Lynn Van Dermark

The Right Thing to Do

Lynn Van Dermark (Nursing ’87)

The ability to spot and take advantage of business opportunities is one of the hallmarks of a successful entrepreneur. As the CEO of Dallas-based MedTrials Inc., Lynn Van Dermark (Nursing ’87) saw an opening in the early 1990s for a consulting firm headed by health care experts who could help companies to secure the approvals necessary to bring new medical products to market. She and a partner, both clinical research nurses, realized that there was a need for consultants with the expertise to facilitate this often confusing process.

“This is a highly regulated global industry, and the FDA oversees much of it,” said Ms. Van Dermark. “Companies that are to be marketed in the U.S. and the world have to go through rigorous clinical testing. The regulations are difficult to navigate. We are able to offer full service to an industry in need of facilitators who can guide them through the process.”

In addition to a Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Nursing, Ms. Van Dermark went on to receive her M.B.A. from Baylor University in 2004. Currently, MedTrials, Inc. is a growing player in a highly competitive industry.

Though Ms. Van Dermark has a demanding schedule and an active home life (she is married with five children), she remains a committed advocate for the School of Nursing. As a two-term member of the school’s advisory board—a role that she finds “extremely rewarding”—she found herself particularly intrigued by a program called the Interprofessional Education Initiative. The initiative is an interdisciplinary effort between the Schools of Nursing and Medicine that encourages collaboration between nurses and doctors. It is spearheaded by Tina Brashers, M.D., professor of nursing and attending physician in internal medicine at the U.Va. Health System.

“Thanks to my role on the advisory board, I’m very aware of different programs at the school,” she said. “As I learned more detail about the future of this program—the way doctors and nurses are working together to bring new products to market—I decided that I wanted to give to this initiative. It’s going in a direction that I want to support.”

Ms. Van Dermark also believes in the fundamental importance one of the school’s key giving areas—she is a loyal supporter of the annual fund.

“Giving to the annual fund is a responsibility,” she said. “Giving back to the school recognizes how much I’ve received as a graduate. It feels like the right thing to do. It’s important to be a part of the School of Nursing’s future and it’s a privilege to be able to give to the University.”