Dear Colleagues-Friends,

In keeping with the spirit of thanksgiving, I’d like to share with you some stories of how our alumni, faculty and students are serving our communities, our commonwealth, our patients and our peers. I hope you will enjoy reading about their contributions.

  • We congratulate three of our alumni who have earned state honors for their dedication to helping the underserved: the Class of 85’s Randy Merrick was named a 2018 Unsung Hero by the Virginia Health Care Foundation; housestaff alumnus Mitchell B. Miller is the Virginia Academy of Family Physicians’ Virginia Family Physician of the Year; and the Class of 98’s Rebecca Sinclair received a 2018 Salute to Service Award from the Medical Society of Virginia Foundation.
  • Virginia Gov. Ralph S. Northam recently reappointed VCU Trauma Center Medical Director Michel Aboutanos, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.S., to the state’s EMS Advisory Board. Aboutanos, a 2000 housestaff alumnus, credits his Fletcher Emory Ammons Professorship in Surgery with giving him the time “to provide this level of service to the commonwealth. It’s what an institution of our caliber should be doing, and I am incredibly thankful that I hold an endowed position.” The reappointment gives him the chance to oversee implementation of the plan for a statewide trauma system that was developed during his first term.
  • During her one-month internship on the Dr. Oz Show, fourth-year student Michelle Baer wanted to see how the TV host shared complex medical information in succinct bites so she could better help her future patients. If it’s not easy to understand, she says, patients “will never make the changes they need to make to lead healthier lives. I feel like that’s what being a doctor is all about.”
  • Earlier this month, our medical students organized the Regional Medical Education Conference for region VI of the Student National Medical Association. The conference drew 175 medical school students and other participants, including more than 50 pre-medical students. Attendees represented nearly a dozen schools in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia (and even as far away as Florida). The SNMA is the oldest and largest student-run organization that addresses the needs and concerns of students of color. The conference offered clinical workshops – many led by health professionals from VCU Health – as well as networking opportunities and a panel discussion on health policy. The program reflected SNMA’s focus on increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in medicine while targeting health disparities through service and academic enrichment programs in the community. I had the chance to attend the sessions, and I came away with an optimism for tackling inequities and improving the diversity and inclusiveness of our physician workforce. The student organizers did a great job, and I appreciate the support that Drs. Donna Jackson and Michelle Whitehurst-Cook lent to them in pulling off an impressive conference.

With every good wish,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System