VCU/VCUHS Leadership in Graduate Medical Education “LGME” Award

This year’s LGME Award is being presented to Ophthalmology Program Director, Dr. Vikram Brar. Serving in the role since 2011, he is consistently described by his colleagues and residents as being “passionate about education”, having “exemplary commitment to resident teaching” and “so much more than [a] program director.” Resounding praise from his Ophthalmology Department Chair, Dr. William Benson, spilled on to three pages. Dr. Brar “stepped into the Program Director position right out of his fellowship and hit his full stride immediately after joining the faculty.” He oversees ophthalmology residents at both VCU and the VAMC, all while providing complete faculty coverage for residents performing in-hospital consultation services. Whether he’s teaching residents or medical students, Dr. Brar is praised for teaching by example. Assistant Professor Dr. Evan Silverstein writes, “He expects excellence from himself and his residents. In clinic he is compassionate and thorough. He intimately knows each of his patients and makes it a goal to make each patient feel like . . . a VIP . . . . They all smile when talking about his care.”

By all accounts, Dr. Brar’s deft management of the residency program, passion for teaching and research, as well as his enthusiasm for his craft has managed to pique interest from medical students who benefitted from his expansion of the annual Foundation of Clinical Medicine Course (FCM) as well as those who participate in his third year ophthalmology rotation. According to his Chairman: “As an outcome from Dr. Brar’s mentoring of medical students, since 2013, the VCU School of Medicine has matched over 85% of its own students seeking an ophthalmology residency position, considered one of the most competitive of all specialties.”

In his nomination packet, ophthalmology residents of all levels wrote effusively about his personal style: “Education is truly his mission and he would perform at the highest levels with or without any recognition” says fourth year resident Dr. Puneet Braich. Dr. Matthew Young describes Vikram as “approachable and receptive” – even taking a phone call while on vacation in India! He further praises him as having the ability to adjust his teaching to the individual learner – a rare and valuable skill. Many letters from his trainees mentioned the desire to follow in his footsteps and expressed deep gratitude at the depth and breadth of his knowledge and focus on research. Dr. Elaine McElhinny, in her third year of residency, appreciates his enhancement of the learning environment “as it feels like a safe place to ask questions.” She also enjoys the levity he brings despite the business of the clinic: “The work,” she says, “somehow seems like more fun.”

Perhaps the most touching and powerful narrative is from third year resident, Dr. Daniel Schwartz who writes “Dr. Vikram Brar is so much more than my program director; he is my friend, mentor, teacher and role model. Not only is he the ideal boss any resident could ask for, he is one of the nicest, most genuine, best all-around persons I have ever had the pleasure of encountering.”

We congratulate Dr. Brar and look forward to seeing him continue to soar!