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Reflections for all of us

We appreciate that there have been some informal discussions regarding events of this past week, which have cast public light on medical student behaviors, class yearbooks and the like.

Dear SOM Students-Fellow Colleagues,

We appreciate that there have been some informal discussions regarding events of this past week, which have cast public light on medical student behaviors, class yearbooks and the like. As President Rao affirmed earlier in the week with his university-wide communication, VCU has pride and commitment in enabling our learning environment to be a place of dignity, mutual respect and inclusivity. Additionally, in last week’s state of the university address, Dr. Rao highlighted the professionalism and accomplishments of our academic community as well as our commitment to be a university that is transparent, accessible and a true resource to our community.

Key to what we accomplish together is respect and professionalism for one another and behaving accordingly. The communities we serve count on physicians to be leaders and role models. Madeline Bell, CEO, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, observes, “As a leader, people are always watching you. They’re listening to you, they look at what you wear, what you say, your body language. I think that leaders sometimes forget that people watch them not just when they’re on, but all the time. I think that you have to really understand that and be intentional about how you carry yourself.” Accordingly, it is important to remember in this digital age our memories are posted all around us for continual access. It is vital in this current era to refrain from any potentially hurtful communications that could be perceived as derogatory of race, ethnic group, religion, gender identity or other way an individual identifies oneself.

We know that you are proud of your medical school and we are certainly proud of you – each of you as powerful ambassadors for our school and its wonderful reputation. Our past, both good and bad, informs our school’s reputation and helps us share the best for our future. Yearbooks are a part of our past and sadly sometimes reflect moments that we wish we had not had, done or said. Please know that medical school yearbooks ceased at our school in 2010. We can’t erase our past, yet we can use it to inform and better our future.

As this public reappraisal of medical school yearbooks plays out in media communications, please know that we are grateful to you for your utmost ethical behavior as current students and hopefully soon-to-be future physicians and leaders in our community. Thank for your continued commitment to the Hippocratic values and behaviors of our noble profession and to your support of our great medical school.

Our very best always,

Susan DiGiovanni, M.D.
Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education 
and Student Affairs
Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCUHS
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