Karen Finke and Janet Tillage Honored with Leonard Sandridge Awards

The Leonard Sandridge Outstanding Contributor Award is the highest honor achievable by non-faculty at the University of Virginia. Two members of the Department of Medicine make up this year’s honorees: Karen Finke from the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and Janet Tillage from the Division of Oncology and Hematology. Congratulations, Karen and Janet, on this prestigious award!

Karen FinkeKaren Finke, is a Physician Assistant in Gastroenterology and Hepatology, where she has been for 24 years. Her supervisors describe her as dedicated, compassionate, and a valuable contributor to her team. She consistently exhibits qualities far exceeding the University’s mission and values, making her a standout contributor to the practice. She manages a thriving general GI clinic, and the feedback from her patients is consistently filled with praise and gratitude for their exceptional care.

One of Karen’s most significant contributions to her Division is her outstanding leadership in creating and sustaining the Nutrition Support and Gastrostomy Tube Clinic. This invaluable clinic supports our oncology patients before and during cancer therapy. Her efforts have fostered a multidisciplinary approach to patient care for those with complex needs. Karen helps UVA succeed in providing patients with cutting-edge, comprehensive care in digestive health, cancer, and neurology. Karen has also profoundly impacted our Division by providing thoughtful mentorship and teaching to new Physician Assistants (PAs) joining our practice. Karen’s guidance and mentorship have created a highly supportive environment for new graduates and PAs/clinicians to learn and develop their skills early in their careers. Karen instills in these team members—and all of her colleagues—her outstanding commitment to high-quality patient care and communication, making her a role model and sought-after clinician from primary care providers and specialists throughout UVA Health.

Karen says that her GI colleagues are the best work family a person can have. “I work with an amazing group of providers, nurses, techs, and support staff. We support each other professionally and personally. Our work is hard, and having a group of people you can lean on, laugh with, and sometimes cry with helps me be the best possible provider I can be for my patients. Ultimately, I am here to care for my patients; they are the most important part of this mission.”  She also said she was completely surprised by the award, “I feel so honored to be thought of so highly by the people I work with every day. It’s the kind of impact you hope to make in your job, with your patients and colleagues, and to know that you have made that impact feels great!”

Congratulations Karen Finke!

Janet TillageJanet Tillage has worked at UVA for 37 years and as a Medical Office Supervisor with Oncology/Hematology for 14 years. Her nomination letter explains that she has a level of accountability and productivity in her work that exceeds expectations and embodies our ASPIRE values. During COVID-19, when most administrative members were working from home, Janet provided necessary coverage in the office, coming in nearly daily to assist our team and Division in helping to care for patients by continuing operations. She provided extraordinary service by regularly coming on-grounds to manage tasks that could not be performed remotely. Janet volunteered to take on these tasks for the benefit of the team. She is efficient in multi-tasking, is a team player, and always has a pleasant and positive attitude.

Janet’s commitment to her professional growth and development resulted in completing her MHA/MBA. In recognition of her talent and the value of maintaining our talent, Janet was promoted to a supervisory position earlier this year. This has allowed the mitigation of recognized gap issues in our Division related to significant faculty, staff, and research growth. We appreciate the dedication, excellence, and work ethic that Janet brings to the office each day. Her supervisor and Division Chief say that she is a tremendous asset to the Division as a critical member of the administrative team and one who has contributed to the overall effectiveness and progress of the department. Congratulations, Janet Tillage!

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