Spring 2016 Issue
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Honoring Dr. Ram Shenoy: A Professional Perspective

By Anand K. Pandurangi, MD
One of Ram’s many friends and colleagues

Ram Shenoy, MD
Ram Shenoy, MD

Dr. Ram Shenoy, clinical professor of psychiatry at VCU Health Systems, passed away on February 20, 2016 at the age of 74.  He was a caring physician, a strong advocate for patients and the profession, and an activist who made things happen. It was my privilege to call him a close friend and colleague.  On March 3, 2016, many PSV members and Ram’s family and friends participated in a memorial service paying homage to Dr. Shenoy and acknowledging his many accomplishments.

Ramakrishna Shenoy was born in Tellicherry in the state of Kerala in India on June 2, 1941. He was born into a family that highly valued education and was raised to believe learning and giving were the noblest goals in life. His sister Meena, a rehabilitation physician now living in North Carolina, shared with us stories of their childhood where the only gifts they received were books. Ram obtained his undergraduate education at Brennen College in Tellicherry and Maharaja’s College in Cochin, India and medical education at Calicut Medical College, Calicut, India leading to the MBBS degree (1963).

He joined the Indian Army as a physician and proudly served as Captain for five years. He returned to civilian life, pursuing a residency in Internal Medicine in Trivandrum, India prior to migrating to the United States.  Drawn to psychiatry due to his inherent interest in human nature, he pursued a psychiatry residency in Central Virginia, with one year at Central State Hospital and two years at the Medical College of Virginia, graduating in 1975.  He spent his entire career as a psychiatrist in Virginia, serving for 21 years as staff psychiatrist at the McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, ten years at the Southern Virginia Training Center in Petersburg Virginia and three years at Central State Hospital.  He also maintained a private practice for over 20 years.  He retired from his “day job” in 2008, but maintained his practice and consulting until 2015. During all these years he continuously held an academic appointment within the department of psychiatry at MCV-VCU, starting as Assistant Professor in 1975, and was Clinical Professor at the time of his demise.

Dr. Shenoy had a passion for helping people with intellectual disability and he specialized in dual diagnoses. He was one of the very few doctors in the region who could make an accurate diagnosis of psychiatric disorders in a person with severe ID. He was very particular about not over medicating such individuals and felt strongly that doctors were not adequately sensitive to this. He collected case series of patients with various genetic abnormalities, ID and mental disorders and published several articles about this topic. For his sustained contributions in this area, he received the Frank Menolascino Award from the American Psychiatric Association. Early in his psychiatric career, he was a clinical hypnotist and serious psychotherapist, and used what he termed as video therapy for multiple personality disorder. Dr. Shenoy trained numerous residents through his supervisory role at the VAMC. There are many anecdotes of how he transformed the teacher-student relationship into a lifelong collegial friendship.

Ram was an activist and a strong advocate for patients. He passionately argued for his opinions with leadership and got results. He knew many legislators by their first names, often wrote letters to the editor, and regularly showed up on White Coat Day. He was principally responsible for what came to be known as Jeff’s Law in Virginia, which requires that the patient’s doctor be consulted prior to making decisions about involuntary hospitalization.  He strongly and correctly felt that not much is done to destigmatize the often preventable tragedy of suicide. He raised funds and contributed his own money for a successful media campaign on suicide prevention.

Dr. Ram Shenoy was knowledgeable, thoughtful, passionate and persuasive and, most importantly, he practiced what he preached.

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PSV 2016 Fall Meeting


PSV 2016 Fall Meeting

October 7-8, 2016
The Hotel Roanoke
& Conference Center
Roanoke, Virginia

For printable registration form