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By: Coplin Health SystemsAugust 18, 2020

Q&A with Wirt County Native and New Family Physician Dr. Nichols

Wirt County native, Dr. Darrin Nichols, has returned home to serve his community and the patients of Wirt County Family Care as a family physician. Dr. Nichols is a 2017 graduate of West Virginia University’s School of Medicine and has received several accolades along the way.

We sat down with Dr. Nichols to find out what drove him to family medicine, his favorite thing about being a doctor, and what it is like returning to his hometown.

What drove you to choose this career path?
Growing up in the environment of a small town had a significant impact on my choice to be a family physician and return to Elizabeth to practice. There is a deep sense of community in a small area such as this – one which has stayed with me throughout college, medical school, and residency. Family plays a major role in my life as well and is also part of the reason I became a family physician. By practicing Family Medicine, I get to take care of people not only in the context of their personal health, but also in the context of their families and their community, which I find deeply rewarding.

Activities you do beyond what most people see.
Aside from routine physician duties, I also take part in research, teaching, and leadership efforts. As a newly graduated physician, I am in the process of becoming Adjunct Clinical Faculty for West Virginia University School of Medicine – so that future medical students can have the opportunity to learn about rural family medicine from me here at Coplin. I also participate in the American Academy of Family Physicians and the West Virginia Academy of Family Physicians and plan to increase my involvement in the leadership ranks. These organizations promote Family Medicine and quality patient care at the state and national governmental levels, in addition to numerous nonprofit and public health initiatives. I am also a member of the Pisacano Leadership Foundation through the American Board of Family Medicine, which allows me to participate in key discussions on a national level about primary care and the specialty of Family Medicine and their crucial role in the health of our nation.

If you could give one piece of health advice, what would it be?
The power of positive outlook is one of the most underutilized tools in healthcare today. I have learned from several patients with significantly impairing diseases (like cancer or genetic syndromes) just how important trying to find a positive outlook can be. The body’s natural response to working toward a positive goal or positive thought is elevating and relieving. It is something I strive to implement in my personal health as much as possible.

Misconceptions people often have about your job?
Perhaps one of the most common misconceptions about my job as a family physician is that visits are all separate entities that do not have a connection. One of the things I love most about Family Medicine is the unique opportunity I have to get to know my patients and their histories so that I am able to take care of the whole person, not just the single problem at hand at that particular moment.

What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
The most enjoyable part of being a family physician is getting to watch your patients grow together as individuals and families over time while keeping them as healthy as possible. Being privileged enough to be involved in a family, even if for a limited time, is extremely rewarding in my opinion.

When not at Coplin, what do you enjoy doing?
Being with family and friends is a major portion of my time outside of work. These
relationships are particularly important to me and provide a healthy counterpart to my job as a physician. I also enjoy traveling, especially around West Virginia, and I have an interest in collecting West Virginia-made crafts and art. I completed all my post-secondary education at West Virginia University, and I am a Mountaineer fan for life. You can catch me watching (and sometimes attending) WVU football and basketball games whenever they are being played. Let’s go Mountaineers!

What might surprise people to know about you?
One fact that I think people might find surprising about me is that I have only applied to one university my entire post-secondary educational career. I only applied to West Virginia University as a senior in high school (because I knew that is where I wanted to go) and was so happy to have been accepted to the Honors College. When applying to medical school, I elected to use the Early Decision Track – which meant that I applied only to West Virginia University School of Medicine. Upon being accepted, I knew that Rural Family Medicine was the field for me. Through WVU School of Medicine, I was able to become a Rural Scholar in my last year of medical school and complete my three-year Family Medicine residency at West Virginia University School of Medicine – Charleston Division on the campus of Charleston Area Medical Center in Charleston, WV.

What community or volunteer activities do you participate in?
Growing up, I was highly involved with the Wirt County Youth Basketball League in the winter. As I progressed through medical school and training, it became more difficult to be home every weekend to participate fully, but I still enjoyed helping when I was able. Now that I am returning to Elizabeth, I hope to get involved in more community efforts again. I have always placed importance on the support of the local high school athletic teams and clubs (like FFA and FBLA) because of how impactful the community support was for me and my classmates growing up. I look forward to continuing that support however I can.

Tell us about your professional interests?
Medicine has so many interesting topics and subjects, it can be hard to choose favorites. Luckily, in the field of Family Medicine, I am able to experience many of these topics on a daily basis. Ultimately, I think the most notable interests for me include public/community health, adolescent health, and metabolic/diabetes care.

One fun fact about yourself?
I think one fun fact about myself that is particularly interesting is that I grew up in school here in Wirt County. I graduated from Wirt County High School in 2009. I was highly involved in the Tiger Marching Band, playing the Quints/Tenors in the drumline throughout high school. I was also highly involved in Wirt County High School Future Business Leaders of America, getting to serve in the local chapter leadership along with serving as the West Virginia State Parliamentarian and State President.

What do you love (or look forward to) the most about your job?
I think I am looking forward to being back home the most. Since starting college in 2009 at West Virginia University, it has been my dream to become a family physician and return home to practice. It is surreal and extremely exciting that my dream is now starting to come to fruition, and I look forward to what is to come.

Dr. Nichols has begun seeing patients at Wirt County Family Care. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 304-275-3301.

February 1, 2018

Coplin Welcomes Pediatric Physician

Dr. Cathy A. Dailey has joined our primary care staff as a pediatric physician. She is now seeing patients 18 and under at Parkersburg Family Care.

March 1, 2018

New Family Care Facility Opens in Parkersburg

Coplin Health Systems has opened a second family care clinic at 3705 Emerson Square in Parkersburg. For information, call 304.917.3530.

August 29, 2018

Coplin Health Systems Announces Departure of CEO, Derek Snyder, and Selection of Interim CEO

Coplin Health Systems and its Board are announcing that, effective September 7th, Derek Snyder, its CEO is departing the organization.