Slavin Receives Alumni Merit Award
Great physicians are cultivated through the dedication, passion, and education provided by their professors. Raymond G. Slavin, M.D., (Med ‘56), professor emeritus of internal medicine, division of allergy and immunology, felt the calling to become an academic physician in his early years as a medical student at Saint Louis University.
Slavin has been a long-standing member of the SLU School of Medicine faculty since 1965. During his academic career, he held multiple roles including the director of the division of allergy and immunology, professor of internal medicine and microbiology, and has been an integral member of a number of search committees for chairpersons and deans within the School of Medicine.
“We sometimes refer to academic physicians as triple threats: we research, we teach, and we take care of patients,” he said. “I have also benefited greatly from the administrative responsibilities. I found it a very good way to broaden my role, and they have all impacted my career in many ways.”
As an academic physician, Slavin explained it has offered him bountiful opportunities to not only excel within his field, but also become a better physician for his patients. Because of his continuous commitment to SLU’s mission, the University has chosen to honor him with the 2023 Alumni Merit Award for the School of Medicine.
“I am honored to receive this award,” he said. “I have tried to be the very best I can be, and it is wonderful to be recognized by the University.”
His influence as a compassionate physician, dedicated professor, and leader within the discipline of allergy and immunology has rippled throughout the SLU community. He encourages medical students and residents to keep their eyes open to the possibilities that may shape their paths as future leaders in the profession.
A Dedicated Leader for the Future
One dynamic leader can set a place on the path for tremendous growth and success. Jastin Antisdel, M.D., (Med ‘04), chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, set his mind on being that leader for his department and the greater SLU community.
As a nationally recognized leader in rhinology and otolaryngology, Antisdel has studied, worked and served at SLU since 2000 as a medical student, resident, full-time faculty member and White Coat Society donor. His dedication to the medical program is closely tied to his influential, personal experiences and the lessons he learns from current students.
“Saint Louis University has become my place,” Antisdel said. “It has become ingrained in me and what I find valuable in medicine, especially the academic component, where residents and students are always asking questions. It is an important part of my career, and it keeps me striving to be the best doctor I can be.”
After returning to SLU in 2010 from a year-long rhinology fellowship in Georgia, Antisdel's trajectory to department chair took off quickly. In less than five years, he went from faculty member to associate residency program director to interim department chairman. Following his appointment in 2017, he held the title of youngest chairperson in the country until his own mentee took the honor at another university.
“If you look at the most successful academic departments across the country, they had a transformational chairperson who was there for a long enough period that they were able to build something steadily that lasts into the future,” he said. “Being chair of the department here, I plan on having a long trajectory.”
Looking ahead, Antisdel noted that the School of Medicine is in an exciting time, not only for students but also for him. The University is experiencing a time of growth, innovation, and excitement in the community and in medicine. This motivates him to continue guiding his students and residents into competitive otolaryngology positions, recruiting talented researchers and supporting the School's expansion.
Every Patient Has a Story
When Ashley Meyr, M.D., (Med ‘16), clinical director of the SLU Family Medicine Residency and assistant professor of Family and Community Medicine, decided she wanted to become a physician, she knew she wanted to work with patients through all stages of their health care. As a three-time alumna of Saint Louis University, she has clearly found her passion in helping both her patients and students as a practicing physician and SLU Family Medicine Residency core faculty member.
“I believe it is important to know that every patient has a story,” she said. “It is our job as physicians to ask about their story, and if you don’t ask, it will be harder to provide good medical care.”
Meyr attributes this crucial understanding of others’ lived experiences to her past professors and current colleagues. They instilled in her a desire to know more by asking questions that helped her understand her patients’ backgrounds and core values at a deeper level.
She explained how her own professors modeled how she should get to know patients, ask specific questions, and realize there are multiple factors that play a role in their health care. In turn, she seeks to model this same behavior to her own students.
“The School is exposing students to the idea of trauma-informed care and how social determinants of health impact a patient’s health and care trajectory,” she said. “Having students recognize early that there are aspects like socioeconomic status, religious backgrounds, and family values is important in how patients’ experience and participate in the healthcare system.”
It is SLU’s focus on caring for the whole person and serving those in need that continues to fuel Meyr’s passion for building deep relationships in her career. From students to patients, she believes getting to the root of the story is essential in supplying great care and having a career that lasts a lifetime.
“It is not just about churning out physicians (at SLU),” she said. “It's about finding people who are passionate about what they are doing, discovering meaning in their work, and seeing medicine as a true calling for them.”
Building Success Across Generations
A few specific moments in life classify as life-changing opportunities. For two members of the Arvanitis Family, the Saint Louis University Medical Anatomy and Physiology (MAPP) Certificate Program jump-started their education and passion for medicine.
The MAPP Program is a two-semester academic experience for post-baccalaureate scholars considering careers in medicine, biomedical sciences, or other healthcare professions. Its students take anatomy and physiology courses alongside first-year medical students to further enhance their competitiveness for admission into medical school or other professional health care programs.
Zoe Arvanitis (Med ‘27) and her father, Steve Arvanitis, M.D., (Med '97), both completed the program before being accepted into the School of Medicine. They explained the program prepared them for successful placements into medical school and provided a foundation before pursuing their degrees.
“The MAPP program was a life-changing experience,” Steve Arvanitis said. “When I got into it and pursued my interest in medicine, I found my true passion. SLU opened my eyes and made me feel comfortable with what I am currently doing in my career and in my life.”
For Zoe Arvanitis, the program elevated her confidence in her studying habits, harnessed her capabilities, and fueled her passion to become a future doctor. During the spring semester of the program, she was accepted into five medical schools across the country, including Saint Louis University, where she is attending this summer.
“(The program) has given me a solid foundation moving forward,” Zoe Arvanitis said. “Knowing that I was successful in this program, which is what the first-year medical school students were doing, will make me successful in the future.”