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InclusiveVTCSOM Task Force

InclusiveVTCSOM Task Force


Our Mission is to advance an inclusive environment that attracts and retains the best talent, values diversity of life experiences and perspectives, and encourages innovation in our pursuit of equity.

InclusiveVTCSOM Task Force 

InclusiveVTCSOM Taskforce Update

The work of the InclusiveVTCSOM Taskforce generated 122 tasks to be completed. These tasks were mapped according to expected timelines.

As of October 2021, the task force has completed 53 tasks, or 43%.

Our taskforce updates page contains more details about the progress made on these initiatives.

Thermometer image that includes a table with the following data, from bottom to top. By July 2021, the taskforce completed a total of 26 tasks, accounting for 21% of tasks completed. By October 2021, the taskforce completed a total of 53 tasks, accounting for 43% of tasks completed. The goal is to complete a total of 56 tasks by January 2022, a total of 67 tasks by April 2022, a total of 111 tasks by July 2022, and then a remaining 11 tasks after July 2022 for a total of 122 tasks completed.

Since its founding in 2007, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine has contemplated what it means to value, support, and engage with our diversity, and how to disrupt systems that are antithetical to our commitment to equity, civility, and excellence. The InclusiveVTCSOM Task Force will help us to further this work. 

About the Task Force

On June 3, 2020, in response to recent events that put a glaring spotlight on the systemic racism and biased, violent policing in the Black community, Dean Lee Learman hosted the VTCSOM Community Forum: Finding Safety after the Killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. More than 150 students, residents, faculty and staff participated in the forum, confirming our community’s shared commitment to equity, justice and civility.  Shortly after, Dean Learman informed the community that he would assemble a task force to address opportunities at VTCSOM to improve diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Established on June 12, 2020, the InclusiveVTCSOM Task Force will highlight a wide range of diversity issues, including but not limited to those highlighted by students, and those that pertain to admissions, the curriculum, and the learning environment. 

The Task Force is grounded in the foundational principles reflected in the Virginia Tech Principles of Community and the Carilion Clinic Diversity and Inclusion Statement. Guided by these principles, we commit to: 

  • Creating and implementing strategies that honor and strive to increase diversity in our students, workforce, patients, and community across all dimensions of social and cultural identity; 
  • Consistently promoting and practicing inclusivity with all groups;
  • Training physician thoughts leaders within a culture that promotes compassion and health equity; and 
  • Holding ourselves and our institution accountable for these commitments.

Task Force Structure and Deliverables

Task Force leaders and members will take care to engage members of the VTCSOM, Virginia Tech, Carilion Clinic and Roanoke communities as they draft a detailed report that includes deliberate, measurable action steps that advance the school’s equity and inclusion goals. The report will be submitted to Dean Learman by December, 2020. 

The InclusiveVTCSOM Task Force will be led by three co-chairs, and consist of seven Working Groups that will interface with and report to one larger oversight group, which will provide guidance for Task Force efforts.

The Working Groups will address critical issues related to: (1) Phase 1 Curriculum, (2) Phase 2 Curriculum, (3) Student Support, (4) Community Engagement, (5) Admissions, (6) Faculty/Staff Recruitment, Development and Retention, and (7) the Learning and Working Environment. The groups will meet as frequently as needed to accomplish tasks related to their individual action items, but no more than once per week. 

Through the seven Working Groups, Task Force members will gather data, inventory the school’s current practices related to diversity, equity and inclusion, and develop recommendations that advance the school’s movement toward inclusive excellence.

Task Force and Working Group members will take care to engage members of the VTCSOM, Virginia Tech, Carilion Clinic and Roanoke communities as they draft a detailed report that includes deliberate, measurable action steps that advance the school’s equity and inclusion goals. The report will be submitted to Dean Learman by December, 2020.

Students are the lifeblood of VTCSOM, so their participation in and contributions to the Task Force is crucial. Student members of the Task Force and Working Groups were selected based on applications they submitted, and reviewed by class leadership in consultation with the school’s Chief Diversity Officer. About 40 VTCSOM students will play a role in task force activities, with four student representatives on the task force steering committee; one student co-leader for each Working Group (seven students); and at least four students appointed to each Working Group (at least 28 students).

Students who expressed interest in or were nominated to serve on the task force were required to submit brief application that required them to explain their interest. Applications were reviewed by their student leaders in collaboration with the school’s chief diversity officer. Students appointed by the dean to serve on the task force and working groups effectively articulated their experiences with diversity and inclusion initiatives, the group process, and inclusive discussions.

Working Groups

The Working Group on the Phase 1 Curriculum will review M1 and M2 curricular materials and experiential learning opportunities to ensure that they address the social determinants of health as well as help equip students with the knowledge, skills, and competencies they will need to provide culturally excellent health care and research. Further, the group will research and recommend learning activities that foster self-awareness of how students view others and how those views may affect health care delivery and the patient experience. 

The group’s focus will include (but not be limited to): self-awareness; unconscious/implicit bias; social determinants of health; health equity; pedagogical styles; microaggressions; and imposter syndrome.

Emily Holt Foerst, MA (Co-leader), Director, Academic Counseling and Enrichment Services / Instructor, Basic Science Education
Shashank Somasundaram (Co-leader), M2-Student

Dr. Angelica Witcher (Facilitator), Director, Student Affairs / Instructor, Interprofessionalism

Mallory Blackwood, M3-Student
LB Canary, M1-Student
Dr. Helena Carvalho, Assistant Professor, Basic Science Education
Katie Hardin, M2-Student
Dr. Kris Rau, Assistant Professor, Basic Science Education
Atreyi Saha, M1-Student
Neha Singh, M2-Student
Dr. Cynthia Unwin, Assistant Professor, Interprofessionalism

The Working Group on the Phase 2 Curriculum will review M3 and M4 curricular materials and experiential learning opportunities to ensure that they address the social determinants of health as well as help equip students with the knowledge, skills, and competencies they will need to provide culturally excellent health care and research. Further, the group will research and recommend interventions that target, and hopefully, minimize implicit bias within and toward health care providers. 

The group’s focus will include (but not be limited to): unconscious/implicit bias; microaggressions; social determinants of health; and bias in performance evaluations.

Ayesha Kar (Co-leader), M4-Student
Dr. Charles Paget (Co-leader), Associate Professor, General Surgery

Elvir Berbic (Facilitator), Student Affairs Manager

Dr. Olivia Asamoah, Resident- Pediatrics
Dr. Malek Bouzaher, class of 2020 alumnus
Dr. Hoa Nguyen, Chief Resident- Obstetrics & Gynecology
Dr. Ijeoma Okogbue, Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine
Ryan Perry, M4-Student
Anna Shvygina, M4-Student
Vaish Sridhar, M4-Student
Dr. Tom Stoecker, Assistant Professor, Radiology

The Working Group on Student Support will examine the programs and services implemented across a variety of VTCSOM and Virginia Tech departments to ensure that they foster the individual and professional growth, development, and wellness of medical students, specifically those underrepresented in medicine. 

The group’s focus will include (but not be limited to): academic support and remediation; physical and mental wellness; individual and group mentoring; sense of belonging; and learning accommodations.

Adenike Adenikinju (Co-leader), M4-Student 
Dr. Benga Bankole (Co-leader), Associate Professor, Internal Medicine

Carrie Knopf (Facilitator), Student Affairs Coordinator

Dr. Bri Beach, Assistant Professor, Family & Community Medicine 
Ron Bradbury, Director for Admissions
Anna Buhle, M2-Student
Dr. Mebratu Daba, Assistant Professor, Pediatrics
Hassan Farah, Executive Chair Roanoke Graduate Student Association, FBRI-TBMH Grad Student
Dr. Tamera Howell, Carilion Clinic - Obstetrics & Gynecology
Ilona Jileaeva, M1-Student
Margarite McCandless, MLS, Head Librarian / Instructor, Interprofessionalism
Rebekah Sayre, M2-Student
Cameron Worden, M4-Student

The Working Group on Community Engagement will focus on efforts to collaborate with organizations to expand the school’s reach and strengthen its impact in diverse groups in Roanoke and surrounding communities. 

The group’s focus will include (but not be limited to): K-12 outreach and engagement; service learning; Roanoke sense of community; and partnerships with community-based organizations.

Annette Lewis (Co-leader), President & CEO, Total Action for Progress
Macy Marcucci (Co-leader), M2-Student

Courtney Powell (Facilitator), Community and Culture Manager, VTCSOM
Stephanie Hairston (Facilitator), Riverside 4 Receptionist

Dr. Azziza O. (Kemi) Bankole, Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine
Crystal Barnett, Medical Education Coordinator - Research, VTCSOM
Lee Clark, CEO, Rescue Mission of  Roanoke
Dotsy Clifton, Community Activist
Joe Cobb, Vice Mayor, Roanoke City Council
Dr. Joy Collins, Associate Professor, General Surgery
Alyssa DeWyer, M2-Student
Shaylyn Fahey, M1-Student
Jane Gay, M3-Student
Robin Haldiman, CEO, CHIP of the Roanoke Valley
Brenda Hale, President, Roanoke Branch, NAACP
Samantha Hoover, Director of Alumni Affairs and Special Events, VTCSOM
Neeka Karimian, M1-Student
Dr. Leslie LaConte, Associate Professor, Basic Science Education
Rev. Dr. William Lee, Retired Pastor, Loudon Avenue Christian Church
Kameron Melton, Attorney, Woods Rogers
Karen Michalski-Karney, Executive Director, Blue Ridge Independent Living Center
Kevin Patel, M2-Student
Rabbi Jama Purser, Beth Israel Synagogue
Vivian Sanchez Jones, Student Support Specialist at Roanoke City Public Schools
Dr. Bert Spetzler, Assistant Professor, Orthopaedic Surgery
Janine Underwood, Executive Director, Bradley Free Clinic
Damon Williams, Regional CRA officer, First Citizens Bank

The Working Group on Admissions will examine the school’s diversity outreach, recruitment, and admissions policies and practices and consider how they attract, retain and graduate medical students who can practice culturally responsive and equity-minded health care. 

The group’s focus will include (but not be limited to): pipeline programs; underrepresented minority student recruitment; staff diversity; Medical School Admission Committee diversity; yield programs for underrepresented minority students; scholarships; unconscious/implicit bias; admission criteria; and stereotype threat.

Dr. Violet Borowicz (Co-leader), Assistant Professor, Pediatrics
Sarah Yosief (Co-leader), M2- Student

Karen Burns, (Facilitator), Executive Assistant to the Dean and Vice Dean, VTCSOM

Dr. Patricia Beauzile, Carilion Clinic - Obstetrics & Gynecology
Dr. Kimberly Clay, Carilion Clinic - Endocrinology
Yash Desai, M3-Student
Brandon Ganjineh, M1-Student
Jake Hartman-Kenzler, M3-Student
Stephanie Masters, M3-Student
Vemmy Metsutnan, M1-Student
Dr. Sam Nakat, Assistant Professor, Radiology
Dr. Mark Schleupner, Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine
Michael Spinosa, M2-Student

The Working Group on Faculty and Staff Recruitment, Development, and Retention will concentrate on the school’s efforts to recruit diverse faculty, provide ongoing diversity training for instructional and clinical faculty, and ensure that all students are exposed to faculty and physicians from diverse communities. 

The group’s focus will include (but not be limited to): recruitment; retention; mentoring; sense of belonging; professional development; cultural competence; unconscious/implicit bias; microaggressions; and managing difficult discussions.

Chukwuemeka Uwakaneme (Co-leader), M2 Student
Dr. Shari Whicker (Co-leader), Associate Professor, Pediatrics and Interprofessionalism

Karyna Nevarez (Facilitator), Inclusion Coordinator, VTCSOM

Oscar Alcoreza, M3-Student
Patrick Barrett, M2-Student
Douglas Crowder, Carilion Clinic - Director,  Workforce Intelligence
Dr. Heidi Lane, Associate Professor, Interprofessionalism
Dr. Renee LeClair, Assistant Professor, Basic Science Education
Taylor Lynch, Standardized Patient & Clinical Skills Manager, VTCSOM
Mira Nicchitta, M3-Student
Dr. Charles Schleupner, Professor, Internal Medicine

The Working Group on the Learning and Working Environment will focus on the school’s efforts to create and sustain a diverse, inclusive, and bias-free experience for everyone in the VTCSOM community, including all learners, educators, and staff, with special attention to the clinical learning environment. 

The group’s focus will include (but not be limited to): safe and streamlined reporting of bias, discrimination and mistreatment; management of student complaints, including feedback on the outcome; management of comments by patients, including active bystander training; and introducing medical students/student doctors by name, including tools for pronunciation.

Dr. Michael Nussbaum (Co-leader), Professor and Chair, General Surgery
Meredith Rahman (Co-leader), M4-Student

Dani Backus (Facilitator), Senior Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Accreditation, VTCSOM

Dr. Felicity Adams-Vanke, Assistant Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine
Dr. Aysegul (Aisha) Aydogan, PGY-2, Resident-Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine
Caitlin Bassett, Medical Education Coordinator-Evaluation & Assessment, VTCSOM
Nina Budaeva-Harding, M2-Student
Katie Brow, M2-Student
Yazdi Doshi, M3-Student
Dr. Felicia G Gallucci, PGY-3, Resident-Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine
Dr. Janet Osborne, Associate Professor, Obstetrics & Gynecology
Katelyn Stebbins, M1-Student
Satya Vedula, M2-Student

Related Task Force Videos

InclusiveVTCSOM Town Hall, October 13, 2021

On Wednesday, October 13, 2021, students, faculty, staff, and friends of the school joined in a Town Hall on our InclusiveVTCSOM initiative.