Press Releases

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine graduate honored for commitment to rural health care

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (May 28, 2019) — Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia (Highmark West Virginia) recently presented the fifth annual Farson-Smith-Earley Award to Janet Kowalsky, a 2019 graduate of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM), during the WVSOM commencement ceremonies in Lewisburg.

"Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia is pleased to partner with WVSOM in an effort to improve the accessibility and delivery of primary health care services in the rural areas of our state," said Jim Fawcett, president, Highmark West Virginia. "Janet's decision to practice family medicine in rural West Virginia after the completion of her residency is a great example of how deeply committed West Virginians are to each other and to the heritage of our rural communities."

Kowalsky, a resident of Monroe County, will be serving her residency at the Greenbrier Valley Medical Center, in Ronceverte, WV. While a medical student at WVSOM, Janet was selected to participate in the Rural Health Initiative which prepares students to serve in rural areas of West Virginia, and that experience further solidified her desire to remain in West Virginia, and continue working in a rural health care setting.

The award, which honors three former presidents of the Blue Cross Blue Shield plan in West Virginia, Thomas D. Farson, Gregory K. Smith and J. Fred Earley II, is presented annually to an outstanding WVSOM graduate who makes a commitment to practice medicine in a rural portion of West Virginia. Farson, Smith and Earley served as presidents of Blue Cross Blue Shield from 1973 to 1995, 1995 to 2009 and 2009 to 2016, respectively.

The annual recipient receives a permanent honorary plaque at the WVSOM campus and a $2,800 stipend.


Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia serves approximately 325,000 members through the company's health care benefits business and hundreds of thousands of additional members through the BlueCard® program. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of West Virginia holds the largest share of the commercial market, and more West Virginians carry a Blue Cross Blue Shield card than any other insurance carrier in the state. With offices in Parkersburg, Charleston and Wheeling, Highmark West Virginia employs more than 700 people and serves as a key economic driver in the state with its total economic impact reaching $262 million. Highmark West Virginia is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, visit

For more information, contact:
Cathy McAlister
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia