Few people make significant impact in a short time, and Dr. Danielle Noreika is one of those people. Dr. Noreika is the Director of the Hospice and Palliative Medicine Program and the winner of this year’s Leadership in Graduate Medical Education Award for Fellowship Directors.
Dr. Noreika received her undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh and medical degree from Drexel University. She completed an internal medicine residency at the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. Following residency, she served in the Navy as an internist stationed in South Carolina, which included an 8-month deployment to Kuwait. After her discharge from the Navy, Dr. Noreika completed the Hospice and Palliative Medicine fellowship at VCU, subsequently joined the faculty and was appointed Medical Director of Palliative Care in 2014, and has served as the fellowship director since 2017.
Dr. Stephanie Call, the Department of Internal Medicine’s Associate Chair for Education, writes “I find that it is a challenge to put into words the impact that Dani Noreika has had in just a few years as a program director. I suspect that this is because she started to impact the world of graduate medical education far before she became program director. For years, she has pushed to improve the education of residents and fellows in the content of hospice and palliative care. Even before becoming program director, she helped to redesign the Internal Medicine resident palliative care curriculum and supported the education of residents in surgery and other fields in palliative and end of life care.” Since becoming the fellowship director, Dr. Noreika has completely restructured the fellowship curriculum, added a new QI program, started a telehealth program (pre-COVID!), and greatly enhanced the fellows’ scholarly activities resulting in more publications and presentations. Her fellows describe her as “the Best”, easily approachable, and a “fantastically comprehensive teacher.” She leaves a lasting impression on her graduates with one telling us “She supported us during fellowship and graciously continues to be available for help post-fellowship. When faced with a difficult clinical or system level issue I often find myself asking: How would Dani approach this situation?"
Dr. Egidio Del Fabbro, Palliative Care Endowed Chair, writes “Dr. Noreika’s reputation as an excellent physician and strong patient advocate preceded her appointment as Medical Director of the palliative care program in 2014. … Under her direction, the clinical program has thrived, demonstrating sustained growth, while coauthoring multiple publications in peer-reviewed journals. Her exceptional ability for multi-tasking was tested shortly after her appointment as medical director, when she also assumed the position of palliative fellowship program director after the director had to take a leave of absence. She excelled in challenging circumstances, developing an improved fellowship curriculum, and through her recruitment efforts, increased the number of applications to our program fivefold. Her exceptional talent has been recognized by an astonishing number of awards (9 within the past 3 years), for clinical, administrative, and educational excellence by the institution and by her colleagues.”