Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award

The Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award presented today recognizes a faculty member who demonstrates both clinical excellence and outstanding compassion in the delivery of care, and who shows respect for patients, their families, and healthcare colleagues. This year we honor Sudha Jayaraman, M.D., M.Sc., Associate Professor, Division of Acute Care Surgical Services, Department of Surgery, and Co-Director of the VCU Program for Global Surgery. Board certified in Surgical Critical Care and General Surgery, Dr. Jayaraman is recognized both for her kindness and compassion for individual students, colleagues, and patients, and for her dedication to improving health around the globe. Dr. Jayaraman joined the VCU Faculty in 2013 after completing fellowships in acute care surgery, surgery and public health, and surgical critical care at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School.

“From my very first meeting with Dr. Jayaraman, the enthusiasm she has towards teaching students was palpable,” describes Megan Wojick, M’21. “Even with very little research experience, she welcomed me as a mentee and provided an abundance of opportunities from which to choose. Through my work with her, I was allowed to pursue my interest in global health by spending eight weeks in Rwanda helping to further her research. She has always been extremely approachable and accessible. She is the type of surgeon I hope to emulate one day with her compassion towards patient care. She has provided numerous opportunities to help me succeed, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without her help.”

“Dr. Jayaraman was instrumental in helping one of our medical students in a time of crisis,” recalls Chris Woleben, M.D., Associate Dean for Student Affairs and advisor for our local chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society. The student was injured while completing a summer research project overseas. Dr. Jayaraman made sure the student received expert medical care on site, while thousands of miles away from home, also maintaining communication with the student’s family. “Dr. Jayaraman personally arranged a special critical care medical transport for the student, chest tube and all, and greeted the student upon arrival in Richmond.”

Catherine Valukas, M’19, further describes Dr. Jayaraman’s compassionate care for patients and families. “Her patients hugged her, cried with her, laughed with her, and felt comfortable asking any and all questions. She effortlessly explained intricate medical diagnoses to patients in their own language -- using carpentry and plumbing to describe what she did surgically. In the OR, Dr. Jayaraman includes everyone in the room, building a team to be part of patient care and uses every opportunity as a teaching point. . . . ”

Dr. Jayaraman is a longtime contributor to the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study, and co- author of more than a dozen papers the group has published in The Lancet and JAMA. Dr. Jayaraman has contributed to over 100 papers, abstracts, and book chapters to the literature. She is in demand as a lecturer locally, nationally, and around the world. Dr. Jayaraman and colleague Tilahun Adera, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.A., were recently awarded a VETAR Value and Efficiency Teaching and Research Award from VCU Vision by Design to study evaluation of trauma care using a multi-institutional trauma registry in Rwanda. She served as a 2019 VCU Faculty Scholar at Oxford University’s Harris Manchester College Summer Research Institute.

In addition to today’s honor, her excellence in patient care and teaching has been recognized with the 2004 Association of Women Surgeons Future Leaders in Surgery Medical Student Award and the 2019 Medical Society of Virginia Foundation’s Salute to Service Award for Service to the International Community, presented to a Virginia physician who has dedicated his/her abilities to advancing the health of the international community.