Educating Physician Thought Leaders at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine

Presented by Richard C. Vari, Ph.D. on February 1, 2011 at 12:00 pm

In this session we will discuss the medical education curriculum at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine that focuses on providing medical students an educational experience grounded in inquiry, research, and discovery. Through a unique partnership between Virginia Tech University and Carilion Clinic a private medical school was created to produce physicians who will possess the knowledge, skills and attitudes to become leaders in health care delivery. Beginning with a small class size of 42 students, carefully selected using a holistic interview process which includes the Multiple Mini-Interview, the program is designed to integrate four educational Value Domains across the four years of medical school: Basic Sciences, taught using a PBL-Hybrid model during the first two years, Clinical Sciences and Skills, Research, and Interprofessionalism. Students are required to complete a hypothesis-driven research project before graduation. In addition, a longitudinal interprofessional healthcare education program places medical students in various learning environments with nursing, physician assistant, and other allied health students. Our goal is to produce physicians with outstanding clinical skills and significantly enhanced research capabilities who will remain life-long learners. Moreover, they will have an understanding of the importance of interprofessionalism in order to enable them to more effectively function as part of a modern healthcare team.

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Presenter Bios

Richard C. VariDr. Richard “Rick” Vari received his B.S. in Biology and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Physiology (1983) under the mentorship of Cobern E. Ott, Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky. He completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Physiology at the University of Missouri School of Medicine – Columbia under the mentorship of Ronald H. Freeman, Ph.D. Dr. Vari served as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physiology at Tulane University School of Medicine from 1986 till 1993, working on cardio-renal research projects and teaching renal physiology to medical and graduate students. In 1993, Dr. Vari took a position as Associate Professor, in the Department of Physiology at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences (UNDSMHS).

In 1997, UNDSMHS restructured the medical curriculum and Dr. Vari, as one of the leaders in this reformation, became the Patient Centered Learning Director (PCL) in the Office Medical Education. He served as an Assistant Dean in various capacities in medical education and later was appointed to Associate Dean for Medical Education and Professor of Physiology. In that role, Dr. Vari coordinated the medical curriculum at UNDSMHS and directed the Office of Medical Education. He was heavily involved in redirecting the medical curriculum from a traditional didactic-based program to a PBL-Hybrid model; one that is patient – centered and focused on students as life-long learners. At UNDSMHS, Dr. Vari was also involved in the creation of an integrated combined graduate program in the basic sciences, helped to shape a medical curriculum with an-emphasis on defining and assessing professionalism, explored the role of Relationship Centered Care Initiatives (RCCI) in improving the working environment of the medical school, and helped develop a national curriculum to identify and treat substance abuse focused on prescription use in the elderly, methamphetamine, and inhalents in the Native American population (sponsored by NIDA). He was also instrumental in the development and implementation of an Interprofessional Health Education Course involving all representatives of the health care profession at UND, and also helped to introduce a “Medical Humanities and Writings” curriculum into the first two years of medical education.

Dr. Vari has obtained national funding for his work in renal physiology and innovations in medical education. He is an active member of the American Physiological Society (APS), the International Association of Medical Science Educators (IAMSE) and has served on the APS Education Committee. He served two terms on the NBME Physiology Step 1 Committee.  Dr. Vari has mentored numerous graduate and medical students four FAIMER International Fellows in Medical Education from Ethiopia and Nepal. Dr. Vari has taught renal and cardiovascular physiology to medical and graduate students for 22 years including extensively using Problem-Based Learning methodology. Dr. Vari has been recognized numerous times for his contributions to research, teaching, innovations in medical education, faculty development, and community service.

Dr. Vari joined the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, in Roanoke VA on April 1, 2008, as the Founding Associate Dean for Medical Education. He is primarily responsible for development and implementation of the undergraduate medical education program. He was named as the Founding Chair of the Department of Interprofessionalism to help manage the development of a four-year longitudinal program in interprofessional health care education and practice which includes a service-learning project. He is married to Patty Maloney, PhD, RN, IBCLC, Associate Professor of Nursing at the Jefferson College of Health Sciences also in Roanoke. They have two children; Elizabeth, a fourth-grade elementary teacher in Omaha, NE and Alex, a Senior at the University of North Dakota who is majoring in Accounting.