of doctors' teaching: infectious enthusiasm
two winners of the Alumni Association's All-University Outstanding
Teaching Awards are physicians who uphold and demonstrate the
highest standards of their profession in terms of knowledge and
compassion, inspiring their students. The testimonials of students
and colleagues show that the professors' belief in their students'
capabilities leads the students to believe in themselves.
Associate professor of nursing Dr.
Valentina L. Brashers says she thrives on her daily interactions
could take [their] place in my life," she wrote in a statement
about her teaching. "My students are brilliant, insightful,
genuine and funny. They challenge me in so many ways, and honor
me in so many more."
students return her devotion, praising her ability to present
complex material in pathophysiology courses in a lively yet accessible
way, as well as the support she gives them outside the classroom.
Brashers has a way of taking extremely technical, complicated
information and bringing it to a level that students understand
and relate to,² a student wrote on a course evaluation.
Brashers, who came to U.Va. in 1988, is constantly revamping her
teaching. "While her evaluations from students are consistently
excellent, she is never complacent about teaching," wrote
Jeanette Lancaster, Sadie Heath Cabaniss Professor of Nursing
and dean, and Doris S. Greiner, associate dean. "She actively
seeks new ideas and makes herself available for new learning opportunities."
As a physician who left her private practice to teach, Brashers
was particularly sensitive to the need for doctors and nurses
to understand each other's roles. Among the teaching projects
she has developed is a collaborative patient care skills course
for nursing and medical students that allows each group to learn
about the other's responsibilities.
She also goes out of her way to encourage students individually.
nursing student Lucy Deivert told Brashers she was interested
in doing an independent study in pathophysiology, Brashers asked
if she would like to assist her in researching a chapter for the
textbook she was writing, Clinical Application of Pathophysiology:
Assessment, Diagnostic Reasoning and Management (which was published
was an entirely new subject to me, so there were many hours of
teaching on her part for each hour of research I was able to accomplish,"
Thi Pham, a transfer student from a small community college, said
Brashers "never let me give up and made me feel that I belonged.
"She has a beautiful human spirit and it reflects in everything
she does her passionate way of teaching that makes students
eager to learn more, her optimism and her wonderful way of cheering
others up by a friendly smile or a word of encouragement,"
-- By Nancy Hurrelbrinck