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Portrait of Dr. Harirama Acharya
Portrait of Dr. Victoria "Torie" Johnson
Portrait of Dr. Erik Constance

July 22, 2010

SIU Med School Announces Humanism, Teaching Awards

Three honors have been announced this spring at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield.

A faculty member and graduating senior were named recipients of the 2010 Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award during commencement ceremonies.  Dr. Harirama Acharya, assistant professor of neurology, and Dr. Victoria Johnson were recognized as two individuals who demonstrate compassion, respect for patients and families, and clinical excellence.  The award is sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

Acharya serves as director for the neurology clerkship.  His nominators said he “takes time to teach both his students and his patients during outpatient visits, showing compassion for his suffering patients and doing his best to explain the process of disease to newly diagnosed individuals….He is an excellent physician, teacher and speaker.”  Acharya also teaches neurology residents and has won numerous teaching awards including several within his own department.  He joined SIU’s faculty in 2001.

Dr. Victoria  “Torie” Johnson is “an outstanding example of what a medical student can be” and her empathy in helping others “has been a powerful tool for her class,” said her nominators.  Her many activities included extensive work for three years with SIU’s Cover the Uninsured Week program.  Intent on serving disadvantaged populations, she has been involved in both setting up and volunteering at homeless clinics.  She volunteered as a mentor to a grade school child and participated in the Special Friends Program as a mentor for a child with cancer.  She served as a member of the Memorial Medical Center Human Values and Ethics Committee and was the co-editor for SCOPE, the School’s literary magazine.

Johnson is now in a combined residency in internal medicine/psychiatry at the University of California-Davis.  She is the daughter of Bill and Jane Johnson of Pittsfield.  She is a graduate of Pittsfield High School (2001) and the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, where she earned her bachelor’s (2005).

Dr. Erik Constance, associate dean of student affairs and associate professor of medicine, received the Golden Apple Award for outstanding teaching from the graduating class.  His student nominators said, “Dr. Constance always went out of his way to give us helpful and practical lectures, even on his own time.  Not only did he cover topics related to medicine, but also general advice on the challenges of medical school.  He is easy to approach and was always available to us.”  Constance joined the SIU faculty in 1992 and serves as associate dean for student affairs.  He previously received SIU’s Golden Apple Award in 1995.

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Acharya completed a fellowship in neurorehabilitation and his residency in neurology at SIU (2001, 2000).  He completed an internal medicine residency and received his M.B.B.S. degree at Kasturba Medical College in India (1981, 1978).  Acharya is board certified in psychiatry and neurology.          

Constance completed his residency in internal medicine and earned his medical degree, both at SIU (1991, 1988).  He earned his bachelor’s from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (1984).  Constance is board certified in internal medicine.