Faculty Excellence Awards – 2010
Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award

Dr. Mark Ryan’s reputation for promoting humanistic teaching and health care is well established. As one of his students says, “He’s the incredibly engaged, supportive and humorous family medicine physician who supports us at our journal clubs, presentations of community projects, and aids in our efforts to provide medical care to the underserved in the Richmond area.” Or, in the words of another student, he is “the doctor I want to be.”

As an M3 and M4 student at VCU School of Medicine, Dr. Ryan was the first student to pilot the rural community preceptorship at the beginning of the International/Inner-City/ Rural Preceptorship (I2CRP) Program, experiencing practice in a rural underserved community. As an M4 student, Mark shared responsibility for teaching a Foundations of Clinical Medicine (FCM) small group. Dr. Ryan completed his residency at the rural Blackstone Family Medicine Residency Program. Following his residency, he practiced in a rural area in Keysville, VA, and served as VCU School of Medicine community affiliate faculty, supervising Family Medicine clerkship students and receiving very positive evaluations. At the same time, Dr. Ryan served as the coordinator for HIV/AIDS Awareness Programs in Central Virginia and pursued medical mission activities in Honduras and the Dominican Republic.

In 2005, Dr. Ryan joined the VCU Department of Family Medicine in a full-time position at the Hayes E. Willis Health Center. In this role, he cares for a medically and socially complex patient population; his fluency in Spanish is a great asset in this clinical setting. Additionally, he has been the Medical Director of the William and Mary/VCU Health Project in the Dominican Republic, traveling there twice each year for the past four years to coordinate clinical and medical outreach visits to the community. Dr. Ryan also serves on the board of the Virginia Academy of Family Physicians.

In 2009, Dr. Ryan, recognizing the lack of health care services targeted to Hispanic adults, reached out to pharmacy and nursing colleagues to start up Una Vida Sana, free health screening events at locations around Richmond with large Latino populations. Dr. Ryan oversees this interdisciplinary outreach program and provides medical students with an opportunity to become involved in the planning and implementation of the project. He directs patients in need of a primary care home to the “safety net” system of care in Richmond.

Dr. Ryan’s kindness and compassion is evident in all of his patient interactions. But even more unique than his gentle way of caring for patients is his clearly evident respect for them. Whether young or old, English or Spanish-speaking, insured or not, Dr. Ryan acknowledges each person’s independence, intelligence, and humanity. He provides patients with information so that they can participate as equal partners in making important decisions about their medical care. It is no surprise that some of his patients travel over an hour to see him.

Dr. Ryan instills a commitment to lifelong learning and evidence-based practice in his medical students and welcomes students at all levels to train with him at Hayes E. Willis Health Center and CrossOver Ministries. He not only offers detailed and supportive feedback to his students, but also welcomes the same from them in return. Dr. Ryan also encourages students at the undergraduate and medical school level to join him in the provision of medical care and public health development in the Dominican Republic.

Professional, enthusiastic, dedicated, and engaging are only some of the adjectives that could be used to describe Dr. Mark Ryan as a clinician, teacher, advocate, and service leader. He is a model of professional competence and humanism in medicine.