Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine awards first doctorate degrees

SUWANEE - The Georgia Campus of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine is awarding its first doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.) degrees since the campus opened in 2005 in Suwanee.

During a commencement ceremony today at the Gwinnett Center, 78 osteopathic medical students will graduate. Twelve students will receive master's of biomedical sciences degrees.

Retired Lt. Gen. Ronald Blanck, a former surgeon general of the U.S. Army and a Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduate, will deliver the commencement address. After Matthew Schure, PCOM president and chief executive officer, confers the degrees, Blanck will commission 15 of the graduates into the armed forces.

Half of the D.O. graduates will be entering primary care residency programs. Of the 78 graduates, 19 percent have been accepted into residency programs in Georgia, and 55 percent will enter residencies in Southern states, including Georgia, said Dr. Paul Evans, vice dean and chief academic officer at PCOM's Georgia Campus.

"Osteopathic medicine is expanding in Georgia," Evans said. "We hope to help the shortage of doctors in the state generally and specifically add more primary care doctors to physicians in the state."

The campus' goal is to recruit, train and retain doctors for Georgia and Southern states, and this graduation is helping the school meet that goal, Evans said.

Like doctors of medicine (M.D.s), D.O.s are fully qualified physicians licensed to prescribe medication and perform surgery. They may choose to specialize in any field of medicine. Doctors of osteopathic medicine take a "whole person" approach to health care, treating patients, not just symptoms.