While the teaching here is the scaffold, something else rounds you out as a complete physician: the esprit de corps.
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.
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 after spending the last few months here as an intern.
So far, I’ve started to learn how hard our program leadership works 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 gotten to see 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 on to 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. Since starting my intern year here, 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 just six months ago, 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.
After starting here as an intern for these first few months, my experience has been even better than I expected. The camaraderie is not only with my co-interns, but also 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 has made learning the system and general medical knowledge much easier. The upper levels provide a perfect balance of autonomy and guidance when it comes to caring for my patients. I look forward to being on the other side of this next year and 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-interns has just been awesome. I am glad I trusted my gut feeling six months ago, 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.
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 have 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 & 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 has quickly become 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!