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School of Medicine discoveries

March 2010 Archives


The day the Associated Press called on Family Medicine’s Alex Krist and Sam Jones

In the wake of health care reform legislation signed into law in March, a story from the Associated Press, “Health Overhaul Likely to Strain Doctor Shortage,” discussed the role of family medicine physicians and the move toward creating patient-centered medical homes.

Two of the experts quoted in the story were Family Medicine Associate Professor Alex Krist, MD, and medical school alumnus Sam Jones, M’79. Jones practices at Fairfax Family Practice Centers, which serves as one of the Department’s residency sites as well as a practice site in Family Medicine’s ACORN research network.

The AP story describes My Preventive Care, an interactive Web-based service that links patients to their primary care physician. Krist says the site is like “the doctor sitting next to the patient, helping them to understand and act on their medical information to improve their health.”

Using the site, patients can access their personal health information stored in their physician’s electronic record, receive personally tailored prevention recommendations, access links to additional online resources and receive periodic reminders. A trio of grants totaling $2 million supports the department’s investigation into whether My Preventive Care can improve patients’ use of preventive care services.

Read the story “Health Overhaul Likely to Strain Doctor Shortage.”

While the Web site’s resources are only available to patients whose physicians are participating in the studies, the site is available for view at www.MyPreventiveCare.org.


The day Whitehurst-Cook was lauded for her care of rural Virginia

An alumna of the medical school’s Class of 1979, Michelle Whitehurst-Cook, M.D., now serves as associate dean for admissions at her alma mater.

Whitehurst-Cook began her career as a family medicine physician practicing in Providence Forge, Va. There she also served as a preceptor for medical students from VCU’s Medical College of Virginia Campus. But in 1993, she returned to Richmond, joining the medical school’s faculty. Throughout her career, she’s found ways to care for the underserved. In the medical school, she has served as director for the Inner City/Rural Preceptorship program and has also led teams of student volunteers to the Remote Medical Access Clinic in Wise, Va.

Her efforts have been honored repeatedly, most recently by Virginia’s State Rural Health Plan that awarded her its 2010 Rural Healthcare Workforce Individual Award for Distinguished Service. “Beginning with her residency, she has always sought opportunities to gain the experiences that would prepare her to serve those that are often most marginalized and has had a passion to serve inner-city and rural populations,” states the Va-SRHP’s Web site.

The VA-SRHP is a collaboration of more than 50 partners, united behind the goal of improving the health care infrastructure of the state’s rural areas, in part by providing analyses and strategies that will lead to improvements in rural health.


The day seven students applied their skills at an East Coast soccer tourney

Greg Christiansen, D.O., M.Ed, hates to hear stories of amateur athletes whose on-field injuries go unaddressed because there are no medical personnel available at the sporting event. This was especially true of an incident that occurred locally a number of years ago where a teenage soccer player died on the field of play after a collision with another player.

His emergency medicine training suggested that a better plan and response may be able to prevent such a tragic situation from occurring again. Having treated professional athletes in a support role for a NHL team in Buffalo, New York, he transitioned — after moving to Richmond — to support the Chesterfield United Soccer Club. In addition to their year-round games, the Club also hosts a large tournament that annually draws thousands of athletes ages 9-18 from the entire East Coast.

The assistant professor of emergency medicine had found a way to use his expertise and support the community. In fact, he has found not only the place to volunteer his own skills, but also an opportunity to involve the medical students in service to the community as well. According to Dr. Christiansen, “For years VCU students have humbly offered their service just because they want to help out.”

And “They do a great job using their hands-on skills to provide on-field services,” said Christiansen, who provides medical services to the Club year-round and calls on student volunteers to help out with the annual tournament. He also remarked that the medical student service at the tournament also gives VCU great visibility among future college bound athletes who see these leaders as role models.

Second-year student George Tarasidis volunteered at the 2010 tournament “because I remembered participating in these tournaments in my youth. They were always an enjoyable way to spend the weekend and I looked forward to them.” While Tarasidis’ venue saw nothing that needed anything more than what he describes as “a band-aid and a pat on the back,” he believes that the presence of students and medical professionals “puts many parents at ease and definitely takes a load off the tournament coordinators.”

To prep them for the weekend, Christiansen leads a workshop for the students where they train in CPR, concussions and musculoskeletal injuries – what they’re most likely to see on the field. Because of the size of the tournament – 250 teams are spread out over 10 venues – he teams up the students with Club parents who have medical training. On tournament weekend, Christiansen is available for consult by phone with back-up provided by county ambulances and the VCU Life Evac helicopter.

Those preparations stood first-year student Mia Walls in good stead when a player suffered a head injury. “I was very nervous when the staff summoned me to the field,” she said. “Once I arrived, I used a mix of common sense and the medical advice that Dr. Christiansen had provided to us at orientation. I just took my time and assessed the player and made the recommendation that she go to the emergency department for further evaluation. I called Dr. Christiansen to run the situation by him and he agreed that was the best plan of action for her safety. Her coaches and father agreed and she was on her way.”

Christiansen said he received excellent feedback from tournament staff, coaches and parents on the students’ professionalism, knowledge and dedication. “It’s a super way to represent the medical school and VCU in our community.”

In addition to Tarasidis and Walls, student volunteers were Ryan Clayton, Nathan Givens, Paul Halweg, Duy Phan and Phillip Taylor.

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Updated: 04/29/2016