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School of Medicine on Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medical College of Virginia Campus

at work

fall 2013

In November, the Grandis family announced a $1-million gift that will create the medical school’s first full-tuition scholarship endowment. The gift memorializes Harry and Harriet Grandis, Richmond philanthropists who made yearly gifts to fully cover tuition costs for deserving medical students. The Grandis’ daughters Nancy White (second from right in photo 1 ) and Betty Sue LePage (3rd from right) with five Grandis Scholars who benefited from the family’s past generosity. Dean of Medicine Jerry Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D., ( photo 2 ) described how Harriet and Harry’s friendship to medical students will live on in perpetuity for an audience that included family, friends and university officials in the McGlothlin Medical Education Center ( photo 3 ). In the weeks leading up to the announcement, many of the former Grandis Scholars sent pictures and messages describing how graduating free of tuition debt impacted their lives and careers. The medical school compiled those messages into a book given to the Grandis family ( photo 4 ). Grandis Scholars including Parker Chamberlin, M’98, now an otolaryngologist in Camden, Maine, and current Grandis Scholar Alison Setia, M’14 ( photo 5 ), took the chance to thank the family in person.




1838 Campaign 4


Launched to support student scholarships This fall, Dean of Medicine Jerry Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D., announced a $25 million campaign to build the medical school’s scholarship endowment into a resource on par with its peer schools. Only half of our students receive scholarships. And those awards lag behind other public medical schools, covering less than a quarter of the $31,130 in-state tuition. The 1838 Campaign aims to increase the number and size of scholarships to give the school a competitive edge for recruiting top students, rewarding student excellence and reducing the burden of debt that has become an inescapable part of choosing a career in medicine. Commemorating our founding year, the 1838 Campaign was launched with the announcement of a $1 million gift from the Grandis family. “In their lifetimes, Harry and Harriet Grandis took a sincere and personal interest in giving our medical students the best possible start in their careers,” said Strauss. “Beginning in the 1990s, they made yearly gifts to fully cover the cost of tuition for deserving students, supporting more than a dozen young doctors.” After their deaths, their daughters considered how they wanted to honor their parents’ memories and decided to permanently endow a scholarship. Replacing their parents’ yearly gift, investment earnings from the $1-million endowment will be

used each year to award a full in-state scholarship to generations of future students. In testimony to how Mr. and Mrs. Grandis’ generosity impacted their lives, nearly half of the Grandis Scholars returned to the MCV Campus for the announcement of the family’s gift. From coast to coast, and representing a range of specialties including pediatrics, ophthalmology and palliative care, the Scholars tell stories of how the Grandis’ gift freed them to choose fields they were passionate about, without the worry of a heavy burden of debt. The Class of 2008’s Harry Wright made the trip from Tampa where he is completing a fellowship in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery. “The gift of a tuition-free medical school education at an institution like MCV is overwhelming, wonderful, and even still feels too good to be true.” “The knowledge that the Grandis family chose to invest in me was a huge factor in affecting how I view personal service and professional opportunities. This gift will always serve as profound reminder to make every opportunity count, and to pay it forward to the next generation.” Learn more about how scholarships changed the lives of the Grandis Scholars.

Go online at

can participate in You the 1838 Campaign by H Joining the 1838 Fund with a gift of

$10,000 and up. The 1838 Fund is a newly established scholarship endowment created from the pooled resources of the medical school’s alumni and friends.

H Creating a Named Endowment with

a commitment of $50,000 or more. An endowed scholarship provides annual tuition support for a student who meets the award criteria you provide. It carries the name of its creator or the name of an honoree the donor chooses.

A donor wall in the new McGlothlin Medical Education Center will prominently display the names of donors who make leadership gifts to the 1838 Campaign. To learn more, please contact the medical school’s development office at (800) 332-8813 or

Annual Fund

A donor’s perspective / A student’s perspective

Tim O’Connell, M’82

Planned gift is response to

“the best four years of my life” Tim O’Connell, M’82, took some twists and turns along his career path, but there’s one thing he’s absolutely sure of: his training at the School of Medicine helped make it all possible. “Those were the best four years of my life,” he said. At the time, though, he couldn’t have predicted where that would lead. “I had worked in a hospital as an orderly in the cardiac care unit, so I went to MCV with the intention of becoming a cardiologist,” O’Connell said. But he was unsure when it came time to choose a specialty and entered family practice. “During my internship I discovered that my passion was obstetrics. Doing three to five deliveries a night was a thrilling experience. I never dreamed of becoming an OBGYN, but it’s been a wonderful experience.” Family responsibilities led him to give up obstetrics in 2005 and focus on his gynecology practice. But then his career took another turn. “I had two patients with addictions and there were no resources to help them,” he said. O’Connell solved that by undergoing training so that he could prescribe Suboxone to treat patients addicted to pain pills and heroin. Word quickly spread and he set up a second office to treat others. Later, he expanded his new specialty by becoming board certified in addiction medicine and opening an addiction treatment center. “A career shift like this is a very unusual thing to happen to a physician,” O’Connell explains. “I’m now treating patients in all stages of life. Addiction affects all members of society. And I get the same satisfaction as delivering babies!”

It might surprise you to know that first-time Annual Fund donor Emily K. Marko, M.D., is not an alumna. Instead, her generosity grew out of her unique view into the medical school. Marko is an obstetrician and gynecologist at Inova Women’s Hospital in Fairfax, which has one of the largest obstetrical services in the U.S. As the OBGYN clerkship director at our medical school’s satellite campus at Inova, Marko says, “I teach the M3s and M4s and really enjoy working with them.” She’s also a member of the medical school’s Admissions Committee where she meets with some wonderful applicants. “I often wish we could keep many more of them if we had more scholarship money to offer, so I donated.” Marco, together with other Annual Fund donors, has created dozens of scholarships awarded to medical students this fall. Controlling the cost of his medical education was one of Eric Su-Ming Chang’s considerations when he chose to pursue medicine. Nevertheless, when he graduates with his fiancé – who is a fellow VCU medical student – they will have a combined student loan debt of a quarter of a million dollars. A partial scholarship from the Annual Fund has been helpful. Now a member of the Class of 2014 and a self-paying student, Eric says “I was encouraged to do my best to go above and beyond as I knew my time at VCU was now also representative of those donors.” Eric’s years in the medical school have been marked by service to others. In 2011, he was on the inaugural REACH 4 Ghana student-led mission trip that provided basic health care services to over 1,000 Africans from five remote villages in the Volta region. He also serves his classmates on the school’s curriculum council that’s a direct forum between students and instructors. Eric’s headed into obstetrics and gynecology, a field his grandfather blazed before him as an obstetrician in Taiwan and Japan. In this, too, Marko lent a helping hand. “I credit Dr. Marko for not only solidifying my desire to enter the specialty, but also providing me with the resources and connections necessary to enrich my educational experience and strengthen my application to the field,” Eric says.

Go online to read more about Eric’s experience.

O’Connell’s making plans to help future doctors through an unrestricted $200,000 bequest to his alma mater through his estate. In doing so, he’s now a member of the MCV Society. “I would encourage other students in my class to reflect back upon the opportunities we had and the benefits we derived from medical school. Now we’re on the other side, on the tail end of our careers, so it’s time to prepare new doctors. I’d love to see physicians in my class get involved and see what they can do to give something back.” Learn more about how you can join the MCV Society by making provisions for the medical school in your estate plans.

Go online

Left to Right: The Class of 2014’s Eric Su-Ming Chang and Emily K. Marko, M.D.

Medical Education Center fulfilling its promise

A team of first-year students takes a history from a standardized patient in one of the McGlothlin Center’s 16 exam rooms.

McGlothlin Medical Education Center is setting for

Practice of Clinical Medicine This fall our incoming students embarked on a new course of study that integrates medical school’s traditional first two years, trimming the preclinical stage to 18 months and allowing students to enter clerkships in their second year. The changes to the curriculum were made possible by the newly opened McGlothlin Medical Education Center, whose specially designed learning spaces open doors to new courses like the Practice of Clinical Medicine. It began with a weeklong boot camp. Faculty and fourth-year students drilled the incoming students on the basics of obtaining a patient’s history, vitals and even an abbreviated head-to-toe physical examination. By the end of the week, students were face-to-face with a standardized patient in one of the McGlothlin Center’s 16 exam rooms. The new PCM course alternates weekly small group sessions with standardized patient scenarios. Front and center are the so-called Foundation Cases, specially conceived to integrate key basic science principles into the clinical scenarios presented by the standardized patients. To arrive at a diagnosis, students move into the learning studios where they work through the case at high-tech six-person tables. Logging into a computer program designed by the school’s in-house IT team, students submit their initial differential diagnosis and “order” physical examinations for the patient along with laboratory tests. They’ll have two additional rounds to refine that diagnosis based on the findings of those exams and tests. So far, 90 percent of the teams have come to the correct diagnosis. They also get a “score” based on their use of time and money. If they got to the correct diagnosis but it took two months to get all the results back and it cost $100,000, they didn’t do as well as the group that took three days and spent $250.

In the McGlothlin Center’s learning studios, students work together to arrive at a diagnosis. A sophisticated software program allows them to “order” physical exams and lab tests.

Go online for more

Medical students will get into the clinical arena earlier thanks to a new curriculum that makes the most of the McGlothlin Center’s innovative learning spaces.

s t f i g at work


Virginia Commonwealth University Medical College of Virginia Campus School of Medicine P.O. Box 980022 Richmond, Virginia 23298-0022

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Do you get more than one copy of Gifts at Work? If you have questions about Gifts at Work, please contact the medical school Development Office, (804) 828-4800, toll-free at (800) 332-8813, or by email at

Maybe you married a classmate, or your child is a Medicine grad who has moved away. Email us at so we can update your record!

Associate Dean for Development: Tom Holland Editor: Erin Lucero Assistant Editor: Leetah Stanley Contributing Writer: Nan Johnson Photographers: Jay Paul, Skip Rowland, Kevin Schindler, VCU Creative Services Graphic Design: Kevin Schindler

Scan this QR code with your mobile device for the chance to check out expanded story coverage and photo galleries.

The School of Medicine is proud to be a partner with the MCV Foundation that has served the Medical College of Virginia Campus of Virginia Commonwealth University since 1949.

Class of 2017

Inside this issue of Gifts at Work, you can learn more about their innovative course of study. But, first, here’s a snapshot of who the 210 students are – our largest incoming class ever.

The McGlothlin Medical Education Center is home to the Class of 2017 in a unique way. They’ll be the first to do all four years of the M.D. program within its walls.

• Chosen from among 7,165 applications • Hailing from 28 states and Canada • Representing 94 undergraduate colleges and universities • As young as 20, as old as 40, with a 3.62 average GPA and a 30.0 average MCAT • 106 Virginians, 100 women, 110 men

But those numbers don’t tell even half the story. In the class ranks you’ll also find:

A quartet of pianists

A Peace Corps volunteer A food blogger A poetry MFA Several EMTs

An opera singer

A ballroom dancer A Starbucks barista

A public health worker who’s monitored drug resistance in New Delhi

A swim team coach

An ultra-marathoner

Linguists who, combined, speak at least a dozen languages

More photos online

And 6 – count them – 6 rock climbers.

Gifts at Work Fall 2013  

philanthropic gifts make a difference for the students, faculty and programs on the Medical College of Virginia Campus of Virginia Commonwea...

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