For Robert Swisher, M.D., the Medical College of Virginia — now called the VCU School of Medicine — was more than the place where he earned his medical degree and completed his residency training. He credits the institution and the physicians who mentored him with shaping not only his medical career, but his values toward people and life.
“I think I came to the realization one day that my medical education was an important part of who I am as a person and that I owed a great debt of gratitude, not only to MCV as an institution, but to individual mentors whom I had there,” he said. “Had it not been for their guidance and inspiration, I could not have become as successful in life as I did.”
To express his gratitude, the retired gastroenterologist has set up a bequest to donate a percentage of his estate to the Alvin Zfass Fund and the Reno Vlahcevic Fund, and to establish a scholarship in his own name. Dr. Swisher said he hopes “the scholarship award would provide a recipient with the ability to finish his/her education either debt-free or with substantially less debt than he/she might otherwise have.”
Dr. Swisher said that if he could share a pearl of wisdom with recipients, it would be a simple sentence he heard during his medical training: “Patients want to know that you care before they care what you know.” It was a guiding principle for him, and he hopes it will be for them.
Reflecting back, Dr. Swisher is thankful that the medical school emphasized compassion and taking care of patients in a holistic way. His planned gift, he said, is “a way for me to express that gratitude and to give back in a way that might be meaningful and impactful for future generations.”
By virtue of his bequest, Dr. Swisher is a member of the MCV Society, which the MCV Foundation created in 1994 to recognize individuals who have made planned gifts to benefit the MCV Campus. He has been a long-standing donor to the VCU School of Medicine over the past 30 years. The portion of his planned gift allocated to scholarships will be part of the medical school’s 1838 Campaign, which aims to increase the number and size of scholarships so the school can recruit top students, reward student excellence and reduce the burden of debt.
The thoughtful consideration of individuals like Dr. Swisher enables the MCV Campus to advance patient care, research and education. To learn more about making a bequest or other planned giving options, please contact our director of gift planning, Jane Garnet Brown.