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School of Medicine discoveries

October 21, 2014

After 6,000 students, 37 Match Days, the original golden apple retires

You knew you were always in good hands

For many, Janet Mundie was their mother away from home, providing a shoulder to cry on without fail.

WANT TO SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION? Visit www.support.vcu.edu/give/JanetMundie to make a gift to the Janet H. Mundie Scholarship.

Others considered her a trustworthy friend, doing everything in her power to ease an emotional crisis. And for others still, she has been a teacher, a reliable guide through the challenges of medical school.

“She is so loving and helpful and goes way outside her job description,” said Debbie Armstrong, M’02, who practices family medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C. “She’s incredible.”

After 42 years at the university, Mundie retired on June 30. For most of her tenure, she served as student services specialist, helping more than 6,000 students through 37 Match Days.

“I feel like I’ve played a big part in helping our students get into their residency programs,” Mundie said. “That makes me very proud.”

A rite of passage for fourth-year medical students, Match Day is also incredibly stressful and emotional. It isn’t every day that aspiring doctors learn where they are headed for residency training.

“She has been there to hold their hand and help them determine the best places to apply,” said Ike Wood, M’82, H’86, F’88, the senior associate dean for medical education and student affairs. “She is one of the most caring, compassionate people I know.”

When Mundie joined the university staff in 1972, she worked as the supervisor of the parking office. Five years later, she moved to the School of Medicine. Back in the “early days,” as Mundie likes to call them, the fourth-year students came to her office regularly for face-to-face counseling and help with paperwork.

Mundie was always there to assist them with their applications, compiling transcripts, letters of recommendation, Dean’s letters, medical board scores and class grades. For each of the 20 or 25 residency programs they applied to, Mundie made sure each package was complete.

As competition intensified over the years, students applied to more programs, up to 125. And the process became computerized, with Mundie monitoring and compiling applications online.

Still, the friendships have flourished. Over the years, Mundie has won 19 Golden Apples, an award the graduating class gave through 2010 to an esteemed faculty or staff member. And earlier this year, the school established the Janet H. Mundie Scholarship, which is part of the ongoing 1838 Campaign.

“When they told me about the scholarship, I was speechless…and I’m never speechless,” Mundie said. “What an incredible honor.”

Mundie, 62, grew up in the Northern Neck. She worked as a telephone operator, mail messenger and in banking before joining VCU. “Once I got here, I knew this was home,” said Mundie, who lives in King William with her husband of 43 years, Dennis. “I’ve been so blessed to have wonderful bosses and co-workers. And what a privilege to watch these students grow up and figure out their life’s path.”

Mundie, who has two children and four grandchildren, keeps in touch with many graduates. Some return for guidance long after graduation. Armstrong, for example, changed her specialty twice and sought out Mundie for help.

“Janet’s love and patience helped me through not one, but three Match Days,” Armstrong said. “Even though I was no longer a student, she was with me every step of the way. I never could have weathered it without her.”

Reunions also take place in doctors’ offices and hospitals. A few years ago, when her granddaughter had surgery, Mundie discovered the anesthesiologist was a recent graduate.

“I was so relieved, because I knew she was in good hands,” she said.

Just like fourth-year medical students have known all these years that they were in good hands with Mundie.

“That they trusted me means the world to me,” she said. “I’m really sad to be leaving, but you can bet I will keep tabs on them all.”

This article by Janet Showalter first appeared in the fall issue of 12th & Marshall.

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Updated: 04/29/2016