Progress Notes | May 2020

The past month at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine has been a mixture of distinct challenges and celebratory successes.

First, even though COVID-19 has required us to come up with creative approaches for educating our students and conducting other business virtually, I have witnessed remarkable perseverance and professionalism demonstrated by our faculty and staff to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

One example is the determination of employees across a number of our units to give members of the class of 2020 the graduation ceremony they deserve. The virtual event will include speakers, hooding of each student (by themselves), and recitation of the Hippocratic Oath by members of our faculty. These are all being pre-recorded and will go live on May 9 at 9 a.m. 

Second, we’ve taken another step forward on something I mentioned in last month’s issue. Following the February notification from LCME (our accrediting body) that we had adequate resources to grow our student body by seven students, we proceeded with the development of an expansion business plan and FY21 expansion budget. With approvals now in place from the VTCSOM Medical Curriculum Committee and Academic Committee, as well as Virginia Tech and the VTC Executive Committee, I am delighted to announce our expansion to 49 students effective with the incoming Class of 2024 has come to finality. In a time of resource restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 crisis we are grateful for the support of Virginia Tech and Carilion in moving forward with expansion. I offer a heartfelt thank you to members of the incremental growth task force for their hard work in getting us to this place. Read more about this in the News Around Campus section below.

Stay safe and be well,
Lee A. Learman

Headshots of Vianne Greek and David Musick


  • Vianne Greek, web manager, has become a certified web accessibility specialist. This credential “is intended for accessibility professionals who are expected to evaluate the accessibility of existing content or objects according to published technical standards and guidelines, and provide detailed remediation recommendations.”
  • David Musick, senior dean for faculty affairs, is part of a group of medical educators that has been accepted to lead a workshop at the AAMC Annual Meeting in November. The workshop is titled, Optimizing success: Getting your health professions education research projects funded.
Headshots of folks listed in publishing article.


  • A research project by Michael Nussbaum, chair of the Department of Surgery; Katie Howe, surgical resident at Carilion Clinic; and Tom Liu, VTCSOM class of 2020, appears on the cover of the most recent issue of the American College of Surgeons professional journal. The project follows the life of Roanoke doctor Isaac Burrell and the evolution of the black hospital movement
  • An article published recently in the Global Journal of Transfusion Medicine features the culmination of a research project by VTCSOM alumnae Evangeline Arulraja, who is now an emergency medicine resident at Duke. Others involved in the project are David Musick, senior dean for faculty affairs; Paul Dallas, assistant professor of internal medicine; Shari Whicker, assistant dean for faculty development; Linda Wells, manager of continuing medical education for Carilion Clinic, and Katherine Shaver, former Carilion Clinic biostatistician.

Diversity and Inclusion

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is offering six self-led training sessions. Each one is guided by a PowerPoint presentation by speakers who have presented at our normal Lunch and Learn events. In addition, there is a link to the “Power to Heal” video that was shown earlier this year. 

Take Note

  • A reminder that you can find VTCSOM’s weekly video update on our website as well as a link to all of the past updates.
  • Back issues of Progress Notes are also available on our website.
  • Call for cute critters! For six months now, we’ve enjoyed featuring VTC pets in our Companion Critters social media campaign. We’d love to feature more! With extra time at home, what are you doing with your pets? Let us know!
Frank Clark

Humanism Notes

For this month’s Humanism Notes, Frank Clark, former member of our Dean’s Council on Advancement and former VTCSOM faculty member, offers this original poem, starting first with his explanation and interpretation:

“One of ways I express myself is through poetry. I was inspired to write the poem, ‘Antidote for Chronic Pandemic,’  following a process group that was implemented for faculty members in our department in the setting of COVID-19 pandemic. We meet virtually on Thursdays to discuss how we are coping during these stressful times. The groups are co-led by our adult and child and adolescent training directors Neha Hudepohl and Megan Zappitelli.

We also take time to participate in a mindfulness meditation exercise in order to rejuvenate our minds, bodies, and spirits. The faculty is welcomed to share any of their own reflections during the session. I wanted to write something that would leave room for introspection in regards to how COVID-19 has illuminated the chronic pandemic (i.e. greed, racism, and health disparities) that has plagued our country for centuries. I hope and pray that my reflections will resonate in the hearts of everyone who reads it.”

Antidote for Chronic Pandemic
By Frank Clark

Search the traumatized hearts that float through the wilderness of disarray.
Search the myopic eyes, whose muscles atrophy at the sight of economic fragility.
Search the somnolent ears that decline interventions to help restore life’s healthy equilibrium.

Ask the unyielding spirit to transform hardened vessels that spew toxic blood filled with bias.
Ask the global doyens to illuminate equity amidst a virus that is unfamiliar with replicating this concept.
Ask the precocious infants to babble sounds of joy in the hollow souls of the afflicted.

Spread antibodies to neighbors to boost a system salivating for rejuvenation.
Spread infinite hope via handshakes that embrace diverse narratives.
Spread six feet apart to make room for wisdom, gratitude, and love contagion.

Frank Clark, medical director and division chief for Adult Inpatient and Consult-Liaison Services for the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at PRISMA Health and clinical assistant professor at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine-Greenville.

Upcoming Events

The Last Note

The Last Note this month is actually lots of notes – musical notes! In the spirit of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), our students organized a virtual open mic night to raise funds to buy PPE for local health care organizations who need it. The event was a resounding success. If you missed it, you can check it out here.

Add Your Own Note

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