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School of Medicine: Message From the Dean

October 18, 2018

Outstanding contributions of our faculty, staff, students and alumni

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

We have some marvelous things to celebrate this fall:

• Endowed professorships and chairs represent the highest academic honor a university can bestow on a faculty member, and serve as a lasting tribute for the donors who establish them. Last month, we were delighted to see 34 School of Medicine faculty members recognized with this honor. See the list and view photos from the 2018 Investiture Dinner.

• Congratulations to our faculty members Stephanie R. Goldberg, M.D., and Donna Jackson, Ed.D., who have secured grants from the American Medical Association that make possible a pair of research projects into students’ experiences. One project incorporates coaching and individualized learning plans to improve wellness for students entering surgery and other specialties, and the second explores inclusion and engagement in medical students. The lessons we learn will be used to improve students’ experiences – here and at other medical schools.

• When the Class of 2019’s Austin Oberlin started his Fogarty Global Health Fellowship, the aspiring OB-GYN public health physician had a touch of imposter syndrome. “Am I really supposed to be here?” But he talked with his mentor and kept on doing the work — and one year later, he took home the Young Investigator Award based on his cervical cancer research abroad.

• At VCU’s annual service awards, a host of the School of Medicine’s faculty and staff were honored: Katherine Mulloy, in Internal Medicine, was honored with the Award of Excellence; Valerie Harris, in Internal Medicine’s Division of Nephrology, received the Outstanding Achievement award; Harold Greenwald, in the medical school’s Office of Graduate Education, received the Service Excellence award; and Robert Diegelmann, Ph.D., was honored for his 45 years of service to the university.

We also appreciate the ways those in the medical school serve their communities and professions:

• OB-GYN’s Mishka Terplan, M.D., and emergency medicine’s Allen Yee, M.D., are two of the half dozen VCU faculty and alumni who’ve been named to the 27-member Governor’s Advisory Commission on Opioids and Addiction. They’ll offer their expertise in education, first-response, treatment and rehabilitation.

• Surgery’s Paula Ferrada, M.D., has been elected chair of the Young Fellows Association of the American College of Surgeons and secretary of the Panamerican Trauma Society. She is an ardent advocate for inclusivity in the surgery field of surgery.

I hope you will enjoy reading about their contributions.

With every good wish,

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

September 28, 2018

Serving Our Community – Pride in Our Commitment

Dear Colleagues-Friends:

One hundred years ago, when the School of Medicine was in its 80th year, the 1918 Influenza outbreak was an unprecedented health care pandemic. A century later, it is being remembered and recognized world-wide.

Last week, a lecture on this historical catastrophe was the latest installment in an ongoing important collaboration between the Virginia Museum of History and Culture and the MCV Foundation. Representing the two organizations were our hosts Mr. Jamie Bosket and Ms. Margaret Ann Bollmeier. The evening’s speakers outlined how far U.S. medicine has come in disease disaster management as well as the formative role of our School of Medicine both then and now.

Acclaimed author John M. Barry who studied the 1918 pandemic and wrote “The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History” set the stage, starkly describing the pandemic and its staggering impact world-wide. As his book notes, “at the height of World War I, history’s most lethal influenza virus erupted in an army camp in Kansas, moved east with American troops, then exploded, killing as many as 100 million people worldwide. It killed more people in 24 months than AIDS has killed in 24 years, more in a year than the Black Death killed in a century.”

Locally, a writer for the Richmond Times Dispatch in 1918 noted, “October has been pronounced the saddest month in the medical history of this nation…” MCV faculty and staff served the sick in emergency facilities set up in the city, and third- and fourth-year students served as assistants to physicians across the commonwealth. The pandemic had second and third waves that left MCV providing constant care throughout the winter of 1918-19. In spite of the efforts, thousands caught the flu and nearly 1,000 lost their lives, including three students and a much loved professor who’d gone to Chicago to care for an ailing family member. Our faculty and medical students gave valiantly to their city during the great pandemic and demonstrated the enduring value of this medical institution.

Today on the MCV Campus, we have continued to lead and innovate in infectious diseases, as evidenced by the recent recognition for VCU Health as one of 25 hospitals for its quality in infectious disease management.

Modern-day advances were highlighted during a panel discussion that featured Mr. Barry along with two of VCU’s present-day and nationally renowned leaders in infectious diseases, Dr. Gonzalo Bearman, chair of the Division of Infectious Diseases and associate hospital epidemiologist, and infectious disease physician Dr. Michael Donnenberg, who is senior associate dean for research and research training. The panelists addressed topics ranging from influenza’s changeability, to research on the protective factors of flu vaccines.

In addition, Dr. Bearman highlighted our Unique Pathogens Unit and its readiness to respond to infectious disease outbreaks like the Ebola crisis. And Dr. Donnenberg shared with the audience how one of our very first M.D.-Ph.D. alumni, Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger, is at the forefront of influenza vaccine development and actually discovered and sequenced the genome for the 1918 influenza virus. He noted cutting-edge studies led by medical school faculty, including the investigation of vitamin C’s potential to boost the body’s immune system and combat overwhelming infections. He also described urgent approaches to vaccine development. At the forefront are our researchers’ work in developing a vaccine for Lyme disease that is already available for animals and is now being considered for and under development for humans.

The audience responded in a lively discussion and, to round out the evening, MCV Foundation Chair Mr. Harry Thalhimer thanked Mr. Austin Brockenbrough III for his vision to establish a partnership between the Virginia Museum of History and Culture and the MCV Foundation that’s brought a fascinating series of lectures to the Richmond community. The series underscores what a great asset our academic medical center is, whether facing a moment of great need in 1918, or in serving as a resource every day since then. As highlighted in recent AAMC research, it’s this kind of service that the public depends on us for: medical innovation and research that makes America healthier and stronger.

Just as our faculty were on the front of the response to influenza in 1918, today VCU Health and the School of Medicine carry forward our mission of providing preeminent education to physicians and scientists in order to improve the quality of health care for all Virginians. We take great pride in our commitment to our community through our 180 years of service.

Thank you for your leadership.

With every good wish,

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

September 20, 2018

Milestone year for philanthropy

This is a milestone year for our medical school in many ways, one of which is the success we experienced in our fundraising during fiscal year 2018. Please join with us in celebrating an outstanding accomplishment by our development team and their partners.

Last fiscal year, the medical school benefited from more than $42 million in philanthropic giving. That’s the second best year in the school’s current campaign, and in its history. This is due in great part to our alumni body who has stepped up in unprecedented ways during the course of this campaign. We took advantage of every opportunity and exceeded the medical school’s FY18 $30 million goal by 40 percent.

This remarkable year is also due to strong partnerships that the medical school development team has forged with the teams at VCU Health and the MCV Foundation, as well as with our own dedicated faculty. This kind of momentous work can only be done through collaboration.

Total giving to SOM in Make it Real Campaign through June 30, 2018

As a result, we’re also marking another important milestone: we are 80 percent of the way to the medical school’s goal in our ongoing $300 million fundraising campaign. And since the School of Medicine is the top driver in the success of the Make It Real Campaign for VCU, this means good things for the university’s overall $750 million goal as we look toward our 2020 campaign finish line.

A successful campaign translates to great things for the students, faculty and programs in our school. It is vital to sustaining our core values of cultivating a life-changing learning experience for students and trainees, exceptional care for the sick, and a curiosity for medical research and discovery.

While this year is marked by great success, we have our sights set for even greater things. That’s going to take even more partnership – from all of us. For those of you who have worked with our development office in their fundraising efforts, thank you. In the coming months many of you are going to hear more from Mr. Tom Maness, Chief Development Officer, about more ways to partner with our development team so that we can reach our full potential, including philanthropy training for us, which will help all of us develop and hone this important skill set. By garnering the highest level of philanthropy possible, we can truly enable our vision to become a reality.

Again, we could not be more grateful for your help in reaching this milestone. Congratulations and thanks to all of our development team for this mighty successful year. Our heartfelt thanks also goes to each and every one of the 3,849 donors who made a gift to the medical school last fiscal year – many of you are among them. We are on the cusp of new and exciting opportunities to partner together in supporting our stellar students, our remarkable faculty, and our great medical school.

With every good wish to you and yours,

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

September 19, 2018

Alan Dow, M.D., M.S.H.A., to head continuing education organization

Dear Colleagues-Friends:

We are pleased to share the news that the board of UHS Professional Education Programs, Inc., has named Alan Dow, M.D., M.S.H.A., as its president. UHS-PEP is VCU Health’s continuing education organization that provides professional development for physicians and other health care professionals, within Virginia and beyond.

Alan Dow, M.D., M.S.H.A.Our institution is committed to life-long learning and to contributing to medical knowledge and clinical competence that will improve patient outcomes and population health. Through UHS-PEP, we aim to serve our alumni as well as the faculty and staff of our schools, of VCU Health and of the McGuire Veterans Administration Medical Center. We also serve the greater community of Richmond and beyond. These are important educational collaborations, and we greatly value these partnerships.

Dr. Dow has a compelling vision and enthusiasm for that mission, and we welcome his leadership on this front. He has been instrumental in directing the popular Practical Frontiers in Primary Care Conference, the Emswiller Interprofessional Symposium, and the online Safe Opiate Prescribing in Virginia course that serves as a resource for licensed prescribers in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the fight against opioid abuse. Consonant with national trends in health professions education, Dr. Dow and colleagues will help us advance the continuum of interprofessional education as well as harnessing technological innovation in the delivery of training for life-long learning. These collective efforts also will position us for submission for joint accreditation for continuing education on emergent standards of best practices in health sciences professional education.

A professor of internal medicine, Dr. Dow holds the Ruth and Seymour Perlin Professorship of Medicine and Health Administration. He will continue to serve as director of VCU’s Center for Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Care that fosters collaborative practice across the schools at VCU, in VCU Health and in the surrounding community.

We are grateful to Linda Meloy, M.D., who has led UHS-PEP since the death of its previous president, John Pellock, M.D., in 2016. Under her leadership, the organization was awarded a full four-year accreditation by the ACCME in 2017. UHS-PEP now also holds Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) continuing education accreditation. Annually, more than 17,000 physicians and health care professionals participate in VCU-sponsored and jointly-sponsored continuing education activities. Dr. Meloy will continue in the interim role of associate dean for continuing medical education.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Dow and working alongside him to advance our professional education mission.

Warm regards,

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

September 17, 2018

Leadership transition in the Department of Psychiatry

Dear Colleagues-Friends:

One of the marvelous things about our medical school is its continuity in leadership. Our faculty build careers here, and our school benefits from their wisdom and experience. There is no better example of that than Joel Silverman, M.D., who is the longest serving chair in the medical school and the longest serving psychiatry chair in the entire nation.

After a remarkable tenure, Joel has announced his intention to step down from his role as chair, and we will begin a national search for his successor. Meanwhile, we are grateful he has agreed to continue to lead the department until a new chair is in place.

The Department of Psychiatry plays a vital role in our overall neurosciences academic portfolio. During his tenure, Joel has helped to make the neurosciences a top priority for the university and to assemble an outstanding cadre of neuroscientists and mental health clinical and educational leaders. He has recruited stellar faculty who have made advances in all academic areas of teaching our future practitioners, caring for their patients, making scientific discoveries and partnering with the community.

Under Joel’s leadership, half dozen endowed professorships were established in support of the work of dedicated faculty members. Additional endowments reward teaching, support the work of residents, fellows and researchers in his department. Joel, alongside his wonderful wife and life partner, Phyllis, has built deep relationships in the Richmond community that also benefit VCU’s mission and have enabled tremendous philanthropic support for mental health causes.

A past president of the American Association of Chairs of Departments of Psychiatry, Joel is known as an advocate for patients and for his fight against the stigma that’s too often associated with seeking treatment. His vision has won the backing of university leadership, legislators and our community. Just recently, Joel co-hosted a mental health ‘mini-university’ with Virginia’s legislature, and the Department of Psychiatry maintains several collaborations with public mental health systems and key partnerships.

During Joel’s tenure, the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics (VIPBG) was established, and as a result we’ve made dramatic advances in understanding the genetic and environmental causes of psychiatric and drug abuse disorders. Joel has been a great supporter and longstanding advocate for Dr. Kenneth Kendler, VIPBG director, and his team, in placing VCU on the forefront globally of psychiatric genetics.

In addressing the contemporary great concern about addiction, Joel and his team have developed an addictions program to grow research and clinical care in the field. Last year, the Department of Psychiatry opened the Motivate Clinic in its newly appointed outpatient facility in Jackson Ward. Joel also worked with the School of Medicine to bring to VCU the world-renowned addiction leader Dr. Gerry Moeller who leads the Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies. The Department of Psychiatry has excelled in neuroscience and clinical research and currently ranks in the top 35 departments in federal funding nationally in psychiatry.

Joel’s career at VCU has been characterized by leadership by example, and he is a consummate educator and compassionate clinician. Joel has trained more than a generation of mental health clinicians, including most recently spearheading an above-national career selection rate for psychiatry among VCU’s medical students.

Among all his accomplishments, Joel’s leadership and partnership with community leaders to establish the newly opened Virginia Treatment Center for Children is a remarkable legacy. In this landmark $65 million, 119 square foot facility, patient care, teaching and research come together in an astounding, beautiful center, and all to serve the mental health needs of Virginia’s children.

Fortunately, we will not lose access to Joel’s wisdom and experience. He will remain on the faculty, continuing to teach and to see patients as well as to contribute his effort on the philanthropy front. As a personal friend of Joel’s for over 20 years, I look forward to continuing our work and friendship together.

This formal communication does not do justice to all the Department of Psychiatry has accomplished throughout Joel’s tenure. Accordingly, we invite you to a special grand rounds in the Department of Psychiatry on Friday, Sept. 21, 2018, from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Sanger Hall, room 1-044. Dr. Silverman will present on the accomplishments of his departmental colleagues and also highlight the exciting opportunities our future holds.

Please join me in congratulating Joel on a remarkable 43-year tenure (35 of those as chair) and in thanking him for all he has done to strengthen his department, our school and mental health treatment in our commonwealth and beyond.


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

September 11, 2018

Outstanding contributions of our faculty, staff, students and alumni

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

From new programs here on campus, to programs that span VCU’s campuses or even span the globe, it’s invigorating to learn about the work of our colleagues.

  • For Greg Hundley, M.D., the Pauley Heart Center’s inaugural director, his arrival on the MCV Campus this summer was a homecoming. Even before pursuing his M.D. here as part of the Class of 1988, he got his start as an undergraduate student under the mentorship of Hermes A. Kontos, M.D., Ph.D., who served both as dean of the medical school and as VP for health sciences. More recently, Dr. Hundley has participated in research funded by more than $71 million in NIH grants and was first in the world to demonstrate MRI stress testing can identify those at risk of heart attack. His work here is supported by the opening of a new Cardiovascular Imaging Suite made possible by an investment from the Pauley Family Foundation.
  • We’ve seen wonderful programs and projects grow out of partnerships between faculty from the School of Medicine and the School of the Arts. Now, John E. Nestler, M.D., has been named the inaugural physician-scientist-in-residence at the VCU School of the Arts, and we are particularly enthusiastic about his new role because he will be looking so broadly for new opportunities. From solutions to clinical problems to teaching medical students empathy, humanism and observation skills, or even building resiliency and fighting physician burnout, the intersection between arts and medicine has the potential to be life-changing.
  • Almost every year since 2009, Urology Chair Lance Hampton, M.D., has traveled to Vietnam as a volunteer mentor for IVUmed’s Traveling Resident Scholarship Program, thanks in part to support he receives as the holder of the Barbara and William B. Thalhimer Jr. Professorship in Urology. “These trips have enhanced my surgical practice in many ways and have helped me to educate future urologists and help the patients of central Virginia as well.”

I hope you’ll enjoy reading their stories.

With every good wish,

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

August 24, 2018

A trio of faculty honored at VCU’s 2018 Faculty convocation

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

Each year, VCU opens the academic year by recognizing its distinguished faculty. It’s a wonderful tradition and one that we look forward to. This year’s 36th Annual Faculty Convocation was a particularly stellar occasion because the School of Medicine had a remarkable three faculty members among the six honorees. As you can imagine, we were incredibly proud to see our school so well represented.

All of our colleagues, as well as Dr. Mike Rao in his inspirational remarks, emphasized the importance of working for the public good and VCU’s commitment to serving our community in this way. We came away rejuvenated for our work together.

Arun J. Sanyal, M.D., in our Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, was honored with the University Award of Excellence. His humility was evident as he described his and his team’s formative research on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NASH) and metabolic syndrome. He remarked on what a unique place VCU is and how it allowed this impactful research to flourish. You can learn more about his transformative work and watch a video in which he shares his perspectives at http://wp.vcu.edu/somprofiles/2018/08/23/arun-j-sanyal-m-d/.

Paul H. Wehman, Ph.D., received the Distinguished Scholarship Award. Based in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Dr. Wehman also has an appointment in the VCU School of Education. He described for us his passion for seeing people with physical and intellectual disabilities find employment. Even better, he says, is that we now understand and have documented that this work is therapeutic. His comments emphasized to all of us in the audience that we must care about ensuring people with disabilities maximize their potential in our society. A video and bio that describe Dr. Wehman’s accomplishments are available at http://wp.vcu.edu/somprofiles/2018/08/23/paul-h-wehman-ph-d/.

Stephanie Ann Call, M.D., from our Division of General Internal Medicine, accepted the Distinguished Teaching Award. She explained that education has always been front and center in her life and a fundamental part of her family’s life. She praised our learners for keeping us current in our commitment to life-long learning, and she pointed to VCU as a place of possibilities, where learning, innovation and aspirational activities are encouraged and supported. A video and bio describe her approach to teaching: http://wp.vcu.edu/somprofiles/2018/08/23/stephanie-ann-call-m-d-m-s-p-h/.

If you were not able to attend the Convocation ceremony, you can watch the award presentation and hear our honorees’ remarks for yourself at https://www.facebook.com/virginiacommonwealthuniversity/videos/2197417346954633/:
– Dr. Sanyal (at the 18:05 mark)
– Dr. Wehman (at 22:40)
– Dr. Call (at 30:50).

When next you see Arun, Paul and Stephanie around campus, please congratulate them on this marvelous recognition. My own thanks go to these remarkable faculty members and to you as well for all that you do each day to advance our missions of education, patient care and discovery.

Warm regards,

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

August 22, 2018

Governor’s Grand Rounds at our medical school: an unprecedented opportunity

Dear Colleagues-Friends:

It was a tremendous honor to host Governor Ralph Northam, M.D., on the MCV Campus yesterday. In our collective fight against the opioid epidemic in the Commonwealth of Virginia and across the nation, Governor Northam has prioritized talking with medical students and has embarked on a speaking tour of Virginia’s medical schools. What a privileged opportunity for all of Virginia’s medical students.

Governor Ralph Northam presents Grand RoundsThere’s nothing like a personal story to make an impression. And so we are especially grateful to the Governor for bringing Mr. Ryan Hall from Alleghany County to meet us and tell us his own story of addiction and recovery. His story was poignant and powerful, adding patient experience to the Governor’s remarks about addictions in practice and in policy.

The Grand Rounds presentation, delivered to a packed auditorium, will have long-lasting impact. With standing room only in the McGlothlin Medical Education Center’s Learning Theater, additional audience members joined us from the facility’s overflow spaces and even via online broadcast from more than half a dozen states including New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Florida.

What a remarkable thing it is to have a Governor who is a physician! A pediatric neurologist, he’s well familiar with the Grand Rounds format and delivered a stellar presentation. We were so impressed with the breadth of his knowledge on this topic, as well as his compassion and empathy for those battling addiction. Combined with Mr. Hall’s candid recounting of his experiences, it was a compelling message. Our audience thanked them with a standing ovation.

To expand the impact of the Governor’s Grand Rounds, we are pleased to share these links with you:

• Video of the Grand Rounds presentation
Photo gallery of the presentation
• Coverage of the presentation via the VCU News Center and MCV Foundation
WRIC TV-8 spoke with Gerry Moeller, M.D., division chair for addiction psychiatry
WTVR TV-6 interviewed second-year medical student Carrie Shadowen

We were especially proud to host this Grand Rounds because of our strong work in the field of addiction that has helped to shape an innovative and comprehensive approach to combating this national crisis. It is a strategic focus for our university, which is ranked ninth in the country in funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Projects range from basic research and brain imaging to a clinical trial assessing preventive treatment for patients recovering from opioid overdose. We are also proud to be collaborating with other healthcare providers and research intensive universities in Virginia to address this problem.

Our commitment includes training as well, and we have just secured initial accreditation from the ACGME of our one-year addiction medicine fellowship. The fellowship, which is the first ACGME-accredited addiction fellowship in Virginia, focuses clinically on addiction medicine across all levels of care, outpatient to inpatient, on all substances and includes an emphasis on prevention and on pain.

In addition to our pain management services, last year, with the support of the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS), we opened the “MOTIVATE” Clinic dedicated to the assessment and care of individuals with substance abuse problems. We are also privileged to assist DMAS in documenting the success of new substance abuse services across the Commonwealth.

Please join us in increasing your and our communities’ awareness of the epidemic. You may be interested in learning more about the online course Safe Opiate Prescribing that’s been developed by VCU’s Center for Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Care to serve as a resource for all licensed prescribers in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the fight against opiate abuse and addiction.

With us at the Governor’s Grand Rounds were members of the VCU and VCU Health boards as well as Virginia Delegate Chris Peace. We were also joined by VCU VP and VCU Health CEO Marsha Rappley, M.D., and VCU President Mike Rao, Ph.D., who began the afternoon’s presentation by thanking the Governor for his leadership at a time when our state faces a number of important health care challenges.

Our sincerest thanks to all the many people who were involved in making the Governor’s Grand Rounds such a success, including Karah Gunther from VCU Government Relations who was our primary point of contact with the Governor’s office.

To commemorate the event, we presented the Governor with a framed print of the iconic Egyptian Building that symbolizes our commitment to the health and wellbeing of Virginians that stretches back to 1838. In this year that we celebrate the 180th anniversary of our medical school’s founding, the day the Governor visited to deliver Grand Rounds is a remarkable moment in our storied history.

Warm Regards,

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

August 6, 2018

A letter to the incoming Class of 2022

Dear medical student colleagues:

This past week was a great one, for each of you as well as for VCU School of Medicine. On Monday, we welcomed you as our newest colleagues. Throughout the week, we told you – with great pride – about the remarkable legacy and today’s powerful presence of VCU School of Medicine, culminating on Friday with our White Coat ceremony. The White Coat ceremony was such a joyous event. We were all privileged to hear the simply outstanding talk by Dr. Kim Sanford. Kim is a great example of how VCU’s medical school produces “the best and the brightest” doctors who are well equipped to make great contributions in their careers. Kim certain has made significant contributions to healthcare and medical education. Her talk at Friday’s White Coat ceremony was inspirational, moving, and highly informative. It was also a pleasure to hear the Musicians on Call Michaella Montana (Class of 2021) and Robert Moy (Class of 2021) with their welcoming rendition to the class.

We hope that you enjoyed the week as much as we did. The first week of medical school is very, very special.

As was echoed by all who spoke at the White Coat ceremony, we are simply delighted that you have chosen the profession of medicine. Our profession is an awesome privilege and with it great responsibility. Essential to that responsibility is being a lifelong learner, and you begin that journey in earnest now as you eagerly consume new knowledge about the body and mind, which is available today at an unprecedented pace. We hope that our training will prepare you well and that over time you will take your new knowledge, using your many gifts to not just repeat what others have done, but rather you will ultimately lead us to find better ways to treat and prevent disease.

As you take these first steps toward a career in medicine, you also will already now be viewed as a leader in any circle you find yourself; in fact, the drive and personality that brought you to medical school means you already are. Please always be mindful of this role as you represent our school in the Richmond community and beyond. As we recited together on Friday our Hippocratic Oath, lead your life and practice your art with uprightness and honor. Additionally, norms in our society and our healthcare community are changing and unprofessional behaviors, rude or sexist or racist remarks are no longer being tolerated. As well as being role models in your behaviors, we also ask that you “speak up” if you see-hear-experience unprofessional behaviors from others during your training with us. In this, we all grow together and will make our school an even better place to train at. Thank you.

We know that each of you have worked so hard to get to medical school. Your family and our medical college are very proud of you. Our White Coat ceremony, with the symbolic donning of your white coats, was a formal recognition of each of you and of all your very impressive accomplishments to date. For sure, you are talented colleagues. All our faculty, staff, and other trainees stand ready to help you build upon your talents and prior accomplishments now in this exciting next stage of your careers as you diligently pursue your training to become great doctors. You know as well as we do that the hard and dedicated work – and the fulfillment – has only just begun.

It was also a great joy to celebrate your success with your families on Friday last and to meet so many parents. Please feel free to also share this letter – if you wish – with them so that they know of our commitment and culture at VCU School of Medicine.

We look forward to your future successes as our medical students and our entire team will be privileged to assist you during your training at VCU.

Our very best to you 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

August 2, 2018

On the passing of Dr. Hunter Holmes McGuire Jr.

Dear Colleagues-Friends:

I am saddened to share the news of the death of Hunter H. McGuire Jr., who died in Richmond on July 30, 2018.

An alumnus of the Class of 1955, he also completed his surgery training with us and went on to a 35-year career in the medical school. During his tenure, he served in many important leadership roles including assistant dean for students, as interim dean of the medical school and also as chief of surgery at the McGuire VA Medical Center. I especially admired Dr. McGuire’s enthusiasm for encouraging, educating and training medical students and residents who now serve as a living legacy to his mentorship.

While Dr. McGuire always took great pride in medicine and in his alma mater, his interests were broad as was his knowledge about life. He contributed a number of very thoughtful letters to the editor in the Richmond Times-Dispatch and was working on a stimulating article on the future of health care right up to his passing. He was an avid reader and a painter. He was also a great student of history – and there was much to be found in his own family. A fifth-generation physician, he was the great-grandson and namesake of surgeon Hunter Holmes McGuire, M’1860, who helped found the University College of Medicine that would go on to merge with the Medical College of Virginia in 1913. His great experience, intellect, and wisdom made his advice so helpful to many of us.

Additional information about his life, career and accomplishments can be found in a moving tribute from Vigneshwar Kasirajan, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Surgery, and Jeannie F. Savas, M.D., professor and chief of surgical services at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center. The Richmond Times-Dispatch has also published a tribute to his life.

A graveside service will be held on August 4, 2018. Details on the service can be found online.

We have been privileged to have such a great colleague as an alumnus and as a longtime faculty member of our school. His legacy is powerful and will endure.

Our thoughts are with this wife, Alice, and his family.

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

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