faculty

DJ Kennedy, MD

Professor and Chair


D.J. Kennedy, M.D. is a Professor and Chair of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Vanderbilt University Medical Center where his practice focuses on non-operative and interventional spine. He completed his residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Washington in Seattle where he served as Chief Resident, and then a Spine and Sports Fellowship at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. His research has focused on the safety and efficacy of interventional spine procedures. He has pioneered safe injection techniques and is an internationally recognized expert in interventional spine procedures. He has been the recipient of numerous research grants and he has published over 100 journal articles, over 50 published abstracts, and over 20 book chapters. As a spine researcher, he has had publications in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and he is a frequent publisher in Pain MedicinePM&R, and The Spine Journal (TSJ). He has won multiple research awards from The Spine Journal, the Spine Intervention Society (SIS), and the North American Spine Society (NASS). Additionally, he is a prolific lecturer and teacher. He has given over 100 lectures at national meetings, over 50 lectures at international meetings, and numerous local presentations and invited grand rounds. He has won multiple teaching awards, including teacher of the year from Stanford University. He is currently a Deputy Editor for The Spine Journal, and on the editorial board for Pain Medicine. He is on the Board of Directors for the Spine Intervention Society where he is the Vice-President. He is also on the Board of Directors for the American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (AAPM&R) where he runs the Inclusion and Engagement Committee. 


Email: david.j.kennedy@vumc.org

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William J. Sullivan, MD

Professor and Vice Chair

Residency Program Director


William Sullivan, MD received his medical degree from Emory University School of Medicine and completed residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) from Northwestern University / Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. He is currently a Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Vanderbilt University and Service Chief of PM&R at Nashville VA/Tennessee Valley Health Care System. Prior to that, he served as PM&R Fellowship director and Musculoskeletal Block Director for the University of Colorado School of Medicine.  His time in Colorado included appointments at University of Colorado Hospital Spine Center and Denver/Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center.  He was Assistant Professor from 2004-2007, and Associate Professor from 2007-2019 at University of Colorado School of Medicine Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.  He has been elected as President of the North American Spine Society (NASS) for 2019-2020.  He has served as Coding Committee Co-Chair and NASS Advisor to the AMA/RUC committee as well as member of the Nominating Committee and Membership Committee. He was also Co-Chair of the Medical program for the Emerging Technology Spine Education Summit for 10 years.  He enjoys a variety of outdoor activities including snowboarding, cycling, wake surfing, waterskiing, hiking, camping and rock climbing. 


Email: william.sullivan.2@vumc.org

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Jeffery S. Johns, MD

Associate Professor

Medical Director, Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital

Medial Director, Spinal Cord Injury Program

Interim Medical Director, Traumatic Brain Injury Program


Jeff Johns, M.D. is an Associate Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he also serves as Medical Director of Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital and Medical Director of the PM&R Patient Care Center.  He is Board Certified in PM&R as well as Spinal Cord Injury Medicine.  He completed his residency in PM&R at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he also served as Chief Resident.  His clinical interests in addition to spinal cord injury medicine include the rehabilitation of individuals following brain injury, stroke, neurologic disorders, amputations, multiple trauma, and burns.  He is very involved as a national leader in PM&R as a Director on the Board of the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and he is the Past-President of the Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals.  Dr. Johns is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Spinal Cord Injury Medicine, the Panel Chair for the Paralyzed Veterans of America and Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Neurogenic Bowel Dysfunction in Adults after Spinal Cord Injury.  He is also an Associate Editor for the upcoming sixth edition of Braddom’s Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation


Email: jeff.johns@vumc.org

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Ruth Q. Wolever, PhD

Director of Vanderbilt Health Coaching: Practice, Research, & Education, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine

Interim Director, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine


Ruth Q. Wolever, PhD, NBC-HWC is an Associate Professor (Clinician Educator Track) of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, with secondary appointments in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. She serves at Interim Director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Vanderbilt  and leads the Vanderbilt Health Coaching Certificate Program. Ruth is also the Chief Science Advisor and a subject matter expert for eMindful. Ruth is a nationally-board certified health and wellness coach (NBC-HWC) and a clinical health psychologist. She has over 25 years experience training and mentoring medical and allied health professionals in behavioral medicine, emotional health and coaching. She also has over 25 years of experience designing, implementing, and evaluating behavior change programs for medical patients and those at risk for chronic disease. Ruth is internationally recognized for her expertise on Health and Wellness Coaching, is a founding member of the National Consortium for Credentialing Health and Wellness Coaches, and served as the inaugural President of the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching from Jan 2016 - Feb 2019 (formerly named the International Consortium for Health and Wellness Coaching).  In addition to her focus on training, Ruth studies integrative health coaching and mindfulness-based approaches to self-regulation and lifestyle change for those with, or at elevated risk for, diabetes, heart disease, insomnia, tinnitus, chronic pain and other stress-related disorders. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NCCAM – now NCCIH, Office of Women’s Health, NHLBI, NIDCD, and NIDDK), United States Air Force, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, industry, and philanthropy. Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Ruth was the Founding Research Director for Duke Integrative Medicine and an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke School of Medicine.  Ruth has co-authored over 80 articles and academic chapters, and collaboratively given over 260 peer-reviewed or invited presentations. She also co-authored The Mindful Diet, released in 2015 by Simon & Schuster. Ruth has served as an expert consultant in emotional health and behavior change for Everyday Health, for GlaxoSmithKline, for Nurtur (a fully-owned subsidiary of Centene), for the Samueli Institute, for Nokia, and for clinics on better integrating behavioral health into primary care models. She is particularly interested in the intersection of mindfulness, inter-professional training, and behavior change. 


Email: ruth.wolever@vumc.org

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Gerasimos Bastas, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor

Director of Limb Loss Rehabilitation


Gerasimos Bastas, MD, PhD is an assistant professor of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and serves as the Director of Limb Loss Rehabilitation at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He completed his residency in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received the Resident Educator Teaching Award. His clinical responsibilities include the coordination and direct care of patients, in an interdisciplinary service-line continuum, relating to issues of limb loss/difference and prosthetic restoration/enablement. He is involved in teaching PM&R residents, medical students and inter-departmental education across the health system. He has been invited to speak regionally and nationally on topics relating to the medical care of patients with limb loss, and the ethics of medical decision-making surrounding amputation surgery. His research focuses on the longitudinal evaluation of lower limb prosthetic enablement, and the medical care of people with limb loss. He served as the Inaugural Chair of the Limb Restoration Rehabilitation Group (LRRG) within the American Congress for Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM), having championed the creation of an interdisciplinary educational and research action space for all rehabilitation professionals working to ensure the medical care, wellbeing and prosthetic enablement of people with limb loss/difference. 


Email: gerasimos.bastas@vumc.org

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Paula Donahue, DPT, MBA, CLT

Assistant Professor

Physical Therapist III, Vanderbilt Dayani Center for Health and Wellness


Paula Donahue, PT, DPT, MBA, CLT-LANA, works as a physical therapist at the Vanderbilt Dayani Center for Health and Wellness, and has been a physical therapist since 2000 with experience in acute, outpatient and home care therapy. She is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She received her training at Duke University (BS), Northwestern University Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences (DPT), The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School (MBA), and The Academy of Lymphatic Studies (CLT). She has administrative and clinical experience primarily addressing orthopedic, neurologic and oncologic conditions and has specialized training in lymphedema management. Her research interests are in the areas of lymphedema, lipedema and cancer rehabilitation. Her patient care focus is to ultimately assist patients in reaching their personal rehabilitation goal and optimize their quality of life. 


Email: paula.m.donahue@vumc.org

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Margaret Jones, MD, MPH

Assistant Professor


 Dr. Margaret Jones is an Assistant Professor in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, specializing in the care of patient with Spinal cord Injury and Spinal Cord Disorder (SCI/D). She completed residency at the University of Washington, serving as Chief Resident during her final year, before pursuing fellowship at the Kessler Institute/New Jersey Medical School. She then returned to Seattle to provide care for patients with SCI at Harborview Medical Center, the only Level 1 trauma center in the Pacific Northwest. Through this academic appointment working with medical students, residents and fellows, she refined her skills and interests in medical education and neuro-rehabilitation and is now Board Certified in SCI medicine as well as Brain Injury Medicine, the only provider in the state of Tennessee with both certifications. Dr. Jones moved to Vanderbilt to return to her southern roots and to help be a part of building the relatively new department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R). She is a clinical educator to residents and medical students on the inpatient unit at Vanderbilt Stallworth. She also practices outpatient PM&R care to patients with SCI/D and other patients with Stroke, Brain Injury, Cerebral palsy and myriad diagnoses with neurorehabilitation needs including botox and other spasticity management. Dr Jones remains actively involved in resident education through regular lectureship and is also committed to expanding the role and education of PM&R throughout the Vanderbilt system in her current duties. When not at work, she enjoys a number of outside activities including hiking and camping through road trips to the beach and mountains. 


Email: margaret.jones@vumc.org

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Elizabeth Martin, MD, MPH

Assistant Professor


Elizabeth Martin is an assistant professor in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation department at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Monroe Carrell Jr Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. She practices Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine, and is board certified in both Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. She completed a master’s degree at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health before completing her medical degree and a master’s in public health at Oregon Health & Sciences University in Portland, Oregon. She trained in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at Stanford and in Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington. She has been involved in national leadership as a resident and fellow physician in organizations including the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Association of Academic Physiatrists, and is also a member of the American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine. Her research interests include improving rehabilitation outcomes and quality of life for children with special healthcare needs. Prior to practicing medicine she worked on the development of an international registry for children and adults with Osteogenesis Imperfecta with the Kennedy Krieger Institute and the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation. She has a broad range of clinical interests including early diagnosis and intervention for children with cerebral palsy, spasticity and tone management, gait analysis and orthotic prescription, and rehabilitation for children with neuromuscular diseases. 


Email: elizabeth.martin@vumc.org

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Clausyl J Plummer, III, MD

Assistant Professor


Clausyl “CJ” Plummer is an assistant professor in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation department at Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital. He practices brain injury medicine, with a clinical interest in spasticity management, lifestyle medicine, and community reintegration for the full spectrum of patients who have sustained traumatic/acquired brain injuries.  He completed his residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at University of Texas Health in San Antonio, Texas where he served as administrative chief resident. He then completed his fellowship in Brain injury medicine at University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. His area of interest in research is in Return to Learn protocol in concussion management and he was the recipient of the inaugural Richard Adler Attorney at Law and Adler Giersch Law Firm endowed research fund for Traumatic Brain Injury Research in Seattle, Washington. He is passionate about education, mentorship, and outreach and has served in various leadership roles. He has also been involved in both the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R) and the Association of Academic Physiatrists (AAP), where he served as the first ever resident/fellow committee social media ambassador for AAP.


Email: clausyl.j.plummer@vumc.org

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Stephen Schaaf, MD

Assistant Professor


Stephen Schaaf, M.D. is an Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he practices musculoskeletal medicine that includes sports and spine patients, with a clinical focus on musculoskeletal ultrasound. He completed his residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and fellowship in Sports Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. His area of research interests includes tendinopathies, musculoskeletal ultrasound, and genetic biomarkers in the management of musculoskeletal conditions. He is passionate about academic education and mentorship. He is involved in both the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R) and the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM). 


Email: stephen.schaaf@vumc.org

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Byron J. Schneider, MD

Assistant Professor


Dr. Schneider is currently an assistant professor with the department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Prior to this, he completed his PM&R residency and Interventional Spine Fellowship at Stanford University. Born in Canada before moving to Lexington, Kentucky in 2002, he graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science and then completed medical school at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Schneider has over 40 peer-reviewed publications and text-book chapters. He has also given over 60 lectures at national and international conferences. His research primarily focuses on safety and effectiveness of interventional spine procedures. Dr. Schneider serves on many national committees, including as the vice-chair of the section on Rehabilitation, Interventional, and Medical Spine (RIMS) of the North American Spine Society and vice-chair of the Spine Intervention Society Research Division.  He is also the director of the PM&R Interventional Spine and Musculoskeletal Fellowship. 


Email: byron.j.schneider@vumc.org

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Eric Sturos, MD

Assistant Professor


Eric Sturos, MD is currently an Assistant Professor of Clinical Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Vanderbilt University Medical Center where his practice primarily focuses on non-operative and interventional spine conditions. Prior to this, he completed his residency as part of Vanderbilt’s inaugural class in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and elected to continue at Vanderbilt for his training as an Interventional Spine Fellow. He is originally from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where he attended and graduated from Michigan Technological University with high honors in Mechanical Engineering prior to obtaining his medical degree from Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine.  His clinical interests include evaluating and treating patients with functional deficits from musculoskeletal and spine conditions. Outside of medicine, Eric enjoys fly-fishing, surfing, hiking, water skiing, ice hockey, and being around friends and family. 


Email: eric.p.sturos@vumc.org

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Joseph William, DO, MPH

Assistant Professor


Joseph William, DO, MPH is an Assistant Professor with the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) and the Department of Anesthesiology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC). He most recently completed a Pain Medicine fellowship at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and PM&R residency at the University of Texas at Austin. He attended medical school that the University of North Texas Health Science Center Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Worth, TX. He also completed a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston while working in research in the Department of Experimental Pediatrics at MD Anderson Cancer Center and the Department of Infectious Diseases at Baylor College of Medicine. 


Email: joseph.william@vumc.org

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Ross Whitacre, MD

Assistant Professor


Dr. Whitacre is an Assistant Professor in the Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He completed his residency training at the University of Michigan, serving as chief resident in his final year. He then practiced for 12+ years in a large, independent orthopedic practice, where he sat on the Executive Council, and was the Medical Director for the area’s busiest outpatient ambulatory surgery center. Since coming to Vanderbilt in late 2018, Dr. Whitacre has served as the outpatient medical director, been the subject matter expert for the initiation of a low back pain care pathway across the Vanderbilt Allied Health Network, and become involved in teaching on the local and national levels. Dr. Whitacre’s clinical interests center predominantly around non-operative spine care including utilization of tailored injection therapies to augment movement-based treatments. More broadly, his medical interests include expanding best practices for individual patients into a reproducible experience across populations. 


Email: ross.whitacre@vumc.org

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Aaron Yang, MD

Assistant Professor

Associate Residency Program Director


Aaron Yang M.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) department at Vanderbilt University Medical Center where his practice focuses on musculoskeletal and spine conditions. He is interested in diagnosis and treatment of these conditions using electrodiagnostics, fluoroscopic, and ultrasound guided procedures. He completed his residency in PM&R at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago/Northwestern University followed by a pain medicine fellowship at the University of Colorado. Currently, his research focuses on low back pain prevention with use of wearable technology in which he is collaborating with the department of engineering at Vanderbilt University. He has published and presented over 30 peer reviewed publications and national lectures. He has also lectured at numerous local establishments and grand rounds. One of his main passions is medical education as he currently serves as the Associate Program Director for the PM&R residency program and Course Director for medical student rotations. Nationally, he is currently on the Education Committee for the Spine Intervention Society (SIS) and Association of Academic Physiatrists (AAP) and is the chair of the Spine Medicine Member Community for the American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (AAPM&R). He also volunteers his services as a physician at Siloam Health which is an outreach clinic serving the refugee and indigent population of Nashville. 


Email: aaron.yang@vumc.org

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Kevin M. Berry, MD

Assistant Professor


Kevin M. Berry, MD is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Born outside of Scranton, PA, he attended The University of Scranton for college and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science. He completed medical school at the Pennsylvania State University in Hershey, PA, internship at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, NY, and residency at Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School/Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in New Jersey. He is board-certified in PM&R and works at Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital treating patients with traumatic injuries including brain injuries and orthopedic injuries. His main academic focus is medical education of residents and medical students and he has been awarded the Resident as Teacher award during residency and Teacher of the Year award from the Vanderbilt PM&R Residency. 


Email: kevin.berry@vumc.org

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Barton W. Huddleston, MD

Assistant Professor


Dr. Barton Huddleston is an Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He is a graduate of Baylor University and University of Tennessee Medical School. He has served as a teaching physician at the Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital, and now is the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Physical Medicine and Rehab Acute Care Consultant. His clinical interests include establishing the specialty of PM&R in the tertiary care, level I trauma hospital setting, and creating clinical pathways integrating PM&R into the acute care continuum. Additionally, his interests include enhancing clinical treatment options through provision of Musculoskeletal Ultrasound evaluations and injections in the acute care and rehab hospital setting. Over the past 8 years, he has provided Musculoskeletal Ultrasound in-office injection education to clinical practices all across the United States. His research interests include efforts to establish benefit of integrative, functional medicine concepts within the clinical setting of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Huddleston has been recognized by several organizations for patient satisfaction that include Pres Ganey, Health Texas Provider Network, Baylor Healthcare System, and Dallas’ D Magazine. He has served on the Medical Director Advisory Council with HCA, and as Medical Representative for the Dallas Sports Marketing Committee. He has served as Event Medical Director for the United States Triathlon Association, for NCAA Women’s Basketball, and for the United States Gymnastics Association. He was also selected as the treating physician for Cirque du Soleil in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Huddleston is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and in Pain Medicine. 


Email: barton.w.huddleston@vumc.org

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Vartgez K. Mansourian, MD

Assistant Professor

Medical Director, Stroke Rehabilitation


Vartgez Mansourian, M.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation department at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He also serves as the Medical Director of the Stroke Rehabilitation Program at Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital. He is triple board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Spinal Cord Medicine, and Pain Medicine. He graduated from Medical College of Georgia and completed his internship at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore. He then completed his residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Temple University Hospital/MossRehab Center in Philadelphia. He began his private practice in 1992 in South Florida. The scope of his practice included inpatient and outpatient services in general rehabilitation, musculoskeletal, stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and limb loss rehabilitation. His outpatient services included pain medicine with interventional procedures, electrodiagnostics, prosthetics, and orthotics. Additionally, he was Medical Director of the outpatient stroke program and chief of staff at Pinecrest Rehabilitation Hospital. While in private practice, he volunteered as an advisor for the Post-Polio Society in Florida. He has been recognized by Castle Connolly Top Doctors as a top physician in his specialty for 10 years in Florida and for the past 5 years in Tennessee. Additionally, he was nominated for the Frist Humanitarian Award in Tennessee in 2013. His publications include a chapter in the Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Fourth Edition by Walter R. Frontera, M.D. titled “Stroke in Young Adults.” Dr. Mansourian enjoys educating residents, medical students, and health care providers through his one on one teaching, grand rounds, public speaking, and poster presentations. His current research interest is determining the prevalence and role of vitamin deficiency, specifically B1, in the inpatient stroke population. His priority is to encourage and counsel patients to choose a healthier lifestyle to prevent future strokes. His passion is to improve the current treatment and prevention of stroke through innovative rehabilitation techniques. 


Email: vartgez.mansourian@vumc.org

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Michelle Foote-Pearce

Associate

Director of Mindfulness Programs and Outreach, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine


Michelle Foote Pearce is a psychotherapist and advanced practice nurse at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Vanderbilt where she holds the positions of the Director of Mindfulness Programs and Outreach and Director of Psychological Services. Michelle began her career as an Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist with a special interest in pain and suffering, death and dying and family functioning. She developed a clinical case management program and was appointed director of in-patient case management and utilization review. After some gap years mothering a special needs child, Michelle continued her education obtaining a graduate degree in counseling and a doctorate in health care ministry specializing in life meaning and purpose as it relates to health and healing. Michelle has been teaching mindfulness since 2005. In 2009 she began teaching classes and workshops for VUMC patients, faculty, staff and community organizations. She has been meditating for over twenty years and is qualified to teach Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. Michelle co-developed and teaches the six-month Professional Development in Mindfulness Facilitation courses as well as formal and informal mentoring opportunities in mindfulness for VUMC trainees. 


Email: michelle.c.pearce@vumc.org

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Landrew S. Sevel, PhD

Assistant Professor

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