaki Associates, Inc., when choosing the best location in the Southwest Georgia region.

It took some time. Back then, folks in Georgia weren’t familiar with osteopathic medicine. They weren’t aware of our educational model and the strength of our students. They wondered if our students would be good physicians. That was a natural reaction.

We asked them to take a chance on our students. We told them our students would prove it. First it was a handful of students, then it was a dozen, and it grew, with more opportunities for clinical training. There became a recognition of our campus and of the promise of osteopathic medicine.

What’s the importance of medical care in rural areas?

It’s a place where you can really experience the fullness of osteopathic practice in primary care. We teach our students about wellness. If someone has a disease—how do we fix it? Disease is a deviation from wellness, so how do we get our patients back to a steady-state norm? They need to think about the whole person.

Your patient might be a single farmer, and if the farmer gets sick, it can impact much more than just that individual. What is the family status? What is their access to health care? You may be the only caregiver in the county, and they play a crucial part in the health of the people there.

Talk about the challenges faced by new graduates who may want to serve patients in rural settings.

It can be tough if you are in a rural area, serving the working poor in an underserved area who don’t have health insurance, and you’ve got to make sure they get what they need. There are added pressures for graduating physicians. It may be the money, the locale, having to pay back school loans, and having a tough time doing it. You’ve given a decade of your life to study, and you have several hundred thousand dollars of debt. You may want to be in an underserved area, but you also want to pay the bills and raise a family.

Yet in a rural community, physicians can find a kind of gratification that is hard to find in any other kind of practice.

What did you father teach you about the importance of teamwork?

My dad was a football coach at the University of Delaware, Delaware Valley College, Dartmouth and Colorado State. I remember him telling me that it’s not about your press clippings and having your name in the paper. It wasn’t just about you. It’s about if your team is doing well. I used that philosophy at PCOM South Georgia. It was about all the great folks that made great things happen. I certainly didn’t do all the hard work. I was like a coach, moving our whole bunch toward our goal.

About Digest Magazine

Digest, the magazine for alumni and friends of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, is published by the Office of Marketing and Communications. The magazine reports on osteopathic and other professional trends of interest to alumni of the College’s Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) and graduate programs at PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia.