VCU/VCUHS Leadership in Graduate Medical Education “LGME” Award – Fellowship Coordinator Award

This year’s awardee, Rachel Ferguson Van Hart, clearly exemplifies the very essence of outstanding Residency Program Coordinator. Never obtrusive, but always calmly positive and incredibly efficient, Rachel guided not one successful fellowship, but many. Four fellows from the Hospice and Palliative Care Fellowship describe her as “one of the best facets of our program…[and] there is no better ambassador for the program or VCUHS.”

The life of a Residency Program Coordinator may best be described as that of a rollercoaster operator: the sharp climb up towards Match Day, the free fall down as graduating residents and fellows leave the program to take their places in their professional world and all the twists and curves in between. Through every curve, climb and fall, the Program Coordinator functions as the guiding rails for roller coaster carts. Not only seeing to the personal well-being of the program’s residents and fellows, the Coordinator must attend to details like accreditation paperwork, individual evaluations, call room needs and countless other items. In addition, a coordinator must be ever responsive to the needs of her program’s director. For such a highly integral job, the very best coordinators often function so seamlessly and effortlessly as to be invisible. Their programs and departments are known widely as being very successful and attractive to applicants, clinical faculty and others — and underlying that glowing reputation is the strong infrastructure of an excellent coordinator.

The letters of reference for Rachel’s candidacy were fervent in their praise of her:

“The expertise, maturity and wisdom that Rachel exudes is remarkable. Those characteristics, in addition to the humility, passion and sense of humor that she models is the embodiment of a true leader. Her contributions are truly limitless.” LaCretia Lewis and Jeanette Wood (Fellowship Coordinators)

“Rachel has humanistic qualities that shine in a medical setting.” Gonzalo Bearman, MD, MPH (Chair, Division of Infectious Diseases)

In addition to fulfilling her duties as a coordinator, Rachel collaborated as the managing editor and design and copy editor of VCU’s Medical Literary Messenger — all while taking coursework to complete her master’s degree in English and finding time to publish in a peer-reviewed journal.

Although Rachel is leaving us to pursue her education, we are honored to recognize her stellar contributions to the University and VCUHS.