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School of Medicine profiles

October 2016 Archives

October 28, 2016

Beth K. Rubinstein, M.D.


Enrique Gerszten, M.D. Faculty Teaching Excellence Award

Dr. Beth Rubinstein came to VCU as a medical student, graduating with AOA honors, and she completed her Internal Medicine Residency and Rheumatology Fellowship at VCU, as well. She is Associate Professor in the Division of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine, and she serves as the Course Director for the Applied Medical Sciences Movement Course in the MS2 Curriculum, as well as a faculty supervisor/mentor for the Practice of Clinical Medicine longitudinal course. Dr. Rubenstein also teaches in the Rheumatology/Connective Tissue Diseases Clinic.

In the recent M.D. curriculum redesign, the new interactive teaching space and focus on engaged learning approaches required changes, and Dr. Rubinstein assumed leadership for coordinating a four-week course to integrate Gross Anatomy, Pathology, Histology, Pharmacology, Orthopaedics, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Rheumatology, and Dermatology. She worked with faculty to merge basic science material, critical thinking, and basic clinical reasoning using “clicker questions,” clinical vignettes, three Team-Based Learning (TBL) modules, annotated texts to emphasize key concepts, and a knee effusion workshop. Her ability to work with such a large team to plan the new curriculum, her attention to detail and her emphasis on student comprehension has been evident. “Many students reported in their evaluations that they felt that the material she presented would stick with them throughout medical school and that they would be able to identify many of the rheumatologic diseases in person. Regardless of what teaching modality she adopted, she was passionate, charismatic, and welcoming,” report the M’19 MS2A Curriculum Representatives, Jacob Hall, Sudhinder Koushik, Kenneth Lim and Vivek Pandrangi.

One reason that Dr. Rubinstein is such an effective educator is that “it was very clear that she had taken the time to understand the learning process we go through as students learning this material for the first time,” explains Rakhi Melvani, M’18. “The clear sense of direction Dr. Rubinstein provided was evident.” As Rheumatology Fellow Sumeja Zahirovic, M.D, says, “Dr. Rubinstein never leaves me tired or bored. If anything, I feel even more energized and wanting to learn more!”

Josna Haritha, M.D., M.P.H., former resident, describes Dr. Rubinstein’s clinical teaching style, “She has a knack for teaching on the go. For example, outside of a patient’s room, she concisely goes over a differential diagnosis . . . we go into the patient’s room and experience the lecture we just received. She has exemplary bedside manner and effectively uses the time with the patient to demonstrate pertinent physical examination findings.”

Consistently voted a “Top Doc” in Richmond Magazine, Dr. Rubenstein was featured as a “Top 40 Under 40” by Style Magazine in 2015. Dr. Rubinstein received the Department of Internal Medicine Clinical Service Award in 2008 and the Faculty Honors Award in 2005, along with consecutive Best Teacher Awards from her medical students. Her teaching expertise extends to professional colleagues in her role as a question writer on the American College of Rheumatology CARE (Continuing Assessment, Review, Evaluation) 2016 CME/MOC module, and her co-authorship of a joint effusion workshop curriculum published as a teaching resource in AAMC’s MedEdPORTAL.

“In 2013 she completed the Stanford Teaching Course, showing her dedication to the craft of teaching and desire for continuous improvement. To me, this type of behavior serves as a role model to other educators; despite winning awards for teaching excellence and already excelling in her role as a course director, Dr. Rubinstein elected to do additional work to improve her effectiveness,” comments colleague Susan D. Roseff, M.D., Professor of Pathology, Chair, Division of Clinical Pathology, and 2014 Gerszten awardee.

In summary, “Her caring, giving manner and enthusiasm reminds me of the way that Dr. Gerszten teaches,” states Susan R. DiGiovanni, M.D., Interim Senior Associate Dean of Medical Education and Student Affairs and Professor of Internal Medicine.

Paula A. Ferrada, M.D.


Irby-James Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching

“Makes every person feel important.” “One of my favorite people on this planet.”

“We all love Dr. Ferrada!”

These comments are typical of those that Paula Ferrada, M.D., Associate Professor of Surgery, Director, Surgical Critical Care Fellowship Program, Department of Surgery, and Director of the Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit (STICU) receives from her students. Dr. Ferrada joined the VCU Faculty in 2010 after serving as Chief Resident at Harvard’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and completing fellowships in Surgical Critical Care at the University of Pittsburgh and in Acute Care Surgery at the University of Maryland R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. Dr. Ferrada has contributed over 100 local, national and international presentations, and over 40 peer-reviewed publications and 17 book chapters to the scientific literature. In 2016 she was elected to membership in Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honors Society.

Former resident Keri Weigle, M.D., Clinical Instructor at the Pfleger Liver Institute, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA states, “Some of my greatest experiences during residency were in the trauma bay and OR with this great doctor and professor.” Caitlin Francoisse, M4, describes Dr. Ferrada’s teaching style, “She is so attentive to us as learners, constantly quizzing medical students and pushing us to challenge our understanding. She is one of the only attending physicians I’ve encountered who will ask each learner in the room a different question and then use these answers to start a discussion that benefits everyone.”

Dr. Ferrada’s excellence in clinical education has been recognized on the international level. She is the Chair for Education and Research for the Pan American Trauma Society and sits on the National Education Committee for the Society of Critical Care Medicine. She was recently chosen to run the mentorship program for young Fellows for the American College of Surgeons (ACS). Dr. Ferrada is especially interested in mentoring women and others from underrepresented-in-medicine backgrounds and started a chapter of the Association of Women Surgeons at VCU.

Dr. Ferrada became an ACS Ultrasound instructor while still a resident and training students and colleagues in its use to improve patient care is one of her passions, one of her passions. “She has been relentless in increasing utilization of the ultrasound in the ICU for objective evaluation of fluid status. In the trauma bay, the use of ultrasound through the Focused Abdominal Sonography for Trauma (FAST) exam has become a fixture and has improved the safety of acutely injured patients by identifying those with abdominal or pericardial bleeding,” explains Rajesh Ramanathan, M.D., PGY-5 Resident in General Surgery.

Dr. Ferrada has co-led a new educational approach for weekly D&C (Death and Complications) conferences. A root-cause analysis model has been adopted to analyze adverse outcomes. Dr. Ramanathan describes the results. “This approach has contributed to changing the D&C culture from a culture of blame to a culture of quality improvement and created an environment where students and residents are comfortable speaking more freely and participating in discussions.”

Dr. Ferrada has completed graduate certificate classes in the VCU Teaching in Medical Education (TiME) Faculty Fellows Program, taking classes in the evenings. She believes in teaching her students “to “believe in their capacity to affect patient care and understand their significance in each patient’s life.” As another resident has said, “She has the ability to draw out the best in those with whom she works through her actions and words, which elevates the productivity of the entire team.”

As Krista Terracina, M.D., PGY-4 General Surgery resident recalls, “She has said that it is good to care and to feel something for our patients, and never to lose that compassion, because it is strength.” It is for Dr. Ferrada’s dedication to excellence in clinical teaching, and for that strength, that we honor her today.

James Levy, M.D.

Irby-James Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching

“Dr. Levy has a teaching reflex which is elicited by just about any patient, whether in person or simply discussing the case after the fact.” (resident evaluation)

James Levy, M.D., Staff Physician, Endocrinology and Metabolism, McGuire Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center, and Professor of Medicine, VCU Internal Medicine, joined the VCU faculty in 1987. Since then he has taught a generation of clinical learners who are providing better care to their patients because of Dr. Levy’s influence.

“What truly makes Dr. Levy the ideal clinician, teacher, and mentor go beyond the teachings of endocrinology. As a clinician, he is thoughtful, caring, and patient-centered, always teaching and demonstrating the highest quality care. As an educator, he is genuine, non-intimidating, collegial, altruistic, and caring towards each and every individual trainee,” states former VCU medical student, resident, and fellow Jeffrey Sicat, M.D, FACE, Virginia Weight and Wellness.

Colleague Stephanie Call, M.D., M.S.P.H., Professor and Associate Chair for Education and Residency Program Director, VCU Department of Internal Medicine, explains, “He is a master clinician, role modeling excellence in patient care, fierce patient advocacy, ideal patient communication skills, and the values of our profession. He not only holds himself to very high expectations in the clinical arena, he challenges his learners to strive to reach the same high bar. He creates a positive but stimulating learning climate in his work in both the inpatient and the ambulatory arena. He has a talent for being able to teach to many levels as he interacts with students, residents and fellows.”

“His eagerness to take time to educate students, staff, and patients in a manner that makes it easy to learn is impressive,” states McGuire VAMC clinical pharmacist Karen Tisdel, PharmD, BCPS, CDE. “There is not a hint of superiority from him. He treats everyone with a respect that leaves us feeling a valued member of his team.”

Dr. Levy’s learners most definitely include his patients. “Clinical endocrinologists cannot be successful unless they are teachers at heart because the majority of our patients must come to understand their disease. Unlike some diseases where patients can take a medication and go on with their life, endocrine issues like diabetes and obesity require that they truly learn about their disease and the management steps they need to take to truly control the problem. Watching Jim explain things to patients in ways they can understand taught me not only how to do the same thing, but of the importance of this in clinical practice,” states former fellow Ben Phillips, M.D., Virginia Endocrinology.

His clinical teaching extends to colleagues across the U.S. Dr. Levy participates in the SCANECHO program (a telehealth-CME combination) and consults electronically with other providers. “His scholarly approach to telehealth and electronic consultations teaches referring clinicians beyond the specific patient, helping them gain expertise,” says Phillip E. Tarkington, M.D., Chief, Health Informatics and Telehealth, McGuire VAMC.

Former medical student Stephanie B. Mayer, M.D., M.H.Sc., Assistant Professor, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Director of the Women’s Health Track, VCU Internal Medicine and McGuire VAMC, describes Dr. Levy’s clinical teaching very eloquently: “Jim helps learners grow. Like an expert gardener, he seems to plant the seeds, nurture the germinating young sprouts, provide necessary shelter when needed, and furnish stable props of knowledge on which to secure a hold, while allowing his crop of medical students, residents, fellows, and junior colleagues to flourish on their own. Jim helps to cultivate these basic, growing, skills, medical, intellectual, and personal, and establishes the necessary self-confidence, tempered with humility and due respect, for the awesomeness that is the pathophysiology of endocrine disease to shape his learners into better clinicians and human beings.

Antonio Abbate, M.D., Ph.D.

Distinguished Mentor Award

“As I sat in the back of the lecture room I contemplated whether I should introduce myself and ask him more about his research and the possibility of joining his lab. I hesitantly approached and was quickly welcomed with a warm smile and an invitation to join an upcoming lab meeting.” This recollection from Jessica Regan, SOM Class of 2017, will sound familiar to mentees of Antonio Abbate, M.D., Ph.D., James C. Roberts, Esq., Professor of Cardiology. Dr. Abbate joined the VCU faculty in 2007 and is Medical Director of the Clinical Research Services Unit for the Center for Clinical and Translational Research. He was recently appointed Associate Chair of Research for Internal Medicine. He has published 290 manuscripts and book chapters, and notably, 37 of his trainees have contributed to 37 of his articles.

“In not even a year’s time, he has mentored me from someone who was fairly research naïve to drafting research protocols, obtaining grant funding, and drafting manuscripts for publication in core clinical journals,” states Cory Trankle, M.D., Postdoctoral Clinical Research Fellow, VCU. Equally impressive as his skill for fostering productivity among his mentees is his ability to assess each as an individual. As Sarah Christopher, M.D., Cardiology Fellow, describes, Dr. Abbate “cultivates the strengths of his learners, while continually providing the framework to improve on deficits.”

Dr. Abbate has formally mentored more than 50 trainees in research, and informally mentored many more, in a wide variety of fields. Benjamin W. Van Tassell, Pharm.D. Vice Chair and Associate Professor, Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science, VCU School of Pharmacy, describes his eight years working with Dr. Abbate as “by far – the most productive years of my career. Our collaborations have led to over 60 peer-reviewed publications, and over 20 research grants with over $10 million in external funding. During this time our research group has grown from 2 to include 3 physicians, 2 molecular biologists, 2 pharmacists, a nutritionist, a veterinarian, an exercise physiologist, and three graduate students, plus students, residents, and fellows that have contributed along the way.”

Dr. Abbate has mentees from high school age to professional colleagues and holds each of them to the highest standards. “He does not hesitate when (we) are not performing to our best potential. He gives constructive criticism in a manner that is not intimidating or malicious, and his ultimate goal is to push the learner to be the best version he or she could be. It is very rare that a mentor takes this much interest in a learner and does not shy away from feedback that could be negative,” recalls Internal Medicine resident Arehzo Jahangiri, M.D. Another resident, Aaron M. Schatz, M.D., agrees, “By carrying himself to the highest standards, he lifts those around him to do the same.”

Dr. Abbate’s consistent and active engagement with his mentees is certainly one of the keys to his success. “He is constantly challenging me to think through the problems presented to me, but to also understand the science underlying the pathologies we are treating, and put it together in the “big picture” we all strive for to best treat our patients,” states Jeremy S. Turlington, M.D., M.P.H., former Cardiology Fellow. Another former fellow, Nayef Abouzaki, M.D., agrees, “Prior to every Monday afternoon clinic, he would email us new journal articles…he is up to date on all relevant new research and challenges us to advance our patient care in a rapidly changing field.”

Few people at VCU have had this impact on so many diverse individuals, but Dr. Jahangiri explains, “the most unique characteristic that Dr. Abbate possesses is his humbleness.” For challenging, encouraging, and inspiring so many to achieve their greatest potential, we honor Dr. Abbate today.

Michael S. Ryan, M.D., M.E.H.P.

Educational Innovation Award

When Dr. Mike Ryan, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, moved from his role as Pediatric Clerkship Director to a new role as Assistant Dean for Clinical Medical Education in 2013, he faced more than the usual learning curve. The School of Medicine M.D. curriculum was undergoing a significant redesign to focus on engaged learning methodologies and improved content integration. Attention was moving from the mostly-completed pre-clinical redesign to the new clinical education portion of the curriculum. In addition, a shift in the academic calendar had students beginning clinical clerkships in May, rather than in July. So Dr. Ryan had over two years of curriculum to plan, as well as having to figure out how to prevent over 400 “old curriculum” and “new curriculum” clerkship students from overlapping in the clinical environment during the initial transition, to the detriment of their learning experience.

Dr. Ryan brought his usual thoughtful approach to this challenge, reviewing information, talking with faculty, and forming student focus groups. Foundational electives were introduced to meet student requests for self-directed learning and exploration, while reducing the number of students on core clinical clerkships. A new ambulatory medicine clerkship allowed focus on outpatient management of chronic disease. Dr. Ryan also led the effort to redesign the M4 Capstone Course to be more effective in preparing graduating students for internship. Former Curriculum Representative Katherine Waybill, M.D. ’16, notes, “One of the biggest areas for improvement cited by the Class of 2015 was the lack of early elective exposure. The Class of 2016 not only did not experience this challenge, but actually cited the early electives as one of the strengths of their clinical years.”

Dr. Ryan joined the VCU faculty in 2009 as the first member of the division of Pediatric Hospital Medicine, and became Pediatric Clerkship Director in 2010. In 2015, Dr. Ryan completed a Master of Health Professions Education program, and now serves as adjunct faculty, at Johns Hopkins University. In demand as a teacher and recognized as an emerging scholar, in May 2016, Dr. Ryan received the national Academic Pediatric Association Teaching Award for Faculty, which recognizes one faculty member annually.

His master’s thesis focused on curriculum enhancement for intern preparation, building on his experience as a team leader for the VCU pilot of the AAMC Core Entrustable Professional Activities for Entering Residency program (Core EPAs). EPAs are conceptualized as core behaviors and skills that all graduating medical students should be able to perform with little or no supervision as they begin their residency training. Under Dr. Ryan’s leadership, VCU was selected as one of ten schools for the pilot program (out of 70 applicants) and he is one of three Executive Committee members coordinating the national pilot. Fellow Executive Committee member Jonathan Amiel, M.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Associate Dean for Curricular Affairs, Columbia University Medical Center, states, “In my work with Dr. Ryan, I have been impressed with his firm grasp of pedagogy and his ability to apply theory in practice in highly practical and effective ways. He is a gifted problem-solver and is making a major contribution, not only in moving the work forward intellectually, but also in making sure the team is working together well and accomplishing its goals.”

Alan Dow, M.D., M.S.H.A., Assistant Vice President of VCU Health Sciences for Interprofessional and Collaborative Care and the Seymour and Ruth Perlin Professor of Medicine and Health Administration, attests to Dr. Ryan’s abilities, “Mike’s greatest achievements are part of ongoing work that will lay the foundation of VCU’s clinical training for decades. He is a strategic, creative educational leader who builds sustainable programs with important impacts. He is an innovator, scholar, and leader who has shaped our institution and the careers of countless students.”

Paula A. Ferrada, M.D.


Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award

Each year the School of Medicine presents the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award to a student and faculty member who best demonstrate the Foundation’s ideals of outstanding compassion in the delivery of care; respect for patients, their families, and healthcare colleagues; and clinical excellence. This year’s faculty recipient is Paula Ferrada, M.D., Associate Professor of Surgery, Director of the Surgical Critical Care Fellowship Program, Department of Surgery, and Director of the Surgical-Trauma Intensive Care Unit (STICU) at VCU Health System. Dr. Ferrada joined the VCU Faculty in 2010 after serving as the first Acute Care Surgery Fellow at the University of Maryland R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center.

Dr. Ferrada is described by her nominees as “approachable,” “an incredible role model,” “compassionate,” and “fabulous.” In addition to her exceptional patient care and mentoring of learners at VCU, Dr. Ferrada is the President of the Virginia Chapter of the Association of Women Surgeons and Chair of the Education and Research Committee of the Pan American Trauma Society. She was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society in 2016.

Internationally recognized in the use and training of ultrasound for resuscitation of the hypotensive surgical patient (USET), Dr. Ferrada has authored two books and more than 35 peer-reviewed publications on topics regarding trauma and critical care access to rural communities. Dr. Ferrada is committed to improving survival rates through education and skills training for local surgical and medical personnel.

If you saw Dr. Ferrada dancing in front of Hippocrates in the recent VCU “Can’t Stop the Feeling” video (Google it), you saw another way she is making a difference — increasing the visibility of careers in medicine,- and specifically surgery– for women and other groups historically underrepresented in medicine. Reaching out to young people is key, and as one of her nominators’ states, “Dr. Ferrada is one of the originators and a leader in the diversity-conscious “I Look Like a Surgeon” movement, a social media campaign promoting women in science. Her efforts have expanded the original gender specific message into an international message with a commitment toward greater diversity and inclusion, celebrating differences within the surgeon community inclusive of cultural, physical, racial, and gender variances.” This outreach campaign has resulted in significant increases in the Department of Surgery’s social media presence, and Twitter posts trending with #ILookLikeASurgeon have resulted in 2.5 million additional contacts.

At the core, though, is patient care. As one of her nominees explains, “For patients, Dr. Ferrada is the type of person you want to meet on the worst day of your life.” Another mentee states, “She has empathy for her patients and treats them like her own family, constantly supporting them through the emotional and psychological components that follow difficult diagnoses.” Just one example of Dr. Ferrada’s exceptional dedication occurred when a patient had to have both legs amputated after a train accident. After assisting with the surgery that saved his life, Dr. Ferrada realized he would still be hospitalized during the birth of his first child. Dr. Ferrada worked with his nursing staff and the labor and delivery staff to arrange for him to be transferred to the delivery room so that he could be beside his wife during the birth of their daughter. (news.vcu.edu/article/Life and limb)

One of her mentees sums up Dr. Ferrada’s impact well, “Dr. Ferrada is the type of physician I aspire to be. Her positivity is one of her hallmarks and one of the things I admire most about her. Everything she touches, she tries to make better. This relentless optimism, caring nature and sheer talent make her the best mentor I could have ever asked for.”

October 25, 2016

William B. Moskowitz, M.D.

MCV Physicians Distinguished Clinician Award

William “Bill” Moskowitz, M.D., is Professor of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine, and Chair of the Division of Pediatric Cardiology. He also serves as Vice Chair of Clinical Operations for the Department of Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond (CHoR). He has been Director of the Pediatric Cardiac Catheterization Lab since 1990. He has been instrumental in creating the clinical service culture at CHoR through his leadership on the CHoR Access Team and as implementation team leader for Clinical Care Logistics for the Children’s Pavilion.

Dr. Moskowitz joined the faculty in 1984 and has served VCU in many leadership roles including Interim Department Chair, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics Promotion and Tenure Committee, department representative and Chair of the Physicians Compensation Advisory Committee for MCVP, and numerous other committees supporting strategic planning and logistical support of our health system.

Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect in the US, and Dr. Moskowitz has dedicated his career to assisting families in accessing the highest quality treatment for their children, while supporting the entire family through the process. Dr. Moskowitz’s early work on the effects of childhood passive smoking on coronary artery risk was cited in the Surgeon General’s report and the EPA Report on Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking. The pediatric member of the heart transplantation team since 1990 and Pediatric Service-line director since 2009, his current areas of clinical expertise include interventional cardiac catheterization, dysautonomia (POTS), cardiomyopathy and transplantation. He is currently working with bioengineers at Drexel University to design a cardiac assist device as a bridge for the failing Fontan patient.

He has served on the Virginia Department of Health Immunization Advisory Committee and the Critical Congenital Heart Disease Workgroup. He is a past President of the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Nationally, he served for six years as a member of the AAP Committee on Federal Government Affairs and is currently the Chair of the AAP Committee on Pediatric Workforce. He is an elected member of the American Pediatric Society and serves as an advisory board member of the Congenital Heart Information Network. He is a founder of Mended Little Hearts, Central Virginia Chapter, and a support group for families with children with congenital heart disease with a vision of allowing these families “to share experiences and resources as members of a nation-wide peer-to-peer support network”.

Dr. Moskowitz’s dedication to improving the health of children extends well beyond Virginia. He is a member of the Richmond-based World Pediatric Project (WPP), supporting their mission of healing critically ill children and building healthcare capacity in the world. He has participated in 31 cardiology missions to Central America and the Caribbean since 1999. He worked with local governments for a decade to develop the National Program for the Prevention and Control of Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. In addition to the children who have been brought to Richmond for treatment, thousands of children have been treated in their home countries thanks to this effort. In 2013, the Governor General of St. Vincent and the Grenadines awarded CHoR the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for exceptional public service. This was the only time this recognition has been given to a non-citizen.

Dr. Moskowitz was honored with the 2014 Elinor Bloom Marshall Humanitarian Award, presented by the Richmond Chapter of Hadassah to individuals who have been unselfishly devoted to causes that benefit society.

For his tireless dedication to providing access to quality, life-changing care for children at CHoR and beyond, we honor Dr. Bill Moskowitz as the 2016 MCVP Distinguished Clinician of the Year.

Cheryl S. Al-Mateen, M.D.

Women in Science, Dentistry, and Medicine Professional Achievement “WISDM” Award

Since coming to VCU in 1989, Dr. Cheryl S. Al-Mateen, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Interim Medical Director, Virginia Treatment Center for Children, has embodied the concept of advocacy. Advocacy for patients and their families, especially patients with exceptional needs. Advocacy for better patient-centered and collaborative clinical care. Advocacy for women and minority faculty members. Advocacy for improved multicultural understanding across our entire University community.

Dr. Al-Mateen has been significantly involved in the development of the new medical school curriculum as Psychiatry Clerkship Director as well as serving as Division Director for the Health Disparities and Cultural Competency, and Introduction to Trauma subject areas for the Physician, Patient and Society (PPS) longitudinal curriculum. She completed the Stanford Faculty Development Course in 2012, a Master Educator program through the Association for Academic Psychiatry in 2011, and training to become a Qualified Administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory in 2010. She is Board Certified in General, Child and Adolescent, and Forensic Psychiatry. Dr. Al-Mateen has special expertise in providing care to hearing-impaired children and survivors of trauma.

In addition to teaching mutual respect and interdisciplinary collaboration, Dr. Al-Mateen models these every day. “We work as a multi-disciplinary team at VTCC, and she was invaluable in role modeling the medical leadership responsibilities for the team, showing empathy and respecting the perspective of all members of the team,” states Rosa Morales Theodore, M.D., Assistant Professor of Child/Adolescent Psychiatry.

Dr. Al-Mateen has served as Chair of the SOM Professionalism Committee since 2013 and serves on numerous curriculum committees to improve education in the SOM, including chairing the Work Group to Develop Cultural Psychiatry Curriculum for the Psychiatry Residency Program since 2013. She has served on the VCUHS Medical Staff Health Committee since 2004, and the MCVP Compliance and Audit Advisory Committee since 2012.

Dr. Al-Mateen’s expertise has been tapped for service at the national level, including a 2012-2014 term on the USMLE Step I Behavioral Science/Behavioral Health Test Material Development Committee of the NBME. She served as the Representative from the SOM for the AAMC Group for Diversity and Inclusion from 2009-2014. Since 2007, she has served as a member of the Diversity and Culture Committee of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, serving as Co-Chair from 2011-15.

Dr. Al-Mateen has contributed 34 publications and over 100 invited presentations at the regional, national and international level. This year, she co-authored a book, Handbook of Mental Health in African American Youth, that is the first of its type to provide a cultural perspective and best practices to meet the needs of this population. She has received many honors including the 2015 Bela Sood Service Award for outstanding service and dedication to trainees in the VTCC, the 2013 Jeanne Spurlock Minority Fellowship Achievement Award from the APA, membership in the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society in 2013, the 2011 VCU Presidential Award for Multicultural Enrichment (PACME) Award, and the 2006 SOM Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award.

Leslie Kimball Franck, Ph.D., LCP, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Associate Director of Inpatient Clinical Services reflects, “Dr. Al-Mateen was able to see the potential for teaching and leadership skills in myself that I was unaware of, and has incessantly pushed me to stay on the growth edges of these skills. With her encouragement, I have become involved in teaching in the new medical school curriculum (and won a teaching award as a result).”

For her constant and effective advocacy that has made VCU, the School of Medicine, and the profession of Psychiatry more inclusive and patient-centered, we honor Dr. Cheryl Al-Mateen today.

Vikram S. Brar, M.D.


VCU/VCUHS Leadership in Graduate Medical Education “LGME” Award

This year’s LGME Award is being presented to Ophthalmology Program Director, Dr. Vikram Brar. Serving in the role since 2011, he is consistently described by his colleagues and residents as being “passionate about education”, having “exemplary commitment to resident teaching” and “so much more than [a] program director.” Resounding praise from his Ophthalmology Department Chair, Dr. William Benson, spilled on to three pages. Dr. Brar “stepped into the Program Director position right out of his fellowship and hit his full stride immediately after joining the faculty.” He oversees ophthalmology residents at both VCU and the VAMC, all while providing complete faculty coverage for residents performing in-hospital consultation services. Whether he’s teaching residents or medical students, Dr. Brar is praised for teaching by example. Assistant Professor Dr. Evan Silverstein writes, “He expects excellence from himself and his residents. In clinic he is compassionate and thorough. He intimately knows each of his patients and makes it a goal to make each patient feel like . . . a VIP . . . . They all smile when talking about his care.”

By all accounts, Dr. Brar’s deft management of the residency program, passion for teaching and research, as well as his enthusiasm for his craft has managed to pique interest from medical students who benefitted from his expansion of the annual Foundation of Clinical Medicine Course (FCM) as well as those who participate in his third year ophthalmology rotation. According to his Chairman: “As an outcome from Dr. Brar’s mentoring of medical students, since 2013, the VCU School of Medicine has matched over 85% of its own students seeking an ophthalmology residency position, considered one of the most competitive of all specialties.”

In his nomination packet, ophthalmology residents of all levels wrote effusively about his personal style: “Education is truly his mission and he would perform at the highest levels with or without any recognition” says fourth year resident Dr. Puneet Braich. Dr. Matthew Young describes Vikram as “approachable and receptive” – even taking a phone call while on vacation in India! He further praises him as having the ability to adjust his teaching to the individual learner – a rare and valuable skill. Many letters from his trainees mentioned the desire to follow in his footsteps and expressed deep gratitude at the depth and breadth of his knowledge and focus on research. Dr. Elaine McElhinny, in her third year of residency, appreciates his enhancement of the learning environment “as it feels like a safe place to ask questions.” She also enjoys the levity he brings despite the business of the clinic: “The work,” she says, “somehow seems like more fun.”

Perhaps the most touching and powerful narrative is from third year resident, Dr. Daniel Schwartz who writes “Dr. Vikram Brar is so much more than my program director; he is my friend, mentor, teacher and role model. Not only is he the ideal boss any resident could ask for, he is one of the nicest, most genuine, best all-around persons I have ever had the pleasure of encountering.”

We congratulate Dr. Brar and look forward to seeing him continue to soar!

October 24, 2016

Kim Christman

VCU/VCUHS Leadership in Graduate Medical Education “LGME” Award

Residents and Fellows are busy people – it speaks volumes that the trainees in Radiology took the time and initiative to complete a nomination packet for their Program Coordinator, Kim Christman. Their letters of support for her are among the most powerful ever received. Kim, they write, exemplifies what is meant by “leadership” in Graduate Medical Education. She is described as coordinator’s coordinator and tireless advocate for the program’s residents. Fifth year resident Dr. Ryan Gabriel writes that “Kim treats every resident as [if] they are part of her family” and states that “she has been the backbone of the residency program.” Chief Resident, Dr. Ashkan Shademan reinforces this praise: “Kim sacrifices a significant amount of personal time; she is available on her phone and email for us, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! . . . Her efforts and kindness are pure and felt by all of our residents.”

Trained as a respiratory therapist and community health educator, Kim has been the Radiology Residency Program’s coordinator since 2012, and has worked with VCU hospitals since 1998. Radiology Department Chair, Dr. Ann Fulcher, has worked with Kim since her first days of chairmanship and relies on her organizational skills, efficiency, institutional knowledge and ability to interact with a wide range of individuals. Furthermore, Dr. Fulcher admires Kim’s lifelong learning philosophy and push to keep her knowledge base current. She regularly seeks out educational activities and participates on multiple committees both within the VCU Health community, GME office and nationally.

From the written narratives submitted on Kim’s behalf, certain phrases and keywords stand out: “dependable”, “kind”, “tireless”, “warm.” Dr. Mariam Hanna, breast imaging fellow, says that Kim cares for the radiology residents “like her own children” and “always tries to lift the spirits of those around her.” Dr. Matthew Parry, a fifth year resident eloquently summarizes what he and his colleagues believe about their coordinator:

“In my ten years’ affiliation and training with VCUHS, I declare with utter sincerity that Ms. Christman stands above her peers as an administrator, resident advocate, counselor, and manager within a large and complex organization. Her ability to excel in each of these roles is no doubt the result of her personal sacrifice and heartfelt drive to better resident education and well-being at both the Departmental and institutional level.”

We are proud to recognize and congratulate this year’s winner of the LGME Award for Program Coordinator, Kim Christman!

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Updated: 08/19/2008