Progress Notes | January 2023

Welcome back from what I hope was a restful and renewing holiday break! We have many reasons to be energized and excited about 2023. By the end of the year we will have updated our strategic plan for medical education, completed several important leadership recruitments (department chairs, chief physician executive), and continued to build our educational and research programs in health systems and implementation science.

As I write this in mid-December, it also seems likely that 2023 will mark the beginning of our formal planning process, supported by the Commonwealth of Virginia, to design a new building for our medical school. The building will be large enough to accommodate more students, faculty and staff, as well as expanded facilities for team-based research and scholarship. Construction will commence after the design process is completed and final approval is provided through the state’s capital budget process for higher education. Although it is too early to develop accurate timelines, the new building could open within the next four to six years.

Our planning process is guided by principles dictating that growth must maintain or enhance our current small group learning formats, excellent clinical training, and curricular innovations including health systems science and interprofessional practice. Growth must not diminish our rigorous research requirement or the close-knit relationships among students and between students and faculty. Growth must enable us to reach our goals for diversity, equity and inclusion and our ability to launch new joint degree programs and pathways into specialties that meet the needs and aspirations of our students. Growth must enhance our ability to deliver outstanding competency-based outcomes for our graduates and must sustain our highly successful residency match outcomes. And our proposal for growth must be judged as sound by our accrediting bodies as well as the leadership of the VTC partnership: Virginia Tech and Carilion Clinic.

Determining the optimal enrollment at VTCSOM must be completed within the next 18 months to guide the design of the new building. We are exploring several areas to determine our capacity for growth, beyond bricks and mortar. The two most important foci are clinical clerkship capacity and research mentorship capacity. Regarding research mentoring we are reassured by the pace of growth in research faculty at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, our plans to recruit tenure or tenure-track research faculty in implementation science, and Carilion Clinic’s evolving research strategy. Regarding clinical training we are reassured by what we have learned so far during creative visioning sessions with education leaders in the clinical departments that host the core clerkships. These sessions have generated many ideas through the lens of each specialty’s future state (practice locations, faculty numbers) and how clerkship students can be integrated into a greater variety of clinical experiences. We have heard many innovative ideas that have the potential of improving the clerkships from what is already an excellent experience as judged by our graduates.

On January 26 we will hold a mini-retreat including the education teams from all of the clinical departments hosting clerkships. The outcome of the retreat will be to make data-driven determinations about future clerkship capacity. With an estimated six to eight years before the first larger class of medical students starts their clerkships, we have time to build the needed infrastructures, new clinical sites and schedules to assure that all of our students continue to receive an outstanding clinical education.

We will bring updates and requests for input to all stakeholder groups, including medical student leadership, as the planning unfolds. What an exciting time to be at VTCSOM!

Lee A. Learman


  • Mariah Rudd, director, Office of Continuing Professional Development, led the Annual National Academies Collaborative meeting at the November AAMC conference in Nashville along with Neeral Shah, from the University of Virginia, with whom she is co-chair of the collaborative. The half-day meeting was an opportunity to discuss innovative strategies to drive institutional commitment to educators and excellence in teaching in the health professions.
  • The following team received a $50,000 iThriv Pilot Award for “Exploring Patient-Reported ‘Sludge’ in the Delivery of Cancer Screening Services”: VTCSOM faculty members John Epling (principal investigator), Michelle Rockwell, Paul Yeaton, and Sarah Parker; Jeff Stein with FBRI, and Li Li at the University of Virginia.
  • The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine was well-represented at the American Medical Association's Health Systems Science Summit. Jed Gonzalo, senior associate dean for medical education, delivered the plenary address at the AMA’s Health Systems Science Summit.
  • Sarah Parker, department chair for health systems and implementation science, gave a presentation on The Land of Well-Fit Toys: Building a Health Systems Science Department within a School of Medicine. Contributors included Natalie Karp, Cynthia Morrow, and Dean Learman.
  • The poster “Intentionally Designing Clinical Faculty Professional Development to Support Health Systems Science Integration within Medical Education” was presented by Sarah Harendt, Natalie Karp, Mariah Rudd, and Shari Whicker, all with VTCSOM and Carilion Clinic.
  • Michelle Rockwell, VTCSOM faculty member, gave a distinguished paper presentation at the 50th Annual Meeting of the North American Primary Care Research Group. The paper was titled, “Screening for Unhealthy Alcohol Use among Virginia Primary Care Patients with Multiple Chronic Conditions.” Co-authors included John Epling from VTCSOM and Alex Krist, Alison Huffstetler, Roy Sabo, Adam Funk, Ben Webel, and Gaby Villalobos from VCU.



Welcome to the new faculty who joined us in December:

  • Health Systems and Implementation Science: Mengxi Zhang
  • Internal Medicine: Alia Hasan, Timothy Hormel, Feryal Nauman, and Yassine Sassi
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology: Everett Magann
  • Radiology: Bhumi Patel
  • Surgery: William Arnold, Jordan Darden, and Elizabeth Stapleton

Diversity and Inclusion Notes

  • Join Virginia Tech’s Office for Inclusion and Diversity for the annual Advancing Diversity Gathering on January 12 with keynote speaker Tara J. Yosso, a professor in the graduate school of education at the University of California, Riverside, for a discussion on issues facing our community. The gathering is also an opportunity to celebrate exemplary diversity, equity, and inclusion practices occurring across campus.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration at Virginia Tech: A Conversation with Ruth E. Carter will take place January 19 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in The Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre in the Street and Davis Performance Hall at the Moss Arts Center.
  • The Aequitas Health Honor Society at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine was established in 2021 to promote health equity. It recognizes and honors members of the VTCSOM community who consistently work to promote health equity in our local community. Having inaugurated our first class of fellows in 2022, rising M4 VTCSOM students, post-graduate trainees including residents and fellows, and faculty are eligible to apply to become Aequitas fellows for the 2023-24 academic year. Students are required to have shown significant dedication to health care equity and post-graduate trainees and faculty must have contributed to health equity. Medical students chosen as Aequitas Health Fellows will work together on a service project that advances health equity in our community during their final year of medical school at VTCSOM. Submit nominations. Deadline for nominations: Friday, February 3 at 5:00 p.m.
  • Nominations are now open for the Dean’s Diversity Champions Award, which was established in 2022 to recognize the significant achievements of faculty, staff, and students towards developing a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community. Nominations (including self-nominations) are welcome from any member of the VTCSOM community. Up to ten awards will be given each year. Submit nominations. Deadline for nominations: Friday, February 3 at 5:00 p.m.
  • Holidays and observances in the month of January:
    • 1: New Year’s Day
    • 1: Feast Day of St. Basil
    • 3: Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus
    • 4: World Braille Day
    • 5: Twelfth Night
    • 6: Epiphany or Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings Day)
    • 7: Christmas (Eastern Orthodox Church)
    • 7: Mahayana New Year
    • 9: Birthday of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the Tenth Guru of the Sikhs
    • 13: Lohri-Maghi
    • 15: World Religion Day
    • 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
    • 18–25: The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
    • 19: Timkat (Ethiopian Orthodox Church)
    • 22: Lunar New Year
    • 26: Republic Day of India
    • 26: Vasant Panchami
    • 27: International Holocaust Remembrance Day
collage of three images from bodies and bites and one photo of toys collected for CHIP drive

Community Corner

  • Our VTCSOM faculty and staff really stepped up this year to support the annual Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign. Together, we raised just over 111% of our goal for a total of $4,205! A big thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s campaign. We couldn’t have done it without you!
  • Much appreciation goes out to the VTCSOM students and faculty who assisted with the fall Bodies and Bites program at Roanoke’s West End Center (pictured above). Enthusiastic second- and third-graders learned about how their cardiovascular, nervous, musculoskeletal, and digestive systems work, and learned how to make healthy snacks that relate to each of these systems. Thank you to: students Celine Marlin Andrews (M3), Brianna Chang (M1), Sydney Dinn (M1), Carter Gottschalk (M1), Alexander In (M2), Merly Konathapally (M2), Roger Luong (M1), Erin McDaid (M2), Shruthi Prabhakar (M1), Jacqueline Urdang (M1), Dana Wang (M1), and Eileen Xu (M2); FBRI/TBMH grad student Kavya Iyer; and VTCSOM faculty Helena Carvalho, Emily Holt Foerst (and her son William!), and Kristofer Rau.
  • Thanks to some of Santa's elves at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute, we donated over 150 toys and $100 to the families of our local Child Health Investment Partnership of Roanoke Valley!
  • VTCSOM was a sponsor of the World Aids Day Celebration of Life Dinner last month. All the proceeds for the event were donated to The Council of Community Services Drop-In Center.
  • Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Carilion Clinic, and Fralin Biomedical Research Institute are proud sponsors of the Roanoke Hidden Histories project, which includes the creation of a sculpture of Henrietta Lacks that honors the Roanoke native who unknowingly provided the world with the HeLa cell, fueling decades of life-saving and life changing research. The project also includes the creation of a virtual reality documentary which will be used as an educational tool and is being developed through a partnership with Richmond’s Hidden in Plain Site (HiPS).
24 hours of giving. February 15-16.

Spotlight on Giving

We are only about a month away from Giving Day, Virginia Tech’s annual 24-hour celebration of the Hokie Spirit and the power of giving back. This year’s Giving Day runs from noon on February 15 to noon on February 16. By donating to the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine during the 24-hour period, you can help us unlock additional funds to support our students! During last year’s Giving Day, VTCSOM raised $101,556 from 124 donors. This year, we’d like to see even more participation and surpass a goal of $150,000! For questions or more information about Giving Day 2023, please contact Alicia Besenyei, assistant dean for advancement at

Humanism Notes

A few minutes with the “Dream Rangers” reminds us that an holistic approach to health empowers people with the autonomy, skills and opportunities to achieve their dreams.

Take Note

Take Note

  • The VTCSOM Office of Community Engagement is now accepting entries for the 2023 Spring Art Exhibit – “The Healing Power of Hope.” Artists are invited to submit up to three pieces of work reflecting the show’s theme that hope is an integral part of any healing process. Art may be two- or three-dimensional, and all media will be accepted. Tentative show dates are February 6 through May 8, 2023. Artists who have already joined the show are: Kristy Ottinger, Jay Flack, and William Fields. To submit photos of your work, or if you have questions about the show. Contact Courtney Powell, Community Engagement Director, at
  • The Assistive Technologies Group at Virginia Tech has been working hard to get university wide access to a PDF remediation tool. This tool will allow you to fix PDFs and make them more accessible. Sign up to obtain a license for the PDF remediation tool
  • Virginia Tech’s Assistive Technologies Group has opened the application process for employees to become certified accessibility professionals. Improving accessibility is not just the responsibility of the tech-savvy. Everyone can help to do their part. The CPACC (certified professional in accessibility core concepts) course includes a focus on universal design for learning concepts and is extremely valuable.
  • Past issues of Progress Notes are available on the website.

Upcoming Events

a collage of five photos from the holiday party at the Braeloch

The Last Note

VTCSOM students, faculty, and staff relaxed and ushered in the holiday season at The Braeloch, which once again offered the perfect festive atmosphere (including line dancing!) 

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