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Frequently Asked Questions

There are some questions that are asked by visitors. We hope you find these helpful as you explore, and learn more about our program!

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 as well as ER and Nursing Home consults. We do not cover the other groups in town. When on rotation at the larger 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 or Strasburg.

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 common elsewhere.

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).

Is your area a Health Professions Shortage Area (HPSAs)?

Yes. Warren County (where Front Royal and the Residency practice are located) and two nearby counties are all HPSAs, designated by the federal government. Because of this designation, physicians practicing in our area are eligible for federal and state Loan Repayment programs. There are other benefits as well that help physicians and hospitals remain financially successful.