Welcome from the Program Director
Our Division of Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond represents a clinically strong rheumatology fellowship with excellent faculty support for teaching and clinical care. The Division grew out of the first arthritis clinic in Virginia nearly eighty years ago. Over the past few years there has been a changing of the guard; several senior rheumatologists have retired, and seven new energetic young faculty members have joined. The advantageous result is a relatively large, mostly young, ethnically diverse, mostly female fulltime faculty. Yet our primary emphasis, the education of rheumatology fellows, remains at the Division’s core. We will select one rheumatology fellow applicant to enter in July 2019.
Richmond is an outstanding location in which to live and work and represents a historical treasure chest. The region surrounding Richmond was colonized in the early 1600s, and Richmond was laid out in 1737 and became the state capital in 1780. The metropolitan area population is currently nearly 1.3 million. Richmond is characterized by diverse communities in distinctive neighborhoods, such as the eclectic Fan and Shockoe Bottom districts lying next to the University. The cultural attractions include outstanding museums for fine arts, children, and science as well as performing arts including traditional folk music, ballet, symphony, theatre, and opera. Richmond has also added a growing foodie scene with excellent restaurants and food festivals. In September 2015, Richmond hosted the pinnacle event for world cycling, the World Cycling Championships, with live attendance of 645,000 and a global television audience of over 300 million. Richmond is an exciting place to live.
Virginia Commonwealth University is a large state-supported university with over 31,000 students. The Health Sciences Campus includes schools of medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy and allied health sciences. The VCU Hospitals cares for over half of the state’s uninsured patients and provides primary care, subspecialty, and tertiary care for the densely populated eastern half of the state. This modern facility has every specialty and subspecialty imaginable, all the way from human genetics to transplant hepatology. This means that our rheumatology fellows enjoy a rich, first-hand experience with nearly every rheumatic disorder possible.
The Division contains both allergy/clinical immunology and rheumatology sections. The allergy/clinical immunology section has its clinical practice and fellowship separate from the rheumatology clinical practice and fellowship. The clinical practice in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology is mostly in the ambulatory care setting at VCU Health Systems, but division faculty also have faculty practices at satellite locations in the Richmond metropolitan area. Altogether there are approximately 8,000 patient visits annually in rheumatology clinics. The fellows also experience patient care through the affiliated McGuire VAMC, and the annual patient numbers seen there approximates 2,500-3,000. There are seven full-time adult rheumatology clinician educators at VCUHS and another three at the McGuire VAMC, all of whom teach fellows. The fellows benefit also from supervision by a staff pediatric rheumatologist and a community-based pediatric rheumatologist. The result is that our fellows experience and learn from a highly diverse set of rheumatic disorders and have progressive responsibility supervised and mentored by friendly, readily available, and supportive attending rheumatologists plus genial pediatric rheumatologists.
The Division has generated substantial endowment that helps support its teaching of fellows. The Division’s senior clinical rheumatologists gathered endowment support from generous donors over a period of three decades to support arthritis care, teaching, and research. The Division has endowment support for the chair and five professorships and other endowment funds for research including the Charles W. Thomas Fund, a $4-plus-million endowment designated for arthritis research, and a fund endowed by the Lupus Foundation of Virginia. The most recent addition has been the Kessler rheumatology education fund, aimed toward support of visits by outside rheumatology luminaries. The consequence of the prior and current generation’s foresight and effort is that the current Division faculty can devote substantial time to teaching and looking after its rheumatology fellows.
The Division’s primary educational focus is the education of rheumatology fellows. As an example, our Division held a series of faculty development activities in spring 2014 based on the Stanford University School of Medicine course on clinical teaching and conducted by our Internal Medicine Program Director, a Stanford-certified instructor. The curriculum covered seven educational categories: learning climate, control of session, communication of goals, promotion of understanding and retention, evaluation, feedback, and promotion of self-directed learning. The seminars consisted of didactic presentations, group discussions, role-play exercises, video vignette review, and personal and institutional goal setting. We also developed a set of recommendations for improving VCU’s environment for clinical teaching. Subsequently, the Division has had faculty development sessions for evidence-based learning strategies, peer mentoring, and teaching clinical reasoning. The Division members have already applied these ideas and methods in outpatient and inpatient clinical teaching. Yet we do not forget that we’re all learners and colleagues here, with the attending rheumatologists just as excited to learn from fellows, residents, and students as to lend knowledge.
Many years have passed since I enjoyed the excitement and endured the anxiety of interviewing for rheumatology fellowship programs as you will. I recall sitting in with a program director cum editor of Arthritis & Rheumatism to discuss the most interesting manuscripts (don’t worry, we will not put you on the spot like that!). But please take time to savor each moment; you will meet the new colleagues you will enjoy knowing for a long, long time. That long ago, I concluded that the teaching and mentoring atmosphere was so good at VCU that my best choice was to remain here. Many years have passed, but the VCU rheumatology fellow program has grown even stronger.
We hope you will find this website helpful and informative. Please feel free to contact us about any additional questions.
George Moxley, MD
Associate Professor, Internal Medicine
Program Director, Rheumatology Fellowship
Grace Branch Moore-Arthritis Foundation Professor of Medicine