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November 2009 Archives

November 13, 2009

Scott A. Vota, D.O.


Faculty Excellence Awards – September 2009
VCU / VCUHS Leadership in Graduate Medical Education Award

Barely three years ago, Scott Vota, D.O., was completing his Neurophysiology fellowship. Today, he is being recognized for his significant accomplishments as Neurology Program Director. A Rising Star to be certain.

“In just a few years, Dr. Vota has exemplified the role of Program Director, turning a struggling program into a very well rounded one,” praised the Neurology residents. “He has not just raised the bar of expectation for everyone but helped us go beyond too.”

“Scott has made significant contributions to graduate medical education within our department,” explained former Neurology department chair, Alan R. Towne, M.D., M.P.H. “He has improved our program both through his dedication to recruitment efforts and increasing resident morale. He has implemented a Friday morning patient care conference and a team-based learning board review course. He has demonstrated a high level of competence, commitment and leadership and has a very promising future in academic medicine.”

Known for his dedication to neurology education as well as patient care, Dr. Vota also leads a weekly EMG/Neuromuscular conference and monthly Journal Club for Clinical neurophysiology residents. He developed the curriculum for the Neurology Evening Lecture series for a non-neurologist audience and established a Chemodenervation workshop for housestaff and faculty in Neurology. He is also Director of the Muscular Dystrophy Clinic and EMG Laboratory.

“In addition to building his practice and participating in research projects, Scott has implemented new curriculum and processes and has significantly improved our program in two short years.” Andrea Perseghin, Medical Education Team Leader, Department of Neurology. “Most importantly, Scott has a vision for our program and has communicated this to faculty and residents who are working together with Scott to achieve this vision.”

“He is a hard-working, caring, personable boss/friend who is loved by all who work with and for him,” added Neurology colleague Diane Atkinson. “His door is always open to his residents for counseling and teaching.” Adding further shine to this rising star is his commitment to community involvement. “As a neuromuscular specialist, Dr. Vota volunteers each year for the Muscular Dystrophy Association summer camp as a resident physician.” He’s also “Coach Vota” for his daughter’s soccer team.

He has earned the respect of his peers and his patients and has played a key role in training both residents and fellows,” added Dr. Towne. The residents clearly agree: “He leads by example and we have found his dedication both inspiring and motivating. He is truly a role model. His leadership to the program is invaluable. As residents we strive to emulate him.”

If this is how Dr. Vota is viewed after just two years as program director, the sky’s the limit for this rising star’s future.

Stephanie A. Call, M.D., M.S.P.H.


Faculty Excellence Awards – September 2009
VCU / VCUHS Leadership in Graduate Medical Education Award

Leadership in Graduate Medical Education? Stephanie Call, Internal Medicine Program Director, defines it.

“Through her extraordinary creative efforts, willpower and dedication, Stephanie Call has produced one of the top, most sought after Internal Medicine training programs in the US today,” praised Chairman, Division of Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine, Alpha A. (Berry) Fowler, III, M.D. “As long-heralded programs such as Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Yale frequently fail to fill their Internal Medicine intern matches, the VCU School of Medicine Internal Medicine program consistently fills all positions with top fl ight graduates from medical schools across the US.”

“Stephanie is truly passionate about what she does,” wrote Lisa K. Brath, Program Director,
Pulmonary-Critical Care Fellowship. “Her work ethic is beyond compare. I’ve lost count of the number of emails that she sends out at 2 am and thus the number of times we’ve all asked, ‘When does the woman sleep?”‘

“Stephanie has demonstrated her commitment to the program, designing and implementing multiple education innovations and enhancements,” added Dr. Brath. “She’s also engaged the housestaff in the process of change, involving them directly in seeking programmatic improvements in clinic structure, call schedules and didactic conferences.”

“She has introduced behavioral interviewing, evidence-based practice methods, one-minute precepting, illness scripts and numerous other techniques to improve the program,” stated Peter Boling, Interim Chair, Division of General Internal Medicine. “A further testament to Stephanie’s leadership is the near perfect performance of VCU Internal Medicine graduates on the ABIM certifying exam since she took over directorship of the program,” added Dr. Fowler.
Her inclusive leadership approach has led to a sea change in the relationship between Internal Medicine and the subspecialty programs, “fostering an academic atmosphere and unparalleled cooperation between programs.” As evidence, program directors of all ten subspecialty programs: Nephrology, Pulmonary, Geriatrics, Hematology-Oncology, Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Cardiology, Rheumatology, Gastroenterology, Endocrinology and Infectious Disease, joined as one to second her Leadership award nomination: “Through her hard work and support, she has made the fellowships a vital part of the department rather than the poor cousins that we were before.”

Praise for Stephanie Call is not limited to the confines of the VCU Medical Center. “Her national leadership in the Association of Program Directors for Internal Medicine, her expertise in team-based learning, and her sustained recognition as a national expert on faculty development training have led to multiple invitations to speak and lead conferences all over the globe,” added John D. Buckley, M.D., M.P.H., President, Association of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Program Directors. “However, her most important attribute is what she views as her primary career responsibility, and that is as her residents’ advocate, coach, role model and mentor. She does this with passion and exquisite effectiveness.”

“It seems that good educators and directors are eternally busy, and their reward for this is to actually become busier,” added Dr. Brath, “but whether it means meeting the resident at the hospital at 6 am or having them come to her house for dinner, Stephanie always finds the time. She constantly reminds us that ‘we work for the residents’ and that the residents are our highest priority.”

This is not the first award Stephanie Call has received. Among others, she is a past recipient of the Irby-James Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching. It also assuredly will not be the last. As the Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, Richard P. Wenzel, M.D., says, “She is one in a million, a superstar in our midst.”

Domenic A. Sica, M.D.


Faculty Excellence Awards – September 2009
MCV Physicians Distinguished Clinician Award

Compassionate. Brilliant. Dedicated. His character is so multifaceted that a single perspective cannot do him justice, but his devotion to patient care is overarching. “Dr. Sica is a brilliant physician who has the ability to work up and care for the most severely ill patients,” explains Harold Young, M.D., Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery. “He is compassionate and has a vast clinical background. Dr. Sica also brings the very best in medicine to any patient that he cares for.”

Recognized as one of the top nephrologists in the area by Richmond Magazine, Dr. Sica directs the Hypertension Clinic at VCUHS and works closely with free-standing clinics and health care providers in the greater Richmond area to provide both education and quality health care in the area of hypertension.

Dr. Sica also has been involved in countless service and leadership roles in nephrology, clinical pharmacology, and hypertension organizations, currently is on the Board of Directors of the American Society of Hypertension, and is a sought-after speaker at national and international meetings.

He is the recipient of numerous awards for his clinical skills including the Distinguished Clinical Care award from the VCU Department of Medicine, the inaugural Master Clinician Award from the International Society of Hypertension in Blacks, and the inaugural Marvin Moser Award from the American Society of Hypertension, an award given to a clinician who has provided outstanding service in the hypertension community in patient care, scholarly activity, and research. Recipient of several Best Teaching Attending Awards, he also is dedicated to educating the next generation of scientists. “He always finds the time to selflessly mentor housestaff,” wrote one colleague, “and is especially giving of his time and experience to junior faculty, encouraging their growth both as clinicians and scientists.”

“Dr. Sica is formed in the mold of the old school ‘triple threat’ of academics: an extremely well accomplished and recognized scientist, clinician, and educator,” another colleague explained. “He is a dedicated scientist and clinician who is always giving back to his community. He is a true role model and an excellent ambassador both locally and nationally for our university.”

Colleagues praise “his very quiet, but consistent philanthropic support of our community. He established the Ram Slam Scholarship Program in 1998 to recognize Richmond City Public High school students for both community service and academic excellence, personally providing over $100,000 in scholarship dollars in the past 11 years. “A rabid sports fan, he has shared his support and love of the VCU basketball team with the youth of the area, purchasing up to 2000 tickets per year over the last 10 years to allow kids to attend these games,” added his nominating team. “He has even managed to combine his two loves (hypertension and sports), providing free health and blood pressure screenings before games.”

Most recently, Dr. Sica and his wife endowed the Sica Family Single Mother Scholarship, which already has allowed several young women to successfully complete school at VCU. Of his involvement, Dr. Sica has said: “It is my belief that we need to invest in our youth, which is the greatest resource we have in this country. There are many deserving young adults who cannot make it to school because of the fi nances of attending and these scholarships are one way of getting them started.”

“Without a doubt, we are fortunate to have Dr. Domenic Sica as a part of our university and community,” commended Lisa K. Brath, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine Pulmonary-Critical Care Division. “He is certainly one of our ultimate role models, and by all accounts, well deserving of the title of Distinguished Clinician of the Year.”

Mary Helen Hackney, M.D.


Faculty Excellence Awards – September 2009
Women in Science, Dentistry and Medicine Professional Achievement Award

While it’s natural for WISDM to look out for accomplished women to honor with its annual Professional Achievement Award, sometimes it’s just as important to look in. This year’s award recipient is the president of the WISDM Executive Council, Mary Helen Hackney, M.D., a superior medical oncologist specializing in breast cancer, and Associate Professor in the Division of Hematology Oncology in the Department of Internal Medicine.

“I have known Dr. Hackney for almost 20 years,” said Harry D. Bear, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman, Division of Surgical Oncology. “She is clearly an outstanding role model for physicians generally and oncologists in particular, not only for her outstanding patient care but also for her dedication to teaching, mentorship and clinical research. Her dedication and empathy for her patients are incredible and serve as an example to all of those around her, including myself.”

“I can attest to the fact that patients derive their courage and spirit to fi ght their illness from the strength and care that they feel from their oncologist,” added Kelsey E.S. Salley, M.D., Associate Program Director for Women’s Health. “Dr. Hackney’s compassionate approach to patient care, leadership abilities and mentoring relationship with so many residents, students and fellows are among the many qualities that make her an ideal role model deserving of this prestigious award. “

In nominating Dr. Hackney for the WISDM award, Brian J Kaplan, M.D., Program Director, General Surgery Residency, commended her skills as an oncologist, educator and mentor: “First and foremost, Dr. Mary Helen Hackney is the consummate oncologist….” In addition, “she is an excellent teacher and it is not unusual that students and residents line up to spend some time with her.”

“She is well known for her professionalism, and super care of patients, and is looked on as a role model by both medical students and residents,” agreed James P. Neifeld, M.D., Stuart McGuire Professor and Chair, Department of Surgery.

Dr. Hackney’s efforts on behalf of Massey Cancer Center’s Rural Outreach Program, for which she served as Director, have brought high level cancer care to those who otherwise would have been unable to receive it. She also has been a long-time volunteer physician at the CrossOver Clinic serving those in the Richmond area who have no other medical home.

“Dr. Hackney’s work through WISDM as well as other institutional service has helped to foster professional development of many women in the medical center, myself included,” added Cecelia H. Boardman, M.D., Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Colleague Laurie Lyckholm, M.D., Associate Professor, Hematology/Oncology and Palliative Medicine concurred: “She has worked tenaciously to elevate women’s issues and causes in both the University and the Commonwealth of Virginia. She is a tremendous force in support of women everywhere.”

“She is looked up to by women in all aspects of medicine as a compassionate and distinguished clinician who always offers the most up-to-date care in a caring way and as a teacher and mentor who can pass the information on to others who will hopefully be able to follow in her footsteps,” summarized and commended Dr. Bear. “We are very fortunate to have her here and I can think of no one more deserving of this honor.”

Edward James Read, Jr., M.D.


Faculty Excellence Awards – September 2009
Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award

Sometimes, it’s not the treatment that makes the biggest difference; it’s how you treat the patient — just ask anyone who has worked with this year’s winner of the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award, Dr. Ed Read. “He understands that medicine is about whole-person care and teaches the students to not only use the clinical skills we have learned but also to listen to the patient, because behind each patient’s physical pain is often a person with a stressed-out and depressed psyche. He has shown me that listening to patients, holding their hand, and even praying for them if they are open to it, can often do more for a patient than ordering multiple diagnostic tests.”

Dr. Read is inspiring, both professionally and personally. “Dr. Read is a highly competent and compassionate physician who practices whole person care, respects his patients, colleagues, residents and students and emphasizes practicing integrity in medicine and life,” wrote one colleague. Added another, “He is very involved in the lives of medical students and encourages them to not only have successful careers in medicine but to also lead fulfi lled, balanced and purposeful lives.”

A man of deep faith, Dr. Read reaches out to his students, hosting weekly Bible studies for medical students and a group for medical students and spouses, and sponsoring the Christian Medical and Dental Association. Beyond our borders, he has led yearly mission trips to El Salvador, providing care and compassion via a mobile free clinic and treating those who would have no other way to receive care. It is through these mission trips, as well as his day-to-day conduct at the hospital, that Dr. Read communicates the need for cultural sensitivity among physicians. “For example, in El Salvador, a country with many Catholic churches, at one of the outdoor clinics, the students had piled our belongings on a shrine of the Virgin Mary. Dr. Read caught our mistake and corrected it so that we would not offend and lose the trust of our patients before we even met them.”
While a CV can give an accurate picture of what a physician’s medical achievements are, the best evidence for a practitioner’s humanism can be found in the testimonies of those who know and work with him: “He embodies kindness, compassion, humility and wisdom and is the consummate professional.”
“Dr. Read demonstrates three important characteristics that every physician should exhibit: competency, compassion and being a good listener.”
“Dr. Read continually reminds me what a privilege it is to take care of patients. ”

“In a department where providers can become hardened and cynical, Ed approaches each patient with kindness and humility.”

While new at Hunter Holmes McGuire Medical Center of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the impact Dr. Read has had on the lives of VCU medical students, colleagues, staff and patients will long be remembered and appreciated.

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Updated: 08/19/2008