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School of Medicine: Message From the Dean

August 2017 Archives

August 25, 2017

Two School of Medicine faculty honored at VCU’s 2017 Faculty Convocation

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

Earlier this week, we had the privilege and opportunity to honor faculty throughout the university for their excellence – two of whom are leaders in VCU School of Medicine.

President Michael Rao praised all these leaders for their commitment to making a real difference, for their excellence in tackling difficult human issues, and for their roles as great ambassadors for VCU. President Rao also affirmed our University’s unwavering commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. Provost Hackett also thanked our leaders for their community engagement and Dr. Marsha Rappley, CEO of VCUHS, commented on how inspirational these leaders are and how uplifting their stories and accomplishments.

Michael Neale, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, human genetics and psychology VCU School of Medicine, and associate director, Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, received the VCU Distinguished Scholarship Award. Dr. Neale’s work focuses on how genetic, environmental and behavioral factors interact and contribute to illnesses such as substance abuse and psychiatric disorders is no small task. In addition to his remarkable level of productivity, Dr. Neale is also an outstanding teacher and mentor. It is estimated that over 2,000 researchers in his field have been trained by Dr. Neale … significantly influencing the next generation of genetics researchers.

Harinder Dhindsa, M.D., associate professor and chief of emergency medicine in VCU’s School of Medicine, medical director for the university’s Critical Care Transport team, was the recipient of the Outstanding Term Faculty award.

Dr. Dhindsa leads the clinical operations of the Emergency Department and has worked tirelessly with all his colleagues to improve efficiencies that raise the level of care patients receive. HD has an exceptional record of teaching and service. He is equally passionate about ensuring that not only future physicians are trained well, but other hospital personnel, including EMTs and paramedics, are also trained well to create an environment of first-class support for patients at all levels of interaction with health care staff.

You can read more about each of these stellar colleagues and their accomplishments at:


Please join me in congratulating Michael and HD.

Thank you for your leadership too.

Warm regards,

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

August 15, 2017

A letter to the incoming Class of 2021

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.

On Aug. 14, Peter F. Buckley, M.D., and Susan DiGiovanni, M.D., sent a letter to the Class of 2021’s incoming M.D. students, welcoming them into the medical school.

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.

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.

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

Virginia Commonwealth University
VCU Medical Center
School of Medicine
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