Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016
Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine Dean Jerome Strauss, M.D., Ph.D., first thanked attendees for “swimming in” to the Faculty Excellence Awards ceremony, which was held on a particularly wet Wednesday afternoon at the Hermes A. Kontos Medical Sciences Building.
The ceremony represents a high point in the academic year; a time to celebrate the accomplishments and dedication of faculty to the university community. Those who have contributed to the School of Medicine for many years, as well as faculty and colleagues at the McGuire VA Medical Center, were recognized.
Strauss presented the School of Medicine’s highest recognition for teaching, the Enrique Gerszten Faculty Teaching Excellence Award, to Beth K. Rubinstein, M.D. The award recognizes extraordinary accomplishments in all aspects of education.
“The attestations of Dr. Rubinstein’s excellence in teaching came from many corners,” Strauss said.
The associate professor in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology graduated from VCU School of Medicine and completed her residency and fellowship training at VCU as well. She has been consistently voted as a “top doc” in Richmond Magazine and was featured as a “Top 40 Under 40” by Style Weekly magazine in 2015.
“Dr. Rubinstein’s caring, giving manner and enthusiasm reminds me of the way that Dr. Gerszten teaches,” said Susan R. DiGiovanni, M.D., interim senior associate dean of medical education and student affairs and professor of internal medicine.
In her acceptance of the award, Rubinstein likened what VCU has done with medical education to what the Broadway play “Hamilton: An American Musical” did with historical education.
“The play’s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda took a somewhat boring topic and made it into an innovative interpretation of the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton,” she said. “In doing so, he piqued the interest of people of all ages in American history. At VCU, we too are striving to create new teaching methods to make the material fun for our students.”
The Irby-James Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching recognizes superior teaching in clinical medicine taught in the last two years of medical school and residency training, and encourages excellence in an increasingly complicated and challenging educational environment. Strauss presented the award to two recipients this year.
The first recipient was Paula A. Ferrada, M.D., associate professor of surgery. Ferrada was also awarded the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award.
“I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for an amazing team of people who help me every day,” Ferrada said. She added that she was flattered by the words of her colleagues and students in the award nomination letters. “Those letters say more about all of you than they say about me,” she said to the audience of students and faculty. “I will try to honor you all by being more like who you think I am.”
The second recipient of the Irby-James Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching was James Levy, M.D., professor of internal medicine. “It takes a community to provide an excellent education to our medical students,” Levy said. “For me, the community begins with my family. I try to impart the knowledge to trainees that when one is fulfilled outside of the hospital, one will be more productive during working hours.”
The Distinguished Mentor Award recognizes significant contributions to the career development of others, such as through mentorship to fellow faculty members, junior faculty, residents, fellows, graduate students, post-docs and medical students, or through other mentoring relationships. This year the award went to Antonio Abbate, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of internal medicine.
“The uniform message you get from Dr. Abbate’s mentees is that he is a gentle motivator,” Strauss said.
In his acceptance of the award, Abbate offered advice to the mentors in the audience. “Mentoring is not about having any special skills,” he said. “It is about caring.”
The Educational Innovation Award recognizes a faculty member for their significant educational innovation or educational research. This year it went to Michael S. Ryan, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics.
“For most of my life I wanted to teach,” Ryan said, adding that his mother’s career in teaching inspired him to pursue a similar path. “What I learned from my mom since I was a kid was the joy that teaching others provided her in her own life.”
The other major awards presented were the Women in Science, Dentistry and Medicine Professional Achievement Award, presented to Cheryl S. Al-Mateen, M.D., professor of psychiatry; the MCV Physicians Distinguished Clinician Award, presented to William B. Moskowitz, M.D., professor of pediatrics; and the VCU/VCUHS Leadership in Graduate Medical Education Award, presented to Vikram S. Brar, M.D., assistant professor of Ophthalmology and Kimberly Christman, program coordinator, Department of Radiology.
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