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$100K gift to School of Medicine aims to improve sexual health care

Dr. Carol Proops Milam and Dr. Douglas Franklin Milam

Dr. Carol Proops Milam and Dr. Douglas Franklin Milam

A $100,000 gift to the West Virginia University School of Medicine aims to enhance sexual health care for patients in West Virginia and beyond by increasing knowledge and comfort among current and future medical providers.

The gift from Dr. Carol Proops Milam and Dr. Douglas Franklin Milam establishes the Milam Sexual Medicine Lectureship, which aims to promote sexual health literacy among practitioners for comprehensive health care. Offered through the Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry, the interdisciplinary lectureship will incorporate various aspects of sexual medicine to enhance patient treatment across the School of Medicine.

“We are very grateful for the Milams’ generous support in establishing this lectureship,” Dr. James Berry, chair of the Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry, said. “Sexual health is a much-neglected area that has a significant impact on one’s overall well-being. Equipping clinicians to recognize, manage and discuss issues surrounding sexual functioning is so important in our mission to provide true comprehensive care for the entire human experience.”

The Milams are West Virginia natives who both earned their medical degrees from WVU. The lectureship was inspired by a course the couple developed and taught for medical students at Vanderbilt University, where Doug has worked for more than 25 years. The class capitalized on the unique intersection of their specialties – psychiatry for Carol and urology for Doug – to address a common gap in medical education. 

“We know that people aren’t getting this material and aren’t talking about it in medical schools,” Doug Milam said. “It’s really just a way to be more complete in caring for a patient.”

As the Milams considered opportunities to give back to WVU, Berry and other leaders at the School of Medicine expressed interest in a lectureship that would complement WVU’s academic offerings by building upon the couple’s shared expertise and experience. The Milams liked the broad impact the lectureship offers to benefit providers and patients for virtually every department.

“As we used to say to the students, ‘the goal is to make you, the health care provider, the least anxious person in the room,’” Carol Milam said. “Competence was our number one priority – to help providers be more comfortable talking with their patients about their sexual lives by equipping them with accurate medical information and exposure to the topic.”

The Milams credit the WVU School of Medicine for their successful careers in health care. While their education was intense and overwhelming at times, they had opportunities to thoroughly explore different areas of medicine and gain hands-on experience that prepared them well for residency.

“Part of this was a sense of wanting to pay back WVU for having had an education that was really quite top-notch,” Carol Milam said.

Following residencies at the University of Utah, the Milams settled and practiced in the Nashville area as they raised their family. But they always considered West Virginia home. Now semi-retired, they divide their time between Nashville and a home in the Canaan Valley area.

The Milams’ gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.

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