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School of Medicine: Message From the Dean

May 2017 Archives

May 25, 2017

The work that we do at academic medical centers… a (too) well kept secret?!

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

These past few days we’ve had the opportunity and privilege to participate in the VCUHS Community Internship Program. Our group included senior leaders in our community, all of whom voluntarily took two days away from their busy schedules to learn more about our Health System.

We had the opportunity to learn from and experience first-hand as we toured various units throughout our hospital – a great many of our VCU team members – each of whom displayed impressive knowledge, commitment and joy in serving our academic healthcare mission. We toured the operating rooms, SOM Simulation Center, the children’s in-patient units and CHoR Pavilion, the molecular laboratory, the NICU, the emergency department, morning safety call, the cardiac cath lab, radiology department, the Massey Cancer Center, Department of Corrections secure unit, epilepsy monitoring unit and in-patient rehabilitation. Excellence, compassion, and commitment was evident everywhere we visited. During the community internship, our distinguished guests also learned about the safe and successful delivery of sextuplets – a remarkable accomplishment that can only happen so successfully at a high functioning, quality driven health system with great clinical teams. With all that our guests observed, they were glowing in their praise of all their experiences and uniformly said “We had no idea about all the great things going on here!”

The appreciation of community leaders for what we do – when they can then be powerful ambassadors for VCU – is priceless.

Thanks to all of you who supported and participated in this Community Internship. Please also extend thanks for Lauren Moore and her development team for putting together such a professional and powerful program.

As a complementary accompaniment to this “note of thanks,” we thought you might be interested in this “hot off the press” article from JAMA that demonstrates superior patient outcomes in academic medical centers. This is an important article. Hopefully, this will stimulate discussion in our academic and broader healthcare communities about the unique, vital, and complementary role that academic health centers – like ours – play in U.S. healthcare.

Thank you for your leadership and contributions to the remarkable quality of care given every day to people who seek treatment with us.

With every good wish,

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

May 17, 2017

PM&R Chair Cifu appointed Associate Dean for Innovation and Systems Integration

It is a pleasure and a privilege to announce that David X. Cifu, M.D, Herman J. Flax, MD Endowed Professor and Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation has been appointed as Associate Dean for Innovation and Systems Integration for the School of Medicine.

Dr. Cifu received his undergraduate and M.D. degree from Boston University. He then completed his Internship and Residency at Baylor College of Medicine in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R). Dr. Cifu joined the staff at VCU as an Assistant Professor in 1991 and with an appointment at the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital, rising through the ranks to his current position (held since 1997) as Chair of the Department. He is the Chief of PM&R Services for the VCU Health System and the founding Director of the VCU-Center for Rehabilitation Sciences and Engineering (CERSE). He has dedicated much of his work to serving our veterans and active duty personnel and serves as the Senior TBI Specialist for the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

He has been funded on 42 research grants for over $135 million including currently serving as Principal Investigator of the VA/DoD $62.2 Million Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium (CENC). He is well known and an invited lecturer regionally, nationally, and internationally and has published more than 215 scientific articles.

Dr. Cifu is uniquely skilled to fill this new role as Associate Dean for Innovation and Systems Integration. In addition to continuing to lead as PM&R departmental chair, in this expanded role he will now also advance the strategic goal of integrating across systems our scientific, clinical and educational developments in artificial intelligence
and biomarkers for traumatic and cognitive neuroscience. He will work collaboratively to support the physician workforce and leadership of the formative Sheltering Arms- VCU Health initiative. He will also advance our vital VA and DoD partnerships, both locally and nationally.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Cifu on this strategic promotion.

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

May 15, 2017

A great day in the life of our medical school

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

Late last week our class of 2017 celebrated their successful training and on Saturday, 204 of these outstanding junior colleagues became doctors!

On Friday morning, we honored our military colleagues who in addition to becoming doctors, also received a promotion in rank. Dr. Chris Woleben gave excellent remarks on behalf of our school. Dr. Walter Lawrence was the keynote speaker and he reminded us that while much has changed over the 70 years since he graduated, the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship has not changed.

Drs. Susan DiGiovanni, Chris Woleben and the entire student affairs office then outdid themselves in hosting an outstanding hooding ceremony on Friday afternoon. Traditions were intermingled with reflections on the accomplishments of the class of 2017. There was a moving recollection of Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim, a student who tragically passed away in the first few weeks of the class of 2017. Dr. Jerry Strauss gave an excellent keynote address, highlighting how we continue to grow and develop as physicians throughout our careers.

On Saturday morning, the class of 2017 reassembled with those from the other VCU schools for the conferring of degrees and honors recognition. Honorary degrees were conferred to Mr. Bill and Mrs. Pam Royall, whose selfless giving to society and to VCU has been remarkable. Our graduates were well wished onto their next stage by Senator Tim Kaine, whose commencement speech echoed that of our faculty mentors to our students over the four years of their training: be great listeners.

All in all, it was a joyous time of reflection, of tradition and legacy, and of celebrating the great work of each and every one of you in turning out physicians who we can be proud of. To view the SOM 2017 convocation and hooding ceremony, you can watch it here: http://www.medschool.vcu.edu/gradweek2017/

Congratulations and thank you for your leadership and support in training the class of 2017 to now be today’s and tomorrow’s best doctors.

With best wishes,

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

May 15, 2017

A letter to the graduating Class of 2017

Dear Colleagues-Friends:

Today is a glorious day. Today, you wear the storied academic hood, with the proud VCU colors and the herbal green of medicine. Tomorrow, you become a physician.

You have worked so hard to get to this day. You have listened and learned, not only in Richmond, but also at the side of many of the best physicians across the Commonwealth, many of whom are your fellow VCU School of Medicine alumni. Your family and your medical school are very proud of you. Please take a few moments to be proud of yourself, and then look forward. You know as well as we do that the work – and the fulfillment – has only just begun.

On Friday May 12, Susan D. DiGiovanni, M.D., and Peter F. Buckley, M.D., sent a letter to the Class of 2017’s graduating M.D. students, congratulating them on their accomplishments.

You have chosen a profession that has great privilege but also great responsibility. You are privileged to become an important part of the lives of your patients and their families. In fact, the best doctors are like family members to their patients: each learns from and supports the other. This is true whether you are a family medicine physician who cares for patients over their lifetime or a pediatric heart surgeon who helps them through the worst possible days with great skill and compassion.

Essential to that responsibility is being a lifelong learner, eager to consume new knowledge about the body and mind, which is available today at an unprecedented pace. We sincerely hope that you will be a lifelong contributor to that knowledge as well, using your many gifts to not just repeat what others have done, but to find better ways to treat and prevent disease.

You also will be viewed as a leader in any circle you find yourself; in fact, the drive and personality that brought you to this day means you already are. Please always be mindful of this role as you work and live in your community. Show up for life and work to make a difference every day. As our Hippocratic Oath says, lead your life and practice your art with uprightness and honor.

Let part of making a difference include staying connected to your medical college to help ensure that we, like you, continue to learn, teach and lead. We are confident that, like so many alumni before you, VCU School of Medicine has given you stellar training that will stand the test of time. We anticipate, with pride, your future accomplishments, and we ask that you remain engaged with your alma mater.

Today and tomorrow, our entire community and the Commonwealth of Virginia celebrates your successes and our expectations of your great future as a physician leader.

Our best to you always,

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

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