Frequently Asked Questions

1. What if at this point I am not sure if I want to pursue a residency in family medicine, general internal medicine or general pediatrics? Can I still apply?

The front of the Old Medical SchoolThe core mission of the Generalist Scholars Program (GSP) is to train scholars and leaders in generalist medicine. The program is targeted toward students who have a strong calling and interest in the primary care specialties (Family Medicine, General Pediatrics and General Internal Medicine (Primary Care Track). We understand that not all students have this level of commitment to primary care when applying to medical school. If you are still uncertain about your intended residency training and not sure that primary care is definitely where you see yourself practicing then the GSP is probably not the program for you. We encourage participation from students not directly involved in the GSP in many of our curricular and other activities during the year.

2. It sounds like a lot of work. Do students find it overwhelming to be in GSP while trying to keep up with the main curriculum?

In my experience, speaking as a rising second year, it has not been overwhelming at all being in the GSP while trying to keep up with our work in the curriculum. Actually, for me being in the GSP has made my medical school experience thus far less overwhelming. The additional work associated with the  GSP as a first year is really minimal and almost exclusively limited to biweekly lunch meetings which are an opportunity to speak with faculty, be exposed to important topics and outside lecturers, and get a free lunch. More importantly, the support that I have received as a member of the GSP has been invaluable and made my experience at UVA much less overwhelming. I have received a significant amount of personal one on one attention from at least four of the GSP faculty. Also, through the GSP I have had an opportunity to make connections with upper classmen (and women) that have allowed me to effectively plan for the future while also getting different perspectives on the best strategies for navigating the pre-clinical and clinical curricula. As far as the work associated with the scholarly project goes, while I think that will be a significant amount of work and will probably be overwhelming at times, I would have gotten involved in research with or without the GSP and being part of the GSP I am confident that the logistical support of the faculty and the moral support of the students will certainly make the process much less overwhelming than it otherwise could have been.

3. How involved is the individual scholarship project that I need to complete?

The individual scholarship project experience is designed to encourage longitudinal development of the critical skills necessary to incorporate scholarly pursuits into the practice of generalist medicine. It is tailored to fit each student’s personal and professional development goals.

Students will begin working on their individual scholarship project during their first year of medical school. Under the guidance of their mentor and the GSP scholarship coordinator, students will identify a topic of significance to generalist medicine that is of publishable quality and interest. Students will begin to pursue their scholarship interest during the summer following their first year of medical school and will continue their work throughout their second, third and fourth years of medical school.

In addition to the scholarship project requirements, GSP students will have the option to present their scholarship work at local, national and international professional meetings. Additionally, students may prepare their work for submission to a peer-reviewed scholarly journal. While participation in these activities is not a requirement of the program, GSP faculty support and encourage such participation.

See GSP Scholarship Project Guidelines.

4. What is the community service component of the Generalist Scholars Program?

All medical students are required to complete 30 hours of community service as part of the first-year Social Issues in Medicine course.  Generalist Scholars students perform their service as a group at a community site identified by the Social Issues in Medicine course and approved by the Generalist Scholars Program. Depending on the opportunities that present in any one year, GSP students may either all perform their service together at one site, or work in pairs or teams at several different sites. The nature of the work will vary according to the needs of the site. Because the Social Issues in Medicine community service requirement is a pre-clinical experience, the focus is to gain exposure to a population at risk, not to develop clinical skills. For this reason, most sites are non-medical.

5. What happens if I am accepted in the program and participate during medical school but then decide to pursue a residency other than family medicine, general internal medicine or general pediatrics?

We expect students entering the program are doing so in good faith with the intention of pursuing a career in primary care. Over the last 15 years there have been a small number of students who participated in the program who ultimately made the decision to pursue residency training outside the scope of primary care. Obviously this is not consistent with the mission of the program, but we recognize that students are not required to sign a contract or otherwise legally commit to primary care as a condition of being a Generalist Scholar. Under this scenario, the GSP financial support allocated to the student is rescinded and converts to a loan. The student is responsible for absorbing the additional debt for tuition as if he or she had not participated in the GSP in the first place. No additional fees or interest accrues as a result of this process. The very nature of the GSP applicants and subsequent participants in the program make this a rare occurrence.

6. Do I have to attend the 3 week summer orientation session to participate in the GSP program?

Yes. The Generalist Scholars Program officially begins the summer before students matriculate in the UVA School of Medicine. This session lays the foundation for the entire 4-year curriculum. It orients students to the field of primary care, introduces them to issues and challenges in our current health care delivery system, and familiarizes students with the local community and its needs. The summer program  provides incoming students with a valuable opportunity to learn from the GSP faculty and shadow generalist practitioners. Importantly, students also develop a sense of fellowship with others interested in primary care as they make informal associations amongst their classmates and other GSP students.

7. Can I still pursue an MPH if I am accepted to the GSP program?

If you are accepted as a GSP student you may certainly pursue an MPH. Generally, students enroll in the MPH program between their third and fourth years of medical school, thereby extending their total schooling to five years. GSP students who enroll in the University of Virginia’s MPH program are eligible to receive their annual GSP financial allocation while pursing their Masters in Public Health. If a student enrolls in another academic institution, their financial allocation is suspended during the time they are away from UVA. The financial allocation is reactivated upon the GSP student’s return to campus and re-enrollment in the UVA School of Medicine.

8. Do I still need to participate in the MSSRP program if my scholarship project is not a traditional quantitative scientific study (curricular development, qualitative, etc.)?

All GSP students are required to register for the Medical Student Summer Research Program (MSSRP) during the first year. The MSSRP provides the administrative structure required to allow students to work on their scholarship projects during the summer after the first year. Unlike other students participating in the MSSRP, approval and support of all GSP scholarship projects is coordinated by the GSP faculty, not the MSSRP faculty and staff. GSP students are required to submit a final MSSRP paper and participate in the fall MSSRP Research Symposium and are encouraged to attend other activities scheduled during the summer. While GSP projects are often of a different nature than many of the MSSRP projects, participation in the program provides an opportunity for students to share perspectives on the breadth of scholarship opportunities in medicine.