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14
2015

Class of 1975’s Bob Centor warns of wrong diagnoses and dangerously good limeade

Scientists from the symposium

Bob Centor, M’75 (center) was welcomed back to campus by Ed and Rose Marie Shaia. Ed Shaia and his brother Richard established the Harry and Zackia Shaia Lecture in 1965 in honor of their parents who owned the popular Skull and Bones restaurant that served the MCV Campus for so many years. In the 1940s, the couple turned it over to their sons.

For more than two decades, Bob Centor, M’75, says, the name Shaia meant one thing: “The best limeades in town.” It was his regular order when he’d stop in at the Shaia family’s popular Skull and Bones restaurant on the MCV Campus, first as a medical student and later as a faculty member.

Now dean for the Huntsville Regional Medical Campus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, Centor was back in town to speak as the guest lecturer at the annual Shaia Lectureship, the latest chapter in his long connection with the Shaia family.

“It was my favorite lunch spot for 22 years,” Centor said of the well-known eatery that closed in the mid-1990s after 74 years of feeding hungry medical students and doctors. After so many years of patronage, he joked, “In my own way I helped contribute to this lectureship.”

Centor took time at the beginning of his lecture to recognize some other notables who contributed to his time on campus, although their help focused more on the academic than the gastronomic. He said that Al Zfass, M’57, Reno Vlahcevic, M.D., Harold “Hal” Fallon, M.D. and Orhan Muren, M.D., were important mentors during his time here and helped shape the course of his career. Centor is a past president of the Society for Medical Decision Making, and currently serves on the Board of Regents of the American College of Physicians.

The Shaia family has supported schools on the MCV Campus through the establishment of a number funds. The annual Harry and Zackia Lecture alternates between the Department of Internal Medicine and the School of Dentistry. In addition, medical students benefit from the Harry and Zackia Shaia Scholarship, the Thomas and Mary Shaia Family Scholarship and the Fred and Rose Shaia Scholarship.

Centor’s presentation, titled “Learning How to Think Like a Physician,” focused on the sometimes problematic ways doctors assimilate and analyze information to make diagnoses. He told the audience of students, faculty and residents about some common mistakes physicians run into when they encounter a patient whose symptoms and test results are difficult to explain.

Centor warned against manipulating diagnoses by choosing to ignore facts that conflict with your understanding of what’s wrong with a patient. Physicians, he cautioned, who often work long hours and see dozens of patients, can sometimes fail to take the time to gather enough information about each individual patient to make sure their diagnoses is correct.

Centor presented anecdotes of patients he has seen throughout his career, and asked the audience to guess their diagnosis. He went on to reveal how an undiscovered or unlooked-for piece of information altered the diagnosis drastically.

By Jack Carmichael

25
2015

Class of 99’s Bob Feezor returns to campus as HM Lee Lecturer

Robert J. Feezor, M’99

During his return to Campus, Bob Feezor, M’99, stopped by the Egyptian Building and recalled how he’d taken his Boards in the Baruch Auditorium’s narrow seats. Seeing the school’s new facilities, he said, “makes me want to be a student again.”

For Robert J. Feezor, M’99, serving as the H.M. Lee Lecturer is not only a professional honor.

“It’s the highest personal privilege,” he says.

To explain, Feezor points to three pivotal years. 1999, when he earned his medical degree. 1973, when he was born in West Hospital. And 1964, when his father, Bill Feezor, became the 40th kidney transplant patient of H.M. Lee, M.D., H’61, and David Hume, M.D., the pioneering surgeons for whom the Hume-Lee Transplant Center is named.

When Feezor was invited to serve as the H. M. Lee Lecturer, it was a special moment. “I’m not an overly emotional person, but when I heard from [vascular surgery chair] Mark Levy,” he pauses for the right word, “it means a lot.”

H.M. Lee, M.D., H’61

H. M. Lee, M.D., H’61, was an internationally renowned pioneer in organ transplantation and a former professor and chairman in the Division of Vascular and Transplant Surgery.

As a second-year medical student, he had the chance to meet Lee. Feezor was doing an elective on the ethics of organ transplantation and asked to speak with the surgeon, who not only gave him his perspective on the topic, but remembered the elder Feezor. “He described him to a T,” said Feezor, who recalls that Lee even pulled out old records on his father that had Lee’s penciled-in notes filling the margins.

“I was so impressed that this very famous surgeon would make the time for a young medical student,” said Feezor. “It was the first time I’d seen you could be very accomplished and also humanistic. What I saw in Dr. Lee and other faculty members solidified my decision to go into academic medicine.”

Feezor’s father went on to become one of Lee and Hume’s longest-living kidney recipients, and his life would be entwined with MCV in big ways and small. From 1967-1976, he worked at MCV as a hospital administrator, a stint that sadly included being the administrator on duty when word came in that the private plane Hume was flying had crashed in California. “It was the hardest day of my life,” Bill Feezor told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The Class of 1999’s Feezor Is now an assistant professor of surgery in the Division of Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapy at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville. He also serves as program director for the fellowship program in vascular surgery. He’s passionate about teaching students and residents. He’s good at it, too – in 2005, he was awarded the national Resident Award for Exemplary Teaching by the American College of Surgeons.

Those teaching skills were on display at the Lee Lecture when Feezor chose as his topic the current management of type B aortic dissections. The clinical issue spurred a lively discussion at the end of his presentation.

Following his death in 2013, Hyung Mo “H.M.” Lee’s family, friends and colleagues made gifts in his memory to create the memorial lecture that bears his name. The focus of the annual lecture alternates between the Divisions of Transplant Surgery and Vascular Surgery.

The elder Feezor passed away in 2006, and this week marks nine years since his death – 42 years after his life-saving transplant.

16
2015

Two alumni offer perspective on connecting with patients via online communities

The popularity of social media and online communities has created countless web sites offering medical advice. Some physicians wonder what role they should play – or even if they should get involved at all.

S. Larry Schlesinger, M'71

S. Larry Schlesinger, M’71

S. Larry Schlesinger, M’71, of Honolulu, Hawaii, and Brooke R. Seckel, M’69, of Boston, Mass., recently took the time to answer our questions about their choice to be active online. The two surgeons are among the top 100 most influential board-certified dermatologists and plastic surgeons in social media as compiled by RealSelf. The list honors board-certified doctors who are among the most active and highly rated on the online community where the general public poses questions and finds answers about cosmetic surgery, dermatology, dentistry and other elective treatments.

Both Seckel and Schlesinger point to the fact that an increasing number of patients use the internet to find doctors and check their credentials. “Over 68 percent of patients search online to help them make health care decisions,” says Seckel. Schlesinger emphasizes the point, saying “the choice is to engage online communities or be invisible.”

An online presence not only makes finding a doctor easier, but it also allows patients to become more informed about medical procedures and make better decisions about which doctor to choose. Schlesinger points out that although many patients still find doctors through traditional referrals from friends, family or other doctors, “patients are still going to the internet to validate their decisions.”

Brooke R. Seckel, M'69

Brooke R. Seckel, M’69

Seckel says that “patients who come in for consultation after reading on RealSelf are usually very well informed. An informed patient is often more likely to understand their goals, be aware of complications, able to complete a better informed consent and understand the recovery period. This typically makes management of these patients much easier and facilitates communication.”

Patients aren’t the only ones who benefit from online medical communities like RealSelf. By offering their advice to patients online, doctors like Seckel and Schlesinger improve their social network ranking on Google and other sites, increasing the likelihood that patients will come across their names when searching for a doctor online.

Competition for page views and clicks will only increase as more people turn to the internet for medical advice. For now, the surgeons remained focused on educating patients and increasing the quality of care. Seckel says that his goal is to “educate and teach objectively and honestly,” and for his part Schlesinger says that “those practices which are transparent and engage online drive quality and patient satisfaction. The practice thrives and patients benefit.”

Schlesinger offers plastic surgery services in three locations in Hawaii. He was the first plastic surgeon in Hawaii to be chosen as physician of the year by his peers in the Hawaii Medical Association. With more than 30 years of plastic surgery experience, he has performed more than 18,300 plastic surgery procedures.

Seckel practices with Boston Plastic Surgery Specialists and is an assistant professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School. He is chairman emeritus of plastic surgery at Lahey Clinic where he founded the Lahey Clinic Department of Plastic Surgery and the Lahey Clinic Residency Training Program in Plastic Surgery.

By Jack Carmichael

05
2015

Physiology alumna Wendy LeBolt’s new book focuses on keeping young athletes healthy and on the field

Wendy LeBolt , Ph.D.

Wendy LeBolt , Ph.D.

In her new book, “Fit 2 Finish: Keeping Your Soccer Players in the Game,” Wendy LeBolt , Ph.D., ’90, offers practical advice to young athletes, as well as to their parents and their coaches, on how to improve fitness and skills while being healthy, avoiding injuries and staying motivated. The book is a compilation of the advice LeBolt has provided for years via her organization Fit 2 Finish, which offers seminars, videos and blogs on how to support and train children competing in sports such as soccer, basketball and volleyball as well as other less common sports.

LeBolt received a Ph.D. in physiology from the School of Medicine in 1990 and went on to become a professor at George Washington University. When her daughters got old enough to play sports, she quickly noticed how many young athletes suffered injuries. Conversations with former George Mason Women’s Soccer coach Diane Drake confirmed the prevalence of athletes with physical injuries at the college level.

A recent article in the Connection newspapers describes how LeBolt then decided to form Fit 2 Finish as a way of informing coaches and parents about healthy ways of training their children, with an emphasis on not only increasing fitness but also decreasing the likelihood of injury.

LeBolt’s program also offers off-the-field advice for kids and coaches. She teaches about the potential risks of individual sports, how to help kids deal with the emotional and mental pressures of playing sports and post-rehab training for athletes who are returning to the field after an injury. It’s all part of LeBolt’s mission of keeping healthy kids on the field playing sports. Read more about Fit 2 Finish and LeBolt’s new book at http://fit2finish.com/

By Jack Carmichael

19
2015

Alumna Melissa Byrne Nelson honored with YWCA outstanding Woman Award

Alumna Melissa Byrne Nelson

Melissa Byrne Nelson

Melissa Byrne Nelson, M’98, will be honored by Richmond’s YWCA as one of its Outstanding Women of 2015 at the annual awards luncheon on April 24. Each year, the YWCA recognizes women in the Richmond area who have made significant contributions to the community, and Nelson is being honored for her work in the health and science field.

Nelson is passionate about delivering the best possible pediatric care to Richmond’s children, and she works hard to fight for the ideas she believes in. That’s all part of her personal philosophy on life. She says that “Whatever the challenge – school, work, family – don’t be a bystander and just get through it. Get involved. “

She practices with Pediatric Associates of Richmond and has been working with Pediatricians Associated to Care for Kids (PACKids) to advocate for the construction of a children’s hospital in Richmond. In describing her vision for a single location providing a family centered environment, she recently told RVA News “VCU’s premier pediatrics department and the best pediatric medical teams in our community will take care of our children as a collaborative team.”

She earned her undergraduate degree at Virginia Tech and her medical degree on the MCV Campus. She has volunteered with the alumni board of both those schools as well as with the World Pediatric Project.

13
2015

Family celebrates a 101st birthday with gift

Eleanor Johnson Tabb and her sister Clelia

Eleanor Johnson Tabb (right) and other family members established the Clelia M. Johnson Endowed Scholarship in the School of Medicine as a display of gratitude to her sister, Clelia (left), who sent her to business school.

Clelia Johnson, now 101, remembers clearly coming to work at the Medical College of Virginia soon after high school.

She had “the audacity,” she said, to ask the president of the college at the time, William Sanger, Ph.D., to speak at her medical secretary graduation. That contact led to her first job and then to a more than 60-year career working in medical pathology.

She remembers the very first day of work, being assigned to assist with an autopsy in the dirt-floored morgue of the Egyptian Building. She continued working for Paul Kimmelstiel, M.D., for most of her career.

In the early days, Johnson was willing to work for no salary at all, but soon she was earning $75 a month. She gave her mother and her church each $25. With the remaining $25, she saved enough to install electricity in the Goochland County, Virginia, home where she was born (and still lives), as well as send her sister, Eleanor Johnson Tabb, to Smithdeal Massey Business College.

Over time, Johnson built a reputation in the pathology lab, where she deftly prepared tissue samples for microscopic inspection. She became so good at it that she trained others in the procedure. She said she would enjoy “seeing the technology of how it’s done now” and hopes to take a tour of the laboratory soon.

Johnson firmly believes that MCV changed her life, and she wants to help others pursue their medical careers. So when her family searched for a creative and meaningful way to mark her 101st birthday recently, they thought of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.

With a family commitment of $50,000, including an inaugural gift of $10,000 from Tabb, her loved ones established the Clelia M. Johnson Endowed Scholarship. Once the fund hits its $50,000 goal, an annual award will be made to a deserving VCU medical student to reduce debt burden.

“Clelia sacrificed a lot for me, and I wanted to do something to honor her now,” Tabb said.

Through their gift, the family is participating in the School of Medicine’s 1838 Campaign, which aims to increase the number and size of scholarships to give the school a competitive edge in recruiting top students, rewarding student excellence and reducing the burden of debt that has become an inescapable part of choosing a career in medicine.

Clelia Johnson’s name will be displayed on the donor wall in the school’s McGlothlin Medical Education Center.

Clelia Johnson as she glides over the hills and valleys of Virginia.

See video of Clelia Johnson as she glides over the hills and valleys of Virginia.

“Even at 101, Clelia still has the same zest for adventure she has always had,” says her cousin, Ben Johnson, an avid glider pilot who introduced her to his passion. She has traveled the world and now has three glider flights under her belt since she turned 95.

She describes it this way: “It’s just like roaming around in heaven!”

To learn more about the 1838 Campaign in the School of Medicine, contact Tom Holland, associate dean for development, at 804-828-4800 or tehollan@vcu.edu.

This article by Nan Johnson first appeared in the fall 2014 issue of Impact, the quarterly publication of VCU’s Office of Development and Alumni Relations.