Dr. Chan: What was it like to start dating at the beginning of second year med school after being just friends for the first year? Was it nice to date someone going through the same thing as you? How do you create a strategy for couples matching? And finally, what are the benefits of both parties attending the same interview day for residency programs? Today on "Talking Admissions and Med Student Life," I interview Parvathi and Anish, successful couples match and recent graduates here at the University of Utah School of Medicine.
Announcer: Helping you prepare for one of the most rewarding careers in the world. This is "Talking Admissions and Med Student Life" with your host, the Dean of Admissions at the University of Utah School of Medicine, Dr. Benjamin Chan.
Dr. Chan: Okay. Welcome to another edition of "Talking Admissions and Med Student Life." I have two super guests today, Par and Anish, fourth-year medical students who have matched. We're going to save that to the very end, but I'm very excited you're here. I've known you for many years. I've seen you around for many years. Let's complete the circle of life and let's talk about it. Okay. So let's start at the beginning. How did you two meet? Was it Second Look Day? Was it orientation week?
Parvathi: Yeah. I think it was Second Look Day.
Anish: No, it was orientation week, because I didn't come to Second Look Day. So it was during orientation week.
Dr. Chan: Was that a different Anish you met?
Anish: That's messed up.
Dr. Chan: Okay.
Anish: It was during orientation week, and I was actually talking to one of my other friends, and I was looking for an excuse to talk to Parvathi, and I made some sort of dumb excuse to introduce this other friend, and that's how we first met.
Parvathi: No. You know what he did, he like threw this other friend under the bus. He like told some story that was very embarrassing to her, and that's how you introduced yourself. Yeah.
Dr. Chan: Is this a story that is appropriate to recount?
Parvathi: I think he said something like she coughed and threw out her back or something. I was like, "Why would just say that?"
Anish: [inaudible 00:01:52] threw out her back.
Dr. Chan: So that was your opening impression?
Anish: It was. It was.
Dr. Chan: That Anish has overwhelming empathy for people who have [inaudible 00:02:02] . . .
Anish: It was.
Dr. Chan: . . . and . . .
Anish: But at that time we were both dating other people. We were both in relationships at that time.
Parvathi: Yeah. That's true.
Dr. Chan: Okay. So this is orientation week.
Dr. Chan: So you still remember each other . . .
Dr. Chan: . . . and just friends at first?
Dr: Chan: Okay. And how did that friendship evolve? I mean, what happened?
Parvathi: I think, so we would hang out, you know, like other friends, and I don't know. Okay.
Anish: You're so bad.
Parvathi: Okay. What?
Anish: First year was very difficult for me, and so I was struggling a lot. I was living really far away, and I didn't have a lot of friends.
Dr. Chan: So med school is difficult or your relationship with Parvathi was difficult?
Anish: No. Med school was difficult.
Parvathi: We weren't in a relationship at that time.
Anish: We weren't in a relationship. And so it was really tough. And so I struggled a lot. And . . .
Dr. Chan: Where were you living?
Anish: I was living in Sandy, so that's, you know.
Dr. Chan: Okay, that is a far drive.
Anish: Yeah, and everybody else was, you know, in downtown. So I felt really socially and sort of physically isolated, and Parvathi was kind of the friend that I really opened up to about it and that's where our friendship really started to blossom.
Dr. Chan: That's very beautiful.
Parvathi: It is.
Dr. Chan: That's the best of your recollection. Okay. All right. So would you guys study together?
Parvathi: Actually, no.
Parvathi: We have never studied together.
Dr. Chan: You have different styles of learning or . . .
Anish: I like to study alone.
Parvathi: Yeah. He studies alone. I would study with a group of people here at HSEB, but honestly, it was a lot more like hanging out than studying. So Anish is probably more sensible to study on his own.
Dr. Chan: All right. Sounds good. Sounds good. So med school is hard. When did you move? Or you're still living out in Sandy?
Anish: So I still lived in Sandy. I've lived in Sandy all four years. First year, progressed and it got better, and I felt like I made really good friends. One of them obviously was Parvathi. And then just over that year, both of our other relationships, you know, sort of dissolved, and that summer she actually went to Boston and I was here. We were doing research and we were just talking.
Dr. Chan: I remember that, diabetes research. Right?
Dr. Chan: Yeah, wow.
Anish: And when she came back, I asked her out, and that's kind of where it started.
Dr: Chan: So this is the summer of 2015?
Anish: And then the August 1st when school started, I asked her out and that's when our new relationship started.
Dr. Chan: Okay. Awesome. And then did you keep it secret for a while, or how people find out about it?
Parvathi: Oh, so that whole summer when we'd been talking, we kept it secret from everyone except for Douglas Chan who is a really good secret keeper. So I want the records to show. He didn't even tell his girlfriend, and he was the only one that knew, and then we came back and on the first day of school, we told everyone. Everyone was like so shocked. Some people were very angry that I didn't share this with them. Then they got over it, and it was great.
Dr. Chan: Awesome. Awesome. So you're together starting second year?
Dr. Chan: All right. So going into third year, what was your strategy? Did you try to have rotations together or . . . Because like third year's tough because like students are kind of doing . . . the hours are weird, long hours at the hospital. Some students who are in a relationship try to coordinate schedules so they'll be on a "easy rotation" and have more free time together, versus people who are very scared to kind of be in the same hospital with someone. How did you guys approach that?
Anish: We didn't coordinate at all.
Parvathi: We didn't coordinate at all. We didn't think it was that imperative to our relationship to be like in close physical proximity at all times. I mean, I don't know. Texting and things like that make it so easy to be in touch all the time, that it didn't really make a difference. And it was kind of nice because then we'd be on different rotations where one of us might be on an easier rotation and the other one might be on a harder rotation, and that way, the person on the easier rotation could come to the other person's house or whatever. And that sometimes works better than if you're both in it together.
Anish: Yeah. And we always set at least one day a week to spend together, whether it was our off day, whether we had a short day, you know, we would just . . . even some days it was just that we grabbed dinner together before, you know, we had to go to bed. And so that's sort of how we managed third year was trying to just make the time when we have it.
Dr. Chan: What does it mean to you to have the shared experience going through medical school together? I mean, in what ways has that impacted your relationship?
Anish: Yeah. I would say that it's strengthened it. You know, I would tell any medical student or any medical student hopeful that nobody will understand what it's like to go through medical school other than the people going through it with you, and to have somebody in a relationship with you who's going through the same thing, it's unbelievable. It really makes everything a lot better.
Parvathi: Yeah. I'd say the same thing. Some people . . . well, a lot of doctors, you know, get married to each other. And now I see why, because in medicine I feel like you're in this different culture almost, or you have like a different language. You say all these words sometimes in like normal conversation that then you realize other people don't really understand. And when you're with your significant other who is in the same field, you can talk in that same language and like, you have like nerdy jokes that nobody else would get, and . . .
Dr. Chan: They understand perfectly what a bad call night looks like.
Parvathi: Exactly. And when you say like, "Oh, I have to stay late today," they know exactly what that means. They know you're not making an excuse not to, you know, come meet with them or whatever.
Dr. Chan: And then talk about maybe patients that have impacted you or, you know, passed away or difficult attendings things like that.
Parvathi: Yeah, yeah. When you talk about difficult experiences like that, they have like been there through the same thing. So that's so helpful to talk to someone like that.
Dr. Chan: Awesome.
Parvathi: For sure.
Dr. Chan: All right. Let's, again, I'll go back to the beginning. So before medical school, what kind of medicine did you think you would go into? And how did that change during your four years here?
Parvathi: Do you want to start?
Anish: Sure. So . . .
Dr. Chan: Or if it changed.
Anish: So it actually, I don't think it changed for me. So I actually didn't ever think I was going to go into medicine until maybe my junior year of college. And then when I did and I applied and was getting ready to come here, you know, I always knew that I wanted to do something sort of intensive, something where I'd get to do procedures and really see like hospital medicine and, you know, going through medical school that stayed totally true. You know, I've loved my internal medicine rotation. I've loved my ICU rotation. And so, for me, either it was sort of just identifying the things I liked beforehand and then just looking at the fields that emphasized that. And so it stayed true for me throughout medical school.
Dr. Chan: So where did you end up selecting?
Anish: So I'm going into internal medicine.
Dr. Chan: Okay. And what is internal medicine for people who don't know what that is? And what about it attracted you to it?
Anish: Sure, so internal medicine, I like to tell people those are the doctors that you're going to see if you get admitted to the hospital from the emergency room. So, you know, if you get a pneumonia, if you get some sort of infection, if you, you know, have heart failure, or something like that, like those are the types of physicians that you're going to see in the hospital. And the reason I chose it is because I really liked that kind of core physiology. I really like thinking about how the body's organs work together and how they influence each other, and I really felt like internal medicine sort of allowed me to see that, sort of explore that physiology in each patient that I saw.
Dr. Chan: So six weeks of internal medicine during the first half of third year and then six weeks of internal medicine the second half.
Anish: So eight weeks of internal medicine, third year.
Dr. Chan: Oh, eight weeks. So, okay. So when you did your rotation, did it just feel natural? Like, "This is my home. These are my people."
Anish: Yeah. So, actually, my first two weeks, I did not like it at all. I was on a specialty orientation.
Dr. Chan: Why? Oh, okay.
Anish: It was my first experience on internal medicine, and I had no idea what was going on and it was a specialty. And so I really had no idea what was going on.
Dr. Chan: Can you name the body part?
Anish: It was hematology oncology.
Dr. Chan: Oh, okay. Blood cells.
Anish: Yeah. So, you know, like I understood blood cells, but I didn't understand cancers that well. And so I felt really lost, and I remember like I would call Parvathi at the end of the day and be like, "I don't know if I can do this." Like, "It is so difficult." And then I made it through those two weeks, and I hit inpatient wards, which is just kind of like general medicine.
Dr. Chan: Yeah. Not so much specialized towards cancer.
Anish: Exactly, yeah.
Dr. Chan: Okay. Yeah.
Anish: Yeah. And I loved it. I loved every minute of it. I loved the types of patients I saw. I loved the things I got to do. And so, you know, so that part really reinforced my desire to go into internal medicine.
Dr. Chan: Okay, cool. How about you Par?
Parvathi: So I started out thinking that I would go into pediatrics actually, mostly because those are the only like shadowing experiences, volunteer patient experiences that I'd had previous to medical school. And as I went through medical school, actually I started third year on internal medicine because I thought, you know, that would prepare me well for pediatrics.
Dr. Chan: You don't like treating old people, right? So, yeah.
Parvathi: Old people so . . .
Dr. Chan: Compared to pediatrics.
Parvathi: Oh, I didn't know about old people. They're so adorable. And so that totally changed everything. And so I remember like starting my first day of third year on internal medicine general wards, and I met this resident who was just so enthusiastic about medicine and about teaching, and I like really looked up to him, and then I met this other attending who would, you know, take us on like little teaching sessions throughout the hospital and find patients with really interesting physical exam findings.
And I thought this was the most interesting thing that I could be doing. And I felt like I really connected with the residents and the attendings that I worked with. And pediatrics was fun too, but it just didn't feel the same. And on medicine I felt like you could really talk with patients through really difficult situations, like, you know, palliative care conversations and really involve the patient in their care. Whereas in pediatrics, I felt like you don't really involve the kid, you know. So yeah, that's kind of why I ended up choosing medicine. I felt like I connected with the people and . . .
Dr. Chan: Did you go through like a crisis? Did you like doubt that decision?
Dr. Chan: Was it hard to let pediatrics go or . . .
Parvathi: Yeah, it was, because I have been so committed to pediatrics before and I had done EPAC, which is this program we have here, where you have pediatric like experiences through the first two years of medical school, and some people choose to apply straight into pediatrics at the end of second year. I didn't choose to do that, but I thought, you know, I was definitely going to do peds. And so I was like, "Oh no. How can I switch now?" And then I remember like asking my friends and family what they thought I should go into. And they were like, "Oh, you should definitely go into internal medicine."
Dr. Chan: Really? Why did they say that?
Parvathi: I don't know. They said that was more of my personality, and I don't know what that means, but I took it as a compliment. I don't know. I don't know.
Dr. Chan: We're going to find out in the next few years. So you switched to internal medicine?
Dr. Chan: Okay. All right. So I think it's rare, because I've interviewed couples who have gone through the couples match before, but for you two to both choose the same field, I don't think I've seen that. So did you run into that?
Parvathi: I've met a couple of residents who couples matched into medicine together. They might go into like different fields, but . . .
Dr. Chan: Okay. Yes, because internal medicine, the residency lends itself to do a fellowship.
Dr. Chan: So three years internal medicine, and then most of the fellowships are three years, correct?
Anish: Most of them.
Dr. Chan: Okay. All right.
Dr. Chan: So I'm not going to hold you to it. But as of today, if you had to go into a fellowship, would you? And which one would you?
Parvathi: You know, I actually would not do a fellowship. I want to be a hospital medicine hospitalist, so you don't need a fellowship for that because most internal medicine residencies prepare you really well to take care of patients in the hospital. Yeah, I want to do that because I think you get to see the widest like diversity of patients that way. You see a lot of interesting things, and you're constantly learning from your colleagues who are specialists. So you can kind of have a knowledge of like everything, which I really like.
Anish: And I'm actually thinking pulmonary critical care.
Dr. Chan: Oh, wow.
Anish: So I really liked kind of that intensive medicine and being in the ICU and sort of having those really sick patients. And then I think the field also lends itself to kind of having a good outpatient lifestyle, and sort of as you get older and sort of the intensive schedule gets harder, you can, you know, retire into a nice pulmonary or sleep clinic or something like that.
Dr. Chan: You're not intimidated by the ventilator?
Dr. Chan: All the knobs.
Dr. Chan: All the readings.
Anish: I say add more knobs, really.
Dr. Chan: Okay. You need more knobs on that thing. Yeah. And there's like 10 different readings on that. It just looks terrifying. It looks like . . . to me, it's like a nuclear bomb. If you touch the wrong button and you twist this like, bad things could happen. So, cool. All right. So third year is about to come to an end. You're thinking both, you're committed to internal medicine. When does the conversation between you about the couples match, when does that start happening?
Parvathi: When did we have that?
Anish: I mean, we started to have it I think during our second to last third-year rotation. So that's like, it's probably right about now, this time last year, April-ish.
Dr. Chan: So spring 2017.
Anish: Yeah. And we started to talk about it. You know, is the couples match the right move for us? Is it, you know, what does that mean for our relationship? It was a lot of really intensive conversations that actually kind of continued into the summer and almost until we submitted ERAS. Yeah.
Dr. Chan: Well, I mean, what was your initial strategy as you started looking at programs? I mean, how did you decide . . . because like this going through residency applications is stressful enough. There's a lot of complexity to it. There's a lot of different layers to it. It's fairly expensive. We can get into that. But throwing on a couples match, tying, yoking, having your application, you know, linked to another person sounds much harder or more beautiful when you look [inaudible 00:16:17] because, again, going through it together.
Parvathi: It's both, yeah.
Dr. Chan: So what was your strategy at the beginning?
Parvathi: At the beginning, the very beginning, I think our strategy was just to apply broadly. I know they always tell you to kind of choose a region of the country, or, you know, if you like a certain city, look in, you know, those areas. But to be honest, like both of us didn't really know like a specific area that we were interested in more than any other area. We did know that a lot of programs on the East Coast are really, really good programs, and also really close to each other, even in different states or whatever. You could drive like an hour and be, you know, close to each other. So that was, we kind of focused on that area because we knew there was like a high density there. But other than that, we just kind of applied to other states and places that sounded nice.
Dr. Chan: So targeting larger cities.
Parvathi: Yes, larger cities.
Dr. Chan: So in case you didn't get into the same program, you made meet in the same city because it's [inaudible 00:17:12] . . . so internal medicine program, there's a lot of them in larger cities and multiple programs.
Dr. Chan: All right.
Parvathi: Yeah. So that was kind of our initial strategy. And we, you know, asked around to like residents and interns that we were working with and asked where they applied and what their top five programs were and why. I think that was really helpful too, actually.
Dr. Chan: So how many programs did you apply to?
Parvathi: Forty-two. Yeah. Both of us did, right?
Anish: I applied to 37.
Dr. Chan: Oh, we're learning stuff together. It's beautiful. All right. So applied to all these programs, and then did the interview offers come at the same time? Are they staggered? If one got invited to one program, would the other one shoot off an email and let that program know that, "Hey, I'm very interested. I'm going through a couples match"? How do that process work? How'd you handle that?
Anish: Yeah. So actually, our first interview invites, I remember I had gone to sleep, and then it's like 10:30, 11:00 at night, and I get this call, and I get a call on my cell phone, but I'm trying to sleep, so I ignore it. And then all of a sudden my home phone goes off, and [inaudible 00:18:19] and I'm trying to sleep. I answer the phone like, "Oh, what's going on?" Like, you know, "What's the emergency? Because why, you know, why I called twice this late at night." She's like, "Oh my gosh, we got our first interview invite. We have to book a place now. We have to get everything ready. We have to schedule it."
Dr. Chan: "Wake up, Anish. Wake up. This is not a dream. This is not a drill." Yeah.
Anish: I'm trying to wake up. I'm opening my laptop. I'm like panicking a little bit. We end up booking an interview spot, and then two weeks later we end up canceling this, and we ended up not interviewing at that school at all. So that was all for naught.
Dr. Chan: Why did you cancel?
Anish: It ended up being too expensive for us to fly out.
Dr. Chan: Oh, okay.
Parvathi: That soon.
Anish: Yeah. And we just felt like and over time we got more and more invites that were at schools that we liked a little bit more. And so that school kept falling further and further down the list for where we really want to go. But, honestly, a lot of our interviews just kind of trickled in. Usually, we would get interview invites together at the same time. There was maybe one or two that one of us got earlier than the other, but then the other one would get the invite the next day or something like that, or the next week or whatever it was.
Dr. Chan: So how many programs did you interview on the same day with the same time?
Anish: So that's hard because sometimes we interviewed at the same program but on different days that week. So like, in Maryland, we interviewed at three programs, but we interviewed at those programs on different days just because they didn't have room for both of us on one day.
Dr. Chan: Was it beneficial or is it more stressful to have the other person there on the interview day?
Anish: I don't know.
Parvathi: Honestly, we would end up getting like split up at some point during the interview day because internal medicine programs are pretty large. And so how interview days work is they usually have like, I don't know, 20 plus people, and they get split up into different groups for like tours and activities and things like that. So we'd get split up for that reason anyway. So I wouldn't really see him for the rest of the day. So it doesn't really make a difference, but it was a little bit like a little nicer when we'd, you know, get there at the same time and be a little nervous together, and be like, "Oh, this is going to be okay."
Dr. Chan: Yeah. And then you can immediately compare notes afterwards. Like what [inaudible 00:20:39]
Parvathi: Exactly. Yeah.
Dr. Chan: . . . what was your impression?
Dr. Chan: Oh, so and so was super nice, or so and so was super creepy, yeah.
Parvathi: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We always did that anyway, but yeah.
Dr. Chan: And would you like have a system which like, is there some Google spreadsheet that you immediately log in . . .
Parvathi: Oh, yes.
Dr. Chan: . . . and put like . . . Okay. Who was in charge of that?
Parvathi: Okay. So this is me.
Dr. Chan: Okay.
Parvathi: So I discovered that there is something called like the NRMP, like Prism or something. There's this app.
Dr. Chan: Prism not prison.
Parvathi: Yeah, not jail.
Dr. Chan: Not jail, okay. National Resident Matching Program. Yeah.
Parvathi: I know that's kind of what it feels like at times. No.
Dr. Chan: Okay.
Parvathi: It's this app, and it has all of these like different categories for each program. And the idea is that right after you interview at a program, you can kind of go through and rate each one of those categories.
Dr. Chan: Oh, it's like a cheat sheet, a rubric.
Parvathi: A rubric, yeah. It's like a grading rubric for each program that you go to. And it's like, you know, quality of the faculty, quality of the program director, like research opportunities there, things like that. And so I figured we could make an Excel sheet on like Google Docs or whatever and put both of our . . . like have two columns for me and Anish, and we could compare our thoughts on each program that way. And we were pretty good at it for like a couple of programs, and then it got really exhausting. But, I mean, if you want to be systematic about it, that's a way to do it.
Dr. Chan: All right. So describe the process leading up to submitting your rank list. What did you value together? What ended up kind of tipping one program over another? How did that look like?
Parvathi: Honestly, like, when you ask for advice from people on how to rank programs, a lot of people say gut feeling should be really important. I was like, "No. That's ridiculous. We are evidence-based and, you know, things like that."
Dr. Chan: We're scientific.
Parvathi: Yeah, scientific, that's actually true. Like, when you go somewhere and, you know, the first person there greets you, and the program director comes around and shakes your hand, you know, things like that really make a difference. And the faculty that you interview with, do you feel yourself connecting to them? Do you find someone at that program that you can picture yourself becoming? Things like that become really important as you go through the interview process. And I feel like that was very important to me.
Anish: So we had to make a linked rank list because we were couples matching, which means that whereas most people have maybe like 11 or 12 programs that they rank and submit, we had to do every combination of both of our rank list. So I ended up interviewing at 19 schools, and you had what? Six?
Parvathi: Fourteen, yeah.
Anish: Fourteen schools. And so, you know, 19 times 14 it was something like 266 combinations. And then on top of that, we did, just to be safe at the end of the list, you do a combination where one of you doesn't match and the other one matches. And so we had to do all of the combinations of that.
Dr. Chan: So like the danger zone, if you get that far down, you kind of go your separate ways as far as the match goes.
Dr. Chan: Yeah. Just to make sure the other person does . . .
Dr. Chan: If someone matches, at least one person better than zero people matching.
Anish: Right. So only one of us would have to go through this [inaudible 00:23:52] if we had to.
Dr. Chan: Interesting.
Anish: And so, in the end, I think we had like, ended up having 300 combinations on our rank list, and we made it all by hand, and we went through it multiple times, and it was really exhausting. And, honestly, after our first five or six combinations at the top of our list, you know, we didn't really care what the other, whatever 280 of them were because at that point we were just going to schools and ranking them because we could. You know, we really only cared about the ones that we ranked at the top. And so, you know, those ones were more of a discussion than our last 200.
Dr. Chan: Okay. Awesome. So you submit the rank list. Obviously it takes a month for the computer algorithm to run. What was it like during that month?
Anish: It was awful. There was multiple checking of our rank list to make sure we had submitted it correctly. There was a lot of panic waiting. I remember like I had switched to an elective, and it just felt like the slowest elective I'd ever been on in my life.
Dr. Chan: So it gives you downtime, you're just thinking about, "Did I do the right thing?"
Anish: Yeah. And you just sit there and you keep thinking about it, and you keep thinking about it, and you're like, "There's literally nothing I can do about it right now." But you can't stop thinking about it.
Dr. Chan: Is it like radio silence from these programs? Are they still . . . Because I know there's like, there's a lot of emails that go back and forth, and, you know, we call them love letters from either side. You know, so was it complete radio silence? Or how is that during this time?
Parvathi: So most of the programs that we interviewed at made it very clear that they have a policy that they do not communicate with you after interviews, and that's really nice, actually. I don't know if that's the case with other specialties. It seems like maybe that's not the case, but for us, it was pretty nice. If anything, they would send like little reminders that you can do a Second Look Day or something like that. But none of them would ever be like, "Hey, you know, we really liked you. You should rank us number one." Like we didn't get any of that, so that was really nice.
Dr. Chan: All right. So take me to the Monday before match.
Parvathi: Oh, okay. So I highly . . .
Dr. Chan: More stressful than match day itself?
Dr. Chan: Because that's when you found out if you match.
Parvathi: If you match, right. So they have this process where, just so, you know, you know whether you match or not. You get an email on the Monday before where you know so that on Friday you don't show up if you didn't match. So I was on advanced internal medicine, which is like this pretty busy rotation, which I highly recommend during the month of March because it kept your mind off of this whole process. So I was like pre-rounding on patients, and at 9:00 that's when the email goes out. I was sitting there, and I just checked my email and I was like, "Oh, I matched. Thank goodness. You can move on."
Dr. Chan: What were you doing, Anish?
Anish: So . . .
Dr. Chan: That's okay.
Anish: I was actually at outpatient sleep clinic, and we didn't have any patients until like 10:00 and I was there at 7:00 in the morning. And so overall . . .
Dr. Chan: Were you sleeping?
Anish: I was not. I wish I was. I just remember the night before, even though I like knew, in my heart, me and Parvathi had definitely matched somewhere, I just like, still like couldn't sleep that night before and I still woke up very early. And I actually was talking to my attending when he got there, and all of a sudden it was like 9:15 and Parvathi sends me a text like, "Yay, I matched." I was like, "Oh, I should probably check on that." So then I looked, and then, of course, we both matched. And so, you know, it ended up working really well.
Dr. Chan: Okay. All right. Friday morning, both of your families there?
Anish: Just my family was there.
Dr. Chan: All right. Just your family. So, you know, there's only like a little program, and then here in Utah, because it has to be like noon East Coast time. So we opened up our envelopes at 10:00. They cut the red ribbon. Walk me through what happened.
Anish: There was a mad dash to get to our letters, and me and Parvathi had decided that we wanted to open it in front of our parents.
Dr. Chan: Simultaneously?
Anish: Yeah, simultaneously together. So we were on probably the south side of the room, and our letters were all the way on the opposite side on the north side. And so we ran all the way to get our letters, and then we had to run all the way back to our table, and all the while we're like going through this crowds of people and they're opening their letters, and they're throwing their hands up, and I'm just getting more and more anxious because I haven't opened it yet. And then finally, we get to the table.
Parvathi: Yeah, that journey between that table where our letters were and our table where our parents were was like the longest . . . It must've been like one minute, but it felt like two hours of, "Move out of my way."
Dr. Chan: Yeah. You're holding this hot envelope, hot news.
Parvathi: Yeah. Oh my gosh. Yeah, we opened it together. And I struggled so much with opening this letter. It's like, "Oh, I forgot how to open envelopes."
Dr. Chan: Were you trembling?
Parvathi: Yeah. I was like shaking, but we opened them and it was good news, and we were so excited. Oh, also before . . . so the university has a lot of like social media people at the event who are, you know, recording . . .
Dr. Chan: Yep. I think you made it to the official video part.
Parvathi: Oh, yeah. So this lady asked us beforehand, "Do you mind if we film you opening your envelopes?" And we're like, "Yes, as long as we don't cry." Cut that out. No, but, yeah. So we were being videotaped at all angles, and yeah, it was a good day.
Dr. Chan: All right. So we'll start with Par. Where are you headed? Where'd you match to?
Parvathi: I matched at Brown University in Rhode Island.
Dr. Chan: Rhode Island, okay. So sell us on Brown. Why Brown?
Parvathi: So I felt like this was another one of those gut feeling things. When I got there, I like met all of these really nice people. They had morning report that day, so we watched all the residents come in, and it was like this really interesting case. And you could just tell that they were like really good friends with each other, and they were just talking about this case and coming up with different ideas. And I felt like I want to be one of them. And then the person that interviewed me is a hospitalist, and talking to her I felt like . . . We talked about my hobbies, and we had some of the same hobbies, and I really connected with her. And so I don't know. The whole day I just felt like very at home and very comfortable, and I felt like, you know, they had all of the nice things, like the research opportunities, the academic, like, rigor of a good internal medicine program.
Dr. Chan: The Ivy League. Ivy League.
Parvathi: And Providence, it's just a cool town. There's a lot of good restaurants there, which is very important to me.
Dr. Chan: How many residents are there per year? How big [inaudible 00:30:39]?
Parvathi: So they have 30 categorical interns.
Dr. Chan: Okay. Interesting. Wow. And then, how many hospitals are kind of within the system?
Parvathi: So there's three hospitals, which is cool. There is a Miriam Hospital, there's the Rhode Island Hospital, and there's the VA. So that's really nice. So we get a VA experience as well.
Dr. Chan: Okay. All right, cool. All right. Anish, where did you match?
Anish: So I'm going to Beth Israel in Boston, yeah.
Dr. Chan: Okay. Harvard?
Anish: It is a Harvard-affiliated hospital.
Dr. Chan: Harvard-affiliated hospital. Yes.
Anish: It is.
Dr. Chan: So sells us on Beth Israel.
Anish: So the thing that I . . . first of all, Boston is just a really cool city. I've visited there with Parvathi twice now, and, you know, I just really love the city. And then the other thing that really sold me was that I'm really into medical education. I really wanted to teach in my future, and that's kind of their whole model there. You know, they're all about education and making you the best intern that you can be and, you know, really trying new educational experiences. And so that was something that really resonated with me. And then during my interviews, both of my interviewers I felt were, you know, attendings and faculty that I'd want to interact with, and I want to work with some day. And so, you know, all that stuff just really added up into me ranking it as high as I did. Yeah.
Dr. Chan: Awesome. Awesome. And how many residents are a year in internal medicine?
Anish: So . . .
Dr. Chan: And you get to rotate at different . . . I mean, how many hospitals are within the system?
Anish: Yeah, so . . .
Dr. Chan: Because I know there's tons of teaching courses in Boston.
Anish: Yeah, there's tons. So in terms of how categorical interns, I think there's around 43, something like that. And then, we also rotate at a VA clinic, and then we also rotate at Dana-Farber as well as our main, Beth Israel Medical Center. And the other thing that I really liked about that is you actually get to work with interns and residents from some of the surrounding programs, so like Boston University and Brigham and Women's.
Dr. Chan: Mass General. Yeah.
Anish: Yeah. So, you know, you get to be on teams with them because you all kind of share the same hospital space.
Dr. Chan: Awesome. How far apart is Rhode Island and Boston?
Anish: Yeah. So it is an hour drive almost exactly from our two hospitals. But there is a train that's only about 30 minutes.
Dr. Chan: So walk people through this, because you matched in similar areas, not the same cities. So is the plan for Par to stay in Rhode Island and then Anish up in Boston and you'll just see each other on the weekends? Or how is that going to look like?
Parvathi: So for our first year, we're going to have separate places in Boston and Providence and just kind of meet up wherever. But after we get married . . .
Dr. Chan: Oh, we're going to talking about that. That's so exciting.
Parvathi: We're probably going to find some place in the middle and just commute from there.
Dr. Chan: Okay. All right. Sounds good. And Rhode Island, Boston, more expensive than Salt Lake, I assume?
Parvathi: More expensive. Rhode Island is not as bad. Boston is pretty bad.
Dr. Chan: Little bit worse. All right. Fair enough. Okay. A couple more questions in my mind. This has been great. I love having you guys. All right. Anish, you talked about living in Sandy during med school. But as far as I recall, you grew up in Utah. Anish: Yes.
Dr. Chan: Okay. So it's not like you were not from Utah and you ended up in Sandy . . .
Dr. Chan: . . . through a series of unfortunate events.
Dr. Chan: Nothing bad about Sandy. All right. So let's talk about . . . So looking back, your four years, what surprised you at med school? What kind of resonated with you? Because you went from Johnny Hopkins to here.
Dr. Chan: So, you know, I guess multi-layered question. I guess I'm asking you multiple questions within one question. Not a good technique. Was it hard coming back? Especially since living in Baltimore is pretty different, I would say.
Anish: Yeah. So it was hard to go to Baltimore. That was a very interesting transition, and it was hard to come back. You know, I spent four years in Baltimore. I really got, you know, involved in the culture. I changed as a person, and then, you know, I came back to Utah. I went back to Sandy where I grew up, and it felt kind of weird, you know, to go back home for a little bit. And that was part of what made first year a little bit difficult was that I was adjusting to everything again. And, you know, people describe medical school as a fire hydrant, and, you know, the first couple of years you're just getting blasted with water, and, you know, the last few years you've learned to swim a little bit better, but it never lets up.
And so, you know, that's what it felt like. So it wasn't as hard to adjust. It wouldn't have been as hard to adjust coming back if I had just been moving here for a job or something. But, you know, having to adjust to med school and coming back to Sandy and, you know, living with my parents, all that stuff kind of added up. But in the end, you know, I've actually loved it. I loved coming back to Utah. One of the reasons actually, when I got my interview invite here, don't take this personally, Dr. Chan.
Dr. Chan: Oh, I have stories on my end.
Dr. Chan: Because I remember calling you and you were on some cruise ship.
Anish: I was. I was on cruise ship.
Dr. Chan: I just hear all the screaming in the background, like, "Anish, Anish. Hey." Yeah.
Anish: I wasn't actually sure if I want to take the interview invite here. Obviously my parents, you know, obviously I did. And, you know, I came back, I stayed with my parents, and I came for the interview, and I just fell in love. You know, I forgot how much the University of Utah has meant to me growing up here, and, you know, seeing how all the med students were so friendly was something that I missed about the Utah culture. And, you know, once I kind of got over the med school, being overwhelmed by med school, all that stuff kind of came back to me and I just, you know, I love this place.
Dr. Chan: Awesome. I need to ask this. Hopkins, do you feel it was . . . because like, Hopkins has a very, you know, it's a very academically, very rigorous, very research-oriented institution. Do you feel the medical school curriculum was harder? Was it the same?
Dr. Chan: Because I know a lot of pre-med students come out of Hopkins?
Anish: Yeah, that's very true. So I think Hopkins was very difficult, but med school was harder.
Dr. Chan: Okay. In what way?
Anish: Just the amount of material that you're expected to know and stay on top of. You know, it doesn't compare to what I was expected of being undergrad.
Dr. Chan: Okay. All right. Par, what are your thoughts about med school looking back?
Parvathi: It was a great time. I honestly really enjoyed medical school. I feel like in undergrad, so I actually lived at home with my parents in undergrad. I just felt kind of like I just commuted to school, and . . .
Dr. Chan: You went to main campus? At the U? Yeah.
Parvathi: Yes. I did undergrad here, and I just felt kind of disconnected a little bit. And I had these like very large classes, and, you know, trying to get into med school, I was balancing so many different activities. But once I got to med school, I feel like everything kind of came together. I found a group of people that I connected with on so many levels and who are now like, basically my family members. And so, yeah, I don't know. It's been like the greatest four years of my life.
Dr. Chan: That's awesome. So, unlike Anish though, who has lived outside of Utah, this is going to be what I perceive like in your adult formative years, the first time leaving.
Dr. Chan: How are you feeling? Are you nervous because you're going to this big East Coast city?
Dr. Chan: What are your thoughts?
Anish: And Ivy League.
Dr. Chan: And Ivy League. Yeah.
Parvathi: Okay. so, I mean, I lived outside of Utah before in my childhood, and it's like several different places, but now I'm going to be like an actual adult moving out on my own. So that's a little bit scary, but I also know that like, the program that I'll be, I'll be around people who I will also connect with, and I feel like I'm going to a good place, so I'm not that worried, and I know that I can make friends wherever, and Anish will be close by.
Dr. Chan: Are your families concerned?
Dr. Chan: Living so far away from home.
Parvathi: Oh. So my parents moved to Dubai.
Dr. Chan: Okay. I forgot that. Your parents like to wander the planet. Yeah.
Parvathi: They're like half a world . . . yeah. My parents, they just move all the time.
Dr. Chan: Okay.
Parvathi: So I don't know. They're like in different time zone [inaudible 00:39:09]. They think I can do it. They think I'll be okay.
Dr. Chan: All right. Anish your parents? Your family is excited?
Parvathi: I think they're kind of sad, but excited. You know, they're happy that me and Parvathi are going on to, you know, pursue our dreams at these great programs. But, you know, they're sad that they're losing us to halfway across the country. And my brother also did med school here and he also went to a program in New York. And so, you know, they're kind of used to the . . .
Dr. Chan: Pre-conditioned.
Parvathi: Yeah. They're used to their sons moving away.
Dr. Chan: All right. Okay. Last two minutes, last question. So help me understand, because I've been invited to it. I don't fully comprehend it. So what does this ceremony coming up, what does it mean? What does . . . . yeah.
Parvathi: We call it an engagement.
Anish: Dr. Chan's referring to me and Parvathi's engagement ceremony. It's coming up April 7th. It's kind of, you know, our parents have already talked to me, and Parvathi had talked before that about getting engaged. And, you know, now that we know that we're going to be so close to each other, we've gone through this great journey together, we felt like now was the best time to do this.
Dr. Chan: So right now you're not engaged at this moment?
Anish: Not technically.
Dr. Chan: Okay, not technically.
Anish: There's no ring on these fingers, Doctor.
Dr. Chan: But, so that's the ceremony, is there a ring exchange?
Anish: There will be a ring exchange.
Dr. Chan: Okay. All right. I'm just learning so much. This is fantastic. And then is there some sort of like a promise you make to each other? Or do your families get to talk? Do you get to talk? Or how does this work? For people who don't know.
Anish: [inaudible 00:40:53]. There's kind of a religious component to it, a religious ceremony, which is essentially like we're being promised to each other, betrothed to each other.
Dr. Chan: Could you talk about what religion is this?
Anish: So Hinduism.
Dr. Chan: Okay. All right.
Anish: And we make an announcement kind of at the end that, you know, both of us are going to get married. So it's kind of . . . So in India, you know, people do this in a variety of ways. Sometimes people do it, you know, a couple months before, sometimes they do it the day before. It's just sort of, you know, tradition.
Dr. Chan: Okay. So is there a possibility . . . I'm not saying it's going to happen to you two, but like, can someone say no at this thing? Or you just simply don't show up if you're going to say no. Like you don't want to get engaged.
Anish: I really don't know the answer to that. I don't.
Dr: Chan: Okay. I'm just trying understand [inaudible 00:41:44] to get set in motion.
Parvathi: No, there's no like opportunity to object or anything.
Anish: [inaudible 00:41:51]
Dr. Chan: So is someone gets cold feet and they just . . you know what I'm saying?
Parvathi: That's too bad.
Dr. Chan: I'm sure it probably happened in history . . . Okay.
Anish: I mean, it probably happened.
Parvathi: It's probably happened before, but it better not happen.
Dr. Chan: Okay. Not in the recent memories in the Indian-American community within Utah.
Anish: Yeah, not that I know.
Dr. Chan: All right. All right. Fair enough. So you go through the ceremony, and then it sounds like it's kind of a prelude to the wedding itself, which will be in the future.
Dr. Chan: So what does an Indian wedding look like? Does it have a special name or . . .
Anish: I don't think it has a special name.
Parvathi: I don't think so.
Anish: So it's tough.
Parvathi: Well, so we're from different regions of India. So I'm from a state in the south called [Kerala 00:42:33], and Anish's family is from North India. And weddings in those areas look very different. So where I'm from, it's a very simple ceremony.
Dr. Chan: Event.
Parvathi: Yeah, you go to the temple, you get married, and there's like a feast afterwards.
Dr. Chan: So I'm going to do a Dr. Chan hot take right now. So just like how both of you are negotiating, and you learned to talk about your different programs and rank lists, so you will also negotiate and talk about the wedding or no? Is that completely . . .
Dr. Chan: As far as like if there's two kinds of different visions of the ceremony?
Parvathi: Oh, I don't think our visions have clashed yet. If they do, then I assume that I will just win.
Anish: [inaudible 00:43:20]
Dr. Chan: That's similar all across the world and all cultures.
Parvathi: Actually, so as far as our opinions go, I don't think ours officially matter anymore, because in the very beginning of this engagement planning process, both of us, they would ask us, you know, "What do you think of this person for photography or this for music?" And now we just don't hear about things.
Dr. Chan: So I'm fascinated. A few more questions. [inaudible 00:43:49] a few more questions. So, you know, like, when I asked my wife to marry me, I felt this overwhelming kind of weird societal pressure to ask the dad's permission, and there's all sorts of history tied into that, and you can argue if that's right and if that's proper. Does that exist? Anish, did you have to talk to Par's father?
Anish: Not really.
Parvathi: No. Basically our parents just talk together. Anish didn't really say very much at all. Neither of us did. I mean, our parents basically just talked it out amongst themselves, and that was it.
Dr. Chan: Okay. All right. Fair enough. Were you in the room for this discussion or no?
Anish: Oh, yes.
Dr. Chan: Oh, okay. Was it super awkward?
Anish: Oh, very much so. Before that discussion, Parvathi and I had discussed engagement and getting married. So between us we had already kind of established that this is where we want the relationship to go. And then, individually we told both of our parents and our parents said, "Okay, well, you know, traditionally the parents talk to each other." And so we did and, you know, everything worked out.
Dr. Chan: Okay. My last question, I promise you.
Dr. Chan: So, again, when I went through the marriage process, which is glorious, but super stressful, there was this weird thing where the bride's family pays for this, this and this. And the groom's family pays for this, this and this. Is that kind of the same case for you guys?
Parvathi: No, our parents basically just agreed to just split the costs.
Dr. Chan: Okay. Oh, I love it. I should have become Hindu. I love this. It's awesome.
Parvathi: We're just here to convert people. No, just kidding.
Dr. Chan: All right. Cool. Last question. So any advice to people thinking about going to med school or applying to med school, or they're thinking about taking that next step and doing the couple's match together? What would you say to them?
Parvathi: If you're thinking about going to med school, just ask yourself, you know, "Am I willing and prepared to put my entire life and effort and spend literally all of my time into making myself the greatest doctor that I can be?" And if the answer is no, and you can think of any other profession that you can go into, then don't go to medical school. But if you can, then do it. By all means, give it a shot. You know, it's okay if you don't get in your first time. Lots of people don't. But don't let that stop you. And yes, couples match. If you find the right guy, lock it down.
Anish: Just sort of talking about taking the next leap and couples matching, you know, one of the things that really caused us to hesitate was, you know, there's no going back on this decision. Like once we submit that rank list, like that's it. We've locked things together, and it really, this whole experience in medical school has taught me that it's okay to take the next leap because sometimes it may not work out, but sometimes it will be the best thing that's ever happened to you.
Dr. Chan: Oh, they're holding hands. It's very sweet. I love it. The displays of affections. It's great. Oh, and then, I just got a text message from one of our listeners, Anish. Are there any Taco Bells close to Beth Israel?
Anish: There aren't. Okay. I've mapped this out, and there are no Taco Bells close.
Dr. Chan: Oh, what are you going to do?
Parvathi: Thank goodness.
Anish: That's true. I'm probably going to lower LDL and then be very sad.
Dr. Chan: Okay. All right. I am so happy for both of you. This is so exciting. I truly hope you come back one day. I'm sure your families want that too. Well, at least Anish's.
Parvathi: Mine will probably be somewhere else.
Dr. Chan: Yours, somewhere in the world, exploring the world. But this is exciting. I'm excited for both you and this a beautiful journey. So thank you.
Parvathi: Thanks, Dr. Chan.
Anish: Thanks, Dr. Chan.
Announcer: Thanks for listening to "Talking Admissions and Med Student Life" with Dr. Benjamin Chan, the ultimate resource to help you on your journey to and through medical school. A production of The Scope Health Sciences Radio online at thescoperadio.com.
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- Episode 160 – Adventures in Argentina feat. Med Student Burnout
- Episode 159 – Olympic Weightlifting as an MD PhD Student
- Episode 158 – Creating Memes for Med Students
- Episode 157 – Mountaineering & Wilderness Exploration with a Med Student
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- Episode 156 – The Art of Practice Interviewing
- Episode 155 – How Disney and Medicine Can Collide
- Episode 154 – Drive Thru White Coat Ceremony
- Episode 153 – Injuries on Reality TV Shows