Student Spotlight

Rasa Rafie, OMS II

Class of 2022

  • Hometown: San Diego, California
  • Undergraduate Studies: Bachelor of Science degree in Cell Molecular Biology (Graduate Studies: Master of Science degree in Global Medicine)
  • Clubs and Activities: Lead Peer Mentor, Member of the Global Medicine Track, Member of the Days of Diversity Committee

Why did you choose RVUCOM? Feeling a sense of community in my medical school was really important to me. I attended a Meet and...
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Faculty Spotlight

Mark Wardle, DO, FAAFP

Director of Medical Spanish Elective on the Southern Utah Campus
Co-Director of the Global Medicine Track on the Southern Utah Campus
Assistant Professor of Primary Care Medicine

  • Hometown: Tracy, California
  • Undergraduate Studies: Zoology and Pre-Med at Brigham Young University
  • Graduate Studies: Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine in California; Family Medicine Residency in Utah Valley; and Rural Medicine and Faculty Development Fellowship.

What classes do you teach? I teach in both years of Primary Care Medicine, am the Director of the...
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William Cairney, PhD

Assistant Dean for Graduate Medical Education
Department of Graduate Medical Education and CMEE • (720) 874-2484
RVUCOM-CO Campus • D-118

Education | Professional Experience | Certifications and Licenses | Service and Contributions | Professional Societies and Affiliations | Honors and Awards | Publications and Presentations | Research Interests | Biographical Information


  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
    Medical Microbiology
    Cornell University
    Ithaca, NY
  • Master of Sciences
    Mycology, Animal Pathology
    Cornell University
    Ithaca, NY
  • Bachelor of Sciences
    Rutgers University
    Newark, NJ

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Professional Experience

  • 2015 – present: Assistant Dean for Graduate Medical Education
    Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • 2006 – 2015: Executive Director of OPTI West Educational Consortium
    Western University of Health Sciences
  • 2000 – 2015: Adjunct Professor of Family Medicine
    Western University of Health Sciences
  • 1996 – 2008: Director of Medical Education: Administration and Research
    Colorado Springs Osteopathic Foundation
  • 1993 – 1996: Staff Research Associate, Biological Sciences Curriculum Study
    Colorado College
  • 1992 – 1993: Department Head, Department of Biology
    United States Air Force Academy
  • 1989 – 1993: Senior Tenure Professor, Department of Biology
    United States Air Force Academy
  • 1986 – 1989: Department Head of Aerospace Physiology Department 
    United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine
  • 1986 – 1989: Command Coordinator for Aerospace Physiology
    Air Force Systems Command
  • 1984 – 1986: Acting Department Head, Department of Biology
    United States Air Force Academy
  • 1981 – 1984: Deputy Department Head and Tenure Professor of Biology
    United States Air Force Academy
  • 1979 – 1981: Director of Research and Associate Professor of Biology
    United States Air Force Academy
  • 1977 – 1979: Technical Advisor for Research and Associate Professor of Biology
    United States Air Force Academy
  • 1972 – 1974: Assistant Professor of Life Science
    United States Air Force Academy
  • 1970 – 1972: Aerospace Physiologist
    United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine
  • 1968 – 1970: Aerospace Physiologist
    Air Training Command

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Certifications and Licenses

  • American Board of Surgery (1980, 1990, 2000, 2010)
  • Licensure:
    State of Colorado (2006-present)
    State of Wisconsin (1979-present)
    State of Arizona (1999-2007)
    State of Georgia (1975-1979)

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Service and Contributions


  • Educational Systems Consultant, Family Medicine Residency Program, CSOF (1993-1996)
  • Consultant, USAF Surgeon General for Aeromedical Education and Training (1986-1993)
  • USAF Academy Representative and Faculty Advisor, TriBeta National Biological Honor Society (1991-1993)

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Professional Societies and Affiliations

  • American Scientific Affiliation (1977-present)
  • Aerospace Physiology Society (1968-present)
    President (1991-1992)
  • Aerospace Medical Association (1968-present)
    Fellow (1993-present)
  • North American Primary Care Research Group (2000-present)
  • Chair, Board of Directors, OPTI-West Educational Consortium, Western University (2001-2005)

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Honors and Awards

  • OPTI-West Nominee for Research Mentor of the Year Award
    American Osteopathic Association
  • Annual John Miller Award for Creativity in Reseach
    13th Annual Rocky Mountain Family Medicine Research Forum
  • Achievement Award in Osteopathic Medical Education
    Colorado Springs Osteopathic Foundation
  • Educator of the Year
    Colorado Springs Osteopathic Foundation, Family Practice Residency
  • Master Teacher Award
    USAF Academy
    1989 – 1990
  • Special citation for successful design of first microbiology experiment carried aboard Space Shuttle Challenger
    NASA and USAF Academy
  • Wiley Post Award for Excellence in Operational Aerospace Physiology
    Aerospace Medical Association
  • United States Air Force Academy Nominee for National Professor of the Year
    Council for Advancement and Support of Education
  • Outstanding Instructor of the Year
    United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine

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Publications and Presentations


  • Cairney WJ, Dickerman JL, Brannan GD, Dogbey GY (2012). Identification of distinctive characteristics, principles and practices of the osteopathic physician in the current healthcare system. Osteopathic Family Physician, 4:110-117.
  • Cairney WJ and Dickerman JL (2005). How family practice residents acquire and apply new medical information (abstract). Journal of American Osteopathic Association, 105(7):343.
  • Dickerman JL and Cairney WJ (2003). Process-based model has great benefits. Family Medicine, 35(10):690-1; Author reply 691.
  • Dickerman JL, Cairney WJ (2003). E-Book Companion to Process Skills Development in Ambulatory Family Practice. Genesys Technologies, Colorado Springs.
  • Dickerman JL, Cairney WJ (1999). Process Skills Development in Ambulatory Family Practice. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, Dubuque.
  • Hetherington K, Cairney WJ (1998). Stroke prevention: A continuing quality improvement project. CSOF Medical Monographs, CSOF-TR-98-02.
  • Lund CJ, Cairney WJ (1998). Utilization of hormone replacement therapy in a family care setting: An evaluation
    of resident-physician prescribing practice for indigent postmenopausal patients. CSOF Medical Monographs, CSOF-TR-98-05.
  • Cairney WJ, Dickerman JL, Spradlin DG (1997). Objective measurement of clinical competencies in a family practice residency program. CSOF Medical Monographs, CSOF-TR-97-05.



  • “A Longitudinal Experience in Practice Management for Family Practice Residents” (poster presentation)
    Received special recognition
    Association of Osteopathic Directors and Medical Educators

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Research and Studies

  • Clinical hyperbaric medicine
  • Biodegradation of toxic phenoxy herbicides
  • How family practice residents acquire and apply new medical information, 2005
  • Use of chronic disease management practice guidelines by physicians in EI Paso County, Colorado, 2006
  • Patient and provider acceptance of an internet-based tool designed to establish treatment goals for patients with diabetes, 2006
  • Effectiveness of a training program in the use of a patient-based diabetes management website, 2007
  • Identification of Distinctive Qualities and Characteristics of the Osteopathic Physician, 2010 -2011
  • Development of a research publication system for medical student and resident research. 2011-present

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Biographical Information

William J. Cairney, PhD, is originally from Kearny, New Jersey. He earned his BA in Biochemistry from Rutgers University and earned his MS and PhD degrees in Medical Microbiology from Cornell University.

Prior to joining RVUCOM, Dr. Cairney served 27 years in the United States Air Force, where in addition to other assignments; he served as Department Head of the Biology Department at the United States Air Force Academy and Department Head of Aerospace Physiology at the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine. Since retirement from the United States Air Force, Dr. Cairney has been involved in the osteopathic medical education community with collaborative research efforts with Ohio Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Center for Osteopathic Research and Education (CORE) and with the Center for the Advancement of Healthcare Education and Delivery (C-AHEAD) in Colorado Springs. Dr. Cairney also worked as Executive Director of the OPTI-West Educational Consortium at Western University of Health Sciences and Administrative Director of Medical Education at the Colorado Springs Osteopathic Foundation working with family medicine residency training, faculty development, and research. Dr. Cairney is a Fellow of the Aerospace Medical Association and Past President of the Aerospace Physiology Society.  His chief publications have been in the area of medical education research and the effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on mycotic disease agents.  He also holds a commendation from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for the first successful microbiology experiment flown aboard the space shuttle Challenger.

Dr. Cairney is excited to be on a motivated RVU team with people he has known as friends and distinguished professional colleagues for many years.

Outside of work, Dr. Cairney and his wife, Linnea, enjoy quality time with the families of two sons, daughter, and six grandchildren, especially at the Cairney cabin in the Colorado “high country.”  Hiking, cross-country skiing, and exploring national forest trails on ATVs top their list of enjoyable activities.  Dr. Cairney is also a member of the Scottish-American Military Society and enjoys Celtic culture, history, and music. Interesting facts about Dr. Cairney are that he spent many years in high school and college marching bands and minored in music at Rutgers University where he sang with the Rutgers University mixed chorus.  He also played trombone with a Dixieland group within his college band.

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