VCOM 2022 Annual Report

Loving the Rural Lifestyle in a Medically Underserved Area

S amuel Deel, DO, is a 2007 graduate of the VCOM-Virginia campus who came home to rural, southwest Virginia to practice medicine. Dr. Deel practices in Norton, Virginia, which is not far from his hometown, and he loves the rural lifestyle. “I live 10 minutes from work and hit exactly two red lights, but this is one of the most beautiful, safest areas of the country, with low tax rates and great schools,” he said.

is respectful of his family time. “Despite having a public phone number, and many knowing where I live, I have never had anyone contact me outside of the office,” said Dr. Deel. When asked about the greatest need in his community, he said that it was a lack of access to primary care. “I live in one of the poorest areas of the country, with four pediatricians for five counties, and people are driving 90 minutes or more to see me,” he noted. “Many people don’t have internet for telemedicine, they are sicker when they come in and often do not have the money for newer, better medicines". According to Dr. Deel, this contributes to worsening chronic health conditions like diabetes and hypertension. Because of the shortage of available primary care practitioners, Dr. Deel makes a point to have daily walk-in patient hours. “People love this access, and it has led to me having one of the largest practices in southwest Virginia,” he said.

Dr. Deel attended undergraduate school at Radford University and completed his residency

at the University of Kentucky. He said that he was part of the first

“People appreciate what I do, and they embrace me as a member of the community.”

group of eight potential students to interview at the newly founded medical school in Blacksburg. “My choice, in retrospect, was based on the idea of creating something, the first something and creating a new trail,” he observed. Dr. Deel said that he fell in love with pediatric medicine while on his third year of rotation in medical school, knowing he wanted to work with children. He liked the cerebral approach of internal medicine, so he decided to combine the two. “Once I discovered Med-Peds, and realized I could be a specialist in both adult and pediatric medicine, I was sold,” said Deel. Norton is the least-populous city in Virginia, with just over 3,600 residents. This puts Dr. Deel on the front lines of a severely medically underserved area and makes him a sought out member of the community. He noted that there are many rewards to practicing in the area. “People appreciate what I do, and they embrace me as a member of the community,” he said. “There are no specialists within an hour’s drive, so there is a broad scope covered in the practice, and you end up managing much more." Even though his services are in great need, everyone



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