Melanie K. Prusakowski has been promoted from assistant to associate dean for admissions at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. She has led the school’s admissions team since 2016 and has been a pediatric emergency medicine physician for Carilion Clinic since 2008.

“Dr. Prusakowski’s contributions to our Office of Admissions have been outstanding,” said Lee Learman, dean of the school. “Her commitment to implementing our VTCSOM diversity initiatives has led to a more consistent enrollment of students from demographic groups that are underrepresented in medicine, students with lower family income, and first-generation college students. Interest in VTCSOM has increased to over 100 applicants per position in recent years, and the quality of our applicants remains very strong.”

Under Prusakowski’s leadership, the Office of Admissions has implemented several initiatives to help with recruitment of a diverse student body. These include more intentional and direct contact with students once they are accepted, especially those who have received multiple acceptance offers. Admitted students are invited back to campus for a newly implemented second-look weekend. A digital application processing system enables more effective access to student data that can be used in the recruitment process.

For the class that will start in July, 32 percent of offered acceptances were to individuals with low family incomes according to a federal loan eligibility benchmark. The composition of the class will be finalized when they arrive, but the school is expecting 12.2 percent will be students from underrepresented minorities, and 14.3 percent will be first-generation college students.

Several months ago the school received approval to enlarge its student body. As a first step, the class size will grow from 42 to 49 students in the matriculating Class of 2024.

“The news that we had been given the go-ahead for the increase came in the midst of the admissions process for the Class of 2024,” Learman said. “Dr. Prusakowski led the admissions team to adapt quickly and set a new matriculation target during the already uncertain and stressful times of the pandemic.”

This year also marked the first use of IMPACT scholarships to selected incoming students in the four-year M.D. program. Prusakowski worked collaboratively with the medical school’s registrar, financial aid, and diversity and inclusion teams to develop the application process and criteria for selecting the recipients.

The Class of 2024 will begin July 27 with a week of orientation, a hybrid of both virtual sessions and appropriately distanced in-person meetings

“I am excited about this next step in my service to the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine,” Prusakowski said. “The school is very dear to my heart and shares so many aspects of my personal mission, with respect to playing a role in the current and future health of our communities. I am certain VTCSOM has been, and will continue to be, a beacon during these times of medical, mental, and social illness and injury.”

Prusakowski’s involvement with the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine is extensive. She holds co-appointments as associate professor of both pediatrics and emergency medicine at the medical school. She also serves as acting internship director for pediatric emergency medicine, former assistant program director for emergency medicine residency, and director of the pediatric emergency medicine elective and pediatric education.

 Prusakowski earned her bachelor’s degree in molecular biology from Princeton University. She is a graduate of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey — Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, where she also completed her residency in pediatrics. She completed a fellowship in pediatric emergency medicine at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.