How Learning Communities (Houses) Support Medical Students
Wake Forest University School of Medicine’s learning communities, also known as Houses, provide medical students with longitudinal support, mentoring and extracurricular activities that aid success. These four Houses — Blue, Green, Red and Yellow — offer students designated physical spaces where they can study, relax and foster professional development. The interiors of these spaces are decked out in the House color, and student ID badges are also designated by color. Students remain with their Houses throughout medical school.
Each House is assigned 10 faculty mentors, one personal and professional development coach, one advanced career advisor and one academic advisor for its students. These mentors provide a support resource, opportunities for career exploration/guidance and foster academic success during students’ medical school journey. Medical students are randomly sorted into the Houses at the start of their first year, although staff does consider where each student obtained their undergraduate degree.
“Houses promote collaboration, camaraderie, academic support among students and friendly competition,” said Dhruv Patel, second-year medical student and president of the Yellow House. “Your house provides a support network where students can lean on each other during challenging times and have a close-knit group of peers that they see on a semi-regular basis. These supportive structures contribute to the overall success and satisfaction of medical students throughout their journey in medical school.”
Each House has its own identity, crest and creed, and they vary by space and amenities. (Students can use other Houses’ amenities outside of their own.) Each House has a residing president who acts as a liaison between school administrators and their House, helps plan social events, maintains appropriate supplies and facilitates repairs of items within the Houses. Interactive events such as the annual Field Day and the course-driven Blood and Gut Cups – friendly competitions that occur during educational blocks — the medical school gala, holiday bake-offs and pumpkin-carving contests, are determined by Houses.
“Houses are important because they provide us students with some reprieve from the stress that is medical school,” said Gianna Gambino, second-year medical student and president of the Blue House. “The Houses give us a place to gather, eat and be human with one another and allow us the space to take a step back from our academic/professional selves. The events and socials are an amazing way for us to bond, connect and enjoy each other’s company outside of school.”
Houses are part of the Learning Communities Institute (LCI), a not-for-profit organization of institutions, learners, educators and administrators who promote, enhance and evaluate the use of learning communities in medical education.
MD Class of 1973
50th Reunion Remembrance by William H. Bestermann Jr., MD, dedicated to Class President David A. Mrazek, MD, who passed away May 6, 2013.
We came from across the entire United States. We were a very diverse group. We were from cities and farms. Some came from wealthy families and some from humble origins, but we were all capable people. We knew there were 76 spots in Wake Forest University School of Medicine Class of 1973 and over 5,000 applicants. Gaining a spot in that class was an accomplishment, and I respected the credentials of my classmates so much that I worried I might not be able to keep up.
Thirty-one of the 76 attended our 50th reunion in May — some from as far away as California. That’s a half-century of experience. The reunion reminded me that our time together at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine was one of the greatest gifts and experiences in my life. We had dinner together at the reunion in Winston-Salem, N.C. After dinner, each of us got up in front of the class and spoke briefly about what we did and how our classmates had mattered in that journey. During those comments, a pattern arose, and I recognized that this experience was unique in my life. We were all accomplished individuals and we respected each other. More than that, we cared about each other. We had a collaborative and supportive relationship when we were in school.
That was not like many of my experiences before or since. I have had people undermine me and attribute to me motives and intentions that I never had. That never happened with my medical school classmates. I don’t even remember a serious argument. We created a wonderful experience together. The leader of our happy band, class president David Mrazek, MD, became the head of psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic. Sadly, he died some years ago, and I would like to dedicate this piece to him. He was chairman of the board of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. The Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry tribute to him is worth your time to read.
David’s favorite artists were Pete Seeger, Judy Collins, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan — like the rest of us, he was a son of the ’60s. These were tense times. Student unrest was widespread. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were murdered the year before we entered medical school. On May 4 of our freshman year, the Kent State massacre occurred. David organized a group to go see Sen. Jesse Helms to express our concern. Helms’s large office was almost filled with students from our class. Even then, we were genuinely determined to make the world a better place. David was an effective leader then and he had plenty of leadership support.
Most of us had been in very competitive premed environments. Sometimes even cutthroat settings. Our medical school experience was very demanding. It was a crucible that made us who we are. David led us to a conscious commitment to support each other. We wanted to cooperate and collaborate rather than compete for class rank. We would begin to make the world better by making ourselves better. And that is what we did. We even went to the extent of making it clear to the administration that we did not want to be ranked and compete. Although we ultimately lost that battle, that is the way that we conducted ourselves. At our reunion, there was story after story of how we helped each other. Some of us were language majors. Classmates helped them succeed in biochemistry and physiology. We used one classmate’s strength to improve another’s weakness. We helped each other deal with other challenges in life. One classmate even went over to another classmate’s home at 3 o’clock in the morning to put a dislocated shoulder back in place. We were as serious about our preparation as anyone could be. Our collective accomplishments over the last 50 years document that, but our commitment to collegiality and collaboration was real and persists in our group to this day. We understood team-based medicine before it was cool!
The human connection that we experienced together may have taught us better ways to socialize. It may have helped us deal with other medical professionals in a more constructive manner. Our continued enthusiasm for working with other people may even help us to stay healthier longer. Our broader society could learn some lessons from our class. Leaders and professional people must respect each other and work together for the common good. Our class continues to prove it can be done, and the world is a better place for it. That perspective contributed to our love of lifelong learning to help our friends and neighbors live longer healthier lives. That is why I write several times a week and work with other medical stakeholders to achieve better health at lower cost. Medicine is a team sport! We can slow aging and delay chronic disease now!
As I look at David’s picture, my main regret is that I did not have more time to enjoy him and the other members of my class. My eyes are clouding up with tears and I cannot help myself. He was a good friend. David wrote the following after he learned of his terminal diagnosis 10 years ago:
“I have lost much of my old life, but thankfully not my old friends .. Time has taken on new meanings for me. I do not have enough time left and yet some days go on and on. It is impossible not to become increasingly philosophical. It is undeniable that we all will die and few of us will have much control of the process. However, it is also true that we will all have more control on how we choose to live, and hopefully we will make increasingly good decisions.”
Even at the end he was teaching us.
Honored Tradition: Match Day 2023
Physicians the world over know it as one of the most momentous days in their journey to becoming a physician: Match Day, an honored tradition at medical schools across the country.
Each year, on the third Friday in March, fourth-year medical students wait in anticipation for the clock to strike noon. They excitedly open envelopes with their names on them to learn where they matched for the next three to seven years of residency training.
At Wake Forest University School of Medicine, 137 students who took part matched with a residency. Thirty-seven students will stay in North Carolina for their residencies, and 17 of those are at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist. Results from Match Day were emailed to MD alumni, who were encouraged to connect with any new graduates who matched near their locations.
Ebony Boulware, MD, MPH, dean of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine and chief science officer and vice chief academic officer of Advocate Health, said she cheered alongside the students in her first Match Day as dean.
“This is an exciting time and a new chapter for our medical students,” Boulware said. “Match Day is not only a special tradition for medical students but a transformational time in their lives as they embark on their final steps to becoming a medical professional. I can remember the mix of excitement and anticipation I felt during my Match Day.”
William W. Hedrick, MD ’57, Raleigh, N.C., described as a Raleigh icon of medicine, retired and hung up his stethoscope after serving patients for 61 years. His career goal was to make people feel better and live longer lives. He has treated many generations of families and has cared for over 2,500 patients. Hedrick always wanted to be a physician. After graduating from medical school, Hedrick spent two years in the army and then practiced medicine in Atlanta. He then returned to Raleigh and was the first ER physician at WakeMed. Hedrick spent 10 years as chief medical examiner for Wake County and then pursued a solo family practice. Now at age 90, he will move on to the next chapter in his life. Before retiring, he wrote the patients a letter that read, “All good things must come to an end.” Hedrick says his greatest claim to fame was beating Arnold Palmer by one hole in golf when they were both students at Wake Forest University in 1948.Hedrick states his greatest claim to fame was beating Arnold Palmer by one hole in golf. That’s when they were both students around 1948 at Wake Forest.
Richard James Miraglia, MD ’73, PhD, Pocono Lake, Pa., has retired from family practice. His children gave him a scroll saw as a present and his wife gave him carving tools. He started two new hobbies. After winning awards at the Scroll Saw Association of the World (SAW) competitions, editors of woodworking magazines contacted him about writing articles for their publications. Miraglia began writing woodworking articles and had four cover projects accompanying these articles. He has become a contributing editor for Creative Woodworks and Crafts magazine. To see his work, visit Pinterest.com/DickMiraglia and click on Wildlife Interpretations in Wood.
Richard E. Cytowic, MD ’77, Washington, D.C., has written a new book titled Stone-Age Brains in the Screen Age, published by MIT Press. The work looks at digital distractions from the brain’s point of view and the constraints of available energy that it has to work with. Tech companies effortlessly hack our biology and hook us because the brain hasn’t changed since the Stone Age let alone the thirty-three years the Internet has been around. Yet it feels as if the digital devices that surround day and night us constitute a planet wide hive mind like that of the Borg in Star Trek. The book explains Why you are so addicted to your screen devices, What you can do to push back against these forces, and How to go about it. Cytowic is a clinical professor of neurology at George Washington University, a Montaigne Medal recipient, Pulitzer nominee and multiple times DC Artist Fellow.
James E. “Jef” Ferguson II, MD ’77, MBA, Charlottesville, Va., received the 2022 Walter Reed Distinguished Achievement Award in April 2023 from the University of Virginia School of Medicine Medical Alumni Association and Medical School Foundation. The award recognizes professional accomplishments, outstanding innovation and exemplary leadership in the field of medicine. Ferguson is the W. Norman Thornton Professor and Chair Emeritus in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. He was recruited to UVA from the faculty of Stanford University in 1987 and has been a faculty member since, save 2002-2009 when he was recruited to the University of Kentucky and served as the John W. Greene, Jr. Professor and Chair. He returned to UVA in 2009 and served as the W. Norman Thornton, Jr. Professor and Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology until 2021. He is recognized nationally and internationally as one of the foremost leaders in Academic Obstetrics and Gynecology and Women’s Health and an expert in Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM). His scholarship and research have addressed a variety of issues of significant import to women's health including pharmacologic treatment of preterm labor (PTL), non-invasive and invasive prenatal diagnosis, role of parathyroid hormone related protein (PTHrP) in the human uteroplacental unit, periodontal disease in pregnancy and antepartum-external cephalic version with tocolysis (A-ECV-T). The findings from these investigations and others, continue to inform clinical practice nationally. He has received awards for his teaching and taught nationally and as a consultant and Fellow for Project HOPE/U.S. Agency for International Development. He has delivered local, national and international leadership through activities such as serving as President for the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the American Gynecological and Obstetrical Society and being elected to the Board of Directors of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and providing service and leadership for 11 years, the last four as Treasurer. He has collaborated with medical directors and hospital leaders and championed impactful emphasis on patient safety, quality care, continuous improvement, and innovation leading to excellent patient outcomes which have contributed to coveted recognition for the department and medical center from sources such as the Virginia Hospital Association, Newsweek, Becker’s Hospital Review, US News and World Report, Vizient, CDC and Leapfrog. He has served on several editorial boards and been a referee for numerous women's health journals, including the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Obstetrics and Gynecology and the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and as an editor for the Obstetrics Section of the Journal of Women’s Health. He has served on several Ad-Hoc Review panels for the NICHD/NIH, an expert medical consultant for NCBDD/CDC, published over 136 peer-reviewed articles and invited published discussions, two books, with 106 presented abstracts, and has co-edited two books. Ferguson has received numerous honors and awards throughout his career including induction by Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Alpha Theta, Beta Gamma Sigma, the Lange Award, C. Hampton-Mauzy Award, the Z Society Distinguished Faculty Award from the Z Society of the University of Virginia and honorary societal memberships.
Robert G. Peterson, MD ’77, Elkin, N.C., has been presented with the Hal Stuart Award, which recognizes a physician on the Hugh Chatham Health medical staff in honor of the late Hal M. Stuart, MD ’56. Clinical team members at Hugh Chatham vote on this distinguished award to honor a physician who exemplifies the values of commitment to service, excellence in patient care and collaborative teamwork with healthcare professionals. Peterson has served as a general surgeon at Hugh Chatham for 30 years, specializing in thoracic surgical procedures. He is well-known and respected for his expertise, experience and friendly bedside manner.
William W. Wheeler, MD ’82, St. Maries, Idaho, retired on April 30 after almost 30 years of practicing rural general surgery in Colorado, Washington and Idaho. With his prior Navy service, he will be getting more involved in the county's expanding Veteran's Outreach Center, which serves 1 in 3 of the residents in northern Idaho with prior military service.
Terrence A. Cronin Jr., MD ’92, Melbourne Beach, Fla., has been selected to assume presidency of the American Academy of Dermatology (AADA). Cronin will lead the world’s largest dermatologic society that represents more than 20,800 physicians who specialize in diagnosis and treatment of skin, hair and nail conditions. He also will hold the same position for the American Academy of Dermatology Association, a sister organization focused on government affairs, health policy, and practice information. His goal is to make sure that dermatologists around the country can continue to find the joy in seeing patients and can still make a difference to the many people and their families who are counting on dermatologists. Cronin completed his dermatology residency and served as chief resident at the University of Miami, where he is currently an assistant voluntary professor. He has been involved with the Academy at the leadership level since 2006. He is a past chair of the Academy’s Advisory Board and has served on its Board of Directors and its Executive Committee. He maintains a private practice in Melbourne, Fla.
Michael T. Flanagan, MD ’93, Dothan, Ala., is the recipient of the Paul W. Burleson Award for 2023. The award is presented to a physician member of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama in recognition of a medical career that encompasses not only high ethical and professional standards in patient care, but also extraordinary service to physician organizations at the county, state and national levels. Flanagan is an anesthesiologist and pain management physician specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of acute, chronic pain syndromes. During his post-doctoral training in clinical anesthesiology at NC Baptist Hospital, he was named a Glaxo Wellcome Resident Scholar. He served as chief pain fellow and was selected as a Wyeth-Ayerst Pain Fellow Scholar as he pursued a fellowship in pain management. He is a member of numerous medical societies on the state and national level along with being a published author. Flanagan served as the 2013-2014 president-elect for the Medical Association of the State of Alabama and was the Medical Association’s first president from Dothan.
Four Medical Students Named 2023-24 Albert Schweitzer Fellows
Keith Demond Gray, MD ’98, MBA, Knoxville, Tenn., has been selected by the board of directors of The University of Tennessee Medical Center (UTMC) as president, effective July 1, 2023, and chief executive officer, effective April 1, 2024. Gray joined UTMC in 2007 as a surgical oncologist and has served in multiple leadership roles, including chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology, chief of staff, medical director of multiple service lines, chief medical officer and executive vice president. Gray also co-founded the Physician Leadership Academy, of which he is a graduate. Gray completed a general surgery residency and surgical research fellowship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and a surgical oncology fellowship at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. He earned a Master’s in Business Administration from the Haslam College of Business in 2014. He has been perennially recognized as by Knoxville’s Cityview Magazine as a “Top Doc” and received awards for his patient care, compassion and leadership. He currently serves as the board chair of the Emerald Youth Foundation and as a trustee on the United Way of Greater Knoxville Board.
Tammy Marie Allen, MD ’02, Atlanta, Ga., has established a new telemedicine website for travel medicine, TravelMeds2Go.com.
Amy Elmore Strachan, MD ’02, Ketchum, Idaho, has accepted a new position as behavioral health medical director for PacificSource Health Plans.
Jeanne L. Hatcher, MD ’08, Atlanta, Ga., associate professor of otolaryngology in the Department of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery at Emory University School of Medicine, is serving as the laryngology fellowship director. She co-directs the Emory Voice Center and serves on the Emory University School of Medicine Working Wellness Group, the EmWELL Clinical Care Committee and Patient Concerns and Review Committee. Hatcher works with cardiothoracic surgery and interventional pulmonology for complex airway reconstruction and has expanded transgender voice care in the Southeast.
Roy E. Strowd III, MD ’09, MS ’20, Winston-Salem, N.C., associate professor of neurology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, has been named chair-elect of the Association of American Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) Southern Group on Educational Affairs (SGEA) steering committee. Strowd will serve as chair-elect of the SGEA from 2023 until 2025 and will then serve as chair the following two years. The SGEA fosters excellence along the continuum of medical education — undergraduate medical education, graduate medical education and continuing medical education — by providing a forum for discussing the concerns of the medical education profession. The AAMC is a nonprofit association dedicated to improving health through medical education, health care, medical research and community collaborations. Its members are all 157 U.S. medical schools accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education and approximately 400 teaching hospitals and health systems.
Sij Hemal, MD ’16, Los Angeles, Calif., received the James B. Angell Scholar award for outstanding academic achievement while completing his engineering degree from the University of Michigan. He completed his residency training in urology at the Cleveland Clinic. After his residency, he was selected through the AUA-Endourology Society match for a one-year robotic urologic oncology fellowship at the University of Southern California, where he is now an assistant professor of urology. In 2018, Hemal successfully delivered a baby on a transatlantic flight, an event he credits to his “outstanding training in obstetrics and gynecology as a medical student at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.” In addition to being featured on multiple news channels and social media platforms at the time, Hemal was nominated for Winston-Salem’s People of the Year award in 2018 by the Winston-Salem Journal. As a follow up, CNN-Travel has done an educational interview with Hemal.
Charles C. Pitts Jr., MD ’16, Mountain Brook, Ala., and his wife, Rachel, welcomed their first child, Sarah Jane, on May 19. He is a surgeon with Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham.
Thomas B. West, MD ’81
Johnnie Ford Jr., MD ’83
Kathryn Ashton Grice, MD ’85
Stanley N. Tennant, MD ’78
Immediate Past President
Tammy Marie Allen, MD ’02
Diandra N. Ayala-Peacock, MD ’10
Christopher M. Branner, MD ’01, MPH
M. Jennings Clingan, MD ’06
Paul G. Colavita, MD ’79
T. Arthur Edgerton, MD ’81
Michael T. Flanagan, MD ’93
L. Carter Gray, MD ’99
Elizabeth McCurdy Hueman, MD ’02
A. Kakra Hughes, MD ’97, PhD
Janel Darcy Hunter, MD ’10
Brittany Lynn Lambertus, MD ’15
R. Carol McConnell, MD ’98
Wyman T. McGuirt, MD ’96
J. Mark Meredith III, MD ’78
Charles C. Pitts Jr., MD ’16
Paul Rieker Jr., MD ’97, MBA
Michael Robert Savona, MD ’02
Brett Timothy Starr, MD ’14
Bradley Winston Thomas, MD ’05
Scott L. Vogler, MD ’98
Louis Weinstein, MD ’72
MD Student Representatives
Katherine Rae Salisbury, MD, Class of 2024
Madison Hanley Read, MD, Class of 2025
Lydia Lucille Faber, MD, Class of 2026
Connor R. Margraf, MD, Class of 2027
L. Ebony Boulware, MD, MPH
Lisa M. Marshall
Beth A. Alexander
Teri C. Lemons, MAEd
Remembering those who have recently passed, through August 14, 2023.
Edgar S. Marks, MD ’45
Greensboro, N.C., June 9, 2023
Thomas Drumwright Long Sr., MD ’52
Roxboro, N.C., March 23, 2023
Frank Byron Smitherman Jr., MD ’56
Clearwater, Fla., Feb. 3, 2023
Hal Martin Stuart, MD ’56
Elkin, N.C., March 24, 2023
Zeb Carson Burton Jr., MD ’57
Lake Mary, Fla., July 18, 2023
Jack Newton Drummond, MD ’57
Hendersonville, N.C., March 19, 2023
Phillip Alan Sellers, MD ’57
Durham, N.C., March 9, 2023
James Grady Jones Sr., MD ’59
Hampstead, N.C., May 16, 2023
Marvin Whitaker Thompson, MD ’62
Lumberton, N.C., Jan. 14, 2023
Alvin Jackson “Jack” Secrest Jr., MD ’63
Shelby, N.C., March 18, 2023
James Alvis McCool, MD ’64
Clemmons, N.C., April 7, 2023
Charles Ross Johnson, MD ’65
Waynesville, N.C., July 5, 2023
Paul Madison Kirkman, MD ’65
Winston-Salem, N.C., May 18, 2023
Dee Edward McFarland, MD ’66
Columbia, S.C., April 8, 2023
William Keith Thompson, MD ’69
Thomasville, N.C., Jan. 14, 2023
Frederick Whitlow Wikander, MD ’72
Chelmsford, Mass., Aug. 9, 2023
Col. Peter Paul Price, MD ’73
Derwood, Md., April 6, 2023
Jimmy Maxwell Carter, MD ’74
Opelika, Ala., April 12, 2023
Garland W. Yarborough, MD ’75
Mequon, Wis., Jan. 29, 2023
James Thomas “Tom” Bowman, MD ’77
North Wilkesboro, N.C., Feb. 19, 2023
Michael Norton, MD ’77
Charlotte, N.C., April 21, 2023
Phillip Edward Scuderi, MD ’78
Clemmons, N.C., May 9, 2023
Donald Eugene Cook Jr., MD ’81
Charlotte, N.C., Feb. 10, 2023
Megan Katherine Dishop, MD ’97
Phoenix, Ariz., July 10, 2023
Katherine Knight Palmertree, MD ’97
Providence Village, Tex., May 18, 2023