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Kelley Dodson named first female president of the Virginia Society of Otolaryngology

I think my presidency definitely reflects the change in traditionally male dominated surgical specialties to now being more representative and inclusive of women as a whole.

“I think my presidency definitely reflects the change in traditionally male dominated surgical specialties to now being more representative and inclusive of women as a whole.”

Housestaff alumna and School of Medicine faculty member Kelley M. Dodson, M.D., was installed as president of the Virginia Society of Otolaryngology on June 4. She is the first female president in the society’s nearly 100-year history.

It’s a milestone that Dodson says has special meaning for her.

“I think my presidency definitely reflects the change in traditionally male dominated surgical specialties to now being more representative and inclusive of women as a whole.”

Dodson has been involved with the society for a half dozen years. She served as president-elect last year and before that as vice president.

Through her service, she says, “I have gained significant insight especially into legislative issues facing the commonwealth of Virginia, as we have been very active in the legislative process on issues affecting our specialty.”

Kelley M. Dodson, M.D.

Kelley Dodson, M.D.

The Virginia Society of Otolaryngology was chartered in 1920. It provides continuing medical education for its members and addresses political and regulatory challenges affecting practice issues. Each spring, the society holds an annual meeting, which was held this year in McLean, Va.

Dodson has a clinical interest in pediatric otolaryngology as well as in congenital and genetic hearing loss. On the research front, she is interested in language and speech outcomes in children with hearing loss and has been involved with genetic studies of tinnitus and different forms of hearing loss. She also studies pediatric chronic rhinosinusitis and the mask microbiome in cystic fibrosis.

After completing her residency in the Department of Otolaryngology on VCU’s MCV Campus, Dodson joined the medical school’s faculty in 2005. She is now director of the department’s residency program.

By Erin Lucero
Event photography by Susan McConnell, Virginia Society of Otolaryngology


Piece of the past

William Shelton, M’52, is mesmerized by the simplicity behind an 1860s bloodletter, which  is proudly displayed in his Boydton, Virginia, office.

“It’s the ingenuity behind it,” he said. “It’s pretty amazing.”

When William Shelton, M’52, retired in 2002, he closed the doors to his four-room office, and it’s been left unchanged to this day. It still houses his collection of several hundred medical artifacts, and he hopes to use it as a medical museum.

The device, used during an era when physicians believed removing blood from a patient could cure an assortment of ailments, relied on a spring to propel four circular blades into the skin.

“There certainly have been a lot of changes in medicine since those days,” Shelton said.

The bloodletter, also called a scarificator, is just one of several hundred medical artifacts that make up Shelton’s collection. The family physician began accumulating the pieces after opening his practice in rural Mecklenburg County more than 60 years ago.

His collection includes an intra-uterine syringe, scales that measure medication, leather physician bags, stethoscopes, nurses’ kits, a hand-operated centrifuge and a motorized stomach pump. Many items date to the 1800s. Shelton, who retired in 2002, thinks the oldest piece is a set of ebony-handled OB forceps.

“To see the work that went into making these instruments is very interesting,” he said.

Shelton, 93, grew up on a farm outside Boydton. An infantry officer with the Army for two years, he was honorably discharged in 1946. He earned his bachelor’s in agronomy from Virginia Tech, then began his medical training at MCV. He completed his medical internship at what was then known as Brooke Army Hospital in Texas, then worked as a physician at Alabama’s Camp Rucker (now Fort Rucker) and Fort Benning in Georgia before opening his own practice in 1954.

“I always knew I wanted to be a doctor,” said Shelton, who retired from the Army Medical Reserve in 1973. “My grandfather’s brother was a doctor. I guess it’s just the genes speaking out.”

He and his wife, Bird, married in 1952 and continue to reside in their historic home – part of
the original Radolph-Macon College – on 22 acres outside town.

One of hundreds of items William Shelton, M’52, collected over the course of his career, this pump was
used to empty the contents of the GI tract. “To see the work that went into making these instruments is very interesting,” he said.

“We love it here,” said Shelton’s wife. “I enjoyed his career as much as he did.”

Shelton often made house calls, delivering babies and setting broken bones. He had an office in the heart of town, but after hours he often tended to the sick in their homes or in the basement of his own.

“In the country, everyone knew who the doctor was and where he lived,” Shelton said. “I  loved getting to know the families. Back then, you really got the chance to do that.

“There have been many advances in medicine and in education. Change will always be a part of health care.”

That’s why holding on to the past is so vital, Shelton said, and why he is so proud of his collection. The American Urological Association recently contacted him about showcasing some of his artifacts in a traveling exhibit this summer.

“I love these pieces,” Shelton said. “By learning about our past, we can help make things better for the future.”

By Janet Showalter

Photography by Kevin Schindler


Class of 98’s Kenneth Redcross’ new take on the old fashioned house call

Though he keeps his black medical bag handy and makes frequent house calls, Kenneth Redcross, M’98, is anything but old fashioned.

The board-certified internal medicine physician found his calling as a provider of concierge medicine in the New York City area, meeting patients where they are and giving them time, access and convenience – a modern take on traditional medicine.

In concierge medicine, he’s found the kind of career fulfillment he believes all physicians should have. But the career that works for him isn’t right for everyone, he notes. “You’ve got to believe in yourself and know who you are. I had to figure out what was going to work with my spirit.”

It’s a message he shared recently with potential students at a recent Second Look program, which gives applicants who are members of underrepresented minorities a chance to explore the School of Medicine’s programs in more depth.

Dr Kenneth Redcross
Kenneth Redcross, M’98, returned to the MCV Campus to speak at the medical school’s Second Look program for applicants from underrepresented minorities in medicine. While here, he also toured campus with the Class of 2019’s Ifechukwude Ikem and Diana Otoya.

Each year, a weekend of activities is organized by the School of Medicine’s Office of Student Outreach and the MCV Campus’ chapters of the Student National Medical Association and Latino Medical Student Association. The weekend offers opportunities to interact with faculty and students in a more relaxed atmosphere than the usual formal tours and interviews.

Redcross appreciates that VCU’s School of Medicine seeks to attract students from a wide variety of backgrounds and gives them plenty of experiential learning. He expects that will be great preparation for future physicians to find their own calling, whether it’s a traditional practice or something else.

His presentation was designed to encourage them to dream big.

“It takes a little bit of time to figure out who we are as physicians,” Redcross said, who also earned a bachelor’s in biology from VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences in 1994.

“That’s an important thing that has been lost for a lot of people. I think a lot of physicians feel like their destiny has already been decided. But I am one of these spiritual beings who believe that we all have a different song to sing. We come together and sing our songs together and we make beautiful harmony.”

“For me, my passion has always been about the patient experience and I’ve been blessed enough to find a forum that allows me to focus on the patient experience.”

During medical school, Redcross took advantage of the National Health Service Corps’ program that offers either loan repayment or scholarships to medical students in return for an equal number of years’ service in underserved communities. After residency, as part of his NHSC service, he worked with patients who may not have otherwise found health care and later started a retail health clinic. But something was missing.

“It took me some years to realize that in a typical model of medicine, I couldn’t be happy,” he said. “I didn’t feel I could give patients what they deserve, but I didn’t know a way out. Then I started to realize and understand that I could create a different level of health care by being one-on-one with the patient in their environment, where they’re comfortable. I realized how much happier I was. I realized this was the model for me.”

For current medical students – or those soon-to-be – he recognizes that he can’t tell them one way to approach their careers. But he did share some thoughts on finding what works.

He commends the new medical curriculum’s emphasis on collaboration, which, he believes, will ensure better patient care and help develop networking skills. Those skills, which he developed on his own, have helped him land patients for his concierge practice and spokesperson jobs and stints as a media consultant.

“You have to network, learn its importance. The world is a lot smaller than you think. ”
The Second Look program is part of the encouragement and support the medical school offers its diverse student population, something Redcross didn’t necessarily have when he was on campus in the 1990s.

“It’s extremely important to have physicians from diverse backgrounds. Many, many patients want to see a doctor who looks like them. Half of being a good physician is being able to be a good listener, to come from different backgrounds and understand your patients.

“You’ll be really surprised what happens when you really listen. If you listen, you can find a lot of answers.”

By Lisa Crutchfield


Pathology alumnus credits Harry Dalton with starting his career in the lab

After a 38-year tenure, Peter H. Huley, MS’77 (PATH), retired in January 2013 from his position as senior vice president of lab operations with LabCorp in Burlington, N.C. He recalls how meeting the longtime School of Medicine professor Harry Dalton, Ph.D., put him on the path to graduate school. “MCV and the education made available to me there made a huge difference in my life,” says Huley.

Taking a break from the lab in the 1970s, Peter H. Huley, MS’77 (PATH), made time for a picnic with his daughters and wife, Tracy, at the nearby Capitol Square.

He’d been working as a supervisor of the microbiology department and a medical technologist at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte, N.C., before Dalton met him at a workshop. “He convinced me MCV was the next step in my career.”

When he began grad school on the MCV Campus in 1975, he and his wife Tracy moved with their 18-month-old daughter into married student housing at Jarrett apartments. That same year, he took a job with Physicians Clinical Lab, a small, pathologist-run private medical lab that through a series of mergers and acquisitions eventually became LabCorp.

By the time Huley graduated with his masters in 1977, a second daughter had arrived, and Huley was mapping his course to a Ph.D. But though he’d go on to pass his written and oral comps, “it became apparent that in the three main focuses of my life, family, work and school, something had to go. Doing all three at that time was not sustainable. I withdrew from the pursuit of the Ph.D. and from MCV.”

Physicians Clinical Lab was acquired first by Consolidated Biomedical Labs and then by Roche Biomedical Labs, which ultimately became LabCorp. Huley grew along with the company. A leadership role in microbiology for RBL’s national lab led to a move to corporate headquarters in Burlington, N.C., where he managed the growing microbiology lab and the national standardization of the microbiology lab discipline within RBL.

Peter H. Huley, MS’77 (PATH), with his wife, Tracy, and daughters, Colleen and Krista.

After the merger that created LabCorp, he eventually took on responsibility for the entire Burlington lab, the largest lab in the company and, possibly, in the world. By the time he retired in 2013, it was receiving samples from about 100,000 patients a day.

“The years at MCV, and especially the association with Dr. Dalton, were invaluable. MCV prepared me for the future. As Louis Pasteur is reported to have said, ‘Chance favors the prepared mind.’ Although perhaps not in the context intended by Pasteur, that statement certainly applied to me. I will always hold my time at MCV in high regard. The people were world class. The environment was challenging and stimulating. Although I did not complete a terminal degree, I was able to take the education gained at MCV, build on it, and use it to enhance patient care for millions.”

Huley now lives in Beaufort, N.C., with Tracy, his wife of 45 years.


Alumni representing three decades make the case for mentoring and engagement

J. Thomas Ryan, M'72, H’75, kicked off a session on leadership and engagement for the fourth-year students at their capstone course.

J. Thomas Ryan, M’72, H’75, kicked off a session on leadership and engagement for the fourth-year students at their capstone course.

J. Thomas Ryan, M’72, H’75, MSHA’99, returned to the MCV Campus in April to speak to the fourth-year students at their capstone course. Taking the theme of physician leadership and engagement, the family medicine physician encouraged them to be willing to spend the time and energy it takes to volunteer for committees and to serve their organization and profession, even during the busy years of residency.

“If you do, you will be offered opportunities for leadership, and you can decide whether you want to seize those opportunities.”

Ryan gave the students an overview of his own career’s trajectory that included a choice to return to VCU in the 1990s for a master’s in health administration. “For two years, I was a full-time clinician, a full-time student and a part-time administrator,” he said. “It was worth it.”

His M.S.H.A. degree led to a 16-year tenure as chief medical officer at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, Va. He stepped down three years ago to take on the next opportunity. He’s now a consultant with the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, focusing on emergency preparedness and mentoring young physicians.

“When I came out of medical school, there were doctors and nurses. Now there are all kinds of care providers as well as business people. Modern health care is a team sport. It’s important for you to have a say in steering our hospitals and country in a direction that is patient-centered.”

Also on hand were Rebecca Bigoney, M’79, and M. Stephen Mandell, H’85. The two medical school alumni also hold leadership positions at Mary Washington Hospital.

Bigoney, an internal medicine physician, credited Ryan as a mentor who encouraged her to volunteer for leadership assignments. That translated into Bigoney being named Ryan’s successor as CMO when he stepped down three years ago.

As she described that relationship, she emphasized that because Ryan knew her well, he could see leadership qualities in her that even she had not recognized. “If a mentor tells you that you are needed in a role – and equipped to fill it – trust that advice and take a chance that you might not have taken on your own.”

Bigoney in turn mentored Mandell, who is an internal medicine physician with Virginia Primary Care Associates and the senior medical director at Mary Washington Hospital. Having served as its president in the past, he also serves as chairman of several of key clinical committees.

Representing three decades of MCV Campus training, the trio of alumni are a case study in how engaging with junior and senior colleagues is essential for career development.

By Erin Lucero


The EMR drove him to it

It was the summer of 2014, and Darren S. Witte M’96, H’00, was facing the stress of migrating eight years of patient data into a new electronic medical record.

He’d merged his internal medicine and pediatrics practice with the VCU Health System and was getting to know the system’s Cerner EMR. After long nights of sweating the details, he got a suggestion from his clinical coordinator: find a distraction and blow off some steam.

Darren Witte, M’96, H’00, behind the wheel of his 1970 Karmann Ghia.

Good thing there was a Vintage Volkswagen show coming up that weekend.

“I have this memory from when I was about 7,” Witte says, “of this gorgeous green car. It was frequently parked at a store where I went with my parents.”

Back then, he wasn’t yet a Volkswagen fan and didn’t know what the car was. But 35 years later, he spotted the same compelling curves that were a vivid reminder of his childhood love. It was a Volkswagen Karmann Ghia.

He started frequenting car shows hoping to catch another glimpse, but sightings were rare. That weekend’s show was no different. When he recounted his disappointment to his clinical coordinator, Lesli Davis, she made another suggestion, “Maybe you just need to find one of your own?”

Witte began doing some research. After work or before bedtime he’d snatch a few minutes, but the car proved elusive, especially on the east coast where either harsh winters plus road salt or high heat and humidity take a toll on paint and cause body panels to rust out.

An aerial view of Bug Out, the all-Volkswagen car show based in Virginia that’s one of the largest in the country.

“They made about 445,000 Karmann Ghias between 1954 and 1974,” says Witte. “It is estimated that maybe only about 10 percent of those remain on the planet today, and many are getting consumed two-for-one as donors for restorations. I found a few really rusty ones that would have taken more work and money than I was willing to put in. I didn’t need more stresses.”

Then one night, he spotted a pastel blue 1970 Karmann Ghia for sale online that looked to be in great shape. Originally from California, the car was owned by a surgeon who’d moved the car with him to South Dakota and kept it garaged. The seller sent him some high quality photos and answered his questions.

“I’m surrounded by neighbors who are car guys so I showed them the pictures, and we talked it all over. … Then I told my wife! I decided to take a calculated risk.”

A few weeks later, an enclosed auto trailer brought it from South Dakota to his practice’s parking lot. “My clinical coordinator, Lesli, was right there snapping pictures in the early morning hours when it was delivered.”

Darren Witte, M’96, H’00, with his wife and daughters at the May 2015 Bug Out where his Karmann Ghia took first place in her class.

Forty-four years spent in western climes had left Witte’s vintage car in near perfect condition, but he and his neighbor enjoyed tinkering with it, nonetheless. “I’m pretty good at paint and body work, and my neighbor, Wally, has been great to teach me a lot of mechanical skills. We decided to get it in tip top shape in time for Bug Out the next spring.”

The aptly named all-Volkswagen car show is based in Virginia and is one of the largest in the country. Volkswagen enthusiasts race their cars, enter them in competitions for best of show and swap stories about their passion.

Witte and his neighbor were rewarded when the car took first place in her class. More blue ribbons followed at other local shows. “I’ve maintained a long-distance friendship with the surgeon who owned the car before me and tell him about the shows we go to and what we win. He’s happy to see that it went to a good home and is being enjoyed.

“I like meeting others who have stories about their own connections to Karmann Ghias,” he says of the car events he now frequents. “It’s fun to drive, but I also really love just sitting back and admiring its shape. There’s just something about the shape of that car.”

Witte is a regular at the local Cars and Coffee event that’s held every other Saturday in Richmond. He often takes his 8- and 12-year-old daughters along. “There’s a big car culture in Richmond, and it’s important that we expose our youth to it so that we can continue to preserve the interest in and value of vintage vehicles as time goes on.”

He says that Karmann Ghias are great starter collector cars. In the past few years they have been starting to see an uptick in popularity and value. “I feel like I got in on the ground floor.”

By Erin Lucero