Progress Notes | December 2019

I hope last week’s Thanksgiving holiday provided each of us an opportunity to reconnect with family and friends and to reflect on all we have to be thankful for. For me it is the privilege of working in our Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine community with expert colleagues to provide a world-class education for our medical students, in partnership with two vibrant partners: Virginia Tech and Carilion Clinic.

The joy of supporting our students is enhanced by the caring community in which we live and work, and by the love and support of our spouses, partners, children, parents, and extended families. These connections create that “something special” people feel here and provide a strong foundation from which to dream big about the future.

Lee A. Learman

News Around Campus


[Amy] All right let's get to it.

[Kenny] Let's do the things.

[Amy] So you're like two months in now right?

[Kenny] Two months in, block one. Mm-hmm. It's pretty severe up in here!

[Amy] I kind of remember that it feels like it's been a while but I the emotions are still there. Is it different than you expected then?

[Kenny] I think my expectations were appropriate. The first interview that I got actually was VTC, which I thought was a kind of a great thing because after that I kept comparing every other school to this school.

[Amy] This was my first interview too and it just made me feel so much better about myself and my ability to get through all of this and like see you know what you can be.

[Kenny] When I came back to do second looks for other schools I just completely was like nope, Virginia Tech is where I belong. I love it, I love the area I left the school I love the curriculum this is exactly what I want so I made my decision like pretty huh pretty easy for me.

[Amy] I do feel really cared for here and I felt the same way at my interview

[Amy] I think a big reason why I wanted to go into medicine was to expand care for people who don't always have it. There are a lot of barriers to seeking care especially when it comes to mental health so it's become very important to me that this next generation like our generation of physicians is able to be open and compassionate and talk to people about things that may be physicians in the past and didn't talk as much about.

[Kenny] I know that I'm interested in obstetrics and gynecology and I would like to further get a do a fellowship in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. It would be the prime way to help transgendered individuals. They have their own unique needs that have as of right now are not always being met. It's my way of giving back to the LGBTQ community. I'm a part of the community and I think that's a way that I can actually uplift our community.

[Kenny] I didn't have a lot of money growing up. Money specifically has always been a barrier to a lot of different things but I always found my way around it through academics. When Dr. P [Prusakowsi] called me I was actually at the metro station headed work and she called and she was like I heard her and then I didn't hear her and I was like, pardon me you tell me one more time what did you say it's like well we're gonna offer you this Murphy scholarship blah blah blah blah like I screamed. I screamed in the middle of the metro station and everyone like stopped and turned to me and was like what's wrong with you?

[Amy] It was definitely a huge relief because I had been thinking a lot about the financial constraints coming to med school and it I guess just cemented my idea of this school being the right place because like I said it it really showed me that the people here do care a lot about the students.

[Kenny] Yeah, it reaffirms that I'm on the right path and that I'm working my tail off and I deserve it. yeah yeah - it just lifts that one like one extra little layer of the barrier off for me able to pursue my dreams they're letting you know hey we have faith in you you can do this. 

From left: Shari Whicker, Douglas Grider


Take Note

VTCSOM History Wall

This coming summer, the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine will celebrate 10 years since our building opened and we welcomed the charter class. In honor of this milestone, we will create a permanent exhibition wall to celebrate some of the historical highlights over the last decade. The intent will be to continue to add onto the wall in the future.

We would like your feedback about what should be included! If you have ideas, please fill out the survey. We would like to collect all feedback by the end of the year to work on design in early 2020.

Nominations Sought for Research Mentors of the Year

The research division is seeking nominations from students and alumni for this year’s VTCSOM Research Mentor Award. This award is for current VTCSOM faculty members who are either serving as research mentors or who have served as research mentors in the past. We will recognize the recipient at the Class of 2020 Research Symposium on Friday, March 27, 2020.

If you would like to nominate your research mentor, please use the following survey link to submit your nomination. If several of you would like to nominate an individual as a group, you may do so by uploading a brief nomination letter to the survey. We ask that you please submit your nominations by Dec. 15, 2019.

Task Force Updates

The task force on incremental growth has been collecting and analyzing data to support a request to the LCME for permission to increase our class size from our current roster of 42 students. The request to the LCME will be submitted this month with a target at this time for 49 students who would be matriculating in August of 2020.

Humanism Notes

In his moving plenary presentation at the Learn Serve Lead 2019 AAMC Annual meeting, Bryan Stevenson reflected on his work as a civil rights lawyer working with death row inmates. His words are excerpted in Q&A format below and summarized here.

You work very hard to help people in dire circumstances, as do many physicians. How do you manage to avoid burning out?

For me it’s about altering the expectation. I realize I can't live a life that is wholly apart from the lives of people that I care about, including my clients. If you reconcile yourself to the fact that your humanity is implicated when someone else’s humanity is being denied or ignored, then it doesn’t seem as challenging to recognize that you are going to have moments when you feel great anguish or pain or sorrow.

The flip side is that the relationship to the people you serve also creates moments of unparalleled joy, of great purpose and clarity and meaning. A lot of people never get that because they haven’t positioned themselves close enough to something that could be overwhelming. I think that’s the privilege of being a service provider and caregiver. There will be pain but there also will be moments of joy and inexpressible gratitude and love even.

There will be thousands of leaders of medical schools and teaching hospitals at Learn Serve Lead. What do you hope to say to them?

I will urge people to do uncomfortable things because that’s the only way we make progress. Justice has never happened, equality has never been won, breakthroughs in science or in human relations have never been achieved by people who only do things that are comfortable and convenient. We cannot increase the justice quotient or the health quotient if we insist on only doing things that are easy.

Diversity doesn’t happen by itself, inclusion and greater empathy don’t happen by themselves. We have to work at them. We have to commit ourselves even when it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable. We have to be mindful of that as we struggle to move forward on the many challenging issues of equity that face our country.”

Upcoming Events

The Last Note

Is your pet purrrfect? Do they live a dog’s life here in Roanoke? It’s not too late to submit pictures of your pet for inclusion in our series Companion Critters.  We feature one pet each week on VTCSOM’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Four images of animals, described below
1. Student Affairs Manager Elvir Berbic's Nube and Max; 2. Assistant Professor Kristin Eden's Snakerton; 3. Class of 2023 Sunauz Moezzi and Odion; 4. Assistant Professor Kristofer Rau and Chloe.

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