“My personal mission is to help provide more physicians for rural communities. We are trying to build a medical school that will produce compassionate, caring doctors who want to work in rural areas.”
“DEDICATED TO SERVING RURAL AND UNDERSERVED PEOPLE”
Dixie Tooke-Rawlins grew up in a rural community, and as a young woman just out of high school worked as an office assistant for two physicians while attending nursing school at night to prepare for college. "I realized then I wanted to know more answers about medicine than I could study for as a nurse," she recalled. "My mother was a dietician at a nursing home, and she encouraged me to be in health care. She was always talking about her patients and how it was possible to make a difference helping people."
Tooke-Rawlins graduated from medical school in Osteopathic Medicine and began her career working in emergency medicine. After eight years, she shifted her focus to family medicine and eventually into academic medicine. A series of fortuitous career steps brought her to the recently established (2001) Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM), which she helped to found and now serves as Dean.
Located in the heart of the Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains, VCOM's mission is to prepare osteopathic primary care physicians to serve the rural and medically underserved areas of the Appalachian region, and to provide scientific research that improves human health.
The college focuses on recruiting students from rural areas and providing training that encourages doctors to practice in rural setting, while also working to increase the number of minority medical students serving in these communities.
VCOM is also active in establishing ongoing medical mission programs for providing care and clinical training in the Dominican Republic and Central America-an important initiative for the college, according to Tooke-Rawlins.
Nominated as a Local Legend by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA-9), Tooke-Rawlins used her medical and academic experience, and leadership abilities to play a critical role in establishing VCOM, an institution greatly needed in an underserved section of Virginia. "One challenge prepares you for the next, Tooke-Rawlins commented. I've always liked helping to establish and start new things."
As Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs for VCOM, Tooke-Rawlins oversaw the initial building design, the budget, the faculty recruitment, and the establishment of a new medical curriculum designed to provide significant training experiences for students in rural areas and community hospitals. The College provides state of the art facility and support to the teaching hospitals through electronic libraries, telecommunications, videoconferencing, and access to a structured academic program.
"The opportunity to be part of a new college of osteopathic medicine has been wonderful," she said. "Any change or movement in established curriculums is difficult, but now, starting from the beginning, I can help shape our mission.
"The VCOM recruitment and curriculum is focused on producing physicians who practice compassionate care for those most in need and who focus on caring for the whole patient, mind, body, and spirit.
"But really I also feel my greatest achievement is my family. Along with practicing medicine, my husband and I have managed to raise two very fine sons, whose achievements will overshadow mine someday I'm sure" commented Tooke-Rawlins.
Begins Medical Career as Emergency Medicine Physician, Delta Community Hospital, Sikeston, MO
Appointed Director of Emergency Medicine, Lucy Lee Hospital, Poplar Bluff, MO
Appointed, to Family Practice Faculty, Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, Kirksville, MO
Appointed Family Practice Residency Program Director, and Residency Clinical Director, Metropolitan Hospital, Grand Rapids, MI
Appointed, Family Practice Residency Director for Osteopathic Residency, and Director of Medical Education, St. Luke's Hospital, Allentown, PA
Appointed, Associate Dean Regional & Academic Affairs, Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, Kirksville, MO
Appointed, Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean, Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, Kirksville, MO
Founding Vice President and Dean, Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Blacksburg, VA
Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, Kirksville, MO