VCU/VCUHS Leadership in Graduate Medical Education Program Director Award

With a nearly 20-year record of excellence in directing residency programs, Suzanne R. Lavoie, M.D., professor and chief, Division of Pediatric Infectious Disease and Pediatric Residency Program Director, is our 2012 Leadership in GME Program Director Awardee.

“As anyone who has even a passing interaction with Dr. Lavoie would know, she excels in a world of responsibilities,” states C. Greg Childress, M.D., former assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics.

Lavoie has been an active member of the VCU Graduate Medical Education Committee since 1995. She served as program director for the internal medicine-pediatrics residency program from 1995-2006 and is currently serving as interim program director. She has also directed the pediatric residency program since 1999. In large part due to her efforts, the program is fully accredited, has filled for each of the last nine years in the National Resident Matching Program and has seen improved board pass rates.

During her tenure, Lavoie has guided the implementation of the ACGME Outcomes Project as well as Duty Hour Standards. She is an effective advocate for her residents, her program and for GME education in our clinical environment.

“Given the countless changes implemented by the ACGME over the past decade, it has often been a significant challenge for such a large core training program to keep up and maintain compliance with all the ever-changing regulations,” says colleague Beth C. Marshall, M.D., associate professor of pediatric infectious disease. “Despite this, Dr. Lavoie has been able to simultaneously improve the program in the process.”

David J. Friedel, M.D., FAAP, assistant professor of pediatrics and internal medicine, and associate program director, pediatrics, agrees. “[Lavoie] has always remained uncompromising in her commitment to making intern, resident, and fellow education the leading priority,” he says.

Lavoie is quadruple board-certified, in pediatrics, internal medicine, pediatric infectious diseases and internal medicine infectious diseases. She is also recognized as an outstanding clinical teacher.

“It is hard to imagine that any physician at VCU has contact with learners in more venues than Dr. Lavoie, given her clinical teaching activities as a generalist and specialist, inpatient and outpatient physician, and pediatrician and internist,” Friedel said.

Colleagues describe her as quiet and efficient, a daily inspiration and an outstanding mentor.

“She always makes time in a busy schedule, whether through formal meetings, informal meetings, conversations in elevators or late night emails,” Childress says. “She is sought out for her expertise, breadth of understanding, and wisdom.”

Not only dedicated to training future pediatricians, Lavoie is committed to training future academic leaders and has mentored the personal and professional growth of junior colleagues by guiding them to leadership positions in Pediatrics and in GME. Lavoie also brings her experience to the national level, as an active member in the Association of Pediatric Program Directors, where she contributes to national discourse on the future of GME.

An adoptive parent herself, Lavoie’s advocacy led to the development of the VCU International Adoption Medical Clinic, serving the initial and ongoing medical, developmental and emotional needs of adoptive parents and their children from around the world.

Michael K. Foxworth, II, M.D., a PGY-5 pediatric infectious diseases fellow, reflects on his experience with Lavoie. “I think that being a program director is an extremely difficult position,” he says. “Like a parent, you care for the well-being of all of the residents, knowing that in the moment, it may be difficult for them to see how much you do with only their best interest in mind. Also, like a parent, you don’t do these things with expectations to receive anything in return, except for the joy in seeing their growth and future success.”