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School of Medicine: Message From the Dean

August 2018 Archives

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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