Progress Notes | May 2022

Later this week, 41 VTCSOM students will cross the stage at the Jefferson Center and become our nation’s newest doctors. When the Class of 2022 matriculated in July 2018, they were the first class to enter since our school became an official college of Virginia Tech. They were among the 1% who applied for admission that year who were accepted. Other statistics: the class was nearly evenly split between men and women; seven of the entrants came with graduate degrees; and their MCAT mean score was 512.

What none of us saw in the future was a global pandemic that would disrupt the taking of their USMLE Step 1 exams, the most critical assessment of medical school, as well as their rotation schedules over the next two years, and in-person residency interviews.

Despite the inconveniences, the Class of 2022 remained resilient, positive, and even recorded the highest Step 1 mean score of any class in our school’s history.

Senior Dean for Student Affairs Aubrey Knight pointed out, “Making the most of the changes the pandemic caused in their medical school experience, this class supported each other and demonstrated a cohesiveness that I’ve never seen before. They recognized that life takes twists and turns, and we can either fall prey to them or learn from them.”

It is this kind of spirit that ensures success. It’s the kind referred to in our Strategic Plan goal to promote success and retention through our organizational culture.

Praise to our school’s clerkship directors, clinical chairs, and faculty for recognizing the importance of maintaining the integrity of the students’ clinical education while making decisions that, at their core, had the safety of patients, students and health care providers in mind.

On Saturday we celebrate this remarkable class. Members of the Class of 2022 are prepared for the next step in their journey. We hope that with the curriculum, advice, support, and mentorship they have received here, they will become the kind of physician we will want to call “my doctor.”

Lee A. Learman


  • Caitlin Bassett was promoted to assessment and evaluation manager.
  • Sharita Brown was promoted to clinical skills manager.
  • Third-year student Anna Buhle has been appointed to serve a one-year term as the graduate/professional student representative on Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors.
  • Second-year student LB Canary has been appointed to the Board of Directors for RAM House.
  • Helena Carvalho presented a poster at Experimental Biology: “Dramatization via Zoom to Teach Complex Concepts in Physiology” and will present a Focus Session at IAMSE in June: “Producing Scholarship from Outreach and Service Learning in Health Professions Education.”
  • Emily Holt Foerst presented a poster at the 2022 Group on Student Affairs, Careers in Medicine, and Organization of Student Representatives National Meeting. The poster, titled “VTCSOM Peer Educator Program,” was co-authored with Carrie Knopf.
  • Brandon Ganjineh was named a 2022 Graduate School Diversity Scholar.
  • Shari Whicker and Natalie Karp, along with Mariah Rudd and Sarah Harendt, presented their poster “Creating and Supporting Health Systems Science Content Integration within the Clerkship Environment through Intentionally Designed Clinical Faculty Professional Development” at Virginia Tech’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Conference.
  • Angelica Witcher and Kemi Bankole gave an oral presentation entitled “Building Medical School Inclusivity Using Collaborative Measures” at the AAMC Group on Diversity and Inclusion professional development conference.
  • Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine was well represented at the 15th Annual Carilion Clinic Research Day. Student oral presentations were given by class of 2025 student Alexander In and class of 2023 students Maya Langman, Brittany Stopa, and Alexander Zhang. VTCSOM faculty member oral presentations were given by John McNamara, Michael Nolan, Michelle Rockwell, and Shari Whicker. Nineteen oral presentations were given by Carilion Clinic residents and fellows.
    The following students presented posters at this event:
    • Class of 2022: Harrison Brookeman and Stephanie Masters
    • Class of 2023: Shyam Bhatt, Maya Langman, Sahana Nazeer, and Allison Strauss
    • Class of 2024: Brandon Ganjineh and Vemmy Metsutnan
  • The VTCSOM Aequitas Health Honor Society chapter is pleased to announce its inaugural class of fellows: Luma Abunimer, Macy Marcucci, Satyanarayana Vedula, and Sarah Yosief. Over the next year they will work together to develop and execute a common project that aims to advance health equity in our community. VTCSOM will honor these students during their graduation ceremony next year highlighting the work they have done with their collective project during their 4th year.


head shots. details below


A warm welcome to Sophia Minor, admissions diversity counselor, and Janie Wood, administrative coordinator for clinical science, who joined the VTCSOM family in April.

Diversity and Inclusion Notes

  • In honor of Ramadan, our students researched and wrote an overview of Ramadan as well as three profiles of Muslim scientist Abu-Ali Sina, mathematician Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi and physician Ayub Ommaya. In addition, the office of diversity, equity, and inclusion sponsored a Ramadan Reflections event as part of the diversity, inclusion, and belonging series.
  • Holidays and observances in the month of May:
    • ALS Awareness Month
    • Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
    • Jewish American Heritage Month
    • Older Americans Month
    • Mental Health Awareness Month
    • 1: Beltane, a Celtic festival signifying the beginning of summer
    • 2–3 (sunrise to sundown): Eid al-Fitr
    • 5: Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday commemorating the Mexican Army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861–1867)
    • 5–6 (sundown to sundown): Yom Ha’Atzmaut, national Independence Day in Israel 
    • 6: National Day of Prayer
    • 8: Buddha Day (Vesak or Visakha Puja)
    • 17: International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia
    • 18–19 (sundown to sundown):  Lag BaOmer
    • 21: World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development
    • 23–24 (sundown to sundown):  Declaration of the Báb
    • 24: Orthodox Easter (Pascha)
    • 26: Ascension of Jesus or Ascension Day
    • 29: Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh
    • 30: Memorial Day in the United States
Representatives from Carilion Clinic, VTCSOM, the City of Roanoke, and the hidden in plain site project in Richmond pose for photos at the announcement described below

Community Corner

Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute, and Carilion Clinic have joined the City of Roanoke and others in a creative and meaningful two-part project, a website dealing with forgotten historic sites in Roanoke and a statue of Henrietta Lacks to be located in the City’s Henrietta Lacks Plaza. Learn more in this recent editorial in the Roanoke Times.

Jay Patel with founding dean Cynda Johnson. Drs. Vari and Nolan in the background

Spotlight on Giving

Jay Patel’s path to medicine began with the heart — specifically one that belonged to his sister. Patel, class of 2020, was 5-years-old when his twin sisters were born. One had Tetralogy of Fallot, a rare condition when a baby is born with four heart defects. His sister’s illness inspired him to work to overcome health disparities. Patel was one of the first recipients of our Charter Class Scholarship. He is now a surgery resident at Kaiser Permanente, Los Angeles.

Humanism Notes

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation champions humanism in healthcare, and recognizes that humanism in medicine cannot occur if there is no humanism in the world around us. The foundation’s statement in support of Ukraine and humanism draws attention to the anti-humanistic bombing of a children’s hospital in Mariupol and the destruction of over 30 hospitals throughout Ukraine. The statement goes on to highlight these examples of humanity amidst the calamity of war:

“Still, through the scenes of rubble and destruction, we see humanity. Humanity in the healthcare heroes dodging artillery as they work tirelessly on the frontlines of the conflict. Humanity in those rising to defend their homes, their country, and democracy at large. Humanity in the charitable donations and mobilization here in the United States and around the globe. Humanity in a time where home can be everywhere and nowhere all at once, an unfortunate truth that tells the story of so many refugees from war and conflict throughout our world.”

Where there is humanism, there is hope. We encourage readers of Progress Notes to consider how we as individuals can support the cause of humanism for the war-torn families of Ukraine.

Take Note

Take Note

  • Nominations for the 2022 TEACH Awards are now open! Five unique awards have been created over the years to recognize the efforts of our educators and highlight their accomplishments. Find the nomination criteria and form here. Nominations close July 15, 2022.
  • Virginia Tech has launched a series of Youtube videos about the history of Virginia Tech and Southwest Virginia as a whole. Check it out!
  • The International Association for Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) is hosting an Accessible Digital Content Miniseries. This series is free to the public.
    • May 26: Creating Accessible Content: The Inclusion Challenge
    • June 2: Create More Accessible Data Experiences
    • June 16: Audio Description as an Aesthetic Innovation
    • June 23: Accessibility of Social Media
  • The Services for Students with Disabilities Office (SSD) invites all teaching faculty/instructors to participate in a survey to evaluate their mission and goals. Your feedback will help explore ways to collaborate with teaching faculty/instructors in supporting students with disabilities. The closing date of this survey will be May 31, 2022.
  • Past issues of Progress Notes are available on the website.
a collage of four images of a softball game. top: someone running to first base, with Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital in the background; three scenes with someone at bat, a child at bat, and a high five between two people

The Last Note

The faculty vs. student softball game and chili cook-off was a great success. Congrats to our student team for a hard-fought 17-15 victory, and to Courtney Powell, our chili cook-off champion. It was a lot of fun!

Add Your Own Note

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