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TiME program graduates transform how they teach, collaborate across disciplines

Cheryl Bodamer and Norma Maxvold

Cheryl Bodamer and Norma Maxvold participate in the TiME program.

Medical educators often face a grueling daily schedule. Classes to teach, rounds to make, research to conduct. With such a tightly packed agenda, it can be hard to make time to pursue opportunities outside of day-to-day responsibilities. Many find that they would like to improve their abilities as educators by learning more about pedagogical theory and techniques, but don’t have time to commit to earning a master’s degree.

Because teaching is a key part of the School of Medicine’s educational mission, Terry Carter, Ph.D. has created a 12 credit-hour graduate certificate program designed specifically for medical educators and their overloaded schedules. The Teaching in Medical Education (TiME) Faculty Fellows program celebrated its first graduating class of faculty members, basic scientists and clinician educators this spring.

“Medical educators are really busy people,” says Carter, who previously worked as the director of VCU’s Adult Learning Program. “So I carved out the most essential elements for teaching and learning – instructional strategies, curriculum design, group facilitation and basic adult learning principles – to give more people the opportunity to improve their teaching skills through the program.” To date, more than 70 medical educators from across the MCV Campus have participated in the program.

Teresa Carter, Melissa McGinn Greer, Roy Sabo, Susan DiGiovanni, Bennett Lee, Kellie Carlyle, Emily Marko, Frank Fulco, Stephanie Call and Ema Dragoescu

Teresa J. Carter (far right) stands with the latest cohort of TiME graduates: (standing, left to right) Melissa J. McGinn Greer, Roy T. Sabo, Susan R. DiGiovanni, Bennett B. Lee, Kellie E. Carlyle, Emily K. Marko and (pictured, left to right) Frank Fulco, Stephanie A. Call and Ema A. Dragoescu.

The benefits of TiME go well beyond a convenient schedule and helpful instructional techniques. “The most beneficial part of program is getting the chance to work with educators across disciplines,” says Carter, “and the richest learning comes from the cross-fertilization of ideas between specialties. The majority of TiME participants are clinician-educators who teach residents as well as medical students. They tell me that the relationships they develop, and what they learn from their peers in the program are among its most valuable aspects.”

For her part, Carter, who has a long history in adult education, is constantly amazed by how quickly her students can absorb and apply the information they learn in her classes. She hopes that as more educators come through the program, graduates will push innovation and new techniques in classrooms across campus, especially within the re-designed undergraduate medical curriculum and its focus on collaborative, team-based learning.

By Jack Carmichael


Class of 1980’s Elliot Sternberg inducted into AOA

Elliot Sternberg

Elliot Sternberg, M’80

Elliot Sternberg, M’80, a physician executive who has succeeded in a wide variety of roles, was recently inducted into the Brown Sequard chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha in honor of his accomplishments and dedication to delivering high-quality care to patients.

Sternberg returned to the MCV Campus to participate in the AOA dinner, an annual event that welcomes new members into the prestigious AOA Medical Honor Society. Every year the Brown Sequard chapter of AOA inducts students selected from the top 16 percent of the School of Medicine’s third- and fourth-year classes. The elite society also accepts nominations for deserving faculty, residents and alumni.

As this year’s sole alumni inductee into the society, Sternberg was asked to pass along some of the knowledge he has gained after years working across the continuum of care. In a talk titled “The Joy of Medicine,” he described for the assembled AOA members how physicians can sometimes lose sight of what their true goals are. Sternberg warned that if physicians fail to focus on the meaningfulness of their work, they may stop enjoying their jobs.

“I often hear doctors talking about how the joy of medicine is gone, because of bureaucracy, paperwork, the evils of insurance companies, the stupidity of health systems and declining compensation. But what I think is – these doctors don’t know how to deal with change.”

Sternberg had a remedy on hand for combatting this type of physician burnout. He recalled a mnemonic device that helped him throughout his career: the five “I’s”, which stands for involvement, information, investment, incentives and innovation. By remembering these five principles, Sternberg said, he has remained engaged and happy with his work.

“The beauty of medicine is its flexibility,” he said, “It keeps changing, it’s never boring. There are always new diseases, new presentations of diseases and new treatment options.”

He recommended that physicians pursue ongoing medical education and embrace the challenges of performance benchmarking such as physician report cards. He also urged his audience to seek new innovations that can improve their work and invest themselves in the success of their organizations. By exploring new ways to improve yourself as a student of medicine, a caregiver and a person, he said, one can recapture the joy of medicine.

At the center of all these strategies, Sternberg explained, is the idea that doctors choose their profession because they want to help people. While the five I’s can help deal with the routine challenges of the job, ultimately physicians must remember that the true joy of their work comes from improving the health and quality of life of the patients they serve.

“The essence of medicine, and the joy of medicine,” Sternberg said, “is to know that you made a connection with patients and their families, your colleagues and the community. At the end of the day you can judge your career successful if you made meaningful impacts on these groups.”

By Jack Carmichael


Chief residents conference a mini-reunion for members of the Class of 2012

Lindsay Collins, Pete Meliagros, Andrew Miller, Rawan Faramand, Archana Ramireddy and Lara Hamadani

From left to right: Lindsay Collins, Pete Meliagros, Andrew Miller, Rawan Faramand, Archana Ramireddy and Lara Hamadani.

For seven members of the Class of 2012, their first School of Medicine reunion took place a long way from the MCV Campus. The first step was discovering that a surprising number of classmates had been chosen to serve as chief residents in internal medicine at their respective institutions. That opened the door for the seven to meet up in Houston at the 2015 Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine Chief Residents Meeting this spring.

The cohort was made up of: Mai Grant Magliocco, from the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco; Lindsay Collins, from the University of Washington; Pete Meliagros, from the VCU Medical Center; Andrew Miller, from NSLIJ/Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City; Rawan Faramand, from the University of Maryland Medical Center; Archana Ramireddy, from the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital; and Lara Hamadani, from UCLA-Olive View.

Such a large contingent from the school came as a shock. “No one there could believe that so many members of our class ended up as chiefs,” said Miller. “It was incredibly exciting to see so many of my friends at the conference.”

The spontaneous reunion gave the classmates a chance to look back on memories from medical school and look ahead to new experiences. Through the chief resident position, they hope to improve their teaching abilities, learn more about hospital administration and mentor other residents. Many see the position as a step towards landing a good fellowship or pursuing a career in academic medicine.

But Miller, for one, cites a different type of ambition. “My major career goals include accomplishing far more than two of my fellow classmates and closest friends: Max Sirkin and Maciek Sasinowski.”

The chief resident position is typically selected by the head of the program as well as other housestaff, and candidates are usually chosen because of their leadership qualities. Many of the alumni were quick to attribute their success to the education and training they received on the MCV Campus. Meliagros describes the School of Medicine as “a wonderful nurturing environment for intellectual curiosity and growth.” And Magliocco also credits the leadership opportunities provided by programs such as I2CRP for her success.

All agreed that despite being scattered around the country, they feel enormous pride in their school. For Ramireddy, the chance to catch up with her classmates left her wanting more.

“I loved our mini-reunion in Houston, but I can’t wait for our real reunion!”

By Jack Carmichael