It has been a year for the history books. The COVID-19 pandemic caused disruptions to each of our lives, but the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine community rose to the challenge.

We have much to celebrate from the past year, with thanks to the resilient VTCSOM community who overcame tremendous obstacles. I hope everyone finds meaning, renewal, and connection during the upcoming holidays.

Here’s to a brighter year ahead!

Lee A. Learman, MD, PhD


Virginia Tech President Tim Sands played in annual Docs for Morgan game.

Tim Sands played in Docs for Morgan basketball game


LCME approval to increase class size to 49 students starting with the class of 2024.


Pandemic began to impact region; Match Day and classes switched to virtual.

Class of 2020 graduate, Anisha Chada receiving her match notification


Virtual graduation held for the class of 2020.

Justine E. McGiboney, Class of 2020, recorded for commencement addresses


Dean Learman hosted VTCSOM Community Forum: Finding Safety after the Killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd.


All students back to in-person learning.

InclusiveVTCSOM Task Force launched.

Student interacting with a standardized patient, both parties wearing protective personal equipment


Strategic planning process started.


White Coat Ceremony held in person, but with limitations due to COVID-19.

Newly coated class of 2024 applauding


InclusiveVTCSOM Task Force drafts report.

Admissions sees a 48% increase in applications. More than 6,175 apply for the 49 spots available in the class of 2025.

In-person classes resume, complete with PPE

students at workstations, all wearing ppe
students in anatomy lab, wearing ppe

In-person classes resume with students in the anatomy lab wearing personal protective equipment. Interactions with standardized patients resumed with strict safety protocols. 

Student interacting with a standardized patient, both parties wearing protective personal equipment
student in anatomy lab, wearing face shield, mask, and gloves
students viewing ultrasound, all wearing face shields and masks
Ultrasound study with extra PPE
2020 Student Clinician Ceremony
M3s held their Student Clinician’s Ceremony

October 16: White Coat Ceremony

Dean Learman helps female student don white coat
male student gives thumbs up at white coat ceremony

The White Coat Ceremony for the class of 2024 continued in-person, though guests were limited and attendees were required to wear masks and stay physically distanced from anyone not living in the same household.

October 29: Celebrating a Decade

Dean Emerita Cynda Johnson and Dean Learman interviewing each other in front of the history wall

The Charter Class 10 Year Celebration was held virtually, marking one decade since students began studying at VTCSOM. The event was held on the anniversary of their White Coat Ceremony.

VTCSOM 2020 Holiday Video

Video Transcript

[Dean Learman] A year ago it would have been hard to imagine that 2020 would bring a viral pandemic that would challenge so many aspects of our lives both personally and professionally. We met these challenges together as a medical school community and accomplished many remarkable things: we assured the continuity of high-quality medical education for our students; the on-time graduation of our class of 2020; and the safe return to in-person and clinical education starting in July. We designed and implemented the first year of a major curricular innovation focused on health systems science, we launched a rigorous strategic planning process starting with diversity equity and inclusion, and we welcomed the largest matriculating class in our history. I am so grateful to each of you: our faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends, and community members for all that you have done to make us strong and keep us strong.

Here are the reflections you shared about 2020 and some of the great things that happened.

My 2020 has been interesting; and varied; different than expected; exhausting; a lesson in resilience; challenging in ways that that I had never envisioned; impactful; mostly good actually; an emotional roller coaster; but rewarding; overall been pretty positive; and completely unusual. It's been unique; interesting; a roller coaster ride; wonderful; it's been a blessing and a curse; surprisingly positive for me; an awesome learning experience. 2020 was a year that definitely really challenged me, I think it challenged everyone; challenging, surprising, um lots of... I think lots of opportunities to look for silver linings.

There's been a lot of great things that I've gotten to do that I probably wouldn't have been able to do had this pandemic not happened:

  • I had this wonderful precious little angel over here, this is Nora. 
  • We have been able to figure out how to have wonderful quality family time. 
  • I realized that as a working mom who likes working I would never have an opportunity like that where I got a ton of time with my kids. 
  • We've had mandatory recesses every day. 
  • And we've had some sit-down dinners that's a gift. 
  • My wife and I got to spend a lot more time together. 
  • I traveled less than ever before and had more quality time with my wife, our dog, and two cats. 
  • You sort of get to the nitty-gritty when you're spending 24/7 with them. 
  • My fiancé and I finally set our wedding date. 
  • Like I actually got engaged. 
  • Picking up and moving to a new city has been a growth moment for me. 
  • I bought a new house and I graduated with my master's. 
  • I was able to focus on my research study and complete my dissertation for graduate school. 
  • I wrote three manuscripts. 
  • I started medical school and I got my white coat. 
  • I've gotten back into meditation. 
  • I decided to adopt a dog. 
  • This sweet little calm laid back puppy. 
  • My teenagers cooking which is amazing. 
  • I fixed my mower all by myself I'm actually trying to repair stuff on my own. 
  • I started a new window garden - it all died. 
  • I taught myself how to use tools I built a screened-in porch. 
  • I've been helping a friend recover from a stroke and this year we actually started walking which was really cool.

Holiday wishes from VTCSOM

  • Happy Holidays to everyone at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. 
  • You guys inspire me every single day. 
  • Get some much needed rest and relaxation. 
  • But also stay safe and stay well. 
  • Embrace that everything's gonna be different. 
  • Be smart, make sure you mask, and make sure you stay at home. 
  • Wear your masks, please! 
  • I know that this is a weird time and a very challenging time. 
  • Focus on the good instead of bad. 
  • Look for ways um to help and do so whenever you can.
  • And thank yourself for all the good work and the dedication that you've done this year. 
  • I think there's no better gift than one another than grace and being there for each other. 
  • Family really is everything and making memories is what it's all about. 
  • Merry Christmas everybody, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Winter Solstice, all of the things. 
  • Look forward to brighter times ahead. 
  • I can't wait till we are on the other side of this and we can all celebrate together. 
  • May all of our pain be champagne, so Cheers! 
  • Here's a big virtual hug for me love you so much. 
  • Yay we made it to the end! 
  • And see you next year! 

[Dean Learman] This year the holidays remind us more than ever to cherish what we have, to understand more deeply what we need, and to care for ourselves physically emotionally and spiritually. Happy Holidays everyone! 

Happy Holidays!