The Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) began with the first class in 2003. Each year VCOM has provided a significant economic impact for southwest and southside Virginia. In addition, VCOM has never required state funds for operations or construction, resulting in no cost to the taxpayer.
The College is an example of a successful public/private partnership and has a formal collaboration with Virginia Tech, Auburn University, and the College Town Consortium in Spartanburg. As such, VCOM students are afforded a large university experience while attending a private college. These partnerships also result in sharing of resources, which provides positive revenue sources for Virginia Tech, Auburn University and the College Town Consortium.
The economic impact provided by VCOM during the academic year 2010 was $40,618,270. During the years 2006-2010, the direct economic impact from VCOM, without any multipliers, was $171,350,438. The success of the VCOM/VT affiliation demonstrates the power of the public/private partnership in this time of national economic downturn.
Future Increases in Economic Impact
VCOM enrolled over 780 medical students in our first five classes. Over 460 of these students are from our target Appalachian region. Many of these students are from rural and/or under served areas and have expressed the desire to return to their home regions when they graduate.
In 2008, the first VCOM sponsored post-graduate residency training programs opened at Montgomery Regional Hospital in Blacksburg, Virginia, and at Bluefield Regional Medical Center in Bluefield, West Virginia. The next residencies are planned for southwest and southside Virginia. The economic impact created by each post-graduate resident is estimated to average $100 thousand and includes salary, benefits, and money reimbursed to the hospital for expenses. VCOM will be establishing over 200 new residency positions in the next four years in southwest and southside Virginia. This could result in an additional economic impact of $20 million.
Indirect Economic Impact on southwest Virginia
The mission of VCOM, focusing on providing physicians for southwest and southside Virginia, has the potential for a significant economic impact on the affected communities. A study of rural hospitals in the United States demonstrates that the impact of an average rural community hospital is $25 million in payroll and expenses alone. In the smallest towns where a community hospital exists, this impact is clearly a critical part of the employment base since these hospitals are often one of the major employers in the region.
Each VCOM graduate physician who returns to practice in a community where a hospital exists will provide approximately $1 million in economic impact. Each such physician who operates solely in an outpatient practice (without a hospital practice) will provide an approximate economic impact of $500 thousand to their community. This impact is measured through jobs created and practice expenses. In addition, there are indirect economic impacts such as a community’s increased ability to attract industry when quality healthcare is available to the employees.