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Inaugural Class Celebrates National Osteopathic Medicine Week

April 24, 2020

PCOM South Georgia's DO students are learning to practice a whole-person approach to medicine and patient care.

Since August 2019, first-year medical students at PCOM South Georgia have been learning “the DO difference.”

Nestled among the pines in Moultrie, Southwest Georgia’s only four-year medical school educates students in the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) program.

What is a DO?

It’s a focus at PCOM to teach a “whole-person” approach. DOs are fully licensed physicians, looking beyond the symptoms to truly see the patient, including the lifestyle and environment. Osteopathic medicine focuses on the unity of the body’s systems to work hand-in-hand to heal itself. This not only treats a patient’s illness, but also works as a preventive measure.

First-year DO student Chizoba Akuwanne (DO ‘23) said she chose to pursue a degree in osteopathic medicine because it’s the most inclusive approach to health care.

“Treating the body with touch can be very advantageous,” Akuwanee said. “Through osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), I can use my hands to both diagnose and treat illness and injury which can encourage the body’s natural tendency to heal itself. With OMT in combination with all the other medical options we learn about, I believe an osteopathic physician can offer the most comprehensive medical care today.”

Treating the person, not just the symptoms

Students at PCOM South Georgia learn to treat the whole person, not just the symptoms. Xavia Taylor (DO ‘23), a first-year DO student, believes truly knowing the patient makes a difference.

“To fully treat a patient, one must know who that patient truly is,” she said. “While I physically know how to treat an illness, I’ll also be given the chance to connect with my patient based on their personalized vision of self. It’s important to teach our communities how to construct ideal environments that nourish and stimulate their bodies and minds. I believe that’s as perfect as the profession can get.”

Growth in primary care and rural medicine

According to AACOM, more than 30 percent of DOs practice in primary care fields including family medicine, pediatrics, OB/GYN and internal medicine. The DO profession continues to grow with many physicians practicing in rural areas, a goal that PCOM South Georgia has set from the beginning.

H. William Craver, III, DO, FACOS, dean and chief academic officer of PCOM South Georgia, has a firsthand understanding of the struggle to find physicians to practice in Southwest Georgia. He practiced in rural communities, once where he was the only surgeon in the county practicing in a hospital with just 25 beds.

“It’s hard to recruit physicians that are willing to work in rural areas,” Dr. Craver said. “A lot of people don’t have an understanding of these rural, underserved communities, but I enjoyed it immensely,” he said of his surgical background. “Our presence in Moultrie is PCOM taking a stand and demonstrating what osteopathic medicine is all about – community medicine, primary care and serving the underserved.”

The DO impact

Osteopathic medicine stems from Kirksville, Missouri, a rural area, and was brought to life by Andrew Taylor Still, MD, DO. He relied on manipulative treatment to diagnose and treat illnesses. Focusing on an approach that would promote the body’s ability to self-heal and treat the whole person, he paved the way for future physicians to practice osteopathy.

Will Brewster (DO ‘23), a student at PCOM South Georgia said his fellow students and the faculty of PCOM South Georgia have already made an impact in his life.

“I’m so thankful to be surrounded by such an amazing group of faculty and classmates that constantly push me to be the best medical student I can be, and that’s going to translate into me being an even better physician,” he said. “I want to be able to say that I left a positive impact on the lives of others.”

With nearly a year of osteopathic medicine education under their belts, PCOM South Georgia students are well on their way to caring for the whole person and joining more than 121,000 DOs in the country.

Learn more about the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program offered at PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia.

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  • About PCOM South Georgia

    Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) extended its commitment to the Southeast by establishing PCOM South Georgia, an additional teaching location in Moultrie, Georgia. PCOM South Georgia offers both a full, four-year medical program leading to the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree and a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences degree. PCOM is a private, not-for-profit institution which trains professionals in the health and behavioral sciences fields. Joining PCOM Georgia in Suwanee in helping to meet the healthcare needs of the state, PCOM South Georgia focuses on educating physicians for the South Georgia region. The medical campus, which welcomed its inaugural class of medical students in August 2019, has received accreditation from the American Osteopathic Association's Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation. For more information, visit or call 229-668-3110.

    For more information, contact:
    Jordan Roberts
    Public Relations and Social Media Specialist
    Office: 229-668-3198 | Cell: 229-873-2003

    Connect with PCOM South Georgia