Featured news

Every day College of Health Professions students, alumni, faculty and staff do extraordinary things. Read more about our latest achievements below.

VCU Celebrates First-Ever Giving Day

VCU Giving Day Find your Cause givingday.vcu.eduThe College needs your help to continue the work we do to ensure all of our qualified students can achieve their dreams to work in health care and are not derailed because of the costs of education. Cathy Saunders, Gerontology alumna, shares this special message about the impact the College made on her life and her commitment to ensuring our students complete their education. 

Please consider supporting the College of Health Professions’ Student Emergency Fund or one of our scholarships to make a real difference in the lives of our future health professionals.

To donate to the Student Emergency Fund, visit here. If you’d like to contribute to a scholarship fund, or for more information, contact T. Greg Prince, senior director of development at tgprince@vcu.edu or (804) 828-3269.

Michael Elliott named first COO of VCU Health System

Michael ElliottAfter an extensive national search, Michael Elliott, Pharm.D., MSHA, FACHE, has been selected as the inaugural chief operations officer of VCU Health System, effective May 15. The new position is responsible for integrating the academic health system’s organizational strategic plan with its operations. Elliottt holds a doctorate in pharmacy and master’s degree in health administration from VCU.

Read more about Michael Elliott being named the first COO of VCU Health System on VCU Health news.

NBC/MSNBC Journalist Lui to visit VCU College of Health Professions

Richard Lui, an anchor and journalist with NBC News and MSNBC, will visit the VCU College of Health Professions on April 7. The first-generation Chinese and Polynesian American will spend a day in Richmond and share his personal and professional journey while discussing the importance of investing in diverse communities in order to improve population health.

Lui was invited to VCU by the Department of Health Administration as part of its new inclusive leadership education initiative. 

Lui is an award-winning journalist and author with more than 30 years in television, film, technology, and business. Prior to anchoring for MSNBC and NBC News, he was with CNN Worldwide and became the first Asian American man to anchor a daily national cable news program. He regularly speaks to his on-the-ground experience on the complex topic of race, driven by his journalistic expertise.

“We are so excited that Richard Lui is able to join us and meet with our students and faculty to share his story and his vision for investing in diverse communities,” says Stephan Davis, DNP, MHSA, FACHE, FNAP, assistant dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at the VCU College of Health Professions (CHP) and executive director of inclusive leadership education for the Department of Health Administration. “After years of watching Richard on the news, I was elated to have the opportunity to speak with him one-on-one at the end of 2021. I knew from our conversation, which ranged from healthcare to the challenges minorities often face in professional environments, that VCU students would benefit from learning about his personal and professional journey and his mission-driven work on caregiving and mental health.”

"I am thrilled to join the VCU College of Health Professions and the Department of Health Administration as they commemorate National Minority Health Month,” Lui said.  “When I met with Dr. Davis, I was impressed with his leadership and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and the College's investment in this important work. Given my personal experience with and films related to caregiving, I am most excited to meet with students who will be the next generation of healthcare providers and health system leaders."

Lui is the author of the bestselling and award-winning book Enough About Me: The Unexpected Power of Selflessness. He is also the director and producer of two feature documentary films including his directorial debut, Sky Blossom: Diaries of the Next Greatest Generation, which covers children caring for military veteran parents and grandparents with disabilities. His second film, Hidden Wounds, profiles three families at the intersection of mental health and caregiving. 

April is National Minority Health Month, and Lui’s talk on the Month’s theme, Give Your Community a Boost, will focus on the ways that investing in diverse communities can help to eradicate health disparities. The day will include a keynote address for 150 guests and a screening of Lui’s award-winning film on caregiving, Sky Blossom, followed by an exclusive Q&A session.

Links to register are below. Space is limited.

VCU Health Administration Leader inducted into National Academies of Practice (NAP) Nursing Academy

Stephan Davis smilingStephan Davis, DNP, MHSA, FACHE, has been inducted as a distinguished scholar and fellow to the National Academies of Practice (NAP) Nursing Academy. The induction comes in advance of Davis’ presentation on nursing leadership and workforce development at the American College of Healthcare Executives Congress on Healthcare Leadership on March 28 in Chicago. Two nurse executives from Wellstar Health System will present alongside Davis.

“I congratulate Dr. Davis on his induction as a fellow of the National Academies of Practice Nursing Academy. He is absolutely deserving of this recognition. His commitment to transforming health care to be respectful and effective for underserved and underrepresented populations is simply unparalleled. His efforts and his impact extend far beyond our community,” said Susan L. Parish, PhD, MSW, dean of the VCU College of Health Professions. “This honor is a tribute to his leadership in interprofessional collaboration.”

Davis joined the VCU Department of Health Administration in January and serves as executive director of inclusive leadership education. He is also the assistant dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the VCU College of Health Professions, a nationally recognized leader in the education of healthcare providers and leaders, cultivating an interprofessional approach to training across 9 disciplines.

"His commitment to transforming health care to be respectful and effective for underserved and underrepresented populations is simply unparalleled."

Susan Parish, Dean of the VCU College of Health Professions

The National Academies of Practice is a non-profit organization that advises governmental bodies on the healthcare system. Practitioners and scholars are elected by peers from various health professions disciplines to join the group dedicated to supporting affordable, accessible, and coordinated quality healthcare for all.

“VCU and the National Academies of Practice are both focused on transforming healthcare through interprofessional collaboration while improving quality, increasing access, and reducing costs,” Davis says. “I am honored that a respected national organization like NAP has recognized my work to guide healthcare organizations to become designated leaders in LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality, as well as my efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in healthcare and academic settings.”

One of the key elements of his interprofessional leadership cited in his nomination was his work with the Josiah Macy Foundation. Davis served as an invited conferee at the 2020 Macy Foundation conference on Addressing Harmful Bias and Eliminating Discrimination in Health Professions Learning Environments. It culminated in a report of recommendations and action steps to advance diversity and inclusion in those settings. Subsequently, Davis has been instrumental in disseminating the report recommendations in collaboration with the Foundation through multiple channels, including webinars, blogs, and podcasts.

Davis will present “21X—From RN to Chief Nursing Officer: Journeys of Leadership and Resiliency Amid Unprecedented Change” on March 28 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the ACHE Congress in Chicago. He will be joined by Wellstar’s Jill Case-Wirth, RN, FAAN, Senior Vice President and Chief Nurse Executive, as well as LeeAnna Spiva, Ph.D, RN, System Assistant Vice President of Nursing Operations and Practice. Learn more and add the session to your calendar.

VCU professor’s new book challenges ageism in society

‘It's so normalized that we literally have to unmask ourselves to be able to see it because it's all around us and it's been all around us for decades.’

Tracey Gendron holding her new book, Ageism Unmasked: Exploring Age Bias and How to End it
Tracey Gendron, Ph.D., director of the Virginia Center on Aging at VCU, is the author of the new book "Ageism Unmasked: Exploring Age Bias and How to End It." (Tom Kojcsich, University Marketing)

In her book "Ageism Unmasked: Exploring Age Bias and How to End It," Tracey Gendron, Ph.D., director of the Virginia Center on Aging at Virginia Commonwealth University, challenges why “everything we know about aging is wrong,” and why the concept of generations divides us more than it serves to bring us together.

Click here to read more about Tracey Gendron's book.

VCU President visits Lifelong Learning Institute in Chesterfield

Key topics included importance of social interaction, engagement in older adults

By Malorie Burkett and Kim Ivey
VCU College of Health Professions

Feb. 18, 2022

From left: Tracey Gendron, Alexa van Aartrijk, Joe Casey, Hon. Leslie Haley, President Rao, Rachel Ramirez and Susan Parrish at the Lifelong Learning Institute in Chesterfield.
From left: Tracey Gendron, Alexa van Aartrijk, Joe Casey, Hon. Leslie Haley, President Rao, Rachel Ramirez and Susan Parish at the Lifelong Learning Institute in Chesterfield.

VCU President, Michael Rao, Ph.D., recently visited the Lifelong Learning Institute in Chesterfield (LLI) where he emphasized the importance of social and mental engagement to the wellness of older adults.

Located in Chesterfield County, the LLI is a member-supported organization designed to meet the educational and social enrichment needs of adults age 50 and "better.” The LLI was established in partnership with the Virginia Center on Aging at VCU, Chesterfield County Public Schools and Chesterfield County. 

Pictured from left: Susan Parrish, Tracey Gendron and Rachel Ramirez

Pictured from left: Susan Parish, Tracey Gendron and Rachel Ramirez

“The Lifelong Learning Institute in Chesterfield strives to be a welcoming community of diverse members dedicated to lifelong learning and personal enrichment,” said Rachel Ramirez, executive director of the LLI. “We are proud to offer midlife and older adults a myriad of opportunities to enrich their lives by engaging in thought-provoking lectures and lively discussions in a social learning environment.”

Accompanying Rao during the visit were Ramirez, Susan Parish, Ph.D., dean of the VCU College of Health Professions; Tracey Gendron, Ph.D., chair of the College’s Department of Gerontology and executive director of the Virginia Center on Aging; and Matthew Conrad, vice president for government and external relations for VCU and VCU Health. Also present were members of the LLI Board of Directors along with Chesterfield County officials, including members of the Board of Supervisors and the Office of Aging & Disabilities Services.

Rao expressed his interest in lifelong learning and his appreciation for the members supporting each other as they stay active and engaged to combat loneliness and social isolation. He also discussed the increasing number of older adult patients coming to VCU for healthcare, and how VCU's mission to put patient needs first includes expanding geriatrics programming at VCU Health and hiring additional geriatricians to treat those patients.

LLI is a learning community of peers who are committed to ongoing education and their own intellectual development. Members want to stay current, curious about the world of ideas, and involved with their own learning. The Institute develops and offers daytime courses, lectures and special events on a wide range of topics taught by volunteer instructors. Additionally, there are no exams or credits, and no college degrees are required.

LLI Chesterfield is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that is equal opportunity and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national or ethnic origin.

For more information, visit the Lifelong Learning Institute.

Being the change

New Health Administration faculty leader aims to produce graduates who cultivate an environment of belonging for all people

By Malorie Burkett
VCU College of Health Professions
mgburkett@vcu.edu

January 24, 2022

Virginia Commonwealth University’s College of Health Professions is known for attracting the highest level of faculty who are influential thought leaders and experts in their respective disciplines. And this month, the College welcomes Stephan Davis, DNP, MHSA, FACHE, an award-winning healthcare leader and educator, as the new assistant dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion; and executive director of inclusive leadership education in the Department of Health Administration.

Stephan Davis standing at the bottom of the College of Health Professions stairway.

Stephan Davis, DNP, MHSA, FACHE, is the new assistant dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion; and executive director of inclusive leadership education in the Department of Health Administration.

Davis’ passion for and work related to diversity, equity, and inclusion has been informed by many of his lived experiences. The son of Black parents who were raised in the civil rights era, he grew up learning about racial injustice. As a teenager in St. Louis, Missouri, he also learned through painful experiences that he would face challenges in navigating the world both due to race and as a member of the gender and sexual minority community. At 17, Davis left the Midwest to study jazz performance in New York City. After a year in New York that was filled with profound and affirming experiences, as well as moments that made clear the work toward social justice that still needed to be done, Davis was convinced that while he would always continue to play saxophone and write music, his academic focus would shift to areas where he could make a greater impact to improve health and alleviate human suffering.

Davis went on to study nursing at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. During his time in nursing school, he worked as a student nurse extern in the pediatric intensive care unit at University of Maryland Medical Center – the same institution where Bill Flanigan and Robert Daniel, a gay couple, had been discriminated against when Daniel was at the end of life. Despite their domestic partnership in the state of California, and Flanigan holding durable power of attorney - enabling him to make end of life decisions for Daniel, the hospital staff denied Flanigan the right to see Daniel or make decisions in accordance with his partner’s wishes.

"Cases such as these, moved me to pursue healthcare leadership, so that I could be a part of the change that is so desperately needed for our field,” said Davis.

Upon graduation from nursing school, Davis began working clinically in the post anesthesia care unit at Washington Hospital Center while also pursuing a master’s degree in health systems administration at Georgetown University. In less than a year, he entered his first leadership role as director of the health workforce innovation project, a $500,000 grant as a result of a unique partnership between the D.C. department of employment services, MedStar Georgetown Hospital, and Georgetown University to prepare unemployed D.C. residents for entry-level roles that typically had high turnover. Davis says this project, at the intersection of government programs, healthcare delivery, and academia, was impactful for his leadership trajectory.

Davis spent more than a decade in progressively responsible leadership positions, overseeing quality functions such as utilization management, case management, disease management, accreditation readiness, clinical and process improvement, as well as workforce-development areas such as organizational learning and academic-practice partnerships.

Stephan Davis wearing a College of Health Professions shirtThroughout his career, he has been a champion for advancing DEI and improving healthcare quality and access for the underserved. From volunteering as a registered nurse for an LGBTQ+ clinic at the beginning of his career, to serving on the board of directors for a Federally Qualified Health Center that primarily served people living with HIV/AIDS, to leading organizations to achieve designation for LGBTQ healthcare equality with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), much of Davis’ work has been dedicated to making healthcare more inclusive for some of the people and populations who need care the most, but who can rightly be fearful to seek services due to stigma and discrimination.

Despite numerous past examples of discrimination in care delivery settings, Davis believes that all institutions regardless of their history can make meaningful progress toward inclusion. For instance, University of Maryland Medical Center, an institution highlighted for same-sex partner discrimination at the turn of the century, subsequently became recognized as a leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality with HRC – a testament to the powerful change that can occur when inclusive leaders are guiding health systems to advance DEI. “This is exactly what inclusive leadership education is all about”, said Davis.

Being able to focus on contributing to department and College related efforts to produce graduates who embody principles of inclusive leadership and who are empowered advocates for meaningful change is part of what led him to VCU.

“When I first met Dean Susan Parish, and she shared her vision for the College, it was really refreshing to hear that DEI is among her top priorities,” said Davis. “Also, having known Dr. Paula Song, chair of the Department of Health Administration, through the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA), I was convinced long before my interview at VCU that she shared a deep, meaningful and action-oriented commitment to advancing DEI in healthcare leadership.”

“Stephan brings a truly exceptional mix of clinical, executive, and academic experiences to this role,” said Paula Song, Ph.D., Richard M. Bracken chair and professor in the Department of Health Administration. “I’m confident that his firm commitment to DEI and inclusive leadership education will help the department develop leaders that reflect the diversity and voices of the communities they serve.”

With regard to his role as the department’s very first executive director of inclusive leadership education, Davis believes in producing leaders who cultivate environments where all people can experience belonging and thrive.

When asked what this new area of focus for the department would entail, Davis explained “as we look at inclusive leadership education, all stakeholders within our health administration learning community will be engaged to establish a co-created vision and philosophy that describes our *’active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity’ as we continue to pursue inclusive excellence. In addition to designing meaningful educational experiences related to DEI for all health administration students, there will be particular focus on supporting students from historically underrepresented and excluded backgrounds in navigating systems and institutions that have not always been created with us in mind.”

Davis has hit the ground running with regard to this type of educational programming. On Feb. 25 at noon (EST), he will be hosting and moderating a Black History Month webinar featuring prominent Black healthcare leaders entitled “Black and Golden: Leveraging Black Identity as an Asset in Healthcare Leadership.”

Related to his role as assistant dean, he looks forward to working with Dr. Angela Duncan, associate dean, to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion for the College. “When I met Dr. Duncan, I immediately felt connected to her energy, passion, and drive to make meaningful change for the College and university,” said Davis.

“When I saw Dr. Davis’ interview presentation on simulating patient bias in care delivery settings, which featured a case of racial discrimination against a clinician and the moral, ethical, and legal implications, I knew that he was someone we needed on our team” said Angela Duncan, Ph.D., associate dean for diversity equity, and inclusion for the College. “The College has been working to provide an infrastructure to do the work of DEI, and I am excited that Dr. Davis is here to help push this work even further. I look forward to working alongside him as we continue to champion transformational change and create new opportunities for everyone.”

Prior to coming to VCU, Davis served as director of the Master of Health Administration program, assistant professor of health administration, and chair of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, School of Public Health in Ft. Worth, Tex. A fellow and national faculty member for the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), he is the immediate past chair of the ACHE LGBTQ Healthcare Leaders Community and has served as an ACHE Regent-at-Large, a role created to foster diversity in the governance of ACHE. In addition, he serves as chair of the Quality and Safety Faculty Forum for the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA). His DEI-related work in academia includes serving as an invited conferee for the Macy Foundation conference on Addressing Harmful Bias and Eliminating Discrimination in Health Professions Learning Environments, which culminated in a report of recommendations released in September of 2020.

Davis holds numerous board certifications, including credentials in healthcare quality, finance, strengths-based coaching, nursing leadership, and academic nursing education. He received his Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Maryland; a Master of Science in Health Systems Administration from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.; and his Doctor of Nursing Practice in Healthcare Leadership, Systems and Policy from Yale University in New Haven, CT.

*Reference – Clayton-Pederson, A., Clayton-Pederson, S. (2012). “Making excellence inclusive” in education and beyond. Pepperdine Law Review. 35 (3), 611-648.

New director named for Virginia Center on Aging

By Malorie Burkett
VCU College of Health Professions
mgburkett@vcu.edu

Dr. Gendron headshot

Tracey Gendron, Ph.D., has been appointed executive director of the Virginia Center on Aging (VCoA).

She will maintain her role as chair of the Department of Gerontology in the VCU College of Health Professions, and replaces Ed Ansello, Ph.D., who retired last November.

“Dr. Gendron is a talented leader and gerontologist, and she has dedicated her career to changing the landscape to facilitate healthy, engaged elderhood,” said Susan Parish, Ph.D., dean of the VCU College of Health Professions. “Her passion and commitment combined with her expertise in this field will help advance the Center’s overall mission.”

Created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1978, the VCoA is a critical part of the College of Health Professions, and serves the entire Commonwealth in its interdisciplinary training, research, information and resource sharing.

“Through continued collaborative efforts with partners across our communities, I am excited to lead the VCoA into the future,” said Gendron. I remain committed to advocating for older Virginians and ensuring that they receive the care and resources they deserve.”

Gendron recently authored a new book titled “Ageism Unmasked,” which is slated to release in March. The book reveals the biases behind society’s false understanding of aging, while sharing powerful opportunities for personal growth and strategies to help create an anti-ageist society.

Gendron received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Central Florida, and both her Master of Science and doctoral degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University. With over 25 years of experience as a gerontologist, she has authored and co-authored over 30 manuscripts and seven book chapters on ageism and aging-related topics. She is frequently quoted in popular media outlets, including the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and U.S. News and World Report. Gendron has spoken about ageism in forums across America and can also be seen and heard as a guest speaker on numerous podcasts and video productions.

<< < 1 2 3 > >>

Have a story about the College of Health Professions in action that you'd like to share? Contact us at mgburkett@vcu.edu or (804) 828-7247.