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Dr. Thomas Guirkin Is VCU Health CMH’s New VP Of Medical Affairs

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Good ole’ southern charm is easily recognized, but not easily duplicated. The new Vice President of Medical Affairs at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital recognized that charm at CMH and knew he had found a home.

“I was impressed by the sense of community I found here,” Tom Guirkin, Jr. MD, said about him landing in Southside Virginia.

A Richmond native, Dr. Guirkin has spent the past 12 years preparing for his role at VP of MA at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital.

"I had been moving from position to position, slowly building my fund of knowledge in order to promote public health. That being said, I really am a small town person,” “I found CMH to be a very good fit for me in that respect.” Over the past 12 years, I have worked in some organizations that were not necessarily the most collaborative of workplaces. I am of the opinion that you can be cordial and collaborative at work and accomplish your goals. I see that type of atmosphere at CMH.”

Scott Burnette, CEO of CMH said, “We conducted a national search and had several very qualified candidates.  We were fortunate to be able to recruit Dr. Guirkin to our team.  His training and experience will be a great asset as we continue our efforts to grow services and expand our abilities to treat more patients close to home.”

Dr. Guirkin explained his job at CMH as being not just an administrator or physician but also a resource for the community as a whole.

“I want to be working with doctors, nurses, finance, the lab – pretty much everyone to make things happen, to better meet the needs of our patients and their families, but also help meet the needs of the employees here at CMH,” he said.

Dr. Guirkin has an impressive resume and deep Virginia ties. He is a 1999 Summa Cum Laude graduate of VCU with a major in biology and a focus in chemistry. He then attended the Medical College of Virginia, graduating in 2003. From 2003 through 2006, Dr. Guirkin was at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington D.C. where he completed his internship and residency.

“I loved D.C.,” he said of his time at Georgetown and his first job after residency at Mount Vernon Internal Medicine in Alexandria, VA.

After Mount Vernon Internal Medicine, Dr. Guirkin headed back to Richmond where he provided inpatient medical services at Saint Mary’s, a Bon Secour Hospital on a full time basis. While doing his primary practice in the hospital, he continued to maintain his outpatient skills by practicing urgent care and primary care services at Patient First. While at Saint Mary’s, he had his first foray into the business, quality and management sides of medicine when he worked at Intercede Health as an order optimizer consultant.

“I had played with the thought during medical school about getting a Master’s Degree in Business Administration,” he said. “I got my first exposure to process improvement and strategic leadership at St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond and decided to go ahead and pursue my MBA.”

While he was attending business school, Dr. Guirkin worked for James River Hospitalist Group in Richmond.

“That was the start of working seven days a week for two straight years,” he said. “Except for a couple of holidays off, I was working all day, every day between my job and business school.” Dr. Guirkin was providing hospitalist support for Chippenham and Johnston-Willis while attending graduate school at VCU.

Following his graduation from business school, Dr. Guirkin began to look for a position that allowed him to utilize all of his expertise. He was offered two different administrative positions but declined these due to their not allowing him to continue practicing medicine. It was at this time he was introduced to the Saint Francis Health System in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This finally afforded him the opportunity to grow as a manager yet continue to practice medicine.

“Saint Francis is a large health system with six hospitals in the Tulsa metro region and I was overseeing a large 60 FTE (Full Time Equivalent) hospitalist group and during my time there it grew to 85 FTEs. It was there I honed my management skills.  I was mentored by a fantastic doctor – Mark Frost, Senior Vice President on many aspects of quality management.”

The original plan was for Dr. Guirkin to eventually move into a more senior role, but providence had other ideas, he said. “I got a chance email from VCU and decided to take a look,” he said. “And it was exactly what I was looking for. I really appreciate the people here and it’s just a great fit for us. I was impressed that CMH maintained its identity during the affiliation with VCU Health. All the names on all the rooms showed me that this was the type of place I wanted to be.”

CMH ran a capital campaign where community members could donate and have naming rights to various rooms in the new hospital and C.A.R.E. Building.

“I will be seeing patients on a limited basis here at CMH,” he said. “Not exactly sure at this point what that looks like, but it was important to me to maintain that aspect of care.”

He also wants to find unique ways to bring medical care to the communities CMH services.

“I’m big on preventive medicine and wanting to make sure everyone has access to care,” he said.

Dr. Guirkin wanted to be closer to his parents who still reside in Richmond.

Dr. Guirkin and spouse Brian Sharp have two four-legged children a pug name Samantha and a Belgium Mallonois named Tucker. In his spare time, he enjoys running, reading and working in the yard.

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