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J. William Kerns, M.D.

  • Category: Faculty & Staff
  • Position: Front Royal Family Practice and Multispecialty Clinic | VH, Clinical Professor VCU/MCV


Undergraduate: Yale University
Medical School: University of Virginia School of Medicine
Residency: Eastern Virginia Medical School
Fellowship: Virginia Commonwealth University/Medical College of Virginia-Adult Education; North American Primary Care Research Group - Research Methodology
Certification: ABFP, FAAFP, Qualitative Research from UNC/Chapel Hill

Professional Interests: Treatment of dementia symptoms, Evidence-Based Medicine, Quality Improvement in Medicine, VCU Family Medicine Research Team Member

J. William (Bill) Kerns was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. After graduating from Yale with honors in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, he welcomed being closer to home at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville for what he thought was going to be a research-oriented MD¬ PhD. Instead, he found that a life of libraries and labs did not suit him. He also discovered that his affinity for people was helpful in medicine. He ran away from research to Family Medicine Residency at Eastern Virginia Medical School. He and wife, Christine, a nurse, were considering mission work at home or abroad, but found that the need was significant in small-town Virginia as well. So, with one secretary and a line of credit, they started a practice in 1978, expecting to be slack for a time. It has never stopped being busy, and they were extremely happy to see Dr. Westfall and then other fine physicians and Nurse Practitioners join the practice in the years following. For a number of years, Dr. Kerns and Dr. Westfall were the only Family Physicians in the county and in the hospital, resurrecting the specialty here. After several successful and intense clinical years, the opportunity to help found the Residency came along, and with his partners he pursued a Fellowship in Adult Learning from Virginia Commonwealth University (now Clinical Professor).In the new residency he took on the Evidence-Based Medicine and Information Mastery Curriculum. He has continued to practice Family Medicine, including hospital/ICU. Then a weird thing happened; research came back into his life through VCU's Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, where he has partnered with their wonderful team in primary care research, making a difference to people.

With Dr. Winter he is engaged in ongoing grants and research projects directly related to primary care practice, including a recent five year grant regarding dementia care in nursing homes. He and Dr Winter have won awards for their papers including recognition from the North American Primary Care Research Group, a significant international primary care association. He regularly presents at national and international primary care research meetings.

Should residents choose to do so, he and Dr. Ball, in the Community Medicine curriculum, produce scholarly works with the residents in their second and third years, with the object of helping people in the practice and in the community directly, via scholarship. Otherwise he supervises the third year scholarly project, and with other faculty advises residents about their own research interests.

Christine and he have two grown children, two granddaughters (Tallulah Femke Lake and Paloma Jolene Lake), and one rescue dog. Besides just enjoying living out in the county of Warren, walking the dogs, snorkeling (a trip to blue water regularly!) etc., Dr. Kerns enjoys live music locally and in DC and NYC, and good scotch and wine.

Past honors include the 2018 NAPCRG “PEARL” award, STFM 2009 Mid-Career Achievement Award, he participated in the 2009 STFM Best Research Paper with the VCU FM Research team, and in 2010 was named Family Physician of the Year by the Virginia Academy of Family Physicians.