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School of Medicine: Message From the Dean

March 20, 2019

Dr. Bruce Mathern appointed AVP for Managed Care for VCU Health System

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

It is our great pleasure to share that Dr. Bruce Mathern the current vice chair, Department of Neurosurgery will serve as our AVP for Managed Care for the VCU Health System.

Partnering with Penny Trentham, vice president of Managed Care and Payer Relations, Bruce will serve as a key player in developing a payer strategy that aligns VCU Health System’s vision and core competencies. He will work to ensure the operational and financial success of the VCUHS clinical enterprise in all contractual relationships with commercial payers, Medicare and Medicaid managed health plans, Workers compensation, and the Virginia Department of Corrections and city/county regional jails.

Additionally, Bruce will be assisting with education, strategy and roll out of physician expectations related to pay for value components and collaborating with clinical leaders on quality based metrics and identification of opportunities. His work will include collaborating with the chief impact officer on population health initiatives related to commercial contract opportunities.

“Bruce has served as Chair of the health system’s Managed Care and Contracting Committee since 2013. I am extremely excited for the opportunity to continue working with Bruce first and foremost on our clinical contractual arrangements and in further preparing our health system for new reimbursement models currently on the horizon,” said Penny Trentham.

A neurosurgery faculty member since 1996, Bruce has focused on Complex Spine Surgery and has a robust research program in the area of traumatic brain injury. Bruce completed his undergraduate at Case Western Reserve University and attended medical school at the University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine.

Additionally, Bruce is a graduate of our Neurosurgery residency program and earned a Master’s of Science in Health Administration (MSHA), from VCU’s College of Health Professions. He has served on the VCU Health System Authority Board of Directors since 2012, including a long term role on the Finance Committee. Bruce was involved with the establishment of Aires Insurance, VCU Health System’s captive insurance company, and serves on the Board of Directors.

Please congratulate Bruce and welcome him to this new role.

With all good wishes,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

Penny Trentham
Vice President of Managed Care and Payer Relations
VCU Health System

Melinda S. Hancock, CPA, FHFMA
Chief Administrative & Financial Officer
VCU Health System

March 8, 2019

Renowned Patient Safety Champion to be Hooding Ceremony Speaker

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

Peter Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D., 2019 VCU School of Medicine Hooding Ceremony speaker

Peter Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D., a world-renowned patient safety champion, will serve as the speaker for the 2019 VCU School of Medicine Hooding Ceremony.

As we look to celebrate the many accomplishments of our graduating colleagues, mark your calendars for the VCU School of Medicine Hooding Ceremony on Friday, May 10, 2019, at 3 p.m. at the VCU Siegel Center. We are pleased to announce that Peter Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D., a world-renowned patient safety champion, will serve as the speaker for the ceremony.

A critical care physician, prolific researcher and global thought leader informing U.S. and international health policy, Dr. Pronovost’s scientific work on leveraging checklists to reduce catheter-related bloodstream infections has saved thousands of lives. This life-saving intervention has been implemented across the U.S., and today the catheter infections that used to kill as many people as breast or prostate cancer have been reduced by 80 percent.

Additionally, this critical work has earned him high-profile accolades, including being named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine, a coveted MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” in 2008, and recognition as one of the most influential physician executives in healthcare. Currently, Dr. Pronovost serves as chief clinical transformation officer at University Hospitals (UH) health system in Northeast Ohio and clinical professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at Case Western Reserve University. You can view one his recent talks here.

Dr. Pronovost was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2011 and has received multiple honorary degrees. Dr. Pronovost is an advisor to the World Health Organizations’ World Alliance for Patient Safety and is called on to address the U.S. Congress on patient safety issues. Dr. Pronovost regularly writes columns for the Wall Street Journal and U.S. News and World Report and has published over 800 peer reviewed publications. He also is a founder of Doctella, a health information platform for quality of care. A graduate of Fairfield University in Connecticut, Dr. Pronovost graduated from medical school at The Johns Hopkins University, where he also completed his internship, residency and fellowship in critical care medicine and his Ph.D in clinical investigation.

All faculty are cordially invited to attend the Hooding Ceremony and join the academic processional. The Class of 2019 would appreciate seeing the individuals who have been instrumental in helping them reach this special day. Regalia for this event is required and is approximately a $50 personal expense. Additional information about the event is forthcoming from the Curriculum Office. Please let us know you are attending by completing the online Google form by April 29, 2019.

We appreciate all the demands on your time and are grateful for your support and commitment to our students. In 2018, 70 faculty attended the hooding ceremony. Feedback from faculty attendees is uniformly that this is a worthwhile and memorable event, celebrating our students and the educational excellence of our school. I hope you will join us to hear Dr. Pronovost’s inspiring message to our graduating students and celebrate their accomplishments in one of the highlights of our academic year.

With appreciation for all you do,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

February 22, 2019

Pride in our Accomplishments: Our Talented Students are Honored and Supported

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

This past weekend, VCU students, including many of our medical and graduate students, gathered together with our alumni and community leaders who have supported their careers. It was an invigorating event kindly hosted by the MCV Foundation and a poignant reflection with celebration of the talent and future promise of all our trainees. It turns out that this year more than 75% of students on the MCV campus received financial aid to support their educational endeavors. Included among them are our stellar medical students, and over 140 of them were honored this year with 111 scholarships at MCV Foundation’s recognition of Endowed Scholarships.

Scholarships are a crucial factor in helping students earn their medical degrees. This wonderful article outlines the many ways scholarships assist students.  So many of our alumni and community leaders have given scholarship support and we so appreciate this. An additional 59 scholarships are in development for SOM students. Our thanks also to all of you for your great mentorship of students as well as your commitment to raising more support for our junior colleagues, who are awesome talent and so full of future promise. With 413 endowed scholarships across the health sciences, overall funds awarded through our MCV Foundation this year totaled $2.14 million. We congratulate all our development officers and the MCV Foundation on their successes in raising funds for such a great cause.

We are also cognizant that this year we celebrate the 70th year of the MCV Foundation. Our MCV Foundation is a great partner – pivotal to the success of our school. The growth of the Foundation over seven decades has been remarkable and Foundation assets have grown to more than $567 million and 1,738 funds to support a high impact on all our missions. We greatly value our partnership with MCV Foundation and congratulate Margaret Ann Bollmeier, president, and Harry Thalhimer, chairman of the Foundation board and the entire board of dedicated alumni and community leaders.

Shortly, we will embark upon our Medical Philanthropy Academy in order to better train all of us to be the best partners we can be with our MCV Foundation and development team in raising support for our academic mission. We are grateful to our development team for providing us with this opportunity.

With appreciation for all you do,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

February 14, 2019

Serving Our Community – Pride in Our Commitment … also to “Matters of the Heart”

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

February is American Heart Month and our colleagues have been sharing our expertise with the public. The Pauley Heart Center held its 4th annual Heart Health in Women symposium Feb. 2 at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture. Gifted School of Medicine faculty, co-led by our cardiology leaders, Dr. Phoebe Ashley and Dr. Jordana Kron, covered a variety of topics such as heart disease in minority women, heart disease and emotions, CMR imaging in women with breast cancer, and clinical research in women.

The MCV Foundation’s inaugural Health Innovation Forum highlighted the extraordinary advancements in how we care for our cardiac patients. Held on Feb. 8, this forum featured a moderated discussion about current research and cardiac programs to raise awareness about VCU Health among the Richmond community. Another two of our cardiology leaders, Dr. Mary Ann (Mimi) Peberdy and Dr. Zachary Gertz discussed research partnerships with other universities and highlighted the partnership with VCU College of Engineering. This new forum aims to provide an inside look at the discoveries and novel treatments so that community members are a knowledgeable resource for family, friends and colleagues and was made possible as a result of the relationships developed through the MCV Foundation trustees under the leadership of Harry Thalhimer, Margaret Ann Bollmeier and Brian Thomas. We very much appreciate their commitment to “getting the word out” about your excellence in research and clinical care. We plan to extend the new Health Innovation Forum to other programs to “sing the praises” of all the services and innovations you all provide.

That evening, another of our top cardiologists Dr. Antonio Abbate received the inaugural Thames-Kontos Mentoring Award at the Department of Internal Medicine’s Celebration of Excellence. Former MCV student and faculty member, Dr. Marc Thames, generously created this award in honor of his mentoring relationship with former chair of Medicine and dean, Dr. Hermes Kontos. Also at that terrific celebration, our interim DOIM chair, Dr. Todd Gehr presided over the “passing of the baton” from Dr. John Nestler to Dr. Patricia Sime, our incoming chair. Additionally, Dr. Curt Sessler and Dr. Gehr recognized 23 DOIM members in celebration of the importance of their service as clinician educators. We were delighted to hear the VCUHS Orchestra in action at this event – powerful and heartwarming melodies. Congratulations to Dr. Francesco Celi for leading this.

Our thanks to all our leaders in the Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine and the Pauley Heart Center.
Dean Buckley

With appreciation for all you do,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

February 7, 2019

Reflections for all of us

Dear SOM Students-Fellow Colleagues,

We appreciate that there have been some informal discussions regarding events of this past week, which have cast public light on medical student behaviors, class yearbooks and the like. As President Rao affirmed earlier in the week with his university-wide communication, VCU has pride and commitment in enabling our learning environment to be a place of dignity, mutual respect and inclusivity. Additionally, in last week’s state of the university address, Dr. Rao highlighted the professionalism and accomplishments of our academic community as well as our commitment to be a university that is transparent, accessible and a true resource to our community.

Key to what we accomplish together is respect and professionalism for one another and behaving accordingly. The communities we serve count on physicians to be leaders and role models. Madeline Bell, CEO, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, observes, “As a leader, people are always watching you. They’re listening to you, they look at what you wear, what you say, your body language. I think that leaders sometimes forget that people watch them not just when they’re on, but all the time. I think that you have to really understand that and be intentional about how you carry yourself.” Accordingly, it is important to remember in this digital age our memories are posted all around us for continual access. It is vital in this current era to refrain from any potentially hurtful communications that could be perceived as derogatory of race, ethnic group, religion, gender identity or other way an individual identifies oneself.

We know that you are proud of your medical school and we are certainly proud of you – each of you as powerful ambassadors for our school and its wonderful reputation. Our past, both good and bad, informs our school’s reputation and helps us share the best for our future. Yearbooks are a part of our past and sadly sometimes reflect moments that we wish we had not had, done or said. Please know that medical school yearbooks ceased at our school in 2010. We can’t erase our past, yet we can use it to inform and better our future.

As this public reappraisal of medical school yearbooks plays out in media communications, please know that we are grateful to you for your utmost ethical behavior as current students and hopefully soon-to-be future physicians and leaders in our community. Thank for your continued commitment to the Hippocratic values and behaviors of our noble profession and to your support of our great medical school.

Our very best always,

Susan DiGiovanni, M.D.
Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education
and Student Affairs
Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCUHS

January 29, 2019

Outstanding contributions of our faculty, staff, students and alumni

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

A new trio of stories spotlights the life-changing education and training that takes place in our medical school:

M2 Shivam Gulhar went blind for two weeks. Then he found his calling.
In high school, the Class of 2021’s Shivam Gulhar dreamed of becoming a computer engineer and changing the world through technology. But plans shifted when a misdiagnosed cornea ulcer left him blind for two weeks. Now he’s pursuing medicine with the help of a scholarship.

The Class of 83’s Wayne Reichman continues his work in Haiti with a trio of fellow alumni.
In 2013, the Class of 83’s Wayne Reichman found a new mission as the medical director of a free surgical clinic in Haiti. Inspired by his work, now a trio of fellow alumni join him in a place they call their second home. “I wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for MCV and the people I worked with in residency and in medical school,” says the Class of 2006’s Michael Boss. “It was my first introduction to an underserved population.”

Millennials ‘ideally suited’ to be doctors, says Class of 77’s David Adams.
The Class of 77’s David Adams is weary of hearing about “the good old days.” While Millennials often are criticized as work-shy and entitled, Adams says “they are ideally suited to be the doctors of the future because they value meaningful work, they’re internationalists, they’re tech-savvy, they like feedback, they’re team-oriented and they’re collaborative.” The gastrointestinal surgeon’s feelings were reinforced on a recent visit with VCU Health transplant fellows and residents. “From what I saw, the future of surgery is bright.”

With every good wish for your good work,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

January 22, 2019

VCU’s sixth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration week Jan. 20-26

“Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dear Friends-Colleagues,

As we reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, I wanted to share with you information on VCU’s sixth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week which begins Sunday. A series of events from Jan. 20-26 — including a day of service and keynote remarks from local civic leaders — will offer the university community an opportunity to honor the iconic civil rights leader.

MLK Celebration Week is hosted by the Division for Inclusive Excellence. Highlights during the week include:

MLK Day of Service
Jan. 21, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Evergreen Cemetery, 50 Evergreen Road
The historic cemetery is the final resting place for thousands of individuals, including notable Richmond leaders Maggie Walker and John Mitchell Jr. Volunteers will travel as a group to a restoration project and then return to campus for a free lunch and small-group reflections. Register online.

Candlelight vigil
Jan. 21, 6 p.m., The Depot, 814 W. Broad St.
This annual event — a silent vigil to commemorate King’s life — will include a march from The Depot to the front of James Branch Cabell Library.

MLK Legacy Night
Jan. 22, 7-9 p.m., Rams Lounge, University Student Commons, 907 Floyd Ave.
Faculty, staff and students will enjoy music, spoken word and other creative performances that highlight and reflect on King’s legacy.

Keynote speeches
Jan 20-25, various locations
“We hold these truths to be self-evident,” the first line of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, is a statement King echoed many times in his written work, sermons and speeches, including in his “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” and his “I Have a Dream” speech. Local leaders will discuss this recurring theme in a series of keynote remarks:

  • Rev. Tyrone Nelson, pastor of Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church
    Jan. 20, 6 p.m. (reception at 5 p.m.), Institute for Contemporary Art, 601 W. Broad St.
  • Christy Coleman, CEO of the American Civil War Museum
    Jan. 23, 4 p.m., Cabell Library, Lecture Hall Room 303, 901 Park Ave. 
  • Jason Kamras, superintendent of Richmond Public Schools
    Jan. 24, 2 p.m., Cabell Library, Lecture Hall Room 303, 901 Park Ave.
  • Rep. Donald McEachin
    Jan. 25, 1 p.m. (doors open at 12:30 p.m.), Institute for Contemporary Art, 601 W. Broad St.

These events will focus on King’s legacy and ongoing efforts in the areas of social justice, public education and fair housing.

I hope you will be able to take advantage of some of these opportunities and other community events to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his remarkable legacy.

Unifying themes among Dr. King’s messages and his life are a profound respect for each other and an enduring belief in the potential of each individual. May we live these out in our words and actions during 2019 and beyond.

With all good wishes,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

January 17, 2019

Development team leadership changes will support ongoing campaign at school and university levels

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

We are pleased to announce that Tom Maness, M.P.A., who has an already substantial start at VCU in his first year as associate dean for development for the School of Medicine, will now be taking on a bigger and broader role as the associate vice president of development for the MCV Campus effective January 25, 2019. As the first-ever MCV Campus AVP, Tom will play a critical role in ensuring the success, enhanced collaboration and continued growth of VCU’s health sciences fundraising efforts with a particular focus on our grateful patient program. In this new role, Tom will continue to work closely with the School of Medicine, the MCV Foundation and other community partners in realizing the success of the Make It Real campaign, currently underway.

As many of you may be aware, our development team has impressive breadth and depth, raising $43 million last year, which is the second strongest fundraising year in our school’s 181-year history and is a great credit to our entire development team. We are leveraging the strength of this team as we make this strategic reorganization, and we are most grateful to Amy Lane, Ph.D., who will now serve as interim associate dean for development for the School of Medicine. A senior and highly effective development leader currently serving as director of Major Gifts for the School of Medicine, Dr. Lane has a longstanding commitment to and knowledge of the School of Medicine. Just last month, Amy’s skill as a highly accomplished fundraiser was acknowledged by the Development and Alumni Relations Spirit award she received. In presenting the award, Jay Davenport, vice president for Development and Alumni Relations, remarked, “Amy is one of VCU’s most competent, capable, helpful, and supportive leaders.” Amy has been with VCU since 2004, brings a deep complement of skills to this role and is known as a trusted colleague and mentor. Amy will oversee the continued growth of the team to provide greater support to departments, develop new outreach efforts and support our nationwide alumni engagement.

We continue to build on the strengths of this team and will call on another of its senior leaders, Priscilla Wiggin, who has agreed to take on Amy’s role as director of Major Gifts on an interim basis. Ms. Wiggin joined the VCU School of Medicine’s major giving team in 2015 and is a highly skilled and expert fundraiser. Prior to her major gifts officer role, Priscilla served as assistant director of Leadership Annual Giving at VCU Massey Cancer Center. In her extended role, Priscilla will also oversee other recruitments that are underway on the medical school’s major gifts team.

We are enthusiastic about the current strategic positioning of our fundraising efforts. Our VCU Make It Real campaign is on target with $686 million raised to date already, representing 91.5% of the $750 million goal. The School of Medicine is the largest single contributor to this campaign and its success. These strategic changes in our development team position us well for the remaining efforts of our campaign.

Moreover, we are now also embarking on a major initiative – the Medical Philanthropy Academy – to provide specific fundraising training and experiences to many of our School of Medicine faculty. As this program evolves, it also will draw upon the talent and fundraising experiences of our senior faculty and accomplished development team. All-in-all, we have strong momentum that will we will continue to build on.

Please join us in congratulating Tom and welcoming Amy and Priscilla to their new roles.

With all good wishes,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

January 11, 2019

Outstanding contributions of our faculty, staff, students and alumni

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

The New Year has brought news of alumni, faculty and students making important contributions. I’d like to share a few of their stories with you:

  • A renovated library in West Hospital now carries the name of Dr. Michael Hess.
    I’ve heard Dr. Hess described as a heart library himself, owing to his extensive knowledge ranging from basic cardiac physiology to the complexities of heart failure. So dedicating this useful space to him is very appropriate. With a reputation as a scholar, Dr. Hess’ more than 30-year tenure includes running NIH-funded basic science research, publishing in journals like Nature and working alongside pioneering surgeon Richard Lower, M.D., in the early days of our transplant center. His compassion was powerful therapy in the clinics and hospital, and his collaborations with physiologists and biologists contributed to important advances in the heart failure field. He is an outstanding teacher, mentor and physician, and the hi-tech library that honors his legacy will be tremendously helpful to the heart-failure faculty and residents who continue his work.
  • The Class of 87’s Thomas Eichler, M.D., has been named president-elect of ASTRO.
    The American Society for Radiation Oncology is the world’s largest radiation oncology society.
  • The Class of 72’s James Patterson, M.D., was twice-honored at the recent ASDP annual meeting.
    He received the American Society of Dermatopathology’s Founders’ Award and was asked to present the Elson B. Helwig Memorial Lecture.
  • The Class of 2020’s Avanthi Jayaweera has received a prestigious fellowship from the American Medical Student Association.
    The fellowship gives her the chance to focus on issues like affordable high-quality health care, global health equity and diversity in the healthcare workforce.

With every good wish for your continued good work,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

January 11, 2019

Appointment of Roxann Roberson-Nay, PhD, as assistant dean for Graduate Recruitment and Admissions

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

We are very pleased to announce the appointment of Roxann Roberson-Nay, PhD as assistant dean for Graduate Recruitment and Admissions. In this capacity, Dr. Roberson-Ney will coordinate recruitment efforts for prospective Biomedical Sciences Doctoral Portal students, serve as the chair of the Biomedical Sciences Doctoral Portal Admissions Committee, oversee the first-year curriculum and help identify research mentors for Biomedical Sciences Doctoral Portal students during their first year of study.

While Dr. Roberson-Nay is new this position, she has been on faculty in the Department of Psychiatry since 2005. As a tenured associate professor, her active, federally funded program of research focuses on genetic and epigenetic mechanisms associated with major depression and anxiety related disorders, as well as biological and physiological systems related to anxiety and mood conditions. She served as the Director of Admissions for the Psychiatric, Behavioral and Statistical Genetics (PSBG) PhD Program, coordinator of a National Institute of Mental Health training grant, and has mentored and served on thesis and dissertation committees for numerous graduate students in the PSBG and Human and Molecular Genetics programs.

Dr. Roberson-Nay earned her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Maine and did post-doctoral fellowships at the University of Maryland and the National Institute of Mental Health prior to joining the faculty at VCU.

We thank Dr. Steve Grossman for chairing the search committee and Dr. Michael Grotewiel for his administrative leadership in the search process.

Please help us welcome Dr. Roberson-Nay to this new position.

With all good wishes,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

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