Club Meeting – September 4th, 2014

090414 JohnsonOur speaker today is Dr. Cynda Johnson, Founding Dean Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (VTCSM). A New Model for Medical Education.  A unique, public-private partnership between a cutting-edge research university and a major health care institution, the school educates physician thought leaders through inquiry, research, and discovery.

Dr. Johnson in the past spoke to the Club just after the opening of the school six and a half years ago.  At the time she was the first female administrator to start a medical school from scratch.  Today as she reflects back on the accomplishments of the school’s first graduating class and she questions “Why did they do it so well?”, which then begs “Will the next do the same?”.

Dr. Johnson shared with the Club her thoughts on what has led to the school’s success and why it is sustainable.  Dr. Friedlander, a recent speaker, who heads the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute had given us some insights.  He also spoke of the decisions leading to the creation of a unique public-private partnership between a cutting-edge research university and a major health care institution.  It all started with the founders deciding on their missions and identifying the key elements needed to build their visions.

O90414 VTCSM LabIn Dr. Johnson’s case “stuffing info into students was not the way it was going to be”.  The school would educate physician thought leaders through inquiry, research, and discovery.   VTCSM employs an adult-learning model called patient-centered learning in its curriculum. This approach trains physicians to make patients the central focus.  A research curriculum is also an integral part of the four years of study for the students.

Small classes averaging 42 in size are a real benefit to the students. Each class is divided into six teams of seven students plus a Facilitator.  The teams work in a problem-based learning format using patient cases called Patient Case Work.  Only 15 percent of medical schools across the country employ a patient-centered learning curriculum.

VTC_Medical_School_Night_hr_630A great deal of care is taken in the admissions process. An above average grade requirement sets a high bar, then selection is predicated on character traits need to succeed in a unique learning environment.  This year the school received over 3500 applications to fill 42 openings.

Match Day is part of the National Resident Matching Program, which matches fourth-year medical students with residency programs across the country.  “We’re thrilled that our charter class had a 100 percent match rate,” Dr. Johnson said. “This means that all our fourth-year students were matched with one of their requested residency programs. There’s a shortage of available residencies, so this is a huge accomplishment for our students. It’s also an important national benchmark for our school.”  Matches included such heavy hitters as Duke, Emory, Georgetown, Northwestern, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Vanderbilt.

Our thanks to Dr. Johnson and all those associated with Virginia Tech Carilion for their
and future contributions to our national healthcare systems.

To learn more about one to the Roanoke Valley’s premier institutions click here.