Wilkes: School of Medicine Year in Review

Dean David Wilkes

Dear Colleagues: Cruising through the mountains on my bicycle is a great way to clear my head, slow my thinking, and contemplate how much there is to appreciate — such as the beauty of the forest and the valleys, the serenity of being in nature, and the joy that comes from doing what I am passionate about.

Something else that I’m passionate about is serving you in my role of dean. I am so proud of what our faculty and staff do each day to ensure that our patients and our learners have the best experience possible. As I begin my fourth year as dean, I am grateful for what we have accomplished together. Below are some of the highlights that come to my mind. Please remember these are some of the highlights, and is not all inclusive of the many great things that have occurred. So, I will welcome you to comment and let me know what you and your colleagues have done that’s missing from the list!

Match Day 2018

We had a wildly successful Match Day, with 99% of our students matching. Students are going to Yale, Emory, Penn, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Johns Hopkins, Mass General, and other high-quality institutions. The most popular programs were internal medicine, emergency medicine, ob/gyn, pediatrics, and anesthesiology.

Thanks to the support of our alumni and donors, we are able to provide scholarships that allow our students to graduate with an average debt level that is lower than the national average. And thanks to sound fiscal stewardship, the School is entering its fourthyear of a tuition freeze. Our goal is no tuition increase through 2021.

The McIntire School of Commerce is collaborating with us on a leadership track in the medical school curriculum and has partnered with us to develop a leadership program for graduate students and faculty. These programs will differentiate us from other medical schools while helping our students and faculty learn the skills and qualities needed to flourish as leaders in the field of healthcare.

The education partnership with Inova reached another milestone when all three of the state and national oversight agencies granted formal approval to establish the UVA School of Medicine Inova Campus in Fairfax. The entering class of 2019 will be the first to have the option to complete their third and fourth years at the Inova Campus.

Our medical school class continues to be among the most diverse in the nation. For the sixth year in a row, the SOM received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from INSIGHT Into Diversitymagazine. And again, our entering class ranks in the 96th percentile academically of all medical students in the United States.

Since the inception of the graduate programs, the School of Medicine has been training the majority of PhD and Masters students in the biomedical sciences across grounds. However, this year is the first that these PhD and Masters degrees were conferred by the School of Medicine! Twenty students received their PhD, eight received their MS-Clinical Research, and 23 received their MPH.

(l-r) Dr. Gary Owens and MD/PhD student Richard Baylis

I was thrilled that our own Richard Baylis, an MD-PhD student, was selected to attend the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany, in late June. He joined 600 young, international scientists who were able to talk with 43 Nobel Laureates and present current research for advice and feedback. He works in Gary Owens’ lab in the Cardiovascular Research Center investigating the influence of inflammation on key cell types thought to regulate the stability of high-risk atherosclerotic lesions.

The Hartwell Foundation again designated the University of Virginia as one of the Top Ten Centers of Biomedical Research. This allows us to nominate researchers for a Hartwell Individual Biomedical Research Award for early-stage, cutting-edge biomedical research with the potential to benefit children. Sanchita Bhatnagar, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics, was selected by the foundation as a Hartwell Investigator for 2018-2021.

This year’s U.S. News & World Reportrankings brought us good news, too. On the “2019 Best Medical Schools” list, the School of Medicine moved up one spot to #26 in Research. The rankings reflect the growing strength of our research funding as well as the continued impact of our innovative curriculum. In Primary Care, we went from #24 to #21, making us the top-ranked academic medical center in Virginia for Primary Care based on factors such as assessments by peers and residency directors and the percentage of graduates entering primary care fields.

Our research portfolio grew from $202 million in FY17 to $223 million in FY18! This increase represents hard work by all our faculty, including new recruits and strategic hires who both transferred and brought in new grants. I note that we have a record number of research proposals that include federal agencies and sources other than the NIH, and that concerted efforts are being made to submit collaborative and center proposals in addition to our historically strong individual proposals. I anticipate these will pay off in the near future.

The home of the new Global Genomics and Bioinformatics Institute, our partnership with Inova in northern Virginia, is in its final design phase. We expect to be able to occupy it in the early months of 2020. The mission of the research partnership is to improve the health and quality of life through the application of genomics and associated molecular science. To do this, we will be focusing on the thematic areas of genetics and genomics; structural and systems biology; developmental biology; computational biology, computational engineering and bioinformatics; and biomedically directed engineering.

There are so many accolades that I can’t list all of the recognition our hospital, physicians, and specialty programs received this past year! U.S. News & World Reportdesignated UVA as the #1 Hospital in Virginia for the third year in a row, and identified five specialties in the Top 50, four High-Performing Specialties, and eight High-Performing Common Adult Procedures and Conditions. BlackDoctor.org also named the Medical Center one the 60 “Top Hospitals for Diversity.”

We were recognized with Comprehensive Stroke Center status, received Comprehensive Care Designation for the Pulmonary Hypertension Center, and 193 faculty members — almost 25% of our physicians — are on the Best Doctors in America list! Becker’s Hospital Review recognized UVA on many of its “100 Great Programs” list, including Oncology, Heart, Orthopedics, Neurosurgery and Spine, and Great Hospitals in America.

Seeing all of this recognition summarized — and remember, this is not a comprehensive list — really underscores that the work you are doing is being celebrated nationally for its excellence and quality. It’s exhilarating to be part of an organization that is doing such outstanding work and knowing that our teams are consistently recognized in the national arena. I’m proud of every individual who contributes!

Going forward
The members of my cabinet see their primary role as serving you. To that end, we work to create a work environment that enables excellence, improves organizational structures and processes, enhances the educational experience, and builds external relationships and strengthens development. We strive to ensure a working and learning setting where all are included, welcomed, and provided the opportunity to be their best.

The dean’s office will continue to put effort into the following priorities:

  • Operationalize the UVA Inova Genomics Institute and the regional medical school campus for UVA 3rd- and 4th-year medical students at Inova.
  • Continue an aggressive investment in research and faculty recruitment.
  • Increase our NIH portfolio to $150 million by 2020.

Thank you for pausing and reflecting with me on what we accomplished together during this past year. I also want to recognize that many of these accomplishments were made possible by the strong partnership and support from the Medical Center. I am honored to work for you — a group of capable, imaginative, inspiring, and passionate individuals who make up our faculty, staff, and students. Given your talents and drive, I know that the future of the University of Virginia School of Medicine is incredibly bright.

David S. Wilkes, MD
Dean, UVA School of Medicine
James Carroll Flippin Professor of Medical Science

Welcome to UVA, Class of 2022!

On Friday, Aug. 10, the School of Medicine welcomed the 156 students of the Class of 2022 to the University of Virginia at the 2018 White Coat Ceremony and Convocation, endowed by the Class of 1965, held in Old Cabell Hall. This is an annual event presented by the UVA Medical Alumni Association (MAA) and Medical School Foundation (MSF).

Barry Collins, Executive Director of the UVA MAA and MSF and Associate Dean for Medical Alumni Affairs, welcomed the new students, families, and attendees. Student speaker Brielle Gerry, SMD19, President, School of Medicine Mulholland Society, taught the new students about the “anatomy of the white coat.” School of Medicine Dean David Wilkes, MD, James Carroll Flippin Professor of Medical Science, stressed that students should not forget the patient when they are learning and — when caring for patients — students should remember to “see and be seen,” “listen,” and “touch.”

As Randolph Canterbury, MD, Senior Associate Dean for Education, read out the 156 student names, college deans Meg Keeley, MD, (Dunglison); John Densmore, MD, PhD, (Hunter); Christine Peterson, MD, (Pinn); Sean Reed, MD, (Reed), and Director of the Medical Scientist Training Program Dean Kedes, MD, PhD, assisted the students into their crisp, white coats.

Welcome to the University of Virginia, Class of 2022!

Our Students Organize a Week of Reflection and Positivity

In response to the events of August 2017 and, in anticipation of continued conflict this year, UVA’s chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) organized a “Week of Reflection and Positivity.” One of the events was a T-shirt sale and photo opportunity to spread kindness and hope.

Whiteboards were on hand that read, “Charlottesville is a place for _____, not hate.” Faculty, staff, and students were encouraged to fill in the blank space with what the Charlottesville and UVA community means to them.

Some days I read the news and am disheartened. Then I come to work. I see our students. I see our faculty and staff. I see hope and healing, teaching and tolerance. I see unity and respect. I am very grateful to my colleagues and our students who remind me daily that our School is home to outstanding individuals with huge hearts.

Thank you to all who participated. I look forward to seeing these wonderful shirts around town. It is my hope that this message of positivity ripples out from our School throughout the community and beyond.

Below are a few images taken throughout the week. Enjoy!

R.J. Canterbury, MD, MS, DLFAPA
Wilford W. Spradlin Professor
Senior Associate Dean for Education

Highlights: August MAC Meeting

The School of Medicine’s Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) met on August 14, 2018, 4-5 p.m., in the Biomedical Sciences classroom. Here are highlights from that meeting:

Opening Comments
Randolph J. Canterbury, MD
Dr. Canterbury began by thanking the physicians, staff, and emergency management teams across the Health System, the University, and the community for their planning and preparations to keep us safe during the weekend.

He then shared highlights from the US News & World Reportrankings. Most notably, the UVA Medical Center was named Virginia’s #1 hospital for the third year in a row! Congratulations to all for their contributions toward the excellent care resulting in this recognition!

StandPoint Survey
Susan M. Pollart, MD
Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Faculty Development
The StandPoint Survey (formerly called the Faculty Forward Engagement Survey) will be administered this fall over a five-week period in October and November. The first survey highlighted areas of opportunity for the dean’s office in governance, explaining finances, communications, and faculty retention. Each department learned of their own areas of opportunity. Action plans were created, and examples can be found on the web here.

Department results and review of the dashboards will take place January 16-29, 2019. The chairs will meet with AAMC StandPoint leaders on January 30 from 7-9 AM.

IT Security Enhancements
Jason C. Belford, Chief Information Security Officer
Erin M. Trost, Information Security Manager
Mr. Belford noted that we are facing increasing cybersecurity threats, and gave the specific example of two Nigerians working out of Malaysia who used a sophisticated phishing scam to steal 1,400 W-2s two years ago. Passwords alone are insufficient and so, like many other organizations, we are moving to two-factor identification for Outlook web and VPN access. It is easy to learn and to use.

Ms. Trost explained that our options for dual authentication were determined to align with federal government requirements for e-prescribing.

The University enabled 2-step authentication for NetBadge login in 2017. It will be required for Outlook web access (OWA) by September 17, for Virtual Private Network (VPN) access by September 30, and for Workday by January 2019.

New ACGME Requirements
Susan Kirk, MD
Designated Institutional Officer and Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education
The ACGME has issued a statement that it values the strength that arises from a diverse group of residents, fellows, faculty, leaders, and others. Expectations around recruitment and retention mirror those of the LCME. Beginning next year, we will be show that we are tracking diversity GME trainees and faculty by including the percent of underrepresented minorities (URMs) we have recruited. The GME Office has already begun to do that for you, and the clinical chairs all received letters with their percentage of URM faculty and trainees in the spring. Although we will specifically track the percentage of residents and fellows who self-identify as African-American, Latino/Hispanic, Pacific Islander, and Native American, we also strongly support the recruitment of any resident or fellow who helps diversify our programs, including those with diverse gender, sexual identity, country of origin, race, or ethnicity.

After August 2017, we experienced an immediate decline in the number of URM residents and fellows interested in coming to UVA. Of those who did come here, nearly all attended a diversity recruitment program. There will be a number of these again this year.

Dr. Kirk said we will hold our first-ever First Look program on Saturday, September 15th and asked that each chair encourage all of their faculty to attend. Applicants have said they recognize that the URM faculty value diversity and inclusion, and they would like to know that the majority faculty also share these values. One way to demonstrate the commitment to diversity and inclusion is by participating in the First Look and other diversity programs.

The next meeting will be Tuesday, September 11, 2018, in the MED Learning Studio.

Say Goodbye to GREs

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardized test that most graduate schools across the nation require to accompany student applications. It certainly was required here at UVA’s School of Medicine.

But not anymore.

As of this fall, the School of Medicine’s Biomedical Sciences (BIMS) graduate program has eliminated the GRE requirement as a component of the application.

Why the change?
The GRE has been used as an indicator of a student’s likelihood of success in graduate school. However, over the past few years, reports from Vanderbilt and the University of Carolina Chapel Hill have illustrated that the GRE is actually a poor predictor of success in biomedical sciences graduate programs. Additionally, there are other studies that show the GRE has strong biases against racial and ethnic minorities, females, and those from socioeconomically challenged groups.

Dropping the GRE is a growing trend. In fact, several institutions have already removed it as a requirement, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the University of Alabama at Birmingham; the University of California, San Francisco; the Rockefeller University; the University of Colorado, Denver (Anschutz), and the University of Michigan. Members of the Association of American Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) Group on Graduate Research, Education, and Training (GREAT) recently performed a survey and found many more schools are in discussions to follow suit, including those to whom we perennially lose strong BIMS applicants, such as University of Pennsylvania; Washington University in St. Louis; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Emory University; University of Chicago; Vanderbilt University; and others. Of the 90 schools/programs that responded to the survey, 50 percent have either already discarded the requirement (10) or are in discussions about doing so in the near future (35).

It was only three years ago when the National Institutes of Health (NIH) expressed little faith in the exam, too. They ceased requiring the reporting of GRE scores for appointees to T32 training grants and for applicants for individual fellowship awards.

At UVA, we are not the only ones evaluating the GRE as an application requirement. There has been discussion across Grounds, among the Graduate Affairs Network (GAN), and with Executive Vice President and Provost Thomas Katsouleas and the graduate deans about eliminating this test.

In short: The GRE is an obstacle that provides little to no value for us or our students. As such, we are eliminating it.

How will we evaluate potential students?
Going forward, we will be taking a holistic approach to the application review process and look at students’ transcripts, grade point average, research experience, letters of recommendation, and personal statements. We will search for students who are passionate about research. We want them to be creative. We want them to have grit. We want them to have a deep appreciation for why they want to pursue graduate school in the biomedical sciences. We want to evaluate applicants on their abilities and their promise, not on a test score that has inherent biases. As always, we want the best and the brightest students.

It is my hope that strong applicants who were previously concerned about a low GRE score will now consider applying. I am very proud of our decision and look forward to seeing how this positively affects our BIMS graduate program.

R.J. Canterbury, MD, MS, DLFAPA
Wilford W. Spradlin Professor
Senior Associate Dean for Education

A Special Message from Dean Wilkes

The July 4 holiday begins the most popular time for summer vacations for many of us. I wish for each of you a well-deserved rest. Prior to vacation season, I’d like to share some good news about our School.

Even though we’ve not reached the June 30 end of the current fiscal year, it’s clear that you have knocked it out of park in all areas of our School’s mission.

In education

  • The incoming class of 156 medical students has a mean GPA of 3.86 and a mean MCAT of 518.27 (the 97th percentile!). This year the class is 57% out-of-state and continues to have good diversity. The BIMS PhD programs have recruited a strong new class of graduate students.
  • 99% of our class matched in outstanding post-graduate programs.
  • Richard Baylis, MD/PhD student in the lab of Gary Owens, attended the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in June, where he and other young investigators from around the world had the opportunity to mingle with and get feedback from 43 Nobel Laureates.
  • All of the accrediting bodies that were required to approve the establishment of the School of Medicine-Inova Campus did so without stipulation. Our admissions team is getting ready to start recruiting the class of 2023, which will be the first class to have the option to do their clerkships at the Inova Campus.

In the clinical realm

  • Over 25% of our physicians are included on the 2017-18 Best Doctors in America list. This is phenomenal!
  • Becker’s Hospital Review recognized our hospital as one of the 100 Great Hospitals in America in 2018.
  • Our hospital continues to be #1 in Virginia.

And in research

  • SOM funding is poised to exceed last year’s totals, thanks to the continued outstanding efforts of all of our faculty and new strategic hires.
  • We scored a 21 on our CTSA application! Although we’ll know more in August, a number of people outside of UVA have confirmed that this is an extraordinary score.
  • The Hartwell Foundation again named UVA as one of its Top Ten Centers of Biomedical Research.
  • The UVA IRBs received accreditation from the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs, Inc. (AAHRPP).
  • The U.S. News & World Report rankings were further evidence of the extraordinary work you do. Primary Care rose to 21 (from 24) and Research went to 26 (from 27).

Finally, the School is in a strong financial position with operating revenues exceeding expenditures. Year-to-date through May 2018, the School of Medicine had an operating net income of $8 million. The Dean’s Reserve funded $31 million in strategic investments in all mission areas in clinical and basic science departments, as well as in centers. In addition, with strong financial management at all levels, we are entering our fourth consecutive year of no tuition increase for medical students.

You, our faculty, are the reason we have had such a remarkable year and are in a strong position both academically and fiscally. I am deeply grateful to you for your commitment to our shared vision and for your hard work that has resulted in this banner year for our School.

With warm regards,

David S. Wilkes, MD
Dean, UVA School of Medicine
James Carroll Flippin Professor of Medical Science

Four Faculty Receive Development Certificate

(l-r) Angela C. Piñeros-Fernández, MD; Andrew S. Parsons, MD, MPH; Thomas R. Hartka, MD; Joesph R. Wiencek, PhD; Maryellen Gusic, MD

Last December, we shared information about an ongoing professional development opportunity offered to faculty, fellows, and residents, as well as students and staff who want to advance their skills as teachers and/or pursue scholarly work in education. On June 4, four more of our faculty completed the program and received the Certificate of Commitment to Faculty Development in Medical Education. They are:

  • Angela C. Piñeros-Fernández, MD, Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery
  • Andrew S. Parsons, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Medicine
  • Thomas R. Hartka, MD, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine
  • Joesph R. Wiencek, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pathology

Faculty who attend 10 workshops over a two-year period will receive this certificate. It can be included as part of the teaching portfolio which, in turn, can be included in the application for membership to the Academy of Distinguished Educators and/or as part of the portfolio for promotion and tenure.

Since 2013, 60 faculty have earned the certificate. This commitment is outstanding. For more information on the program, click here. To see topics presented in the series, click here. A full schedule of additional opportunities to qualify for earning a certificate will be available later in the summer.

R.J. Canterbury, MD, MS, DLFAPA
Wilford W. Spradlin Professor
Senior Associate Dean for Education


Coming This Fall: Patient Student Partnership

The Patient Student Partnership will pair our students with a chronically ill adult or pediatric patient to follow for all four years of medical school.

With the success of the Phronesis Project (which we wrote about here), the School of Medicine has expanded this longitudinal patient experience and made it part of the curriculum for this year’s incoming class. This program, known as Patient Student Partnership (PSP), will pair each of the 160 students in SMD22 with a chronically ill adult or pediatric patient to follow for all four years of medical school.

Students will attend clinic visits, be present as the patient’s advocate, and help the patient navigate the Health System. This partnership will give students the opportunity to learn about healthcare through the eyes of a patient and to witness the trajectory of chronic illness.

This first patient relationship will give students context to their medical education and will provide them with a real-world touchpoint, something in which to ground their newly acquired knowledge.

A few things to note:

  • Clinicians: Please be aware that, starting in October 2018, first-year students will accompany patients to clinic visits in the role of patient advocate.
  • Pre-clerkship faculty who teach students: Students now will have real patients and thus real exposure to health problems to complement classroom learning.

This is a notable moment in the continuous improvement of our curriculum. Students will receive unique patient exposure during their first semester of medical school. This relationship promises to be an enriching and rewarding (and educational!) experience. It is my hope that the early formation of a special doctor-patient relationship will remind our students exactly why they chose to study medicine at the University of Virginia in the first place.

As students enter their fourth year of study, they will begin the process of handing off their patients to the newly arriving first years — and the cycle will begin anew for many of our patients.

Everything we do at the School is in service to our patients, and the feedback from previous years’ participants has been very enthusiastic. Patients loved the same thing I love, namely, watching our students grow and evolve into young physicians.  And the students have recognized that our patients are our best teachers — something most doctors always have known.

Thank you to all of the faculty who worked on the Phronesis Project. That pilot set the groundwork for this amazing next step. Also, thank you to all the primary care clinics and specialty practices across Grounds who aided in recruiting patients and provided this opportunity for our students. And most importantly, I thank our patients. Without their generosity this initiative would be impossible.

For more information on PSP, visit the website. If you have questions, contact Colleen Kiernan.

R.J. Canterbury, MD, MS, DLFAPA
Wilford W. Spradlin Professor
Senior Associate Dean for Education

Video & Photos: School of Medicine 2018 Graduation

Over Final Exercises weekend, approximately 7,000 University of Virginia students earned degrees during UVA’s proudest tradition. Below are some images from the day.

Congratulations to the Class of 2018!

(Graduate photos courtesy Mary Hall.)

Regional Campus: New Informational Video and Accreditation Updates

Last year we announced that we were entering into an academic affiliation with Inova Health System Foundation to establish a UVA School of Medicine – Inova Campus in Northern Virginia. This regional campus will provide opportunities for 72 students (36 per class) to complete their 3rd and 4th years in Northern Virginia. Beginning in February 2021, our students will be exposed to the practice of medicine in a high-volume, urban environment.

I am pleased to announce that we have now been approved by all of our accreditors:

  • State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV):The Commonwealth’s coordinating body for higher education. Its job is to “advocate for and promote the development and operation of an educationally and economically sound, vigorous, progressive, and coordinated system of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and to lead state-level strategic planning and policy development and implementation based on research and analysis …. The Council shall also seek to facilitate collaboration among institutions of higher education that will enhance quality and create operational efficiencies ….”
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC):This is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states. It serves as the common denominator of shared values and practices among the diverse institutions of the region.
  • Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME):This is a U.S. Department of Education-recognized accrediting body for programs leading to the MD degree in the United States.

Take a look at our new informational video for prospective applicants to see the outstanding offerings on this campus.

Highlights include the 12,000 square-foot Claude Moore Education and Research Center, a 12,000 square-foot medical simulation center, surgical simulation and advanced practice training space, newly renovated areas to provide inter-professional collaborative training and educational experiences, 24/7 access to a health sciences library supported by an outstanding team of librarians, and more. Campus details can be found on our admissions website.

This is an exciting time for the School of Medicine, our faculty and staff, and our students. I look forward to the opportunities this affiliation will present.

R.J. Canterbury, MD, MS, DLFAPA
Wilford W. Spradlin Professor
Senior Associate Dean for Education