Progress Notes | April 2021

Spring is here! The warm weather, colorful blooms, and sunny evenings are making us all smile a bit more. And there is something else to lift our spirits. The month of March included several important pre-graduation milestones to celebrate for the Class of 2021.

Our limited attendance Match Day event at the Jefferson Center was fun and lighthearted. Despite interviews all being virtual, and no away rotations helping students and programs get to know each other, Match 2021 went remarkably well. Many students were matched to their top choice, and most to one of their top three. Two students chose to invest the coming year in research fellowship training instead of entering preliminary programs.

Our students matched into a wide range of specialties, and two will remain at VTC and Carilion Clinic to train in OB/GYN and pediatrics. Other Virginia programs (UVA, VCU) are on the list, as well as programs across the US (not an exhaustive list): West (UC Irvine, UC San Francisco, U Washington), Midwest (U Chicago, Cleveland Clinic, Rush, U Illinois, U Iowa), South (Duke, Tulane, U Alabama, U Florida, U Kentucky, UNC, Wake Forest), Northeast (Beth Israel Deaconess, SUNY, Temple, UPMC). Congratulations to all!

Our annual Research Symposium was conducted in M203 with attendance limited to the Class of 2021 and selected faculty. The Research Mentor Award was presented to Dr. Anita Kablinger from the department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine. The student research presentations featured a wonderful range of clinical and laboratory-based translational research projects, as well as several projects advancing knowledge about behavior change, educational techniques, or the application of therapies in global health settings.

During the past year, the class of 2021 had to make abrupt pivots not only in their residency application strategy but also their research projects, many of which had to be modified mid-stream with the closure of research labs and clinics last spring and summer. It has been a tough year, but our students have shown flexibility and perseverance – two attributes that will serve them well as physicians.

As we recognize our students we also congratulate our faculty and staff who worked tirelessly to support and guide our students on their paths to success. We are grateful for their inspiring commitment during a year of historic challenges!

Lee A. Learman

M4 students Grace Lee, Miranda Creasey, Aaditya Chandrasekar, Michael Shlossman, and Anna Shvygina presented their research at the symposium along with Kerilyn Godbe, Varun Kavuru, and Dixon Lee (not pictured); Research Mentor of the Year Anita Kablinger


  • Special recognitions go out to these VTCSOM employees who will be leaving us this month. Sincere appreciation for your dedication to our team, and best of luck in the future.
    • Rita McCandless is retiring April 9.
    • Kelsey Daniel is joining PricewaterhouseCoopers' Health Services consulting team this month.
    • Autumn Nordstrom is joining the financial aid staff at Hollins University this month.
    • Amanda Pauley is joining University Libraries of Virginia Tech’s Library Service Center on the main campus this month.
    • Kim Blair left to begin a new position as vice president for resource development at Roanoke College in March.
  • Congratulations to our faculty and students who took part in a web seminar for the International Association of Medical Science Educators (IAMSE) series on Strategies for Promoting Inclusivity in Health Sciences Education. The faculty were Richard Vari, Joanne Greenawald, Karen Eley Sanders, Charlotte Baker, and Emily Holt Foerst. A video was created and embedded in the session that featured Aubrey Knight and some of our students role-playing scenarios of bias and microaggressions followed-up with analysis and discussion. The students were Luma Abunimer, Madeline D’Aquilla, Sao Hyun Kim, Camden Kurtz, Sahana Nazeer, Allison Strauss, David O’Neil, and Mehdi Elmouchtari.
  • Helena Carvalho was part of a panel discussion on the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women hosted by Virginia Tech’s Cranwell International Center for International Women’s Day last month.


Diversity and Inclusion

  • #StopAAPIHate: Since the start of COVID-19, anti-Asian hate crimes have increased by 1900%. As educators, it is our responsibility to resist the false narratives that fuel these crimes with accurate information and data. Likewise, we must decolonize thought patterns that promote model minority and orientalist stereotypes, such as those that cast anyone of Asian descent as the perpetual foreigner.
  • Learn more about the university’s Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month, including a Virtual Café Hour on April 8.
  • Stanford’s Teaching LGBTQ+ Health course: a faculty development course for health professions educators. This curriculum is designed for faculty members and health professions educators at Stanford Medicine and beyond. The course goals are to improve your knowledge, teaching skills, and attitudes pertaining to the provision of health care to LGBTQ+ patients. View the course trailer.
  • Religious Holidays in the month of April:
    • 2 - Good Friday
    • 4 - Easter
    • 12 - Ramadan starts
    • 12 - Hindu New Year
    • 14 - Vaisakhi (Baisakhi)
    • 20 - Festival of Ridvan starts
    • 21 - Ram Navami
    • 22 - Earth Day
    • 25 - Mahavir Jayanti

Humanism Notes

Our narrative medicine elective is a wonderful example of our commitment to focus on humanism in medicine in our curriculum. This elective, led by Brian and Cyndy Unwin, uses stories and creative responses to build students’ listening skills, empathy, and reflectiveness. Brian is a professor of internal medicine, and Cyndy is assistant professor of interprofessionalism.

It has been said that every patient has a story - not just a public-facing story but also one that’s hidden. Often, it’s this story-behind-the-story that is critical to treating the patient as a whole person, not just a cluster of symptoms.

ARTiculation, the online journal of some of our students’ creative endeavors both from the narrative medicine elective as well as contributions outside of the elective, has a new issue online. The creativity and self-reflection of these works are extraordinary. I invite you to take a look. I’m sure you will be deeply moved.

Lee Learman

Take Note

Upcoming Events

*Specific plans for this event will be posted on our website's event page as they are made available.

20 images of students announcing their matches to residency

The Last Note

VTCSOM's eighth Match Day featured Zoom attire - business dress on top with more laid back clothing on the bottom. Congrats to the class of 2021 who will go into programs representing 18 specialties in 18 states, and 31 different academic health centers. Read the Match Day story.

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