Stephanie Call, M.D., M.S.P.H.
Tailoring the Experience
Energy, Passion and a Drive to Challenge Students Ensures the Perfect Fit
As a gut-check nearly eight years ago, Stephanie A. Call, M.D., M.S.P.H., inquired into an open position for program director of the internal medicine training program at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine. She’d already decided to leave the medical field in favor of being a stay-at-home mom in Louisville, Ky., she said, and putting in the call was just her way of making sure she really wanted to move on.
But that call quickly turned into a four-hour dinner, the dinner turned into a tour of the campus and facilities, the tour turned into an interview, and at every step, Call says she found herself in awe.
“I just felt this real intense energy; this exciting, vibrant community and culture,” Call said. “So I called my husband and said, ‘You know that interview that really wasn’t an interview? Well, I think I’ve found the kind of people I really want to work with. I’ve found a special place that fits me.’”
Since then, Call has set her sights on tailoring that fit and ensuring that the residents and trainees that come through VCU’s doors wake up as challenged and inspired as she does.
In overseeing the internal medicine training program and serving as associate chair for education in the department, Call works intimately with VCU’s residents, whether it be setting schedules, developing curriculum or overseeing their work at the bedside. With every batch of roughly 30 residents she and the department pick each year out of the more than 2,000 applications they receive, she said she sees something special, which in turn helps keep VCU a special place.
“They’re the ones who make the program what it is,” Call said. “So I look at more than grades and board scores. I look at what each person can contribute to the greater, unique whole, what they’re going to contribute to each other, to their communities.”
Only then, she said, can the department continue to construct a program that builds well-rounded, grounded internists who thrive on change and innovation, keep patients at the heart of everything they do and embrace the humanistic and intellectual challenges of medicine long after they leave.
“On the evening of graduation, I need to be able to know that the person coming up to me to receive their diploma is someone to whom I would refer my mother,” Call said. “That is my true measure of success.”