VCU’s School of Medicine recognizes contributions of outstanding faculty

Stephanie Call, M.D., left, a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine in the School of Medicine, was one of two recipients of the Enrique Gerszten Faculty Teaching Excellence Award, the School of Medicine’s highest teaching award. (Photo by Tom Kojcsich, University Relations)
Stephanie Call, M.D., left, a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine in the School of Medicine, was one of two recipients of the Enrique Gerszten Faculty Teaching Excellence Award, the School of Medicine’s highest teaching award. (Photo by Tom Kojcsich, University Relations)

Stephanie Call and Virginia Pallante share a passion for teaching. Now they also share an award reflective of that passion.

Call, M.D., a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, and Pallante, an instructor and senior genetic counselor in the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics in the School of Medicine, are the 2018 recipients of the Enrique Gerszten Faculty Teaching Excellence Award, the School of Medicine’s highest teaching award.

Call has contributed to 30 peer-reviewed publications and eight peer-reviewed teaching models published by the Association of American Medical Colleges. At VCU she helped establish the AAMC’s Learning Milestones for Entering Residents, a set of core professional activities that all students must master before beginning residency training.

Addressing an audience of colleagues at the School of Medicine’s annual faculty awards ceremony last week, Call urged the group to “hit pause” and reflect on the parts of their jobs that bring them the most joy.

“In a time where we speak incessantly of physician burnout and resilience, we must reflect on what brings us joy and do that thing daily,” she said.

For Call, that joy is teaching.

Leaning on Parker Palmer’s book “The Courage to Teach,” Call described what it means to be a good teacher. She said good teaching is an act of hospitality.

“The gift of sustenance for the guests becomes a gift of hope for the host. It is that way in teaching as well, where the teacher’s hospitality to the student results in a world more hospitable to the teacher,” said Call, who in August also was named a 2018 Distinguished Teacher at the university’s Opening Faculty Address and Convocation.

Virginia Pallante, left, an instructor and senior genetic counselor in the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics at VCU Health, also was recognized with the Gerszten Award. (Photo by Tom Kojcsich, University Relations)
Virginia Pallante, left, an instructor and senior genetic counselor in the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics at VCU Health, also was recognized with the Gerszten Award. (Photo by Tom Kojcsich, University Relations)

Pallante has been named “Best Teacher in M1 Human Genetics” by medical students 17 times. She said she was encouraged to teach by her father, who saw her passion for teaching before she recognized it herself.

“Curiosity, high expectations, passion for your subject matter and most important, compassion and love of the learners is really what it’s all about,” Pallante said.

The Faculty Excellence Awards are awarded annually by the School of Medicine. Award recipients are nominated by their peers and vetted by a selection committee for their innovation, leadership and excellence in teaching and clinical care. Additional 2018 award recipients include:

Phoebe Ashley, M.D., a cardiologist in the Department of Internal Medicine who specializes in health literacy and women’s heart health, received the Irby-James Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching.

Sarah Spiegel, Ph.D., a professor and chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology who has formally mentored more than 70 pre- and postdoctoral students and fellows, was awarded the Distinguished Mentor Award.

Steven Bishop, M.D., associate chair for education in the Department of Internal Medicine, received the Education Innovation and Research Award. Bishop began improving teaching programs during his residency at VCU. One of his latest teaching innovations is the GenMed Podcast, where he covers a variety of medical topics to provide 24/7 learning opportunities for busy clinical staff.

Joel Moll, M.D., an associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine, was recognized with two awards: the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award for his efforts in the area of inclusion in clinical care, and the Leadership in Graduate Medical Education award. Guided by his belief that “outside lives matter,” Moll helps students, residents and clinical colleagues remember that balance in life outside of medicine is what will enable them to provide compassionate care to patients.

Huiping Zhou, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, was honored with the Women in Science, Dentistry and Medicine Award. 

Wesley Shepherd, M.D., director of Interventional Pulmonology, was the recipient of the Distinguished Clinician Award. Shepherd has developed the state’s largest and most comprehensive interventional pulmonology program that specializes in the management and treatment of acute and chronic airway diseases.

Ravi Vachhani, M.D., an associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, received the Leadership in Graduate Medical Education Award for improvements made to the fellowship program.

Jennifer Quinney, division manager of Acute Care Surgical Services in the Department of Surgery, also received the Leadership in Graduate Medical Education Award.