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

This year’s Fellowship Program Director award is honoring Dr. Christian Barrett for his service as the Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Director – a role he has occupied since 2011. In addition to managing the fellowship, Dr. Barrett is also the Associate Chair of Clinical Affairs for the Department of Internal Medicine, the Medical Director of the Anti-coagulation Clinic, Medical Director of the Central Virginia Center for Coagulation Disorders, and Co- Director of the M1 Marrow Course at the VCU School of Medicine.

In their letter of support for Dr. Barrett, Dr. John Nestler (Internal Medicine Department Chair) and Dr. Curtis Sessler (Interim Associate Chair for Faculty Development), refer to him as the “quintessential” fellowship program director. Dr. Barrett, they write, is providing a “dedicated and innovative approach to training the next generation of subspecialists that has been highly successful at VCU” and furthermore, plays a “central role in shaping the future of fellowship training across the country.” Their four-page letter glowingly describes his numerous achievements and accolades including multiple Outstanding Teacher awards. He is consistently scored highly as an attending physician by fellows and residents whose comments Drs. Nestler and Sessler sprinkled throughout their letter: “role model,” “superb mix of clinical teaching and academic science,” and “best two weeks on service ever.” Even quotes from colleagues both within and outside VCU are included in their praise: “Dr. Barrett is fantastic,” a “thought leader in Hematology-Oncology,” and “Dr. Barrett has emerged as a clear leader.”

In the spirit of collaboration, Dr. Barrett reaches beyond the traditional medical scope to provide innovative educational experiences for his trainees and colleagues. For example, he uses art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Art as a foundation for discussion and reflective exercises. He created a hematology core conference, structured research expectation and an annual faculty retreat emphasizing faculty development. Partnering with the VCU School of Theatre, Dr. Barrett developed a communication curriculum to address difficult topics such as delivering bad news and reporting medical errors. Ahead of the curve, he was one of the first fellowship directors to require his fellows to undertake additional quality and safety education via the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, allowing for formal quality analysis training.

As someone who teaches medical students in addition to managing a fellowship, Dr. Barrett receives extensive feedback from hundreds of learners. His nomination packet included close to a dozen pages of comments from them that attest to his presence in the classroom. Known for his distinctive bow ties as well as his unassuming demeanor, Dr. Barrett’s abilities were consistently noted and applauded in student evaluations over the years:

“Awesome!” • “Great professor. Knows his stuff and it shows” • “It was very apparent that he enjoys teaching and knows how to be an effective instructor” • “Dr. Barrett’s classes are the first ones where I feel like I could one day actually become a competent doctor. This guy is the best.” • “Awesome professor. Should win an award for professor of the year or something.” • “The man’s clothes are terrific and he is an outstanding lecturer. Give this man an award! And a raise.” • “Dr. Barrett inspired me and made me remember why I went into medicine in the first place.”

In a demanding sub-specialty, Dr. Barrett has found time to be an educational role model as well as a mentor and physician role model. We are pleased to award this year’s “Leadership in Graduate Medical Education – Fellowship Director” title to him.