Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine – School Profile and Medical Student Interviews

Student Interviews:

Chris, MS2


The Medical College of Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, located in Richmond, Virginia, is the oldest medical school in the state of Virginia. Medical school classes are composed of roughly 215 students and includes about 50% in-state and 50% out-of-state applicants. Affiliated centers and institutions include the Inova Fairfax Hospital, VCU Center on Society and Health, the VCU Reanimation Engineering Shock Center, and the Pauley Heart Center. The medical school offers MD/PhD, MD/MHA, and MD/MPH opportunities for student interested in developing interdisciplinary professional skills.

Curriculum: The curriculum at VCU is divided into four phases. The first phase runs through the first half of students’ MS1 year during which time they learn the Scientific Foundations of Medicine. This includes concepts in normal structure, function, and physiology, upon which students can build an understanding of Phase 2 principles: Applied Medical Sciences. VCU has created a multidisciplinary, integrated curriculum that allows students to learn treatment strategies along side pathophysiology of an organ system. The pre-clinical curriculum also includes coursework in Population Health and Evidence-Based Medicine.

Curriculum Highlights:

—Practice of Clinical Medicine: PCM is an 18-month longitudinal, hands-on clinical skills course for first and second-year medical students. Students develop skills in medical interviewing, physical examination, clinical reasoning, and professionalism. The coursework includes small-group discussions, workshops, and preceptor sessions through which students are introduced to the core skills of doctoring. Instructors include 200 faculty members, 70 fourth-year students, and 50 small-group leaders, providing students an opportunity to develop teaching and mentorship skills with younger students.

—I2CRP: The International/Inner City/Rural Preceptorship is a program intended to increase the number of primary care physicians practicing in rural, urban, and international underserved communities. Students learn about the specific medical challenges facing underserved communities as well as general concepts in population health. The insight and knowledge they gain through this experience equips them to work as primary care physicians in any setting they so choose, either domestic or abroad. In addition to the 6-week preceptorship, students attend pertinent Grand Rounds sessions and Journal Clubs. In their fourth year, students complete a community-based Scholarly Project.

—Project Heart: Project Heart is a mentorship program that assigns incoming medical students to groups led by a faculty mentor. The groups meet a minimum of 8 times a year. The program focuses on healing through empathy, acceptance, respect, and integrity. Students are able to use the groups as avenues of support through their four years of medical school.

Location: The VCU campus is in close proximity to downtown Richmond, Virginia, a city where a rich history of government, arts, and education come together. The arts have had a particularly significant presence in the area since the 2012 creation of an Arts District that encompasses concert venues, art galleries, and various performance venues. Richmond also has a wide variety of food options as well as an annual Broad Appetite food festival during which patrons can sample dishes from chefs across the city. The River City has many outdoor options for runners, hikers, climbers, and kayakers. Richmond is a major site for the avid cyclist and hosts several prominent tournaments for the sport. Richmond was also listed as one of the top 10 cities for upcoming entrepreneurs.

Grading Scheme: 1st and 2nd year:  Competencies Achieved/Competencies Not Yet Achieved

Match List: