Over his five decades at VCU, Barry V. Kirkpatrick, M.D., Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, has been an innovator, collaborator, mentor, and role model. He is one of the most impactful teachers in the history of our School, training multiple generations of learners since joining our faculty in 1973. Despite officially “retiring” in 2013, Dr. Kirkpatrick is a constant presence on campus, continuing to guide learners at all levels in multiple disciplines in his calm, insightful, and focused, yet supportive, manner.
Dr. Kirkpatrick completed his M.D. and residency here and only left VCU to complete a Neonatal-Perinatal fellowship at University of Florida. He joined our faculty in 1973 as Director and Founder of the Newborn Intensive Care Unit from 1973-1986. Care of at-risk infants was rapidly evolving at the time, and Dr. Kirkpatrick worked tirelessly to teach VCU and community medical staff how to recognize high-risk pregnancies and stabilize and refer high risk infants for NICU care. He created and directed our Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Fellowship Program from 1975-1986.
In 1986, Dr. Kirkpatrick moved to the role of Division Chair, Community Pediatrics, (1986-2004), as primary supervisor for residents rotating in the community, essentially serving as an academic pediatric hospitalist more than two decades before that was a formal specialty. “Year after year, the residents made clear that their time at St. Mary’s under his tutelage was the best part of the residency,” states Harry Rozycki, M.D., Director, Child Health Research Institute, CHoR-VCU. Dr. Kirkpatrick also precepted students in the continuity clinic, a role he continues today.
“I still recall my interaction (as an intern) with Dr. Kirkpatrick more than 25 years ago. … What struck me the most was his ability to explain “medicine” through story telling. … He used this technique while talking to anxious parents … (and) all levels of learners. I still use this technique … just like Dr. Kirkpatrick,” explains Clifton C. Lee, M.D., FAAP, SFHM, Associate Professor of Pediatric Hospitalist Medicine, CHoR-VCU.
The list of educational “firsts” Dr. Kirkpatrick has introduced at VCU is truly remarkable. In the 1980s his Friday learning sessions already incorporated formal case-based and self-directed learning for clerkship students. His morning report sessions, held every Monday and Friday for the past several decades, are legendary. Residents present their most interesting cases and Dr. Kirkpatrick masterfully moderates, provides insights, and assures that learners understand any difficult concepts in a group that includes learners from 3rd year medical students to faculty colleagues. This is all done in a collegial, supportive environment that buzzes with curiosity and discovery.
In his role as Vice Chair for Educational and Community Affairs (2004-2013) he served as Pediatrics Interest Group advisor, and oversaw planning of all departmental Grand Rounds, while constantly communicating with community teaching sites to meet both learner and community needs. That would seem to be a robust role in itself, but during most of this same time (2004-2010), he was also the Clerkship Director for Pediatrics! As a mentor, his list of formal mentees is in the hundreds, with many more receiving career guidance and personal support. Among a long list of teaching awards, Dr. Kirkpatrick received the 2010 SOM Irby-James Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching. In tribute to his lasting impact, the Barry V. Kirkpatrick Vice Chair of Education in Pediatrics was funded, in large part, by contributions from his learners over the years.
As N. Romesh Wijesooriya, M.D., Chair and Associate Professor of General Academic Pediatrics, CHoR-VCU summarizes for us, “He is one of those rare physician educators who does much more than just share knowledge with his learners. He inspires a thirst for knowledge and a desire for self-improvement that is born from an uncommon curiosity and a deep humility. This remarkable man has inspired me and hundreds of other physicians over the course of his career, and I cannot think of a more worthy recipient of this prestigious award.”