Welcome Message from Cynda Johnson

“Don’t ever accept the words, ‘It can’t be done.’”

That meaningful pearl of wisdom was imparted to members of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine’s first graduating class by a faculty mentor.

When the concept of forming a medical school in Roanoke through a partnership between Virginia Tech and Carilion Clinic was just an idea, champions of the dream decided it could be done despite the skeptics. That was back in 2007. Seven years later, we had witnessed the transformation of a deserted field into the site of a state-of-the-art educational and biomedical research center, graduated our first class, and received accreditation from both the Liaison Committee on Medical Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools-Commission on Colleges.

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine had arrived. But it was only the beginning. We have a perpetual, exciting journey ahead of us, one that will keep us in the forefront of educating medical students through this century and beyond. Our vision is to continue to attract a diverse group of high-caliber medical students who will spend four years with us transforming into physician thought leaders and then carry our school’s name across the country into their residencies. Our hope is that a number of them will return to serve in our local community, where they were so warmly welcomed for four years. Several are already staying here for their residencies, and we expect others to follow.

How does the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine distinguish itself? In several ways. Our innovative curriculum is grounded in problem-based learning. Students learn from actual patient cases in facilitated small groups. The capstone to this process is a visit with the patient and doctor at the end of each week.

Our students train alongside students in other health care fields, preparing them to thrive in multidisciplinary teams and to deliver high-quality care. In addition, our curriculum includes a strong research component in which students are required to devote more than a thousand hours to a significant research project, culminating in a paper of publishable quality and, in many cases, having that paper published. Most of our students have presented their work on the national stage as well. And finally, our students actively participate in the community that has embraced them so warmly.

Our students continue to make us proud. Our first class achieved a 100-percent pass rate on their first national benchmark—the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam. Our first three graduating classes achieved a 100-percent placement in the residency match. And that was just the beginning.

Looking back, we are proud to say, “We did it.” Looking forward, we’ll continue to refuse to say, “It can’t be done.” We are excited to be on the leading edge of educating the next generation of compassionate physician thought leaders who embrace the values of teamwork and lifelong learning.

Cynda Ann Johnson, MD, MBA
Founding Dean and President
Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine