Dear Colleagues-Friends,

More than any other time of the year, this is the season that inspires us to reflect on what we have and what matters most to us. So as the Thanksgiving holiday draws near, I wanted to express how much I continue to be inspired by everyone across our education continuum – our faculty, staff, learners and alumni.

Thank you to our medical and graduate students

You have continued to pursue new knowledge during this time of great uncertainty and upheaval, using what you have learned to generate new discoveries and foster a caring environment for our patients.

You have also been social advocates and voices for change within our school, university and health system, recognizing the urgency around systemic racism in our academic communities. It is because of your awareness and energy to build a more just and inclusive environment that we have launched our school’s first OUTlist and continue to look deeply at our curriculum through an anti-bias, anti-racist, DEI lens.

Thank you to our residents and fellows

You have served as selfless leaders throughout this global pandemic, and we are deeply grateful for your commitment, compassion and excellent care. COVID-19 isn't like anything we've seen in more than a century, and the challenges of being a resident and fellow have greatly expanded because of it. Many of you have had your training disrupted, but you’ve risen to the challenge with grace, professionalism and remarkable flexibility – even when working long hours – to meet the needs of our community and care for patients in the emergency department and on inpatient and critical care units.

Our thanks again for all you are doing on so many fronts. You make us very proud, and we know that while you are great doctors now, you will be even better doctors and future health care leaders because of this remarkable experience.

Thank you to our faculty and staff

Throughout these challenging times, you have steadfastly moved our school forward in our mission to provide students and trainees with the highest quality learning environment by fostering opportunities for growth in even the smallest of places, involving them in impactful research and giving them the support they need to succeed.

You also continue to shape the future of medical education through your academic scholarship. Earlier this month at Learn Serve Lead 2021, the annual meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges, several of you had the opportunity to present your medical education research:

• Nicole Deiorio, Margaret Wolff, Amy Miller Juve, Margaret Moore, Sally Santen and Maya Hammoud – The development of a set of coaching competencies for medical education using a modified Delphi approach (presentation)
• Cherie Edwards, Janice Vendetti, Donna Jackson, Carla Burn, Sally Santen, Tonya Fancher, Zita Lazarini and David Henderson – Examining the tensions of discussing DEI in health care: A qualitative exploration of student discomfort in discussing issues of DEI in preclinical learning settings (poster)
• Curtis Reiber, Nicholas Hooper, Cherie Edwards, Meagan Rawls, Nicole Deiorio, Sally Santen, Donna Jackson and Moshe Feldman – Impact of racial (in)justice events on matriculating medical students (poster)
• Michael Ryan, Rebecca Khamishon, Alicia Richards, Robert Perera, Adam Garber and Sally Santen – A question of scale? Comparison of generalizability in Ottawa and Chen scales when used to formulate ad hoc entrustment decisions for the core EPAs (presentation)
• Jesse Burk-Rafel, Marina Marin, Marc Triola, Tonya Fancher, Michelle Ko, George Mejicano, Susan Skochelak, Sally Santen and Judee Richardson – The AMA graduate profile: Tracking medical school graduates into practice (presentation)

It was truly gratifying to see at a national level the many examples of how VCU is at the forefront of medical education. Thank you for your leadership.

Thank you to our alumni

We are extraordinarily grateful for the support you have shown our students and our medical school over the past 18 months, even as you have tackled COVID-19, social unrest and health inequities in your own hospitals and communities. Dozens of you contributed your time and wisdom as speakers for webinar series, including the new “Who We Are" series for M1s and M2s.

You also answered the call to join the inaugural School of Medicine Inclusion Council, provided messages of encouragement to our M4s on Match Day and showed tremendous generosity through gifts to expand medical student scholarships. We now have more scholarships available than any other time in our history thanks to the philanthropy of you and other members of our community. Your tremendous commitment to the success of future generations is an inspiration to us all and a reminder of what we most value about the MCV Campus.

Our learners are fortunate to have the support of faculty, staff and alumni who are so devoted to educational excellence. Thank you for helping to inspire our diverse, promising students to lead and transform health care for the betterment of all.

With gratitude,

Pter F. Buckley, M.D.; Dean, VCU School of Medicine; Executive vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System