Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award

Compassionate. Connected. Available. Energetic. Respectful. Enthusiastic. All of these are terms colleagues and students use to describe Susan Wolver, Assistant Professor of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care.

Colleague Betty Anne Johnson, M.D. Ph.D., very eloquently describes Dr. Wolver:

“Compassion is a core instinct for Dr. Wolver and defines her as a person. This instinctive sympathy allows her to imagine herself in the place of others, inspiring thoughtful answering of the question, ‘How would I feel if I were in the same situation?’ She is consistently Other-directed and Other-driven, thinking first, ‘How can I help?’ without regard to ‘What will it cost me to help?’ As a physician, she goes above and beyond routine patient care. She takes ‘ownership’ of her patients and considers it an honor and privilege to have patients entrust their care to her. She assesses patients not only in regard to their medical needs but also wants to make sure that their social situation and environment will support an appropriate treatment plan. She follows up with her sick patients either through the patient portal or by phone. She is always aware of her hospitalized patients and will find a few minutes for a social visit regardless of how frantic her schedule is. The sense of relief this engenders in sick, bewildered and frightened hospitalized patients is enormous … just knowing that the physician who
knows the most about them and who cares about them, is watching over their care. If she is concerned about the course of an illness, she will stay in touch with her patient on the weekend, even if not on call. When her patients are referred to Hospice Care, she still keeps in touch with the patient and their family, which her patients cherish.”

Dr. Wolver is an outstanding role model as an academic clinician. The consummate internist, she is always curious, always investigating the literature, always careful to deliver the best possible care as a physician. In 2012, Dr. Wolver was the lead author of an article in the Journal of General Internal Medicine highlighting case studies of the newly described allergic reaction to meat resulting from lone star tick bites. Her research targeted primary care physicians who might see related cases but be unaware of the allergy.

Described as a “joyous leader,” for two years Dr. Wolver has organized a “Biggest Loser” contest for Ambulatory Care Center (ACC) faculty and staff. In 2013, she organized Team ACC to participate in the Monument 10K as a fundraiser for Massey Breast Cancer Research in honor of several co-workers with a new diagnosis of breast cancer.

Dr. Wolver has been recognized by the Department of Internal Medicine with the Faculty Award for Outstanding Housestaff in 2006 and the Faculty Award for Distinguished Clinical Care in 2008. She has been named a Richmond “Top Doc” (voted by peers) by Richmond Magazine every year since 2008. Instead of basking in this recognition, each year she has championed a colleague for recognition in the same issue of the magazine.

Dr. Wolver’s faculty and staff colleagues describe her as “unbelievably compassionate,” “energetic beyond belief,” “an outstanding patient advocate,” “very giving to patients and staff,” “enthusiastic in ALL she does,” “respectful of peers and staff,” “a perfect Primary Care Physician and an amazing coworker.” For exemplifying the Tow Award ideals of outstanding compassion in the delivery of care, respect for patients, their families, and healthcare colleagues, as well as demonstrated clinical excellence, we gratefully recognize Dr. Susan Wolver.