Marshall University President Stephen J. Kopp shakes hands with Dr. Ali Oliashirazi, chair of Marshall's Department of Orthopaedics, at Wednesday's announcement. (Photo by Rick Haye, Marshall University)

Gov. Joe Manchin announced Wednesday that Marshall University has become one of just two United States schools since 1995 to have a first-time orthopedic surgery residency training program approved.

CHARLESTON -– Marshall University has become one of just two United States schools since 1995 to have a first-time orthopedic surgery residency training program approved, West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin announced Wednesday.

The new program will play an essential role in meeting the health needs of West Virginians, Manchin said.

"Here in West Virginia, we have the nation's second-oldest population and more than our share of high-risk occupations, but our state lags far behind the rest of the nation in the availability of orthopedic surgeons," he said. "As a result, our people sometimes have to travel too far or wait too long to get the services they need. Marshall's new program will bring us important new resources, and it should become a pipeline that helps supply doctors who can expand top-notch orthopedic services to underserved areas of the state."

Manchin cited a 2004 national study by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons that showed only one state –- Michigan -– had a lower number of orthopedic surgeons for each 100,000 people. West Virginia's rate was 4.5 orthopedists per 100,000 people, compared to the national rate of 6.2.

Marshall's program will double the number of orthopedic surgeons who can be trained in West Virginia, bringing the total to 30.

MU President Stephen J. Kopp said the program is a logical outgrowth of advances in medical education at Marshall.

"As new orthopedic surgeons complete their training at Marshall University and Cabell Huntington Hospital, all of West Virginia will benefit, especially the rural and underserved areas of our state and region," Kopp said.

Dr. Ali Oliashirazi, chair of Marshall's Department of Orthopaedics, said the residents will be based primarily at Cabell Huntington Hospital.

"Cabell Huntington has been wonderfully helpful in making sure we have the facilities and financial backing we need to offer top-notch training," he said. "Its support was vital in making this program a reality."

He said Marshall will accept its first residents for the training year beginning next summer.

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