WVSOM’s Jimmy Adams treasures role in helping medical students succeed

WVSOM – August 14,

For Jimmy Adams, D.O., there is no “typical day” in the life of a West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) regional assistant dean.

Adams leads the South West Region of WVSOM’s Statewide Campus, in which third- and fourth-year students complete clinical rotations at hospitals and medical centers in West Virginia’s Cabell, Mason and Wayne counties and parts of Lincoln and Putnam counties, in addition to selected locations in eastern Ohio and Kentucky. He said the position requires the ability to change plans at a moment’s notice.

“There are a lot of moving parts, and you take things as they come,” Adams said. “My job as an assistant dean is to make sure the students meet all their third- and fourth-year requirements in order to graduate — to make sure they’re educated and to maximize their chances of matching into a medical specialty of their choice. What that entails is different every day. I recruit preceptors, do quarterly evaluations, plan education days, plan faculty development and, in general, put out fires as they occur.”

Adams said his favorite activities, however, are those that allow him to personally interact with the students in his region.

“For example, I recently spoke with students about what I call the ‘residency recipe.’ That’s a term I coined that means: What do you need to do from the beginning of your third year to increase your chances of matching to a residency? How do you behave on rotation? How do you interact with your preceptor? How do you choose what you’re interested in doing? And I talk to students about their personal statement, their CV, professionalism and wellness. Those are the things that drive me,” he said.

A native of Pearisburg, Va., Adams received a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Roanoke College before earning a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery degree from Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, Mo. He completed a family medicine internship at Doctors Hospitals in Columbus, Ohio, and received residency training in general diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine at Doctors Hospitals as well as residency training in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Va.

Prior to joining WVSOM full time in 2016, Adams, who is a diplomate of the American Academy of Pain Management, spent years as an attending physician at various medical centers and serving as a preceptor for WVSOM. He also was in private practice as the owner of Active Physical Medicine and Pain Center in Barboursville, W.Va., practicing interventional pain and physical medicine. But Adams said he prefers academia to the logistical work of operating a company, which sometimes can limit a physician’s time tending to patients.

“There comes a time when working solo is difficult,” he said. “It’s not as simple as walking into an office and seeing patients. You have to manage the physical space. You have to manage money. You have to manage supplies. You have to have insurance. So when there was an opening for a regional assistant dean and I realized it meant working with students, I thought, ‘This is great.’”

Adams has served on numerous boards and committees ranging in scope from institutional to national. He is currently president of the West Virginia Board of Osteopathic Medicine, which licenses osteopathic physicians to practice in the state and protects the public by responding to complaints and monitoring malpractice claims.

He is also a fellow and voting delegate of the Federation of State Medical Boards and West Virginia’s delegate to the American Osteopathic Association House of Delegates. As a member of the latter organization, he was among the physicians who voted to transition to a single graduate medical education accreditation system for both osteopathic and allopathic physicians.

In his spare time, Adams enjoys amateur radio and is a member of the West Virginia DX Association, a group of experienced ham radio operators whose goal is to make contact with as many global locations as possible. Adams himself has attained contact with more than 300 countries, and this spring was able to add Bouvet Island — a land mass about 1,100 miles from Antarctica that’s considered the world’s most remote island and a prized achievement for “hammers” — to his list of confirmed contacts.

Closer to home, Adams said he is proud of WVSOM for striving to continue the mission envisioned by its founders, who dreamed of creating an institution that would train physicians to serve the health care needs of rural West Virginia. He explained that he’s learned to identify the traits that will lead aspiring physicians to achieve their goals, including professionalism and an enthusiasm for learning.

“I have a decent idea of what a good medical student looks like and what it takes for someone to match into a specialty,” Adams said. “I enjoy working with students who are attentive, who manage their time well and who are eager to listen to advice. It’s rewarding to have a connection with a student where we work collaboratively to set them up for success.”


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