Progress Notes | September 2020

After almost six months since the rapid and pervasive spread of COVID-19 forced Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine to halt in-person instruction and clinical rotations, life here is looking cautiously brighter. All four classes have returned to mostly on-campus instruction and clinical rotations, and some of our employees have elected to return to the office from teleworking arrangements. Everyone is wearing masks and becoming accustomed to our new procedures for keeping our people and spaces as safe as possible.

Riding on an initiative of the New River Valley Public Health Task Force, of which Virginia Tech is a member, the university unveiled a Community Wellness Commitment to encourage community members to care for the health and well-being of others. VTCSOM and the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC worked together to bring on partners from the Roanoke Valley. You may have already seen wellness commitment posters like this one with our logos and other local organizations around the medical school and broader Roanoke Valley. We hope seeing it around campus and town reminds us that we all have a part to play in the health of our community, particularly during this pandemic.

I am proud to say that in the spirit of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) nearly 90 of our students signed up to be part of the Virginia Department of Health’s Medical Reserve Corps. One third of them have taken assignments to be volunteer contact tracers. We give a sincere thank you to these students in Recognitions below.

One other bit of news from the VDH is that Cynthia Morrow, co-leader of our Health Systems Science and Interprofessional Practice (HSSIP) domain, has accepted the position of director of the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts of the Virginia Department of Health. Cynthia will remain co-leader of HSSIP, and we expect her new role will facilitate many opportunities for collaboration. 

As we look ahead to the coming weeks and months, continued vigilance in our professional and personal lives will directly affect our ability to continue in-person and clinical teaching and learning. Consistent habits of social distancing, masking, and hand-washing give us the power to influence the future of our community’s health through shared commitment and determination. We are truly all in this together.

Stay safe and be well,
Lee A. Learman

Board of Visitors toured the school in groups of 5 while adhering to masking and physical distancing requirements
BOV campus tour of the commons. Clockwise: Mehul Sanghani, Kim Blair, Virginia Tech President Tim Sands, Preston White, Student Guide Katie Brow, and Dean Learman

News Around Campus


  • Dean Lee Learman, along with the Virginia Department of Health, extend a sincere thank you to VTCSOM students, faculty, and staff who have signed up to be part of VDH’s Medical Reserve Corps and volunteered to be contact tracers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Hailey Gosnell, class of 2021, has been selected as one of ten medical
    students for the 2020 American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Medical Student Awards.
  • Mark Greenawald, vice chair of family and community medicine, was a guest on public radio’s “With Good Reason” speaking about physician burnout and his PeerRXMed program


InclusiveVTCSOM Task Force

Under the leadership of co-chairs, Michael Jeremiah, chair of family and community medicine; Fidel Valea, chair of obstetrics and gynecology; and Patricia Wooten, human resources manager, the InclusiveVTCSOM Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has been moving forward since it was officially announced in late July.

More than 100 members of the community are serving on seven working groups 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.” The first things needed were orientation sessions for facilitators and co-leaders. In addition, the group decided how it will share information and highlight the progress of the working groups. Starting this month, regular updates will be added to the website.

We encourage you to submit any questions to the group via the link under Task Force Member Resources on the website.

Diversity and Inclusion

Humanism Note

VTCSOM’s Narrative Medicine elective, co-taught by Brian and Cyndy Unwin, is based on the premise that the effective practice of medicine requires the ability to acknowledge, absorb, interpret, and act on the stories and plights of others. Medicine practiced with narrative competence leads to a more humanistic understanding of the patient experience. It also promotes a greater ability of physicians to express the emotional quality of our experiences with patients.

The three cohorts of students who have completed the elective have created stories, poems, paintings, songs, and more – to reflect on their experience as student doctors. Their work was so outstanding, it is being featured in an online publication for all to enjoy.

Take Note

The Last Note

Our traditional class photo on the steps of VTCSOM during new-student orientation looked a little different this year. For safety reasons during the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to get creative. Luckily, drone photography allowed our students to safely distance themselves while still posing for a group shot. This one will go down in VTCSOM history!

Aerial view of the school of medicine with class of 2024 students all physically distanced on patio and street
Group photo of the class of 2024

Add Your Own Note

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