New VCU School of Medicine Dean Peter Buckley (Photo courtesy VCU School of Medicine)
Peter Buckley has been on the job for six weeks now as dean of Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine. So far, he says, the school, the job and the city of Richmond are as advertised, and that’s a good thing.
He’s appreciative of the symbiotic relationship between the city and the university, which he notes is crucial, as their future and fate are intertwined. “They all work well together,” he says.
Buckley comes to Richmond from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University in Augusta, Georgia. He served as dean of the medical school since 2011 and previously chaired its psychiatry department, among other positions. After 17 years in Augusta, he’s now in study mode. His priority he says, is to learn the culture of Richmond and VCU. He’s taking a methodical approach, exactly what you’d expect from any good researcher and clinician.
He likes what he sees. For example, the school has already attained eight-year accreditation, which allows for innovation in the curriculum and the ability to go beyond basic competencies to teaching the totality of medicine.
He also cited VCU’s Massey Cancer Center and its “iconic” status, and the school’s robust emphasis on research. One obvious objective for Buckley is to enhance the school’s already excellent standing as a research institution, and see it move into the Top 50 nationally. He notes that VCU generated $271 million in sponsored research in 2016, a record.
One goal would be to translate research into application as quickly as possible.
“We need to continue to practice at the cutting edge of medicine,” he says.
Another priority is to continue to build on the school’s support from and rapport with the community and alumni. He noted VCU’s continuing $750 million fundraising campaign and how giving can be “transformative.”
“It’s not asking for charity, it’s an investment, he says.
Buckley is a hands-on administrator in the sense that he also wants to continue to teach, to work in clinic with patients (he’s a psychiatrist and an expert in schizophrenia) and perform research. It’s important to lead by example, he says, and the hands-on work is a great way to interact one-on-one with students.
Additionally, he’s VCU Health’s executive vice president for medical affairs, which places him over the group practice for the medical center.
Buckley is a native of Ireland and the child of family physicians. The expectation for him was that he’d enter the family business, but mental health piqued his interest. Schizophrenia was especially fascinating, the great human tragedy and the burdens it imposes.
He completed a psychiatric residency after earning his medical degree at the University College Dublin School of Medicine, and had a schizophrenia research fellowship, according to a release. A move to the United States followed, with service at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine in Cleveland, where he was a professor and vice chairman of psychiatry. He also served as medical director for Western Reserve Psychiatric Hospital, among other duties. You can learn more about his background here.
A roundup of the week’s health and medicine news
- Richmond OB-GYN is adding an office in Reynolds Crossing. The office will open by March 20 in the Bon Secours Heart and Vascular Institute building, 7001 Forest Ave. Dr. Sarah Peterson, who joined the practice last year, will be part of the team at the office. Bon Secours also has also announced that Alice Hirata is joining Bon Secours Medical Group to help start a midwifery practice at St. Mary’s Hospital. Hirata, who served 25 years with the Virginia Women’s Center, will work with Richmond OB-GYN, with a focus on midwifery and low-risk pregnancy and low-intervention birth, according to a release.
- Colon and rectal cancer rates are surging in young and middle-aged adults, according to a study released Tuesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The American Cancer Society recommends screening begin at age 50, but the study authors say that given the results, screenings should begin at a younger age.
- The World Health Organization on Monday released a list of a dozen of the most dangerous bacteria threatening human health. Hear a press conference about the superbugs.