Frequently Asked Questions
There are some questions that are asked by visitors to our program. We
hope you find these helpful as you explore.
With two campuses, do I have to drive between them every day?
No. Residents are usually on one campus in a given day. We have two campuses
to allow our residents to learn in both the high-tech, referral medical
center (Winchester Medical Center), as well as the smaller, rural community
hospital with adjacent family medicine center (Warren Memorial Hospital
in Front Royal). Not very many residencies afford work and learning experience
in these two very different arenas. The two campuses are 23 miles apart.
1st year Residents spend most of the year’s rotation time on hospital
rotations at the larger Winchester Medical Center, with one afternoon
clinic in our Family Medicine Center (FMC) each week on the Warren/Front
Royal campus. There is also a 5-week block in the FMC as well.
2nd and 3rd year Residents have more time in FMC clinic each week – 2 or more
days per week, as in most other FM Residencies. The other days in each
week are spent on their specific rotations, some of which are in Winchester
for subspecialties. So, any given day is usually scheduled at one campus
or the other, but not usually both in the same day.
Also, driving here is not like driving in any metro area. This is rural
driving. Between Front Royal and Winchester are wide-open, 4 lane, interstate
highways among the farms, with 70 mph speed limits and little traffic.
From hospital to hospital takes about 30 minutes without rushing. By comparison,
2 miles in suburban D.C. traffic can take 40 minutes.
Where do your graduates practice?
Our graduates practice all over the United States, from Alaska to the Caribbean,
and overseas in the military. As a rural training program, and with our
smaller, rural hospital and office for the bulk of patient care experience
with limited specialist backup, our graduates feel uniquely trained to
practice anywhere. A small number are in urban practices. Almost half
are in small towns and rural practice – a large % for a rural training
program. About 2/3 choose to stay in Virginia for practice. Some are in
full-time or part-time teaching. About 1/5 have set up their own solo
practices – another unusual % and a testimony of the effectiveness
of our Practice Management curriculum. Some are in Emergency Medicine
or Hospitalist work or outpatient practice, but the vast majority choose
a full spectrum of Family Medicine: office, hospital, and ICU.
As an unopposed residency program, do the residents have to cover the whole hospital?
No, and that is another good question. Our residents cover our own practice’s
patients at our smaller Warren Memorial Hospital next to our office, for
our adult and pediatric admissions, OB deliveries and newborns, and ER
and Nursing Home consults. We do not cover the other groups in town. When
on rotation at the larger 440-bed Winchester Medical Center, the resident
only cares for the patients of the doctor or group he or she is working
with at that time.
Where do residents live during residency?
That depends on their interests. All residents during 2nd and 3rd year need to live within 30 minutes of the smaller Warren Memorial Hospital
in Front Royal, for home call and other reasons, just like the hospital’s
medical staff physicians. But that 30 minutes encompasses Front Royal,
and the towns of Strasburg, Stephens City, Middletown and others, up to
the southern areas of the city of Winchester.
Young single residents interested in apartment living and the more cosmopolitan
lifestyle of the city of Winchester live in the southern areas of Winchester
or nearby Stephens City. Residents with families, interested in a home
with a yard, and the small town lifestyle live in or closer to Front Royal
Why are your residents paid more than many other programs?
Very simply, so we don’t lose great applicants to the surrounding
lower-cost-of-living states of North Carolina, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
This used to happen in the past, especially with the occasional resident
with family. Virginia has a stronger economy than the depressed nearby
states, so our housing costs are higher, closer to the norm for non-urban
areas in the U.S. Our housing costs are much cheaper than most metro areas,
such as D.C., but a bit higher than the rural areas of surrounding states.
For that reason, and in order to support our residents with families,
the administration approved higher pay scales for our residents than are
Are there Global Medicine opportunities?
Absolutely! And we encourage all residents to take their rural training
abroad. There are numerous sponsored overseas medical trips each year,
with our affiliated VCU School of Medicine and a group called Shoulder
to Shoulder. These include 2-3 trips to the mountains of Honduras, 2 to
the Dominican Republic, and one developing in Ghana in West Africa. Our
Fall Honduras Trip is usually directed and attended by our own faculty
member, Dr Thomas Ball, along with a resident or two and many medical
students from VCU. There are also opportunities for full Elective rotations abroad.
When does orientation start?
Orientation starts two weeks before your rotations begin (mid-June).