The recent Wonder Women of EVMS project highlighted the leadership and accomplishments of a range of women within the school’s ranks. Sleep specialist Robert Vorona, MD, read the tributes and suggested another addition: Etta Vinik, MEd.

Dr. Vorona developed the state’s first accredited sleep medicine fellowship, but he says the program would not have succeeded without Ms. Vinik’s efforts as the fellowship’s Education Director.

“Her strong background in education (first as a high school Latin and English teacher in South Africa, then as an instructional designer and technical writer in industry in Michigan) enabled our sleep fellowship team to develop and then continually burnish the sleep medicine curriculum and the fellow evaluation process.

“As Program Director, I leaned on Ms. Vinik for wise counsel in all spheres of the sleep medicine program from the recruitment process, to educational curriculum development and remediation. All sleep medicine fellows to date at EVMS have passed their Sleep Medicine Boards. I cannot give Ms. Vinik enough credit for their and our successes.”

But her educational efforts extend far beyond sleep.

Dr. Vorona also credits Ms. Vinik for her innovative work in recognizing the importance of patients’ quality of life, for which she achieved global recognition.

“She has been instrumental from conception to utilization of three important health-related quality of life questionnaires that include: Neuropathy (Norfolk QOL-DN), Neuroendocrine Tumors (Norfolk QOL-NET) and Fatigue (Norfolk QOL-F),” he writes. “As just one example, the Neuropathy QOL-DN has been translated into 56 languages; has been licensed to 26 pharmaceutical companies and has brought substantial dollars to EVMS. More importantly, this tool should help to alleviate patient suffering world-wide by allowing a more expeditious diagnosis of neuropathy and more salvaging of limbs and reduction in falls.”

Ms. Vinik is also recognized for her work in diabetes. As Associate Director of Education for the Strelitz Diabetes Center, together with Eileen Althouse, RN, CDE, she pioneered the development of Virginia’s first American Diabetes Association recognized Patient Self-Management program.

"This effort entailed collaborating with the highly skilled diabetes nurse educators and nutritionist to effectively synchronize education on exercise, nutrition and therapy to improve patient care and outcomes,” Dr. Vorona writes. “Given the development of this important program in 1991, one can only guess at the number of patients who have benefited from these impressive efforts.

“Beyond her work with fellows and patients, she has helped educate physicians, physician trainees and other clinicians. For instance, she has contributed to the educational programs in Pulmonary and Critical Care and Nephrology, and she has mentored Internal Medicine residents in research efforts and other learners such as in the Art Therapy and Master’s of Public Health programs here at EVMS. For almost twenty years, she organized EVMS Endocrine Grand Rounds, and she has played a critical role in directing a range of major regional and national conferences, including some that attracted international speakers and audiences. As a scholar, she has published five book chapters, including a chapter on Diabetic Neuropathy in “The Art and Science of Diabetes Self-Management: Desk Reference for Diabetes Educators”; co-edited two books and has fifteen publications in peer-reviewed journals, numerous abstracts and poster presentations at national international conferences and received invitations to present on international platforms.  

“Ms. Vinik has in my view been indispensable to so many of the successes of EVMS locally, nationally and internationally that I believe that she warrants particular spotlighting,” Dr. Vorona concluded. “I know that I am much the better both personally and professionally for having known her.”