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College of Medicine Names New Assistant Deans of Student Affairs

Dr. Sara Cross

Catherine Womack, MD, associate dean of Student Affairs and Admissions for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine, has named Sara Cross, MD, Deirdre James, MD, and Andrew Olinger, MD, as the new assistant deans of Student Affairs.

“I am so fortunate to have three gifted clinicians who want to dedicate part of their time to mentoring students,” Dr. Womack said. “This increased emphasis on giving guidance to students as they traverse the pathway to residency would not be possible without the support of Dean Scott Strome. Dr. Strome is committed to ensuring that our students have all the information that they need to be outstanding medical doctors.”

As assistant deans, they will assist in the writing of Medical Student Performance Evaluations (MSPEs) and help with recruitment and fundraising. In addition, they will provide guidance at new student orientations and graduations, work to develop and execute multiple student-focused programs across campus including MPOWER and the Financial Literacy Program, as well as provide mentorship and career counseling for all students in order for them to be prepared to select the career with the best fit for them.

Dr. Deidre James

Dr. Sara Cross, an associate professor of Medicine/Infectious Diseases and Medical Education, teaches infectious disease courses to first- and second-year medical students. She also has a clinic on HIV and general infectious diseases. Dr. Cross completed her fellowship in infectious diseases at Washington University and her internship and residency in internal medicine at Washington University/Barnes-Jewish Hospital. She was recently named to Governor Bill Lee’s Coronavirus Task Force, as well as awarded the Golden Apple teaching award for the infectious diseases sub-specialty.

“I love teaching the students in their pre-clinical years and I am so excited to now get the opportunity to mentor them as they continue on into their clinical years,” Dr. Cross said. “I want each and every one of our students to flourish, succeed, and most of all, be happy and fulfilled as they start their careers.”

Dr. Deirdre James, an assistant professor of Medicine, specializes in endocrinology. Dr. James, originally from Pensacola, Florida, is a graduate of Florida State University. She earned her medical degree from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, later moving to Memphis where she completed her residency in Internal Medicine, her chief residency, and endocrine fellowship at UTHSC.

“I am extremely excited about this new appointment,” Dr. James said. “I intend to strongly advocate for and mentor students as they strive to attain their goals.”

Dr. Andrew Olinger

Dr. Andrew Olinger, an assistant professor in Internal Medicine, specializes in primary care and medical education. Dr. Olinger is a graduate of Millsaps College and attended medical school and completed his residency at the University of Tennessee. He is originally from Memphis and has a passion for the city and its history.

“In this new position, I’m looking forward to mentoring students in a caring and direct way,” Dr. Olinger said. “I hope to provide more vision to each student and facilitate each student’s search for their ideal career path.”

“I am so delighted to appoint these three extremely talented individuals to our educational team. In their role, they will work tirelessly to ensure that our students have fantastic guidance and support during their time at UTHSC and will emerge better equipped to care for all of those in need,” Dr. Strome said.

“I am excited about the year going forward,” Dr. Womack said. “I know that it is going to be challenging with the SARS-CoV-2, but we have selected talented physicians who will engage our medical students in their journey and who will impart to the students the guidance that they need to be successful in their chosen career path.”