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May 2011 Archives


The year that medical students were LINC’ed to the Richmond community

Black light and fluorescent baby powder that represent germs
Black light and fluorescent baby powder that represent germs
Black light and fluorescent baby powder that represent germs

At an elementary school health fair, the medical students prepared an unusual demonstration to help the children understand why hand washing is such an important part of disease prevention. Using a black light and fluorescent baby powder that represented germs, the medical students showed the children how easy it is for a simple handshake to spread germs. A final step of squirting on hand sanitizer makes the baby powder disappear and completes the visual lesson.

Improving the health of the community can take more than expert diagnosis and the right prescription. Physicians also need first-hand interaction that will help them recognize the special health problems of medically underserved communities. A new program in the medical school aims to help students learn to effectively communicate with community members at various age levels so that they can better provide the skills and knowledge that will help patients improve their overall health.

Called Learners Involved in the Needs of Communities (LINC), the program required medical students to perform a minimum of 20 hours of community service during their M1 year. Allison Foroobarar wrapped up a year’s worth of tutoring ninth grade students at Richmond City’s Armstrong High School.

“I have really enjoyed working with the students,” Foroobarar said. “It’s been rewarding to see their improvement and even more gratifying to form relationships with these kids while hopefully serving as a role model.”

Where in past years, many students opted to serve in the community during their free time; the Class of 2014 was the first required to serve a set number of hours. To offer a variety of service opportunities, the medical school partnered with the non-profit organization Communities in Schools and offered training to help students tackle their volunteer roles. The course also educated students about health care disparities and the history of the socioeconomic development of communities within Richmond.

Course organizers know that a better understanding of the community and even home environments can help students understand which interventions and resources will be the most useful for their patients. Some of the volunteer sessions also gave students the chance to practice their skills in taking a patients’ medical history or performing a physical exam.

Monica Quach was part of a team that organized a health fair at a local elementary school, using games and demonstrations to teach healthy eating as well as the importance of exercise and washing their hands. “I thought elementary age students might want to run around, but they were right there, paying attention,” she said. The fair was a big hit with the school administration, who indicated they would welcome a return trip from next year’s first-year class.

LINC organizers are incorporating feedback from this year into next year’s course. Already, they’ve heard from first-year participants who’d like to return to the course as mentors to next year’s class.

“We would like to see some of the most successful projects get handed down to next year’s first-year students,” said Christopher Woleben, M.D., associate dean for student affairs.

He also hopes that the students will see long-term benefit from establishing ties to the communities in which they live and work, including forging ties to non-medical professionals. Foroobarar already recognizes that. “LINC has been a great opportunity to get involved in the Richmond community,” she said. “As medical students and future doctors, I think it is imperative to learn about the community and the patient population with whom we will be working.”


The day the journal Nature asked Elizabeth Ripley for her view on increasing payment to study participants

Elizabeth B. Ripley, M.D., professor of internal medicine, was called upon for perspective on the question of whether increasing the payment to study participants could be an aid to clinical trial recruitment. She is quoted in an article titled “Therapeutic Success Stifles Medical Progress” that was published in the May 24 issue of the journal, Nature.

Ripley is principal investigator of an NIH Challenge Grant in Health and Science Research totaling nearly $1 million. The grant supports her investigation into the Richmond community’s opinions and interest in research in an effort to advance clinical, social behavioral and translational research in the area. Ripley is also vice-chair of the VCU Institutional Review Board.


The day Ananda Pandurangi was recognized as an exemplary psychiatrist

Ananda Pandurangi, M.D., professor in the Department of Psychiatry and medical director and chairman of the Division of Inpatient Psychiatry, was recently selected to receive a 2011 Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. He was nominated for the honor by NAMI’s Central Virginia chapter.

The 2011 awards are given to psychiatrists noted for going the extra mile and who have made substantial contributions to NAMI at the affiliate or state level.

“Dr. Pandurangi is never too busy to assist and has taken personal phone calls, answered questions and advised families about the best course of action and treatment for their loved ones,” said Joy Rowsey, president of NAMI-Central Virginia. “He goes above and beyond his everyday busy work schedule to reach out and take time to help those who have questions and concerns about a loved one with a mental illness.”

NAMI is a nonprofit, grassroots, self- help, support and advocacy organization of consumers, families, and friends of people with severe mental illnesses. Its Exemplary Psychiatrist Awards program honors the exceptional contributions that many psychiatrists throughout the country make to improve the lives of people living with mental illness. Many psychiatrists have described this award as one of the most important honors that they can receive because it comes from the people whose lives are affected by mental illness.

Pandurangi wears many hats as chairman of inpatient psychiatry including teaching, patient care, research and administrative duties, while also making time to contribute many additional hours to the Central Virginia community.

Pandurangi will be recognized by NAMI Central Virginia on Sept. 8, 2011.

This year, NAMI has honored 15 winners with its Exemplary Psychiatric Awards.


The day that Cecelia Boardman was named president-elect of the American College of Surgeon’s Virginia Chapter

Cecelia Boardman, M.D., has been named president-elect of the Virginia Chapter of the American College of Surgeons. Boardman is an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and holds the Dianne Harris Wright Professorship of Gynecologic Oncology Research.

For the past three years, Boardman has served as the Virginia ASC Chapter’s secretary and treasurer. She was the unanimous choice of this year’s nominating committee and will ascend to the presidency after a one-year term as president-elect.


The day that three medical school champions were honored by the MCV Foundation

At the MCV Foundation’s Annual Dinner on May 9, three individuals with ties to the medical school were honored for their dedication to its success.

The 2011 Dowdy Award was presented to Charlotte and Jim Roberts, recognizing their volunteerism and philanthropic leadership. Dedicated and passionate volunteers, the couple co-chaired the $245 million campaign for VCU on the MCV Campus and have contributed more than $125,000 to university projects on both campuses. Their loyalty, dedication and leadership were honored with an award that carries the name of a man they know well. The Michael B. Dowdy Philanthropy Award Endowment was established five years ago to mark Dowdy’s 13-year tenure as president of the MCV Foundation.

In addition, the Irby Award went to Peter Brown, M.D., who completed his residency training in surgery on the MCV Campus. Following his residency, Brown was on the full-time faculty for four years before going into private practice in Richmond. And even then, he has remained an adjunct faculty member for the last 33 years. The Irby Award honors Robert Irby, M.D., a rheumatologist and faculty member who was as devoted to securing financial support for his beloved medical school as he was to his patients and colleagues. The award recognizes a faculty member who has provided valuable fundraising assistance to the MCV Campus, as Brown has done for the medical school and the Massey Cancer Center.


The day Richmond Magazine featured the veteran who is VCU’s first woman discharged with a mechanical heart

In its May issue, Richmond Magazine tells the story of Army veteran Margaret Daugherty, whose transplanted heart failed after 18 years of service.

With multiple organs in danger, Daugherty was sent to the VCU Medical Center, where a Total Artificial Heart transplant offered time to regain health and strength while awaiting a new donor heart. This bridge to transplant was so successful in fact, that she has become the VCU Medical Center’s first female patient to be discharged from the hospital using a portable power supply for the Total Artificial Heart.

“Why stay in the hospital waiting?” Daugherty asks in the Richmond magazine article Life Savers. “The world is out there waiting to be experienced.”

Read the full article or watch an interview and slideshow.

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Updated: 04/29/2016