Progress Notes | September 2022

Each of my messages this year has focused on one of the four values or eight goals of our 2021-2025 Strategic Plan. I hope you have found these to be helpful in providing more depth and breadth to each of the elements of the plan that serves as our guidepost for the next three years. Last week, Rebecca Pauly as vice dean and Jed Gonzalo as senior associate dean for medical education assumed their respective leadership roles and will help move us forward in our strategic plan.

This month, I’d like to focus on our strategic plan goal, “Deepen Community Engagement.” Recently the service learning component of our curriculum was enhanced with the formation of VTCSOM Engage. Patterned after the VTEngage program and in the spirit of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), our Engage program has taken on a critical service learning component. Students are connected to vitally important service projects in the community, their engagement opportunities are tracked, and their experiences are given a deeper meaning through personal reflection.

Tania D. Mitchell, associate professor of higher education at the University of Minnesota, is a leading expert in the use of service-learning as a critical pedagogy to explore civic identity. She points out that critical service-learning asks students to focus explicitly on social justice issues. Students learn how community needs arise from a complex history of systemic inequity.

As part of our VTCSOM Engage program, students log a minimum of 30 hours of service-learning in four years and complete an annual written reflection on their activities. The number of service-learning hours and quality of reflections are part of the criteria for several honors and awards at VTCSOM.

David Trinkle, associate dean for Community and Culture, said, “The goal of our Engage program is to help students learn that through value-based service and working to truly understand the root causes of societal inequity, they can impact their future patients and communities by changing or creating policy that improves the overall health of their community.”

I believe this new approach to service-learning supports our students’ identities as future physician thought leaders by deepening their appreciation of how community-based initiatives complement health system-based efforts to improve health and well-being.

Lee A. Learman


  • Congratulations to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital for being named among the elite 12% of hospitals nationwide to win “Best” honors by U.S. News & World Report. In addition, the hospital was ranked as high performing in fourteen procedures and conditions (up from nine last year).
  • Kudos to the faculty affairs team for all their work on the digital measures to Elements conversion. This was a three-year endeavor and a wonderful collaboration with Virginia Tech's Decision Support Services team and various other individuals within VTCSOM and Virginia Tech.
  • Many thanks to Vianne Greek, web and social media manager, for her work on converting the student handbook into a Canvas course.
  • Mark Greenawald, VTCSOM vice chair and professor of family and community medicine was a guest speaker in the American Medical Associations Moving Medicine video series: Physician-to-physician: Starting a peer-support program.
  • Michael Nussbaum, VTCSOM chair and professor of surgery, has been named to the Academy of Master Surgeon Educators at the American College of Surgeons.
  • Thank you to these 18 VTCSOM faculty members and Carilion Clinic residents for providing a great experience for our students and whose exceptional teacher recognitions were shared with the Learning Environment Advocacy Committee last quarter.
  • Congratulations to the 2021-2022 Diversity Champions who will be honored at an upcoming event in September:
    • M2 – Class of 2025: Erin McDaid and Paul Varghese
    • M3 – Class of 2024: Lauren “LB” Canary and Brandon Ganjineh
    • M4 – Class of 2023: Luma Abunimer and Sarah Yosief
    • MD/PhD Program: Kenneth Young
    • Residents/Fellows: Conner Blackwell and Shian McLeish
    • Faculty: Sharon Williams and Angelica Witcher
    • Staff: Vianne Greek and Courtney Powell


head shots. details below
Hilary Hedrick, Christie Neal, Serkan Toy, and Mary Wesley

A warm welcome to the following new team members who joined the VTCSOM family in August:

  • Hilary Hedrick, standardized patient trainer
  • Christie Neal, student affairs assistant
  • Serkan Toy, assistant professor for basic science education
  • Mary Wesley, senior instructor for health systems and implementation science

Welcome to all the new faculty who joined us in August:

  • Basic Science Education: Nicholas Stornelli and Serkan Toy
  • Emergency Medicine: Allison McKell
  • Health Systems and Implementation Science: Lisa Nielsen and Mary Wesley
  • Internal Medicine: Samara Khalique, Kari McCoy, and Jonas Rawlins
  • Pediatrics: Olivia Asamoah, Austin Drake, Alyson Hartkopf, Andrew Hayes, and Lauren McGinley
  • Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine: Hajra Ahmad, Austin Bopp,
    Jeremiah Burkhart, Sooraj John, Hafsa Mahmood, Rebecca McDermott, Ehsan Samarbafzadeh, and Paula Wolfteich
  • Radiology: Victor Mandanas
  • Surgery: Amin Khosrowpour

Diversity and Inclusion Notes

  • The Medical Student Pride Alliance (MSPA) at VTCSOM supports all medical students, especially LGBTQ+ students as they adjust to Roanoke and medical school. One way of extending this support and welcome is by providing pronoun stickers that can fit student badge holders. These stickers are available in M118 in 2 Riverside. If you have any questions about MSPA contact Lauren "LB" Canary.
  • Virginia Tech is hosting InclusiveVT Welcome for the week of September 12 - 16. The keynote speaker is Judith Heumann, internationally recognized disability rights activist, who will speak on Thursday, September 15 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. Register to receive the Zoom link for the Judith Heumann keynote.
  • The Fall session for 2022 for Health Professions Enrichment Program (HPEP) Martinsville, Danville and Henry counties will kick off September 17.
  • The October Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging event disAbilities at Work: Thriving in an Abled World will take place at 5:30 p.m. on October 11 and will feature speakers David Hartman, Carrie Knopf, and Mark Nichols. Hartman is associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral medicine and psychiatrist with Carilion Clinic. Knopf is student affairs coordinator and liaison for services for students with disabilities. Nichols is the senior director of universal design and accessible technologies at Virginia Tech.
  • The August Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging event with speaker Jariah Strozier was very informative and gave the audience a great insight into her research about health disparities for African American females. 
  • Holidays and observances in the month of September:
    • September 1 to 30: AMA Women in Medicine Month 
    • September 15 to October 15: Hispanic Heritage Month
    • 5: Labor Day
    • 11: Ethiopian New Year
    • 18: International Equal Pay Day
    • 22: Ostara Mabon, a celebration of the vernal equinox
    • 24: Native American Day
    • 25–27 (sundown to sundown): Rosh Hashanah
    • 26–October 5: Navratri
    • 27: Elevation of the Life Giving Cross (Holy Cross)
    • 27: Meskel, a religious holiday in the Ethiopian Orthodox and Eritrean Orthodox Churches
    • 29: Michaelmas, or the Feast of Michael and All Angels
LB Canary and Chloe Lessard in a booth with VTCSOM brochures
LB Canary and Chloe Lessard of the VTCSOM Public Health Club shared helpful information at the I heart SE Festival.

Community Corner

  • Gift Shop News: There is now a great new way to shop for VTCSOM apparel! Browse a wonderful variety of merchandise that is only available online. All the colors, shapes and sizes are right at your fingertips. Get yourself all “Hokiefied” for the fall, or send the perfect gift to family and friends without that annoying trip to the post office.
  • Fall Art Exhibit: The next installation presented by the VTCSOM Creativity in Health Education Program is an indoor/outdoor exhibit showcasing the creative genius of several local artists. Each piece in the show is composed of everyday objects, natural materials, or discarded treasures that have been given new life as unique and beautiful works of art.  Our feature artist and curator of the show is the wonderful Diane Relf. Diane invited several of her friends and fellow artists to embrace these concepts as well as they created the pieces that will hang on the walls of the medical school at 2 Riverside Circle from September 6 through December 9. There will be an Artists’ Reception on Tuesday, September 20 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. that will be open to the public. It will be a great change to not only view the work, but to hear about the projects from the artists themselves. RSVP to the art show reception
  • Community Engagement: Medical students LB Canary and Chloe Lessard of the VTCSOM Public Health Club shared helpful information at the I Heart SE Festival on Saturday, July 30.
  • Annual Star Trek: Students from Radford University Carilion, Virginia Tech Graduate School, FBRI and VTCSOM got together for the annual Star Trek up Mill Mountain on Saturday, August 20. Participants enjoyed ice cream and made some new friends with their fellow Roanoke Health Sciences and Technology students.
Julia De Luca

Spotlight on Giving

As a Mexican American, Julia De Luca, a second-year student at VTCSOM, is well aware of the struggles disenfranchised populations often face when obtaining equitable, accessible health care, and she’s passionate about making a difference. De Luca is the recipient of a scholarship and two other sources of VTCSOM financial assistance, which made her decision to come here easy.

Humanism Notes

We couldn’t resist featuring this heartwarming video as this month’s Humanism Notes. “The World Awaits,” by Tom Foolery is a short account between a loving father and young son about the importance of adding good to the world and how the universe responds.

Take Note

Take Note

  • Have you heard the news? Our calendar formats (Outlook, SharePoint, and Google) are now able to connect with each other! It’s a more organized, streamlined, and efficient way of managing the myriad of calendars at VTCSOM. Contact Vianne Greek at if you need help connecting these resources.  
  • Your Elements profile also doubles as an Experts @ VT profile, and you can activate it in just a few steps. By setting your Elements to be viewable by the public, you'll be searchable from the Experts website. Sending an email with your public profile web address to Vianne Greek at will get your profile linked on the VTCSOM website.
  • Fall online training sessions for Microsoft 365, Google Workspace tools begin in September. Courses are open to faculty, staff, and graduate students via the TLOS Professional Development Network. Specific offerings of interest might be Microsoft Teams and Google Forms for which several courses will be available.
  • Need to take a trip from the HS&T campus to downtown Roanoke but don’t want to walk or use your car? The Star Line Trolley is Valley Metro's service that provides free, convenient transportation between downtown and Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. The trolley operates 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday with service every 20 minutes.
  • Past issues of Progress Notes are available on the website.

Upcoming Events

Ribbon cutting for Center for Inclusion
(From left) Leanna Blevins, Gates Palissery, Hassan Farah, Sarah Yosief, Dean Lee Learman, and Angelica Witcher cut the ribbon on the Center for Inclusion.

The Last Note

In the spirit of InclusiveVT and to demonstrate our commitment to Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), we are happy to announce the opening of the Center for Inclusion! The Center for Inclusion is a partnership between the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

The Center is designed to be an inviting and inclusive space for all students, postdoctoral fellows, and residents, and is open to everyone on the campus. The Center is a place to have meetings or gatherings, to host discussions, to utilize resources, or to simply find quiet in between classes and research.

Add Your Own Note

Have something noteworthy to share in Progress Notes? Do you have feedback about this newsletter? We'd love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts with us.