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Department of Medicine

Department of Medicine

  Division of General Internal Medicine

VA Section of General Internal Medicine

Education and Training Programs

The Section of General Internal Medicine at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (VAPHS) is an integral part of the University of Pittsburgh's training program in internal medicine. VA faculty members assume key teaching and administrative roles in the education of residents, medical students, and postgraduate fellows.

Residency Training

The ward services at the VA are a major site of inpatient medical education for University of Pittsburgh residents, and the majority of teaching attending coverage is provided by VA section faculty. Teaching rounds occur 6 days a week. Many section faculty also participate regularly in a full range of didactic conferences for housestaff. These conferences complement the hands-on clinical training and include Morning Report, Chief's Conference, and the Noon Conference Lecture Series.

Dr. Visala Muluk oversees the Medical Consultation Service, which provides training for residents in consultation and perioperative medicine. Housestaff have the unique opportunity to learn preoperative evaluation skills in the Medical Preoperative Evaluation Clinic under the direction of Dr. Visala Muluk and Dr. David Macpherson. Housestaff also perform inpatient consultations on surgical patients under the supervision of section faculty.

The VA Emergent Care Center (ECC) provides a major portion of the residency training in emergency medicine. Under the direction of Dr. Michael Dresser and section faculty, six or more residents per month staff the ECC and care for patients with a full range of emergent and urgent care problems.

Section faculty members also provide an enormous amount of teaching in ambulatory medicine for residents. The VA Primary Care Clinic, under the direction of Dr. Erika Hoffman, is the continuity clinic training site for about half of the medicine residents. Housestaff care for their own panels of patients, supervised by dedicated teaching attendings. The Women's Health Program, overseen by Dr. Melissa McNeil, provides education for residents in gender-specific care and has been designated as a National Center of Excellence by the VA in recognition of its fine quality of care and teaching. Section faculty members also teach an outpatient medicine curriculum in didactic pre-clinic conferences, coordinated by Dr. Ruth Preisner and Dr. Robert Brooks.

Medical Student Training

The VA section faculty contribute greatly to the clinical training of medical students at the University of Pittsburgh. Many first-year and second-year students rotate through the VA during their clinical skills courses, learning history and physical examination skills under the tutelage of VA section faculty. The VA site coordinator for these courses is Dr. Ruth Preisner. Many students then return to do their core third-year medicine clerkships and fourth-year acting internships on the VA wards, sharing the inpatient teaching rounds and conferences described above for medicine residents. Several elective courses are also offered to medical students by section faculty, including courses on substance abuse (Dr. Adam Gordon), women's health (Dr. Melissa McNeil), and advanced outpatient internal medicine (Dr. Robert Brooks).

VA faculty also contribute to undergraduate medical education as mentors through the Faculty and Students Together (FAST) Program and through small group facilitation or lectures in courses on topics such as medical decision making.

Postgraduate Fellow Training

The VA offers one postgraduate general medicine fellowship position each year, in a program overseen by Dr. David Macpherson. It also offers a women's health fellowship position under Dr. Melissa McNeil. The Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP), a large research institution and VA Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) Center of Excellence, is based at the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia VA medical centers. VA section faculty, under the direction of Dr. Michael Fine, contribute to the education of research fellows at the University of Pittsburgh as project mentors, as collaborators, and as instructors in programs sponsored by the Institute for Clinical Research Education (ICRE). Section faculty members also teach in programs designed for fellows interested in careers as clinician-educators.