Chapter 5: Academics


Degree Programs

M.D. Degree Curriculum

The School of Medicine combines the practice and science of medicine in the system-based “Next Generation” Cells to Society curriculum to educate and train physicians to provide patient-centered care, practice evidence-based medicine, and engage in lifelong learning. The curriculum comprises a careful balance of active and experiential activities, clinical cases, problem-based learning, small group and team-based experiences, hands-on laboratories, self-directed learning, lectures, and hospital and community based clinical experiences.

The curriculum integrates basic and clinical sciences throughout the pre-clerkship, clerkship, and post-clerkship phases of the four-year M.D. program. At the center of the curriculum is the patient, the science of medicine, and the physician’s role in improving the health of individuals and communities. Patient contact begins on the first day of the first year and increases throughout the four years.

Pre-clerkship Period (First One and One-half Years): The first year begins with “Cells to Society” – an innovative educational experience designed to present first year students with an integrative approach to clinical medicine. “Cells to Society” focuses on and connects the patient to all other aspects of the Foundations of Medicine curriculum. The three-day experience is structured around one disease process and guides first years in investigating the disease’s cellular and societal dimensions. Students discover how the care of the patient raises questions in multiple domains in addition to clinical medicine. “Cells to Society” is followed by Molecular and Cellular Medicine (MCM) which includes foundational elements of human behavior, the doctor/patient relationship, decision sciences, and principles of biochemistry, genetics, histology, physiology, anatomy, immunology, general pathology, general pharmacology, and epidemiology. MCM is completed by winter of the first year.

Students then complete Microbes: The Essentials and a series of eight integrated organ systems: Musculoskeletal; Mind, Brain and Behavior; Gastrointestinal; Cardiovascular; Pulmonary; Renal; Endocrine/Reproductive, and Hematology.

Each system integrates core science (e.g., anatomy, histology, physiology, pharmacology, and pathology) with clinical skills ranging from physical examination to addressing cultural and social issues, including public health policy.

The Clinical Performance Development (CPD) experience runs concurrently with and is fully integrated into each course and organ system. CPD consists of clinical case studies which students solve in small group tutorials led by physicians. Students also work on a one-to-one basis with physicians to develop their skills in taking medical histories and conducting physical exams. Students work in the Medical Simulation Center, with standardized patients, and with patients from University Hospital.

The Social Issues in Medicine/Exploratory experience also runs concurrently with and is fully integrated into each system. SIM helps students recognize and analyze the interrelationships between socio-cultural environments and the occurrence, prevention, and treatment of disease. Students identify and nurture values that characterize a professional and humanistic practice of medicine and an ethic of service.

The Clerkship Period (Beginning in spring of the second year): Durng this period, students engage in clinical training. Students complete clerkships in medicine, surgery, pediatrics, family medicine, geriatric medicine, peri-operative and acute care medicine, psychiatry, and obstetrics and gynecology. There is extensive direct contact with patients, and students work with a well-balanced patient population, which includes primary, secondary, and tertiary care. Teaching is related to the patient on rounds and in small tutorial seminars, lectures and group discussions. Emphasis is given to the principles of prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and the continuing integration of clinical medicine with medical sciences and the psychological factors that influence health.

Students also work in small groups and rotate among many clinical services. Students gain practical experience under supervision in the wards and outpatient clinics of the University of Virginia hospitals, the Roanoke Community Hospitals, the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Salem, the Western State Hospital, and INOVA Fairfax Hospital in Northern Virginia. The teaching programs at the affiliated hospitals allow students to observe the practice of medicine in multiple settings and gain exposure to a somewhat different spectrum of illnesses than that seen at the University of Virginia. During their third year, students spend approximately 20 weeks away from Charlottesville in affiliated clerkship locations.

The Post-clerkship Period of Advanced Clinical Training: Toward the end of the third year and in the fourth year, students complete the Selectives, tailored to their interests and needs. An extensive Electives program allows students to pursue their own interests. Under the guidance of a faculty advisor, students choose clinical rotations, basic science and humanities courses and research activities. Medical students are required to complete at least one Advanced Clinical Elective during their fourth year. Clinical rotations are available at sites in Salem, Roanoke, Lynchburg, Fairfax, and Charlottesville. Programs are tailored to meet individual interests and needs, including a selection of programs in other domestic and foreign settings in appropriate community medicine programs, or in other activities of suitable educational merit.

In sum, students engage in a continuum of science, clinical skills, and professionalism experiences throughout the Systems and Clinical Performance Development experiences, the clerkships, and the post-clerkship period of advanced clinical training. Students are presented within and across each period with multiple examples of knowledge, skills, professionalism, and decision-making.

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Ph.D. Degree Program in Biomedical Sciences

The School of Medicine offers interdisciplinary training programs for students interested in research and teaching careers in the biological and biomedical sciences. Interdisciplinary graduate programs ensure that students have a broad and flexible choice of research opportunities with faculty in a wide variety of disciplines. Students may enter any one of seven Biomedical Sciences Graduate Programs including: Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Genetics; Cell and Developmental Biology; Molecular Medicine; Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases; Structural and Computation Biology and Biophysics; Neuroscience; or Biomedical Engineering. However, students are also free to change programs anytime during the first year. In addition to didactic course work, a major component of the doctoral requirements include conducting state-of-the-art dissertation research in a biomedical research laboratory under faculty supervision.

The primary goal of the doctoral programs in medicine is to train the highest quality scientists, educators, and scholars. It is expected that these individuals will become scientific leaders not only in academia, but in industry, government, and science education at all levels. In keeping with the mission of the School of Medicine to improve the quality of health care, a major goal of the doctoral programs is to improve the capabilities of graduates to carry out translational research such that the results of basic sciences research here and elsewhere can be translated into improved quality of life for all humanity.

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Medical Scientist (M.D./Ph.D.) Training Program

The University of Virginia offers a combined M.D./Ph.D. Program designed for training future physician-scientists. The goal of the program is to provide students with the highest quality training to conduct research in clinically relevant areas and to ensure a firm grounding in clinical medicine. Ph.D. training may be done in a basic science department or in a wide variety of interdisciplinary graduate programs including immunology, cardiovascular physiology, cell and molecular biology, neuroscience, biophysics, molecular pharmacology, biomedical engineering, molecular medicine, chemical engineering, cancer, and infectious diseases.A major emphasis of the program is to train physician scientists who will lead the biomedical research community in efforts to discover the fundamental basis of human disease and to develop innovative new therapies for their treatment.The M.D./Ph.D. Program is supported by a National Institutes of Health Medical Scientist Training Grant.

The M.D./Ph.D. training program is individually tailored for each student and typically requires 7-8 years to complete.The first two years are devoted to completing course work including all pre-clinical medical school requirements and a number of graduate courses, such as Molecular Medicine, that are specifically designed for the M.D./Ph.D. student. During the first two years students also complete laboratory rotations and select a doctoral mentor with whom they will complete their doctoral thesis research project.Years three through five are devoted to completing doctoral degree requirements including the thesis project and a small number of additional basic science courses tailored to the individual interests of the stu-dent.After finishing doctoral degree requirements, M.D./Ph.D. students then complete clinical clerkships in Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Psychiatric Medicine, Neurology, and Family Medicine.Throughout the training period, students participate in a number of M.D./Ph.D. Program activities including a monthly Research Presentation Roundtable and Journal Club, a tri-monthly Molecular Disease Rounds Dinner, and an annual Mountain Lake Research Retreat that enhances their training as physician-scientists.

Upon completion of the program, students typically complete additional residency and research fellowship training prior to assuming positions in academic medicine where they establish their own research programs, as well as being involved in patient care and teaching.

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Master of Science in Clinical Research Degree Program – Joint M.D./M.S.-C.R. Degree

The Master of Science Program in Clinical Research (MS-CR) in the Department of Public Health Sciences is an interdisciplinary graduate degree designed to meet the changing needs of the current health care field, particularly the increasing need for trained health and medical professionals with well-developed quantitative and analytic skills.

The MS-CR program provides training to health and medical professionals who desire and need quantitative and analytic skills in patient-oriented and translational research, as well as more traditional clinical investigation. Using an interdisciplinary blend of biostatistics, epidemiology, clinical trial design, medical informatics, and health services research, the MS-CR program equips clinical researchers with the statistical and data management tools needed to conduct translational clinical and comparative effectiveness studies in medical care. Students complete a minimum 31-credit curriculum that includes core courses, specialized coursework, and a final supervised research project, co-mentored by a PHS faculty member and the student’s research advisor. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences administers the program through the School of Medicine.

The M.S. in Clinical Research offers a dual degree option for medical students wishing to earn dual M.D./M.S. degrees. At the end of their third year, dual-degree students would leave the School of Medicine temporarily and spend the following year in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences completing the M.S. program. Upon completion of the M.S. degree, the medical curriculum would resume.

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Master of Public Health Degree Program – Joint M.D.-M.P.H. Degree

The MPH is an interdisciplinary professional degree designed to provide health care and other professionals with an understanding of the public health sciences. Knowledge of and skills in this field can be used in health care management, population-based research, and the community practice of public health. MPH students take basic courses in epidemiology, environmental health, health policy and management, health promotion and biostatistics, as well as additional courses in one of two tracks: Generalist Practice &Research; and Health Policy, Law, and Ethics

The MD-MPH dual program is a 5-year program designed to provide students with the opportunity to integrate medical school and public health coursework, research, and community work throughout the five years. Students enroll full-time in the School of Medicine for four years and full-time in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) for one academic year when the student primarily concentrates on MPH-related course work. Typically the MPH year occurs between Years 3 and 4 of medical school. Both degrees are generally awarded at the end of 5 years.

The MPH degree requires 42 credits, up to 6 of which can be earned for the field placement and culminating experience project (which can focus on public health research). Application for dual research credit that qualifies for both MPH course credit and medical school elective credit is awarded on a case-by-case basis.

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Generalist Scholars Program

Since 1994, the Generalist Scholars Program (GSP) has provided special didactic and clinical opportunities for students chosen to participate as Generalist Scholars. Through an enhanced curriculum featuring unique primary care experiences, the GSP serves to foster the development of experts in primary care. Upon arrival into the program, each Generalist Scholar is paired with a faculty mentor who serves as a role model and academic advisor during the student’s four years of medical school. Generalist Scholars are encouraged to share their interest and enthusiasm for a generalist career with their fellow students. GSP students are also afforded the opportunity to further their primary care interests by pursuing a research project relevant to generalist medicine. In addition to providing opportunities that we feel will enhance your medical education, the program also offers some financial support.

GSP students also have the opportunity to participate in the UVA School of Medicine Scholars in Health Disparities Program as Generalist Scholars in Health Disparities (GSHD). This program will offer those students interested in research, scholarly work, and public health practice an opportunity to obtain an MPH degree in addition to their MD. The MPH will have a concentration in health disparities. Generalist Scholars in Health Disparities will be given additional lectures on community and public health during the first 2 years of medical school, as well as clinical and field experiences appropriate for an MPH on the Health Disparities Track. A fifth year devoted to full-time pursuit of MPH requirements will be required to finish the program. GSHD will also receive some financial support. Student placement for MPH field work will be directed to rural, underserved, or disadvantaged populations in Virginia.

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Center for Global Health

The Center for Global Health, founded in 2001 by Richard L. Guerrant, MD, is one of the nation’s first pan-University Centers for Global Health. It focuses on health as a human value, engaging multiple disciplines across the University, as well as across cultural, economic, and geographic divides. The Center’s model emphasizes academics, research, and curriculum.

UVa student scholars develop faculty-mentored 6-8 week projects in underserved countries working to improve the health of those in greatest need.
International fellows travel from collaborating sites abroad for training and research at UVa addressing their own research priorities.
Interdisciplinary curricula emphasize research, including global health courses for undergraduates and medical students, an undergraduate minor in Global Public Health, a planned global health track for the Masters in Public Health program, as well as student-sponsored events and speakers.
The Pfizer Initiative in International Health (PIIH) is an integral part of CGH. It provides financial and collaborative support. Directed by W. Michael Scheld, MD, PIIH advances CGH’s program objectives. The Pfizer Initiative provides the primary financial support for international trainees working at UVa, and supports UVa fellows and scholars. The major purpose of the PIIH is to develop the resources, resolve and capacity to meet some of the gravest healthcare and human challenges in existence.

For more details, please visit this website.

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Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy

Established in 1977 with the joint support of the Schools of Medicine and Law, the Institute of Law, Psychiatry, Public Policy provides training, research, and consultation on laws and policies relating to psychiatry, psychology, and behavioral health. Courses and placements are available for medical students, interns, and residents in the mental health disciplines, and post-doctoral fellowships are available to physicians, lawyers, and psychologists. Collaborative programs are also offered with the Department of Public Health Sciences, the Center for Biomedical Ethics and the University’s Institute on Aging. The institute operates a forensic psychiatry clinic to provide evaluation for the courts, provides specialized training for mental health professionals throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, and conducts research on impairments of decision-making capacities and advance directives, clinical aspects of violence and criminal behavior, and mandated treatment. The institute’s prominent faculty are involved in policy development relating to human rights and mental health law in Virginia, the United States and abroad.

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Underrepresented and Disadvantaged Student Programs

The Office of Diversity offers a program, the University of Virginia Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (UVA SMDEP), to increase the representation of individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds (i.e., economically disadvantaged backgrounds, racial and ethnic groups that have been historically underrepresented in medicine or from parts of the country such as rural areas where residents have been historically underrepresented in medicine) in medicine. During the period from 1984 to 2008, a total of 2,499 students from across the country have participated in the Medical Academic Advancement Program (MAAP), currently known as the University of Virginia Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (UVA SMDEP), of whom 450 have already obtained their M.D. degrees: Twenty-two of the participants are medical faculty, including three UVA SOM faculty, as well as a former chairman of a department of Ophthalmology, two assistant deans, an associate director for a residency program in medicine, and an assistant director for a residency program in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The UVA SMDEP target audience is 80 freshmen and sophomore college students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The UVA SMDEP is an intensive six-week summer academic enrichment program to strengthen the academic proficiency of the participants as well as introduce them to the academic realities of medicine in order to position them to gain acceptance to medical school. Core program components include: academic enrichment in the basic sciences (organic chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics) and key elective courses (writing, communication skills, current topics in health); learning skills seminars; clinical exposure through small-group clinical rotations and full-group clinician seminars; career development directed toward exploration of the medical profession and an individualized education plan that will include identification of other appropriate summer experiences; and a financial planning workshop.

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Claude Moore Health Sciences Library

The Claude Moore Health Sciences Library is the primary library for biomedical information at the University. It has an extensive collection of online books, journals and databases to support the research, education and patient care activities of the Health System. The Library staff are strong proponents in the use of new and innovative technologies to support teaching and research. The staff provide classes and individual consultations on new technologies so that faculty, students and staff can incorporate new technical skills in their work. A cadre of liaison librarians work with specific groups such as researchers to provide customized and focused information services. Since lifelong learning is an expectation of all physicians, one librarian works with medical faculty and students to teach information skills for finding and evaluating medical information.

While the library is an important space for study and research, information needs for the Health System go far beyond the walls of the Library. Library staff have developed strong collaborations with members of the Health System community who are working on issues such as patient safety, health literacy and health disparity. Two outreach librarians work with health professionals and community organizations to expand access to quality health information for the citizens of the Commonwealth.

The Library’s Historical Collections houses the papers of Walter Reed, SOM, Class 1869 which describe his work on yellow fever. Most of the prominent and interesting collections are available as online exhibits from the Library’s website.

For more information consult the Library’s website .

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Major Teaching Hospitals & Patient Care Facilities


Major Teaching Hospitals
Hospitals Medical Students Post-Graduates (Residents & Fellows)
Carilion Roanoke Community X
Carilion Roanoke Memorial X X
Centra Health, Lynchburg X X
Commonwealth Ctr for Children/Adolescents X
HealthSouth Hospital X
Inova Fairfax Hospital X X
Martha Jefferson Hospital X
Rockingham Memorial X
VA Medical Center, Salem X X
Western State Psychiatric Hospital X
Medical College of Virginia X
Chief Examiners’ Office X
Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth X
Satelite and outpatient clinics Students Post-Graduates
Augusta Hospital and clinics X
Colonnades Medical Associates X
Crossroads Family Medicine X
Northridge X
Orange Medicine X
Stoney Creek Family Medicine X
Zion Crossroads Family Medicine X
Regional Primary Care (HSF) X

University Medical Center Patient Care Facilities

BEDS Acute ICU Intermediate Short-Stay
449 128 12 20

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