Progress Notes | February 2023

The month of February is filled with opportunities to celebrate, honor, and learn from one another. I’d like to point out some highlights of the month. February 1 marked the 11th Docs for Morgan annual basketball challenge featuring medical students versus faculty physicians, residents and fellows. The event was established in 2012 by physicians at Carilion Clinic to honor Morgan Dana Harrington, the daughter of Dan and Gil Harrington and a Virginia Tech undergraduate student, who was tragically murdered in 2009. Docs for Morgan supports an annual scholarship in Morgan’s name that honors her passion for education by supporting deserving students at VTCSOM.

February is also the month where Hokies around the world participate in Virginia Tech Giving Day, a 24-hour celebration starting at noon on February 15. This day helps us celebrate the power of giving and unites us as Virginia Tech's ninth college. Our goal this year is to have at least 155 unique donors, so we need all VTCSOM faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends to participate. Mark your calendars and be sure to join us by donating! We will also host a Giving Day 2023 After Hours Social (register here) on February 15. See our Spotlight on Giving section below for more information.

February also brings Black History Month and multiple opportunities to learn, acknowledge, and appreciate. Individually we can reach out to our Black friends and colleagues with an invitation to learn more about their family’s history. There are also several organized activities here in Roanoke I’d like to highlight. From 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on February 7 our Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Series will present a seminar on Black Family Health (learn more and register). This will be a community-focused event highlighting health equity and outcomes for the Black family as a whole as well as the key role that Black physicians play in our community. The expert panel will include physician specialists from pediatrics, internal medicine, OBGYN, surgery and psychiatry who will share their experiences and answer questions.

From 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on February 15 the Roanoke Higher Education Center, Virginia Tech Roanoke Center and Roanoke Public Libraries will present Celebrating Gainsboro featuring three speakers who are engaged in preserving and sharing Gainsboro’s rich history: Jordan Bell, Evie Stone, and Carla James. If a self-paced experience is more your style, consider learning about Histories of Enslavement at Roanoke College, an 11-point walking tour tracing aspects of the history of enslavement at and around the campus. I obtained printed guides for the tour. Please contact my office if you would like one.

I am grateful to work with a cadre of outstanding leaders in the Dean’s office. You will see them featured as authors of the Dean’s Message throughout the year.

Lee A. Learman


  • Congratulations to Leslie LaConte, who has been named associate dean for research at VTCSOM. In addition to this promotion to associate dean, LaConte was recently appointed director, foundational science curriculum, a role that provides oversight for the integration of research education and other curricular domains in the first- and second-years of the MD-granting program.
  • Rebecca Pauly, vice dean, was awarded a certificate of appreciation by the American College of Physicians in recognition of her commitment to mentoring and the positive impact of her mentorship in the internal medicine community as part of National Mentoring Month 2023.
  • For the second year, Shari Whicker, assistant dean for faculty development, has been appointed as the southern regional lead for the National Group on Educational Affairs’ grant review selection committee through AAMC.
  • Harrison Brookeman ’22 presented Implementation of the Bedside Lung Ultrasound in Emergency (BLUE) Protocol by Prehospital Paramedics at the second edition of the Point of Care Ultrasound conference.
  • Four TBMH/VTCSOM students presented at the TBMH Research Symposium last month: Noah Oakland, Katelyn Stebbins, Andrew Strohman, and Kenneth Young.


head shot. details below

A warm welcome to Mengxi Zhang, assistant professor of health systems and implementation science, who joined the VTCSOM family in January.


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

  • Internal Medicine: Karla Guerra and Zachary Holcomb
  • Pediatrics: Carl Dowden and Macon Hogan
  • Surgery: Terry Langfitt, Jr.

Diversity and Inclusion Notes

  • In honor of Black History Month, VTCSOM welcomes you to the first Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging event of 2023 titled Black Family Health. This community focused event, which will take place tomorrow, February 7, aims to highlight health equity and health outcomes for the Black family as a whole and also the key role that the Black physicians play in our community. Our knowledgeable physicians, with experience in the following specialties will serve as experts on a panel to talk about their experiences and answer your questions: pediatrics, internal medicine, infectious diseases, obstetrics and gynecology, surgery, and psychiatry.
  • JumpStart for juniors and seniors, and HPEP, the Health Professions Enrichment Program for 10th graders, got off to a great start last month with participation of more than 40 students between them. HPEP and JumpStart are two of the K-12 pathway programs offered by VTCSOM's office for diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Holidays and observances in the month of February:
    • February is Black History Month
    • 1: National Freedom Day, celebrating the signing of the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery in the United States in 1865
    • 1–2: a Gaelic, Pagan, and Wiccan traditional festival that represents spring and the rebirth of nature
    • 2: Candlemas
    • 3: St. Blaise Day
    • 3: Setsubun-Sai (Beginning of Spring)
    • 3: Four Chaplains Day commemorates the anniversary of the sinking of the US Army transport Dorchester and the heroism of the four chaplains aboard
    • 5: Maghi-Purnima
    • 5: Magha Puja Day (Maka Bucha)
    • 6: Lantern Festival
    • 14: St. Valentine’s Day
    • 15: Parinirvana Day (Nirvana Day)
    • 17-18 (sundown to sundown): Lailat al Miraj
    • 18: Maha Shivaratri
    • 19: Meatfare Sunday (The Sunday of the Last Judgment)
    • 19-21: Losar, the Tibetan Buddhist New Year
    • 20: Presidents Day
    • 21: Mardi Gras
    • 21: Shrove Tuesday
    • 22: Ash Wednesday
    • February 25–March 1: Intercalary Days or Ayyám-i-Há (Bahá’í)
    • 26: Cheesefare Sunday or Forgiveness Sunday
    • 27: Beginning of Great Lent in the Orthodox Christian faith (Clean Monday)
collage of five images from Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service
VTCSOM students, staff, and faculty, and their family members, participated in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

Community Corner

  • Don’t forget the spring art show officially opens today. The Healing Power of Hope runs through May 8. Members of the public are welcome to visit the exhibit by contacting Courtney Powell. In addition, everyone is invited to an artist reception at 5:30 p.m. on February 28.
  • A strong showing of VTCSOM faculty, staff, and students participated in a day of service in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service last month. The group worked with Renovation Alliance to build an accessibility ramp for a family in need.
  • Our students have been very active with community service:

Spotlight on Giving

Get in the Game! Help the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine advance on Giving Day 2023 by joining us for an After Hours Social from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 15 in the Riverside 2 Atrium & Café. Relax with us after work or class with heavy hors d'oeuvres and drinks while enjoying live music, giveaways, and special presentations all while raising money for VTCSOM! $15 per person* ($5 will be a Giving Day donation to VTCSOM). Register here.
*Attendees will receive a voucher for one alcoholic beverage. Additional drink tickets will be available for purchase.

Humanism Notes

In this Valentine’s month, have you ever thought about what love looks like for you? Love means different things to different people. This short, heartwarming video captures the spirit of what, when, and how we experience love.

Take Note

Take Note

  • Looking for ways to engage? Already have an engagement event or project in the works and want to get the word out? Current projects, past projects, VTCSOM Engage information, that very handy link to register an activity or event - it's all at The Hub! (requires VT login credentials to access)  
  • The Humanism in Medicine group is looking for some volunteers to help check donors in during their upcoming blood drive. The event is in the Student Commons from noon to 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 7. If you are available to staff the check-in table for even a portion of the afternoon, please contact Courtney Powell.
    • If you don’t have the time to sit at the table, why not donate instead? Go to Find a Drive and type VTCSM (no O!) in to the box to schedule a time.
  • Do you ever feel like you need to take a mid-day break and stretch your arms and legs? This spring get some 'you time' and join our on-site yoga series. A 45-minute yoga session meets at noon on the second and fourth Wednesdays through April in room 210. For questions, please email Emily Holt Foerst. Here's the full schedule:
    • February 8: Mindfulness Meditation with Nishika Raheja
    • February 22: Breathing exercises, guided mindfulness, and slow flow with Emily Holt Foerst
    • March 8: Breathing exercises, guided mindfulness, and slow flow with Emily Holt Foerst
    • March 22: Ashtanga Vinyasa (strength & focus) with Nishika Raheja
    • April 12: Breathing exercises and slow flow with Emily Holt Foerst
    • April 26: Mindfulness meditation—restorative flow with Nishika Raheja
  • 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
  • Interested in reserving a room in the HS&T campus Center for Inclusion? Follow these simple steps:
    • Login to your personal Google calendar
    • Click create button, add event (choosing date, time, and title)
    • Paste the following email address into the "add guests" line, then save and send.
  • Past issues of Progress Notes are available on the website.

Upcoming Events

group shot described below

The Last Note

Last month’s annual Delta Dental lecture brought many smiles to people’s faces with a discussion on maternal oral health.

Left to right: Delta Dental President and CEO Frank Lucia, UNC Professor and speaker Kim Boggess, Associate Professor of Surgery Charles “Bud” Conklin, and Dean Lee Learman.

But wait. Who is that? Why, it’s our own Roanoke Hokie, M.D. who managed to photobomb Ryan Anderson’s shot.

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