Progress Notes | August 2021

There was a flurry of excitement last week as our M1 students began their first block of medical school at VTCSOM. The class of 2025 is the second one to matriculate since we increased our class size from 42 to 49 last year. We are thankful that members of the class were able to enjoy an onboarding experience that better reflects our pre-pandemic traditions.

One year ago, for everyone’s health and safety, orientation for the entering class was primarily virtual with limited small-group sessions. The long-established class picture on the front steps was cancelled, and even our traditional night at the Salem Red Sox was postponed almost a year!

Today, as we celebrate a return to near normalcy, we acknowledge that this progress may not be permanent if there is a surge of serious illness and hospitalizations from COVID-19 cases in our surrounding community. Vaccination rates among students, faculty, and staff at VTCSOM are very high, but future public health restrictions based on worsening community indicators could potentially restrict the way we implement our curriculum.

With these uncertainties comes a strong sense of optimism rooted in the outstanding example set last year by our faculty, staff, and students, as well as our supportive colleagues at Virginia Tech and Carilion Clinic. Their can-do spirit and rock-solid commitment to our mission allowed VTCSOM to adapt with agility to changing circumstances and prepared us to respond quickly to any future challenges.

Promoting the lowest possible rates of infection in our surrounding community means listening without judgment to the concerns of unvaccinated individuals, responding with information to clarify the risk of infection versus the risk of an adverse vaccine reaction, supporting decisions not to be vaccinated with information on mask-wearing and physical distancing, and communicating our concerns with compassion and respect.

I am very excited for the journey awaiting the class of 2025. Over the next 4 years they will participate in many innovative academic and clinical initiatives underway at VTCSOM and Carilion Clinic. Read more about our remarkable class of 2025, the 12th class of Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

Lee A. Learman

Richard C. Vari, Senior Dean for Academic Affairs


  • Pam Adams, Emily Holt Foerst, and the VTCSOM Assessment and Evaluation Team – Brock Mutcheson and Caitlin Bassett – were nominated for Hokie Highlights, which recognizes employees or teams that have offered exceptional service keeping Virginia Tech running throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Cynthia Morrow, assistant professor of health care innovation and implementation science, was named an Honorary No. 25 Healthcare Hero
  • Carrie Knopf has successfully completed the coursework and passed the IAAP exam to become a Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Concepts (CPACC).
  • David Musick is serving on the search committee for Virginia Tech’s vice provost for faculty affairs.
  • We say goodbye to Andre Dean, media specialist, whose last day with us was Friday, July 23.
  • Chinekwu Anyanwu, associate professor of internal medicine, is one of 10 female neurologists around the country to complete the American Academy of Neurology’s Women Leading in Neurology Program.
  • Congratulations to the 14 faculty members who were recognized this month as Exceptional Teachers by our students. Thank you for providing excellence in teaching. 
  • Hats off to the following staff and students who made the Achievable Dream event a resounding success: N.L. Bishop, Angelica Witcher, Elvir Berbic, Ryan Anderson, Devra Asah, Patrick Barrett, Patrick Beck, David Brooks, Nneoma Edokobi, Casey Engel, Vemmy Metsutnan, Claire Seo, Abigail Simpson, Andrew Strohman, Miles Thomas, Benjamin Tintera, and Chukwuemeka Uwakaneme.
Katherine Brown, Philip Wakefield, Patrick Rush, Douglas Grider, Josh Eikenberg



Welcome to all the new faculty who joined us in July:

  • Emergency Medicine: Robert Brown, Nathaniel Linger, and Jessica Nguyen
  • Family and Community Medicine: Michelle Rockwell
  • Internal Medicine: Andrew Behnke
  • Pediatrics: Natalie Hayes and John Stone
  • Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine: Faiq Hamirani and Shariff Tanious
  • Radiology: Christopher Allen and Nikesh Patel
  • Surgery: Lorraine Arias, Ayesha Kelly, and Joseph Leech

Diversity and Inclusion Notes

  • Kory Cablay, class of 2022, and Sarah Yosief, class of 2023, are both scholarship recipients at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. They sat down to discuss why they want to become physicians and how the scholarships have helped them along in their journeys.  Cablay received the VTC Diversity Excellence in Medicine Scholarship Fund, which was established by Drs. Frank and Jennifer Clark to support underrepresented students. Yosief received the Caroline Osborne Memorial Scholarship, which was established to honor the memory of Caroline Osborne, who was a member of the school’s Charter Class. 
  • Did you know that you can find events related to diversity, equity, and inclusion at VTCSOM all in one place? Events are continuously being added to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion calendar, which can be found on our website.
  • Registration is now open for Virginia Tech’s annual Diversity Summit to be held August 11. The event will feature short, asynchronous sessions available all day. There will be live components on a by-invitation basis including the keynote speaker, Claude Steele, whose lecture will be livestreamed from 9-10:15 a.m. 
  • Holidays and celebrations in the month of August:
    • 6: Feast of the Transfiguration
    • 10: Hijri (Islamic New Year)
    • 13: Black Women’s Equal Pay Day
    • 17: Marcus Garvey Day
    • 18-19: Ashura (sundown to sundown)
    • 22: Obon
    • 22: Hungry Ghost Festival
    • 26: Women’s Equality Day
    • 29-30: Krishna Janmashtami
Vrinda Shukla
Class of 2023 student Vrinda Shukla 

Spotlight on Giving

In 2019, then first-year student Vrinda Shukla was the first recipient of the Dr. Edward G. and Arlene Murphy Scholarship at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. The late Dr. Murphy was president and CEO of Carilion Clinic when the school was founded and is considered one of the visionaries, along with the late Charles W. Steger, president emeritus of Virginia Tech, in establishing the medical school and partner research institute. Other recipients of the scholarship have been Kenneth Young in 2020 and Ilona Jileaeva in 2021.

Humanism Notes

Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston whose scholarly work focuses on courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy. She’s also a great storyteller. In her 20-minute TEDx talk Dr. Brown tells a personal story about the power of vulnerability.


Vaccination Notes

Take Note

Take Note

  • The Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign is delighted to announce the coming of an exciting new contest for all employees. The CVC Inspiring Image Contest calls upon you to enter a 2-D image created by an art medium of your choice (paint, pastels, chalks, photographs, digitally created, etc.) to win big!
  • Improving accessibility is not just the responsibility of the tech-savvy. Everyone can help to do their part. Virginia Tech’s Accessible Technologies has opened the application process for employees to become certified accessibility professionals. They offer two courses: WAS (web accessibility specialist) and CPACC (certified professional in accessibility core concepts), which focuses more instructional design concepts.
  • Past issues of Progress Notes are available on the website.

Upcoming Events

Four images from the Salem Red Sox game: left candid group shot of students interacting; top right four people lined up with their backs to the camera wearing class of 22, 23, 24, 25 shirts; bottom right: three VTCSOM students smiling; center, assistant dean Brock Mutcheson and his children

The Last Note

The annual VTCSOM night at the Salem Red Sox to welcome our new M1 students was a huge “hit.” 

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