New fellowships in geriatrics, addiction medicine approved for Marshall School of Medicine

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine received approval from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) to launch two new fellowship programs in geriatric medicine and addiction medicine as early as July 1, 2020.

Both programs, housed in the Department of Family and Community Health, address a defined need for qualified physicians to care for two unique patient populations. Both fellowships are one-year programs, each with two approved trainee positions.

“The 20 percent of West Virginians who are 65 and older are looking for comprehensive primary care providers who can help enhance independence and quality of life, while also understanding complex health care issues that especially affect older adults,” said Robert B. Walker, M.D., professor and geriatric fellowship program director at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. “From Hanshaw Geriatric Center to the Center for Healthy Aging and clinics throughout southern West Virginia, training opportunities for geriatric fellows at Marshall are extensive.”

Physicians trained in the geriatric subspecialty provide primary care for older adults as well as inpatient, home health, transitional and palliative care. While West Virginia is considered the third “oldest” state in the nation, there are currently no physicians actively training to be geriatricians, Walker said. That will change with implementation of the fellowship, designed to emphasize caring for rural elders.

Addiction medicine is a subspecialty available to physicians who have completed a residency in family medicine. Marshall’s program will focus on both abstinence-based and medication-assisted treatment in community-based outpatient, residential treatment and hospital-based inpatient consultation settings. 

“Our Appalachian region is facing tremendous challenges in dealing with the consequences of substance use disorder, whether it is related to opiate abuse, alcohol, tobacco or any number of other dangerous compounds,” said James B. Becker, M.D., associate professor, vice dean and addiction medicine fellowship program director at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. “By offering specialized training on the topic of addiction, we will be able to offer effective care for those struggling with this problem.”

Recent national policy changes brought on by the substance use epidemic have prompted the need for additional training programs in addiction medicine, which will be a requirement for board certification after 2021. Upon completion, fellows will be eligible to sit for board certification in addiction medicine through the American Board of Preventive Medicine.

State Opioid Response (SOR) funds made possible through a grant from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources will help support the addiction medicine fellowship program for a minimum of one year.

For more information or to apply, contact Program Coordinator Sherry Bundy by phone at 304-691-1171 or by e-mail at  


Media Contact: Sheanna M. Spence, Director of External Affairs, School of Medicine, 304-691-1639

Date Posted: Wednesday, February 26, 2020