Irby-James Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching

“Dr. Duane Williams is my role model as a human being.”

Dr. Duane Williams, Assistant Professor, Interim Division Chief, Pediatric Critical Care, joined our faculty in 2013, and in a short time has demonstrated his consummate skills as an extraordinary clinical teacher. He was selected for the Pediatric Housestaff Teaching Award after his fi rst year at VCU. “Residents adore his kind, compassionate demeanor as well as his ability to provide them with as much autonomy as possible in a busy and often stress-filled PICU,” states Clifton C. Lee, M.D., FAAP, SFHM, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Hospital Medicine, Children’s Hospital of Richmond (CHoR) at VCU.

Colleagues, residents, and students repeatedly cite Dr. Williams as one who teaches not only information, but by example. “I have always been taught medicine is multi-disciplinary, but Dr. Williams makes that lesson come to life; residents, nurses, respiratory therapists, and families all gather around the glass walls of the PICU as he whips out his dry-erase markers and illustrates the principles of mechanical ventilation, cardiac surgery, and asthma…he illustrates that all of those in the room are vital to the care of the patient.” recalls Nada Mallick, M.D., former Chief Resident, Pediatrics.

Dr. Williams has also directed the Proceduralist track in the pediatric residency program for the last three years, developing new lectures, workshops, and simulations. As his Chair, Bruce K. Rubin, MEngr, M.D., M.B.A., FRCPC, Jessie Ball duPont Distinguished Professor and Chair describes, due to the good news that pediatric codes are extremely rare, it can be hard for trainees to develop the skills needed to participate in or run a code. The mock code simulations that Dr. Williams has developed teach the important skills of teamwork, timing, communication, and effectiveness and provide immediate feedback to all providers. Former resident Sunana Dhir, M.D., can attest to the impact of this exercise. “The skills I learned with this mock code program gave me the confi dence to save a life of a 72-year old surgeon in cardiac arrest in a restaurant. Dr. Williams’ voice reverberated in my head even then: ‘If you’re not sure you feel a pulse, you’re never wrong to start compressions.’ ”

The ability to challenge learners while empowering them is rare, but Dr. Williams establishes a learning environment that is rigorous, yet supportive. “In addition to formal teaching rounds, ‘Dr. D.’ provides informal teaching with feedback on a daily, if not hourly, basis. As both a resident and a fellow, he has encouraged me to ‘question all decisions’ made by those more senior to me…He has a unique skill of using the trainee’s question to challenge the trainee to think through the possibility of several management options and the physiology behind each.” Kara Greenfi eld, D.O., Pediatric Critical Care Medicine Fellow.

“His kindness, his compassion, his willingness to sit with any parent any time, as long as it’s necessary to assure that all questions are answered, teaches our residents and fellows by example what it is to be a physician,” declares Doug Willson, M.D., John Mickell Professor of Pediatric Critical Care. PGY-3 Pediatrics resident Ali Hemyari, M.D., still recalls Dr. Williams’ response to a request for some time during a busy service, “How can I serve?” “Those words have stuck by me: he is a constant reminder that being a physician is fi rst and foremost a dedication to serve.”

We are so fortunate to have Dr. Williams at VCU. As a resident commented, “Whenever I work with him, I want to be a better doctor, I want to read more, I want to be more compassionate…He not only cares deeply for his patients, but also cares for the residents as well. Such a gift to work with him.”