Internal Medicine

Chief's Corner

David Gibbons, M.D.

When I first arrived in Roanoke for interviews, I felt at home.  The surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains and the railroads reminded me of life back in Central Pennsylvania.  The atmosphere of the residency is very welcoming.  The faculty is committed to education and strives daily for us to grow and develop into exceptional physicians.  From day one, the residency made me a part of something bigger, taking care of patients in their time of need.

Carilion has provided me exceptional opportunities to explore academic medicine as a Fourth Year Chief.  Attending on the faculty service, teaching during morning reports, and developing new curriculum activities has been exciting.  And with each year, Carilion Clinic continues to grow.  There are several competitive fellowship opportunities that have been developed in which our residents matched.  The partnership with Virginia Tech Carilion Medical School and Research Institute brings new research and learning opportunities to the residency program.

We all know the difficulties of the residency, and our program has put forth several initiatives to focus on resident wellness.  The program values balance in work and life.  One of my favorite is the retreat at Smith Mountain Lake, there’s a chance to get to know everyone in the program on a personal level and enjoy each other’s company.  Roanoke provides a lot of outdoor activities to take advantage of including walking and biking on the Greenway, hiking up to the Roanoke Star, and boating at Smith Mountain Lake.

I met my future wife Dr. Shabnam Assar during residency.  We both love the program and Roanoke so much that we decided to stay for fellowship training.  She is currently completing fellowship in Infectious Disease, and I will be training in Palliative and Hospice Medicine next year.


Carilion Clinic - Virginia Tech Internal Medicine Residency Program has proved to be a great choice to complete residency.  The ancillary staff, peer residents, and attendings are easy to work with, helpful, and passionate.  Not only do they care about each individual's growth as a resident and medical professional but also personal well being.  The attendings are great role models and mentors.  I feel the breadth of training of our residents including DOs, MDs, International Medical Graduates, and American-trained physicians strengthens our program by exposing us to coworkers from diverse backgrounds.  Coming from New York City where I completed my medical school training I was worried if our program would be able to match the diversity of patients I encountered there; as our hospital is a level 1 trauma center managing regional heart alert and stroke alert patients from West Virginia, the entirety of Virginia, and North Carolina we are exposed to a vast array of disease pathologies, and I am confident that the training here rivals the exposure that hospitals in much larger cities have.  After nearly 2.5 years of training I feel much more comfortable and competent in caring for Internal Medicine patients.  I am excited to see how Carilion Clinic - Virginia Tech will continue to grow in the coming years with the close relationship with Virginia Tech Medical and Research Center, expanding residency and fellowship programs, and rapidly progressing technological advances.  Not only am I proud to be part of this program, but Roanoke is such a beautiful place to live with it’s location in the Shenandoah Valley with great hiking along the Appalachian Trail and stunning vistas along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  


Training programs come in a variety of shapes and sizes; large university centers and small community hospitals each provide their own unique flavor when it comes to learning the practice of medicine.  What is impossible to replicate is patient volume.  When I chose a residency, I knew at the outset I wanted my training at a large volume tertiary care center . . . a hospital which draws its patients from all over the region.  These hospitals are at the forefront of technology and education.  Carilion Clinic is the second largest hospital in the state of Virginia.  Patients arrive from hundreds of miles, often emergently to obtain the care provided by our residents.  The opportunities present at these types of institutions are simply unable to be replicated.     

A partnership with Virginia Tech results in constant exposure to the newest technological advances.  Advanced cardiology, GI and pulmonary services ensure exposure to ongoing and groundbreaking research which will become the standard of care in the upcoming decade.  Highly specialized clinics treat rare and complex diseases, from severe pulmonary hypertension and interstitial lung diseases to severe, non-operable valvular disease.  The faculty are world renowned which exponentially increases the value of our individual mentoring and teaching sessions.  Moreover, Carilion's commitment to growth ensures that each year our residents will be stronger and brighter than those which proceeded them.  

Our dedication to our residents extends beyond the three years spent here. Our passion for ensuring residents ability to attain their career goals, whether traditional internal medicine, subspecialty training or hospitalist medicine is paramount throughout our program.  

The Virginia Tech/Carilion Internal Medicine Residency represents the pinnacle of internal medicine education; I consider myself unbelievably lucky to count myself as a Carilion Resident.


I began my PGY-4 Chief Medical Resident year at Carilion Clinic, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine hoping to gain experience in the field of Academic Medicine and promote the Internal Medicine Residency program.  Working closely with my co-chiefs Paul Robb and Matt Cauchi, I completed a very busy year of leading morning conferences, helping to arrange resident lectures, giving student lectures, teaching procedures, rounding as an Attending on the in-patient service, precepting residents in clinic, coordinating resident schedules, attending committee meetings, resolving resident conflicts and participating in all aspects of recruitment.  I feel I have grown as a clinician and an educator and am very grateful to the strong clinical faculty who trained me as a resident and supported me as a Chief.  I believe they continue to be our strongest asset as a program.  I am thankful for my experiences in Roanoke that have made so many future opportunities possible for me and look forward to continuing my career as an Academic Hospitalist in Greenville, SC.


My training at Carilion was incredible – I feel I have what it takes to be an accomplished physician and teacher.

Carilion trains you well in all facets of medicine – you will become savvy with electronic medical records, you will treat a wide variety of pathology and patients, you will learn to utilize portable ultrasound in procedural and diagnostic applications, you will get hands on procedural experiences, and our Internal Medicine faculty are focused on the residents’ education and experience in a non-threatening environment. The camaraderie between the residents is amazing – we all essentially become a family. I have made some of the best friends in my life during my residency here.

Virginia Tech Carilion was my first choice as a residency program and I have no regrets. I liked it so much I stayed on as Fourth Year Chief Resident. This experience prepared me for a future career in academics and as an independent physician. It was one of the hardest years for me with a multitude of different responsibilities and having the program depend on my co-Chief and I at any hour during any day of the week. If you want to pursue academics, I would say being a Fourth Year Chief is a necessity.

I will miss my friends and the many mentors I had at Carilion – they all helped shape me into the person and physician I am today. 


It has been an honor and a truly amazing experience to work as the PGY-4 Chief Medical Resident at Carilion Clinic, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (VTCSOM) program. This year marked profound growth for me on many levels. I had decided early that I would focus on teaching evidence based medicine, improving quality of clinical care and encouraging new ideas for resident research and education. It worked out very well primarily due to the fact that I was fortunate to work with an amazing team of co-chiefs and medicine faculty who were dedicated to house staff education and development. In addition, I was able to acquire an array of nifty new skills ranging from schedule development, team building, conflict resolution, providing feedback, effective delegation, impulse control and self reflection. All of which remain vital for the development of the future clinician educator.

On a personal note, living in Roanoke has been a wonderful experience. The city is nestled in the midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains in a beautiful part of Southwest Virginia. I enjoyed all four seasons, excellent school districts, little traffic and an amazing cost of living. Of course the Blue Ridge Parkway was a few miles away too! Roanoke for me has been the perfect blend of small and mid-sized city hence proving to be an ideal place to raise a family.

So in the end, for all the above reasons and more I accepted a fellowship in Cardiology at Carilion Clinic VTCSOM. Now I look forward to many more years of learning in the serene Roanoke Valley.


Carilion offers an experience that can only be rivaled by large academic centers yet is in a beautiful setting in Southwest Virginia.

I wanted a large patient population and a tertiary center so I would not see my most interesting or critically ill patients being transferred to a larger institution. If I could be trained to handle the sickest patients here, then I could find calm anywhere I went from here.

I desired a training location that took advantage of technology that we will soon all be accustomed to eventually. Carilion has very well integrated electronic medical record. We are able to view all of our imaging studies and even echocardiograms and cardiac catherizations. A cell phone text messagereplaces the traditional paging system.

Finally, I wanted to have a hands-on experience with a plentiful and wide-range of procedural opportunities. Not only during critical care months do we perform a numerous variety of procedures, but even the general ward months provide ample opportunities for critical care management and procedures for our ICU patients. Finally, the ancillary staff is great to work with and allow us to focus more on our physician duties and education.

Our attendings are focused on teaching residents and make the experience more enjoyable rather than intimidating. Their teachings are passed down from the residents as we teach our medical students from Virginia Tech and several other institutions. Our administration supports us and facilitates the research interests, presenting works at conferences across the U.S., and overall shows interest in resident moral. The administration really listens to resident concerns and makes adjustments as needed to accommodate different ideas and perspectives.

I will miss being able to hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a breath-taking drive after a long day of work. This was both an impressive geographical and educational experience. I have no regrets on choosing Virginia Tech Carilion and would do it again without hesitation.


"When I reflect back after almost three years of residency at Carilion Clinic-VTC it is very clear that I learned much more than Internal Medicine alone. The camaraderie among the residents and the hospital staff in general fosters a good environment based on teamwork. I was amazed at the amount of knowledge and experience that I gained during my intern year. My attendings and senior residents always had a passion for teaching, even after overnight calls. I also enjoyed the opportunity to rotate with different subspecialities during electives and have seen a variety of diverse pathologies. With a growing number of fellowships and our new Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine it has definitely been an exciting program to be a part of. These are just a few of the reasons that make me sure I made the right choice to come here for residency and to stay here to complete a fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care."