Johnston Memorial Hospital to establish residency program with Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine


Hospital remains open to additional partnerships with other medical schools

ABINGDON, Va. – Officials at Johnston Memorial Hospital (JMH) announced Tuesday that the hospital’s board of directors has voted to partner with the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) to establish a residency program in Abingdon.

The agreement is expected to place up to nine residents at JMH in the first year, with the number potentially increasing during the initial five-years of the program. VCOM will provide support personnel and other resources during the five-year startup phase.

“We are excited to partner with VCOM because they carry a great deal of expertise in establishing new residency programs,” said Sean McMurray, chief executive officer of JMH. “In the last eight years, VCOM has helped to roll out 10 community-based residency programs, so we are confident in their ability to lead a smooth startup here at JMH.”

“The development of quality graduate medical education programs in Abingdon will greatly benefit the hospital, the citizens of Abingdon and Southwest Virginia, VCOM and the regional economy,” said John Lucas, associate dean of post-graduate affairs at VCOM. “We are certain these programs will produce excellent physicians to meet the region’s healthcare workforce needs for years to come.”

VCOM’s own financial impact analysis predicts that the program will have a positive financial impact in the surrounding region of at least $18 million during the first five years. The hospital hopes to have the program up and running in time to accept residents during the annual match period in February 2015.

“The partnership with VCOM does not prevent JMH from developing agreements with other medical schools in the region similar to what Carilion Clinic developed with VCOM that eventually led to the development of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine in Roanoke,” said Dr. Hughes Melton, chief medical officer for Mountain States Health Alliance’s Virginia facilities. “We remain open to exploring these opportunities as they become available.

 “Washington County and the surrounding areas in Southwest Virginia need more physicians now. Studies show that physicians tend to practice within a hundred miles of where they complete their residency. Residents from Abingdon will spend time at our hospitals in Smyth and Russell Counties and in so doing increase the number of new physicians who choose to work in our region.”

Melton said primary care physicians are particularly needed in the region, especially with the influx of new patients expected to come as more people obtain health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Since VCOM specializes in training physicians for primary care, hospital officials believe the partnership is a natural fit.

“The opportunity for VCOM students to complete residency training in Abingdon fulfills VCOM’s educational continuum for the region,” said Dixie Tooke-Rawlins, provost, dean and executive vice president of VCOM. “Until now, the only residency programs for VCOM graduates were in Norton, Va.; Bristol, Tenn.; and Johnson City, Tenn.

“Medical students from VCOM have been completing their third and fourth year clinical education in Abingdon, Lebanon, Marion, and Norton since 2005, and we have over 48 clinical faculty in the region. Thus far, over 240 medical students from Southwest Virginia have attended VCOM, and in the past two years, at least 15 VCOM graduates have located their practices in Abingdon, Bristol, and surrounding region. We believe the development of the residency programs will greatly increase this number.”

About Mountain States Health Alliance

Mountain States Health Alliance, a not-for-profit health care organization based in Johnson City, Tenn., operates a family of hospitals serving a 29-county, four-state region (Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, Southeastern Kentucky and Western North Carolina). MSHA offers a large tertiary hospital, several community hospitals, two critical access hospitals, rehabilitation, a children’s hospital, a behavioral health hospital, home care and hospice services, retail pharmacies, a comprehensive medical management corporation, and the region’s only provider-owned health insurance company. Its 13,500 team members, associated physicians and volunteers are committed to its mission of bringing loving care to health care. For more information, visit

About the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine

The Edward Via  College of Osteopathic Medicine provides medical education and research that prepares globally minded, community-focused physicians who improve the health of those most in need. 

VCOM, with campuses in Blacksburg, Virginia and Spartanburg, South Carolina, has graduated over eleven hundred new physicians since its founding in 2001 with over 55% going into primary care specialties such as family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics and obstetrics/gynecology.

With national award winning programs in primary care and global medical outreach, as well as a sports medicine department caring for athletes at Virginia Tech, Radford University, the 2010 Olympic Ski Team, and the PGA Greenbrier Classic Tournament, VCOM provides state-of-the-art medical education and research.

For more information on the College, please see the website at

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