Irby-James Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching

Dr. Ashley is the epitome of everything I hope to be as an attending! She spent time emphasizing the history and is the best physical exam teacher I’ve ever met. She is also unbelievably kind and connects with patients deeply and quickly in a way I’ve seen in few other physicians. Finally, she prioritizes our learning equally with patient care and efficiency.

Dr. Phoebe Ashley, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, joined the VCU faculty in 2014, and serves as Assistant M3 Clinical Clerkship Director for Internal Medicine. Since 2015, she has also served as co-director of the VCU Pauley Heart Center Women’s Heart Health Symposium. Dr. Ashley came to VCU after experiences in private practice, as well as in academic medicine. Her talent for bedside teaching was recognized almost immediately. “(Her) teaching style is “old school”, and at the bedside. She is an amazing clinician and diagnostician. She is an outstanding patient interviewer and her physical examination skills are nothing less than excellent.” states Kenneth A. Ellenbogen, MD, Martha M. and Harold W. Kimmerling Professor of Cardiology and Chair, Division of Cardiology.

Students and colleagues celebrate her compassion for patients and her ability to seamlessly integrate teaching opportunities. Brandon Brockbank, VCU M.D. Class of 2019, describes how she “lovingly cares for each individual patient and takes the time to answer their questions and placate their fears. I learned just as much, if not more, from observing her bedside manner during patient encounters as I did from the daily formal teaching sessions…She found multiple opportunities to teach daily and did so in a manner that encouraged and motivated the learners.”

Fellow medical student Jessica Chaoul agrees, “The key, from a learner’s perspective, was that she never talked down to her patients. She showed her students, by example, how an extremely intelligent and accomplished physician can also be the most empathetic, caring advocate for her patients. These two things are not exclusive, a fact that I only really realized after working with (her).”

Former trainee Irene Foley, M.D., Division of Hospital Medicine, DOIM, comments on Dr. Ashley’s commitment to teaching the physical exam: “Every day she selects a few patients to go beyond the standard cardiac exam, and teaches oft-forgotten skills such as pulsus parvus et tardus (indicative of aortic stenosis). Everyone from the nurses to the cardiology fellow take turns palpating and auscultating. I recently had the opportunity to utilize my revitalized exam skills in an underserved area while on a service trip, and subsequently was able to diagnose and treat a patient with new onset heart failure.”

Dr. Ashley has special interests in health literacy and women’s cardiac health. She serves on the local American Heart Association (AHA) Executive Leadership Team. In 2016, Dr. Ashley was honored by the Virginia Chapter of the American College of Physicians (ACP) with an Excellence in Teaching Award and was inducted as an ACP Fellow. This year she was recognized by her peers by being named a Richmond Magazine “Top Doc.”

Dr. Ashley has been honored by VCU Internal Medicine residents with the Excellence in Teaching Award for the past three years. Additionally, she has been recognized by the cardiovascular fellows with The Mark Wood Award for Humanism in 2016 and 2017, and the Excellence in Teaching Award (General Cardiology Attending) in 2017.

Dr. Ashley is a pleasure to work with. She is a fantastic physician and teacher. She always made rounds interesting with teaching and presenting cases that had clear learning points. I hope that once I have reached her level of training I still demonstrate the same passion for my job and empathy for my patients that she shows every day.