Resident Testimonials

Our residents are a diverse and interesting group. Click on their testimonials below to see why these residents think UVA is a great choice!

PGY-2 Testimonials
Isadore Budnick, MD
Isadore Budnick
Jacqueline Hodges, MD
Jacqueline Hodges

Sami Ibrahim
Sarah Wood, MD
Sarah Wood
While the teaching here is the scaffold, something else rounds you out as a complete physician:  the esprit de corps.

Isadore Budnick, MD

The only thing on my mind that day was the nearly 15-hour drive back home to New Orleans. It was the end of the interview season, and I was pretty beat. I hadn’t been home in nearly two months, and living out of my car and a single suitcase was starting to lose its charm. The last stop on my interview trail: UVA. I went into the interview day expecting another pleasant experience with another great program, but I had fully embraced the fact that my memories of all of these programs would inevitably blur together. Well, perhaps you can blame it on immediacy bias, but when it came time to make my rank list, I couldn’t stop thinking about UVA.

Since starting residency, three things have come to define my time here: the teaching, esprit de corps, and Charlottesville. As a public institution, we have the honor of taking care of and learning from the most medically complex patients in the region. To develop the necessary knowledge base to take care of these patients, UVA delivers the teaching you’ll need. Our faculty are diverse in their interests, and with that comes bedside teaching that can focus on clinical management, basic science, systems health, and much more. Our formal didactics are fun, lively, well-attended and frequently break free of the monotonous drudgery of case reports. Laughing and learning go hand-in-hand here. But the most important learning comes from the autonomy afforded you at UVA. Early on it will be emphasized that these are your patients, and the faculty will expect you to execute your plan. That sense of ownership has spurred me on to thoroughly examine my management plans each and every day, and to ensure that they are evidence-based and patient-centered.

While the teaching here is the scaffold, there is something else at UVA that rounds you out as a complete physician: the esprit de corps. If you choose to interview with us, you’ll get a sense of what that means. It’s an all-encompassing term for the social glue that keeps this environment serious but warm, ambitious but never cutthroat. The esprit de corp extends beyond just interactions between fellow housestaff, but between the housestaff and the pharmacists, nurses, students, and more. At UVA, you quickly realize that everyone is committed to the patient. The esprit de corps ensures that you have a collegial environment in which to come to work every day.

But enough about UVA! I’m not here to only sing the praises of the institution that cuts me a bi-weekly check. I’m also here to report that Charlottesville is a fantastic place to live. The town is a bustling little escape nestled deep in the mountains of Central VA, and it has plenty to offer. Our 3+1 system ensures that you can always count on at least one golden weekend every month, and the housestaff at UVA make the most of it:  hiking, wine tasting, dining at one of the scrumptious eateries, or just spending time with your fellow residents and their loved ones. The program and hospital leadership understand that we bring our best selves to work if we can develop our personal and professional selves in tandem. I hope this gives you an idea of what to expect at UVA; as ERAS season approaches, certainly consider giving us a visit.

Our program has created a learning environment where everyone – no matter their level of training – is recognized for what they offer the team.

Jacqueline Hodges, MD

UVA IM turned out to be the right program for me, for a few reasons I expected and some I hadn’t predicted. I spent four years in Charlottesville as an undergrad, and when I matched here with my husband (a UNC grad), I was really excited to show him the town I knew. I expected that this would be a great place to spend three years of residency, that we’d appreciate the day-to-day ease and reasonable cost of living, and I looked forward to spending our days off exploring the beautiful surrounding area and trying out all the new breweries and restaurants that have popped up around town since I graduated. I was also excited to get involved in serving the community I’d gotten to know as an undergrad. There’s a lot this program has to offer, though, that I’m only now able to fully appreciate.

Our program leadership works hard to provide the right balance between resident support and autonomy. Our chiefs, our Program Director, and the attendings on our teaching services have created a learning environment where everyone, no matter their level of training, is recognized for what they offer the team. As trainees, we are constantly engaged to think for ourselves, to defend our thinking, and to lend our own perspectives to the conversation. At the same time, I’ve seen examples almost every day of my co-residents stepping in to help each other out, without really any hesitation — not because it wins them any points or because it’s any sort of requirement, but because these are just the type of people the program works to keep around.

I had no perception of how much I’d come to appreciate the now familiar feeling of coming onto a team of people who just seem to gel with each other, or the really busy call days made bearable by our whole team breaking out in laughter over obscene amounts of take out. I think most of us know that in any residency there will be days that are really challenging for different reasons. I think above all what I’ve come to appreciate is that, at UVA, the ultimate goal is to make those challenges more bearable for residents, so we can focus on learning from each other and on becoming the best providers we can be for our patients.

As someone who plans to pursue a fellowship after residency, it was important for me to find a program that caters to each resident’s interests and helps them achieve their goals.

As a fourth-year medical student agonizing over the match, it was difficult for me to pinpoint at first what exactly made me value UVA so much more than my other choices. I would chalk it up to “it’s a gut feeling”, and try to remember the experience I had at UVA on interview day. Interview season was like a blur; hospitals blend together and you start to lose track of which programs offer which amenities. After reflecting further, I think what truly set UVA apart was its residents and the way they are able to balance their down-to-earth and fun attitude with hard work and professionalism. The camaraderie is there, and I remember sensing it right away, at the resident dinner the night before and up until I left the hospital the next day.

My experience as an intern was even better than I expected. The camaraderie was not only with my co-interns, but all the way through to the chief residents. As stressful as intern year can become, everyone here is so supportive to make sure you succeed. The 1:1 pairing of intern to upper level resident made learning the system and general medical knowledge much easier and the upper levels provided a perfect balance of autonomy and guidance in caring for patients. As an upper level now myself, I look forward to gaining experience teaching in this 1:1 environment.

As someone who plans to pursue a fellowship after residency, it was important for me to find a program that caters to each resident’s interests and helps them achieve their goals. UVA does an excellent job with the fellowship match, as they are able to provide residents with numerous research opportunities as well as exposure to multiple subspecialty electives where connections can be formed with the fellows and attendings we work with. The attendings have all been very approachable, eager to teach and provide us with insight. I appreciate how UVA stresses the importance of developing a solid internal medicine physician before sending us off to fellowship.

I’ve also really enjoyed exploring Charlottesville. Whether it’s Sunset Thursdays at the apple orchard or Starry Nights at Veritas Vineyard, there is always something to do here (also, the food scene is unreal). Being from Cleveland, I hadn’t had much experience with hiking, but exploring the Shenandoah National Park with my co-residents has just been awesome. I am glad I trusted my gut feeling during interview season, and I look forward to more great years here at UVA.

No matter what your future career goals – working in an underserved, rural primary care setting, or desiring a highly subspecialized, academic career – UVA has the tools and resources to help you achieve your dreams.

Sarah Wood, MD

I hail from a tiny mountain town in the foothills of the Appalachians and attended the University of Tennessee for both my undergraduate and medical education (Go Vols!). First off, congrats on reaching your fourth year of medical school! Make the most of it, and try to go on some sort of an adventure. The spring of my fourth year, I married my anatomy lab partner, Chris (now an EM resident at UVA), and we spent our honeymoon gallivanting around Amsterdam & Paris – it was pretty nice.

Now, let me tell you why we ranked UVA at the top of our list. Truth be told, we were both enamored with Virginia before we ever arrived in Charlottesville! The Virginia countryside and Shenandoah mountains offer some of the most picturesque views in the country. Since arriving in C’ville, we’ve spent many a weekend exploring the surrounding trails; if you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’ll be right at home at UVA.

Other than the striking scenery and plethora of outdoor opportunities (I could go on all day), let me discuss some of my favorite aspects of the Internal Medicine program. Structurally, the IM program functions on a 1:1 intern to resident ratio. This means that for most ward rotations, the intern is paired with a different senior resident for the three-week rotation.  This allows you to have close guidance from an upper level you know well, and you really come to rely on one another throughout the rotation. UVA is also structured as a “3 +1” block schedule; this means you are on a ward rotation for three weeks, followed by one week of outpatient. This type of structure will likely vary slightly at every program you interview. Personally, I loved this set-up. Three weeks on a taxing and rigorous ward rotation is the perfect amount of time, and then you are rewarded with one week of your continuity clinic and a smattering of subspecialty clinics to suit your interests and goals. I know most of you applicants probably already have it calculated, but this ends up being at least one golden weekend a month! Another unique aspect (and perhaps my favorite) is the numerous tracks you can join, including primary care/hospitalist/global health/and ABIM research pathway. I personally was drawn to UVA because of the PC track and the strength of the faculty in general internal medicine. I wanted to find somewhere that valued primary care and working with the underserved but also offered all the bells and whistles of the medicine subspecialties. You definitely get the best of both worlds at UVA. No matter what your future career goals – working in an underserved, rural primary care setting, or desiring a highly subspecialized, academic career – UVA has the tools and resources to help you achieve your dreams.

Intern year is not easy. You ultimately want to find a place where you will have support from your cohort and faculty leadership, but also a place that will truly become your home for the next 3+ years, and UVA quickly became just that for our family of three (we have one furry, four-legged pup named Stella.) I look forward to meeting you during interview season, and if you have questions about the Primary Care Track in particular, please do not hesitate to reach out! Wahoowa!

PGY-3 Testimonials
Rishitha Bollam, MD
Rishitha Bollam
David Cook, MD
David Cook
Comfort Elumogo, MD
Comfort Elumogo
Abishek Shenoy, MD
Abhishek Shenoy
When I came to UVA for my interview, I was simply blown away by the academic rigor juxtaposed with the palpable camaraderie among residents, faculty, and staff.

Rishitha Bollam, MD

As I started off interview season, I was so glad my advisor shared with me this valuable piece of advice – make as many lists as you want, but don’t forget to listen to that gut feeling. And of course, at first, I had no idea what that meant. But surely enough, I realized it’s the place that creates a safe and friendly environment to freely express your thoughts and also gives you ample opportunity to learn and challenge yourself. It’s the place that has the right balance of autonomy and oversight for you.

When I came to UVA for my interview, I was simply blown away by the academic rigor juxtaposed with the palpable camaraderie among residents, faculty, and staff. It didn’t take much time to feel comfortable interacting with the residents, who seemed so down-to-earth, happy, and just simply excited to be here. I was also very impressed by the caliber of morning report cases and how effectively they were presented to the residents. This program has it all – clinically complex cases, wide array of subspecialty exposure, strong ambulatory training, and an abundance of research opportunities. Walking out of here after interview day, I just knew that UVA would be that perfect place for me and I’m so fortunate to have this opportunity to train here as a resident.

Having grown up in Virginia, I have always had a very special spot in my heart for Charlottesville. Every time I visited, I was simply struck by the absolute beauty of nature here. You will find incredible hikes within just a short distance of the city and of course, there is the incredible Shenandoah National Park. Plus, if you are a foodie like me, you won’t go wrong with a stroll down Downtown mall, which is home to some of the best restaurants.  Whether it’s hiking together or eating delicious food, I just can’t think of a better group of residents to spend my time.

Starting my intern year stirred up a whirlwind of emotions. It was incredible to have the responsibility to take care of patients coming from all walks of life. I’m so thankful for the amazing support I received then, and still do, from every single one of my attendings and co-residents. I admire their dedication to teaching and passion for providing the best care despite the complex social and financial barriers of healthcare. I’m so lucky to have them as my role models as I embark on this incredible journey to become a competent well-rounded physician.

I knew immediately I could make a home in Charlottesville.

David Cook, MDWhen I started my search for a residency program, there were two basic criteria I considered. I knew I wanted to train at an academic program with a good track record of training well-rounded physicians who were prepared for fellowship. No matter what branch of internal medicine one chooses to pursue, the best physicians are those who are first great generalists. UVA certainly holds up to this criterion.  You can see direct evidence of this by the long list of institutions the IM graduates secure for fellowship and hospitalist/outpatient internal medicine employment after training. UVA-trained physicians have a reputation for being hard working, intelligent, and easy to work with. My fellow residents and faculty members were very helpful on a daily basis during my transition to a new role as resident physician.

While everything above involves important questions to ask when considering a residency program, my second criterion was equally important, but more difficult to quantify. I wanted to train at a program with a group of people who could become some of my best friends and support network over the next three years and beyond.  My advisors and residents at my home program advised me to find a place where the residents were happy. I soon found this is very difficult to judge during an interview day and pre-interview dinner; lots of residents at places I interviewed seemed happy enough. However, at UVA, I was truly welcomed by everyone I interacted with throughout the day. I knew immediately that I could make a home in Charlottesville. This general spirit has continued, as the residents and faculty are some of the most supportive people I have worked with during my medical training.

Having lived in Charlottesville for more than a year now, I can honestly say there is no place I would rather be for my residency training. While clinical responsibilities have certainly kept me busy, I’ve had plenty of time to branch out and experience some of what Charlottesville has to offer. The sheer number and quality of local restaurants, vineyards, and breweries is impressive and offers something for everyone. The nearby hiking is fantastic and there are a variety of trails for all levels of experience. When you add in the fact that everything is a short walk or car ride away, Charlottesville has quickly become a favorite of friends and family who have come to visit. The overall welcoming spirit of the residency program certainly extends to the rest of the community in Charlottesville. My wife and I have met many of our neighbors and other locals at events around town and look forward to more good times to come.

At UVA, I have never felt like I was just another face in the crowd.

Comfort Elumogo, MD

As a fourth-year medical student, I looked for programs where I would receive incredible training and see diverse and complex disease pathologies. I sought out programs that would equip me with the skills to become an excellent clinician and critical thinker. A supportive, resident-focused program that had excellent mentorship and research opportunities was a must for me.

My first impression of UVA started at the pre-interview dinner. Per usual, I found myself lost. I had to call the chiefs and they were very helpful and accommodating about the situation. At dinner, I met many of the residents and they were super approachable and easy to talk to. I was surprised that the program director knew my name but also details of my application. Faculty who shared the same research interests as me took time out of their busy schedules to make introductions.

The friendliness and willingness to help continued once I arrived at UVA. The emphasis on teaching starts from the upper-level residents and fellows and extends to the attendings and pharmacists. I love the unique 1:1 resident-intern system as it guarantees personalized support and teaching for the interns! I was privileged to work with co-interns who were smart, motivated, and just plain fun. I admire my co-residents for their unique talents and creativity and continue to learn from them each day. In my time here, I’ve felt supported by the program leadership and have been impressed with their responsiveness to feedback. At UVA, I have never felt like I was just another face in the crowd.

Charlottesville is a charming, friendly town with lots of restaurants and wineries that I continue to enjoy exploring. There are plenty of activities, especially if you love the outdoors. Hiking in Shenandoah or on the Monticello trails, hitting the Downtown Mall for “Fridays After Five”, or taking a trip to the many surrounding vineyards are just a few fun things in the area. It’s a quick trip to Richmond or Washington, DC if you want a bigger city feel on a whim.

I quickly realized that UVA has renowned faculty and a catchment area that will provide you with the breadth of experience required to become a well-rounded physician and also a welcoming culture and sense of community.

Abishek Shenoy, MD

I was born in Doha, Qatar and am originally from Bangalore, India. However, I spent my early days growing up in Toronto…. yes, I’m Canadian, eh! Later, my family moved to New Jersey and lives there today. I went to Cornell for undergrad (no, I didn’t graduate with Andy from The Office) and then I moved to Brooklyn for medical school at SUNY Downstate.

While I had finally made it to my fourth year of medical school, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to train. I had never been to Charlottesville before my interview day, but on the beautiful drive down through Virginia’s countryside I felt excited about what UVA had to offer. I quickly realized that UVA is an academic medical center with renowned faculty and a catchment area that will provide you with the breadth of experience required to become a well-rounded physician but also a welcoming culture and sense of community that I’ve recognized since my first day here.

Some of the highlights of UVA’s program include the 1:1 resident-to-intern system where you learn directly from an upper level resident on how to make difficult clinical decisions. The 3+1 schedule also rewards each resident with their own patient panel where we get to be these patients’ PCP for the next three years of residency. It also gives you a little break from the inpatient side of things, not to mention a golden weekend monthly. Speaking of, we are only minutes from the Appalachian Trail and Shenandoah National Park, making Charlottesville a town where you can easily find the outdoors. At the same time, it has one of the highest numbers of restaurants per capita if you just want to wine and dine after a day on the wards.

I can attest to flying across the country and interviewing at many programs that lured me with delicious meals and shiny folders, but there was no program I came across that had the comradeship, happiness, and supportiveness that UVA offers. I’m proud to say that I work for UVA Health System and I hope that working in an evidence-based, research-driven institution while serving a diverse, underserved population resonates with you, too!

Class of 2019 Testimonials
Sumner Abraham, MD
Sumner Abraham
Elizabeth Crowder, MD
Elizabeth Arant
John Odackal, MD
John Odackal
Jigna Solanki, MD
Jigna Solanki
The culture here at UVA has created an environment where it is easy to learn and fun to work.

Sumner Abraham, MD

“Charlottesville Magnets”, “UVA’s Sticky Sidewalks”, and “Rotunda Fever” are all terms thrown around to describe the inertia that pulls at you once you’ve been to UVA. I felt this tug almost immediately when I pulled into town for my interview. As a native Mississippian, I like to think of UVA and Charlottesville as a “Velvet Ditch”- you roll in, it’s comfortable, and you don’t care much about getting out.

When you arrive at UVA there are a few things you will notice right off the bat: it is clinically rigorous without compromising on resident education, the atmosphere is both friendly and hospitable, there are innumerable opportunities for research, and there is a palpable collegiality that is unmatched on the interview trail. The esprit de corps is a fundamental fiber of the program. There is a nucleus of exceptional patient care that is parlayed with a robust tradition of academic excellence. The attendings are exceptional educators, but they are even better people. You will not meet a more engaged, kind, and approachable group while interviewing.

As an intern, there is a healthy sense of independence that allows one to establish a sense of authentic confidence while adjusting to being a doctor. Additionally, my intern year showed me that the esprit de corps in our program breeds both boldness and humility amongst the residents, faculty and staff. The culture here has created an environment where it is easy to learn and fun to work.

Everyone at UVA takes great pride in their work and is committed to excellence inside and outside the hospital. All of the residents love getting together at the breweries, wineries, concerts at the Pavilion, Friday’s After Five, or hiking near and along the Appalachian Trail. I can’t imagine a more diverse and fun group of people to work with. UVA is truly a special place. I could not be more thankful for where I am training, who I have the opportunity to work with, and the city I am able to call home.

On my interview day I discovered that, in the process of becoming a rigorous and stellar Internal Medicine department, UVA has not lost sight of the humanity and joy that medicine brings to so many of us. These were people with whom I couldn’t wait to work, learn, and play.

Elizabeth Crowder, MD

At the beginning of the residency research and application process, my goal was to find a program that was thriving academically, with a strong emphasis on resident education and learning. I approached my years of residency as a time to become the absolute best physician I could be, and wanted to do that in an academically rigorous environment with top-notch clinicians and educators. I assumed that such an environment would necessitate some compromise and sacrifice with regards to resident and faculty energy, friendliness, wellness, and overall happiness. The integration of both seemed unattainable.

UVA was my first interview of the season. I took away an incredible feeling of balance. This was a place where expectations were high and hard work, education, research, and patient care were integral, but it was also a community whose members identified resident and faculty happiness, energy, and camaraderie as key components to a strong department. Collegiality among all levels of trainees and faculty was palpable throughout my day here, and UVA’s reputation for consistently producing field-leading physicians was obvious.

Now in my final year of residency, I can say that this sense of balance is real. There is such respect and collegiality between all members of the healthcare team, and throughout my rotations on the wards and in the clinics I have found myself surrounded by people who are intelligent, hardworking, and nice. The 1:1 resident to intern structure on the inpatient wards was one aspect of UVA that was particularly appealing to me. Working side-by-side with an upper-level resident made the transition from student to resident relatively smooth; while my upper-level resident always encouraged me to think and construct differentials on my own, he or she was consistently there to answer any question, from the mundane (how to navigate the computer) to the clinically complex (approach to a decompensating patient). Another impressive feature of the program is its integration of education into resident daily life. From formal daily conferences led by our chief residents to the informal “chalk talks” by attendings, fellows, and upper-level residents, there are so many opportunities to increase your knowledge base while still taking care of your patients. I am consistently struck by the excitement that my fellow residents and attendings have for medicine and their patients, and it is quite refreshing to be among such an academically curious group who still finds time to laugh and smile.

While my fellow residents are consistently happy inside the hospital, we also have fun leaving and exploring beautiful Charlottesville. The city and surrounding area make it easy to enjoy your day or weekend off. I have particularly enjoyed visiting many of the vineyards and breweries within a short drive of the city limits and have been able to take advantage of some of the beautiful nearby hikes. The historic UVA grounds also offer many opportunities and amenities and is a charming place for an evening stroll after work. On any given weekend (or weeknight!), there is often a group of residents heading out to one of the downtown bars or restaurants. I feel so lucky to have found such a great group of residents and friends with whom to share this experience, and I couldn’t imagine going through this experience with a different group of people. Making the UVA internal medicine department my home and family has been a fantastic decision and one for which I am daily thankful.

UVA has provided everything I was searching for in a residency program, and much more.

John Odackal, MD

As a 4th year medical student, I was interested in UVA because the program matches residents into competitive fellowships, emphasizes resident education, and has abundant research opportunities. The UVA medical students and residents I spoke with prior to my interview universally loved UVA’s resident-centered academic program. Based on the information I read and heard about UVA, I was extremely excited when offered an interview.

For my pre-interview dinner, one of the PGY3 residents, and his wife, drove me to a local restaurant. During an off-the-cuff tour of Charlottesville, they openly and honestly shared their perspectives on life at UVA and in Charlottesville. From our conversation, I learned that Charlottesville has a fantastic array of restaurants, wineries, and outdoor activities to enjoy when outside the hospital. Throughout the dinner, I had many more candid conversations with residents with a wide range of academic interests. From residents interested in primary care and global health, I learned that UVA residents manage a socioeconomically and ethnically diverse patient population in both inpatient and outpatient settings. From those interested in academic medicine, I learned that UVA’s faculty is incredibly supportive of residents’ growth as scientists and educators.

During my interview day, I was impressed by the engagement of faculty in resident education. Faculty give patient-specific lectures daily during rounds and specialists facilitate resident didactic sessions 1-2 times a day. During the didactic session I attended, I was awed by the fund of knowledge resident participants displayed when cold-called to answer questions. At the end of my interview day, I understood that UVA offers excellent clinical training and facilitates achieving highly personalized career goals. Now into my final year of residency, I know this to be true, and am extremely grateful for the opportunity to train here with an amazing group of residents and faculty. UVA has provided everything I was searching for in a residency program, and much more. (See John’s description of his experience in the Clinical Investigator track.)

The volume of patients and learning opportunities abound, but the support you’ll receive from your co-residents is incredible.

Jigna Solanki, MD

Having spent four years at UVA for medical school, I was already familiar with the IM department, from the fantastic lecturers during the pre-clinical years to the incredible role models and mentors I found as a third- and fourth-year student. The same attendings who patiently listened to my presentations on the clerkships were renowned clinicians whose names are always on a “Best Physicians…” list or headlining breakthrough research. The content of conferences, morning reports, lectures, and grand rounds were both impressive and intellectually stimulating.

But the highlight of this program that I knew from my days as a medical student is the fantastic group of residents. Something that struck me from the beginning was how smart yet humble they are. That courtesy extended to the students as well, whether it was always finding time to teach or generously offering residency or career advice. Besides coming up with the most intelligent answers at conferences, they’re also an incredibly fun and social bunch! It’s no wonder they consistently win our medical school’s award for best department in the hospital. And now, I could not be more proud to among this inspiring group of residents!

Outside the hospital, Charlottesville is truly a hidden gem, tucked away in the mountains. Even though I’ve been here for years now, there is still so much to experience. From the vineyards and breweries to festivals and farmer’s markets – it’s a food lover’s paradise, on a budget. For a small town, we get a good mix of musical talents that pass through. There are also many options for spending that one day off you may end up with in the middle of the week, like hiking to waterfalls, people-watching on the downtown mall, trivia, or lounging by the pool and running into one of your resident neighbors. If you really miss the big city though, Richmond is an hour’s drive away and D.C. is only two! Still, Charlottesville is the coziest place to call home.

Being an intern can be terrifying, but I could not imagine having done this anywhere but here. The volume of patients and learning opportunities abound, but the support I received every day from my upper levels or co-interns was incredible. Things like “intern appreciation day”, or food brought in for the teams, or an upper-level writing a few notes – that’s what makes residency not only tolerable but actually fun! I found that no other program matched up to what UVA had to offer, and so the decision to stay was easy.