Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the strengths of your Program?
  2. Are you an "opposed" or "unopposed" program?
  3. What kind of patients do residents take care of on the inpatient service?
  4. What is the continuity clinic population like?
  5. Will I be trained to provide care to the medically underserved?
  6. Are residents involved in the community?
  7. Do you have a night float system?
  8. Will I have an advisor?
  9. How is obstetrical training conducted at your program?
  10. What kind of training will I receive in the area of Women's Health?
  11. What is the pediatric training like?
  12. What is your "pass rate" for the American Board of Family Medicine exam?
  13. What are resident salaries and benefits?
  14. Are meals covered?
  15. Do residents have a voice in decision-making?
  16. What does the Program do to preserve and teach resident physician wellness?
  17. Do you offer any Areas of Concentration?
  18. Are there opportunities to get involved with Sports Medicine?
  19. Will my family be happy in Hershey?
  20. What procedures do residents learn?
  21. Are research opportunities available?
  22. Are residents involved in teaching medical students?
  23. Does your program offer fellowship programs?
  24. Where are your graduates practicing?  What are they doing?
  25. How is Behavioral Health taught?
  26. Are residents trained in the care of the older patient?
  27. What is your electronic medical record like?

What are the strengths of your Program? 

Our faculty is very large and talented, providing residents with daily exposure to highly accomplished family physician role models.  Embedded within an academic medical center, our residents can access resources such as a world-class Simulation Center and electronic resources that are not readily available in smaller hospitals.  We also offer excellent training opportunities in the form of Areas of Concentration in Sports Medicine, Global Health, and Leadership & Advocacy.

Are you an "opposed" or "unopposed" program? 

Neither.  We are a collaborative program.  Our residents have plenty of patient volume and variety on our Family Medicine adult inpatient service and do not "compete" with our internal medicine or other colleagues for patients.  On pediatric, obstetric, and surgical rotations, our residents are essential members of the team and are treated as such because they are integrated and counted on by the clinical team.  The main "competition" in our Program is within yourself – to become the best family doctor you can be.

What kind of patients do residents take care of on the inpatient service? 

As a tertiary care referral center, Hershey Medical Center provides care to patients who have unique medical problems and provides for highly educational learning opportunities.  However, as the only hospital in the community, we also provide care for "routine" diagnoses as a family doctor would expect to see in any community where they might practice.  Caring for patients with pneumonia, cellulitis, heart disease and other common conditions on our inpatient service prepares residents for real-world hospital practice after graduation. 

What is the continuity clinic population like? 

Our Fishburn Road and Nyes Road clinics are both located in suburban areas.  Residents at Nyes Road, located closer to the state capital of Harrisburg, tend to take care of patients who are younger and who tend to live downtown.  The Fishburn Road patient population tends to be a bit older, and given its proximity to surrounding farmlands, has more of a rural population base.  Because Hershey Medical Center is the major health care provider in the area, both sites provide care to patients who have limited access to insurance and to health care, and who have challenging socioeconomic situations.  Our patient population is therefore diverse, as we care for Hershey company and hospital executives, Medicaid and private-insurance consumers, urban individuals and the underserved. 

Will I be trained to provide care to the medically underserved? 

Our resident continuity clinics accept patients with government-sponsored health insurance and who are economically disadvantaged.  Residents provide care for these patient in both outpatient and inpatient settings, including an ambulatory pediatric rotation in Harrisburg.  Residents also receive training on providing care to underserved patients within our Community Health longitudinal experience.  Those residents who have further interest in serving the underserved volunteer at LionCare, a non-profit, free clinic dedicated to serving the medical, psychological, and health needs of the underserved in nearby Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Are residents involved in the community? 

All residents participate in our Community Health longitudinal experience.  During this rotation, residents visit local employers to learn about occupational health and wellness and disability and related issues.  Resident visit a local interfaith shelter to understand the health problems of the homeless and observe a local Intermediate Unit to participate in assessments of children with developmental delays.  All residents are also mentored in a community-based project of their own choosing to engage with a local community organization to improve the health of a specific population.  Residents have focused on addressing healthcare needs of urban LGBT and HIV populations, health promotion for Coptic Christians, health promotion for an urban art/dance group, LionCare, and group tobacco cessation in a homeless population with a history of drug addiction at a local Mission. 

Do you have a night float system? 

Yes.  Residents have opportunity for greater autonomy, though still under supervision, when staffing our Night Float service.  Residents complete admissions, staff deliveries, and cover acute issues overnight for adults admitted to the Family Medicine service.  There is no other scheduled "call" in the residency.

Will I have an advisor? 

Yes.  An advisor is assigned to each resident at the outset of training.  Advisors meet with residents regularly to review progress, share feedback, develop educational plans, and serve as general support.  The Program also encourages residents to develop less formal, elective mentorships with other faculty for support and guidance in any specific areas of interest. 

How is obstetrical training conducted at your program? 

While we are not an obstetrics-intensive program, we want to ensure that all of our residents have a basic competency in understanding and providing basic obstetrical care to their patients.  Residents perform deliveries while embedded within the Hershey Medical Center obstetrics team.  They also deliver prenatal patients with whom they have provided care throughout their pregnancy in their continuity clinics.  Pregnant patients are also referred by a local crisis pregnancy center.  Faculty-led prenatal chart reviews round out the educational experience in obstetrics.  Some residents have sought extra exposure in obstetrics by starting Centering Pregnancy classes, which can be understood as "group prenatal visits" for a cohort of patients who will ultimately be delivered by the resident.

What kind of training will I receive in the area of Women's Health? 

Residents provide care to patients with gynecological concerns within their continuity clinics.  They also rotate on a Gynecology outpatient service, where residents take on the role of a gynecology resident, learning gynecological skills and procedures as taught by experienced OB/GYNs who are dedicated to resident education.  Residents learn skills in endometrial biopsy, IUD placement, cervical biopsy and other relevant procedures in these settings. 

What is the pediatric training like? 

In addition to taking care of children and families in continuity clinics, residents benefit from the new, highly regarded Penn State Children's Hospital.  Our residents are embedded within the Hershey Medical Center pediatric inpatient teams, learning from pediatric faculty members as well as resident peers and fellows.  Our residents provide care for common childhood diseases including gastroenteritis, asthma exacerbation, and RSV infection, and gain some exposure to the more unique illnesses cared for at this tertiary care center.  The Ambulatory Pediatric rotation with our family medicine faculty in downtown Harrisburg is one of the most highly regarded rotations by our residents, as they care for children with a variety of medical problems and socioeconomic challenges.  Finally, residents also learn outpatient pediatrics in subspecialty clinics and at the Milton Hershey School, which nurtures and educates children in social and financial need. 

What is your "pass rate" for the American Board of Family Medicine exam? 

We are proud that our residents have a 100% pass rate for 5 years.

What are resident salaries and benefits? 

To assist our residents focus on learning and taking care of patients, Hershey Medical Center ensures that residents have benefits and a stipend that are generous enough to maintain a comfortable lifestyle for you and your family in Hershey.  More details are available at:

2016 - 2017 Stipends

  • R1: $55,000
  • R2: $56,500
  • R3: $58,000

Are meals covered? 

Yes.  Residents are all provided with meal cards that act like prepaid debit cards, which may be used at any Hershey Medical Center dining location.

Do residents have a voice in decision-making? 

Yes.  The Program schedules regular resident business meetings, sometimes with faculty present and sometimes without, to provide residents with a forum to convey their opinions on the Program and suggest improvements.  Residents also provide feedback through annual surveys.  Residents assist in selecting Chief Residents, who will serve as their voice in the Program.  Finally, residents actively participate in the process of selecting how interviewed applicants will be ranked in the NRMP match. 

What does the Program do to preserve and teach resident physician wellness? 

The Penn State Hershey Family Medicine Residency Program recognizes that residency – and the vocation of every physician – is a challenge.  The Program Director requested that a thread of wellness be woven through the residency experience, and both faculty and residents have risen to the task.  The Wellness Leadership Group consists of residents from each level,  residency faculty, and staff from the University Fitness Center.  To date, this group and its participants have organized numerous social events, introduced educational content on combating burnout and fostering resilience, created a junior-to-senior resident support system, and strengthened connections with the wellness resources within the institution.  Their efforts, together with faculty and resident engagement, will continue to produce both fun and formative activities to promote a culture of wellness in our residency.

Do you offer any Areas of Concentration? 

Yes.  While mastering the fundamentals of Family Medicine, interested residents can choose to augment their training with Areas of Concentration in Sports Medicine, Global Health, and Leadership & Advocacy. 

Are there opportunities to get involved with Sports Medicine? 

Absolutely.  Sports Medicine is a distinctive strength of our Program.  All residents complete a Sports Medicine rotation in both their first and their third year.  On these rotations, residents learn from our 5 fellowship-trained primary care sports medicine faculty members, in addition to working with orthopaedic surgeons who are involved in primary care sports medicine.  Residents gain an appreciation for their clinical collaborators in Sports Medicine through dedicated experiences in physical therapy, podiatry, and orthotics among others.  There are ample opportunities for residents with more specific sports medicine interests to participate in pre-participation physicals, mass events, work the sidelines for local high school teams, and to observe ultrasound-guided injections.  Highly motivated residents are encouraged to work closely with Matthew Silvis, M.D. our Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship Director to do research, develop a professional portfolio, and provide care at the local high schools, colleges and even work with the professional sports teams where our faculty members are team physicians.  Several residents have served as team physicians for local high schools and have successfully matched into competitive Sports Medicine Fellowships. 

Will my family be happy in Hershey? 

As a family medicine program, we understand the importance of family in the life of a resident.  Hershey is a wonderful place to live, with a beautiful setting, relatively low cost of living, excellent schools, and ample employment opportunities.  A generous 75% discount on tuition to Penn State (including nearby Penn State Harrisburg campus) is available to the resident, their spouses, and family members.   

What procedures do residents learn? 

Residents learn essential procedural skills in Resident Procedure Clinic sessions.  During these sessions, which are within their continuity clinic, residents work with faculty to learn skin procedures such as biopsies, injections and foreign body removal.  This is augmented by workshops and simulations throughout the second year of residency to hone procedural skills.  Additional procedures in which residents gain expertise include common gynecological and obstetric procedures when on Gynecology and Obstetrics rotations, suturing on our Emergency Department rotations, and circumcision on Newborn Nursery rotations. 

Are research opportunities available? 

As an academic medical center, there are limitless opportunities for research.  Our faculty members are eager to pair with residents to publish novel research, and our Department of Family Medicine highly values scholarly work.  Residents receive training on how to develop projects, gain IRB approval, implement their work, and present their findings.  Our residents routinely present independent research at local, regional, and national forums and receive strong support from the Program to do so.

Are residents involved in teaching medical students? 

Yes.  Residents teach Penn State College of Medicine students on our adult inpatient service and also in our continuity clinics.  Teaching by our residents is so highly regarded by our medical students that they have awarded several of our residents recognition as "Exceptional Role Models." 

Does your program offer fellowship programs? 

Yes.  We have two affiliated Sports Medicine Fellowship Program, one in Hershey, Pennsylvania and one in State College, Pennsylvania.

Where are your graduates practicing?  What are they doing?

Our residents may be found all over the Unites States in all varieties of practice settings.  Some graduates practice in large metropolitan areas such as New York City, and others practice in small towns in Indiana and Georgia.  Several recent graduates have gone on to fellowships in Sports Medicine, Global Health, Faculty Development, and Hospitalist Medicine.  Others work as residency and medical school faculty members.  Our residents are well-prepared for all manner of practice following graduation. 

How is Behavioral Health taught? 

Our program has two behaviorists who provide training to our residents.  Mary Beth Backenstose is trained in Family Systems Theory and brings this formal education, as well as several years of practical experience teaching and providing behavioral health care in Hershey.  Dr. Julie Radico brings her training and practice in the Cognitive Behavioral model and practice experiences working in several integrated primary care settings.  Through small group discussions, review of seminal articles, direct observation, didactics, behavioral health precepting, and off-site experiences, our residents receive excellent training in how to provide for the mental health of the patients and families under their care.

Are residents trained in the care of the older patient?

Residents learn to care for the older patient in their continuity clinics, which is augmented by a rotation at a local VA hospital.  Regularly supervised rounds at a local nursing home and visits with a local hospice organization round out resident training in geriatric medicine.

What is your electronic medical record like? 

We use a Cerner product called PowerChart.  Reflecting the value we place on continuity of care, we are pleased that the same PowerChart tool is used in our outpatient clinics as well as our inpatient hospital.