May 16, 2018

Dr. Chan: What challenges come along with being the spouse of a medical student? How does one find ways to be supportive through endless amounts of study time? How does a family find quality time together while attending medical school? And finally, what advice is there for couples who are getting ready for that journey to becoming a physician? Today, I'm Talking Admissions and Med Student Life. I interviewed Danielle, spouse of a medical student 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. I'm excited for another edition of Talking Admissions and Med Student Life. I've got a great guest today. Danielle, how are you?

Danielle: Doing fabulous.

Dr. Chan: Great. So, Danielle, you're a little bit different than who I've had on this podcast previously. You're married to a medical student.

Danielle: I am.

Dr. Chan: And we're going to talk about that. All right. So your husband's name is Tyson?

Danielle: Yes.

Dr. Chan: How did you guys meet?

Danielle: We met . . . we were both . . . We were student ambassadors.

Dr. Chan: Okay.

Danielle: And so we met doing that together, and dated for, well we didn't date for a year and a half, so dated the last part of our undergrad, and then got married in 2011.

Dr. Chan: Okay. So you met Tyson, and I'm sure in the course of getting to know him and dating him, he mentioned that he wanted to go to medical school.

Danielle: Yes, he did.

Dr. Chan: So what were your thoughts? Were you like, "Oh, my gosh," like "This is exciting." Like, "Oh no."

Danielle: Well, I'm also in the medical field. So we loved those conversations and being able to explore with that. A little nervous for the medical school adventure just because everyone talks about how hard it is and everything like that. But overall, excited to start that adventure with him.

Dr. Chan: All right. So he's telling you he's going to medical school, you're excited. I assume like he had to do a bunch of activities . . .

Danielle: And kept studying and extracurricular activities.

Dr. Chan: How was that?

Danielle: It was good. I mean, just because we were student ambassadors, we were kind of involved already. So we both were doing our education. We were doing extracurricular activities. I worked part-time in undergraduate, so I felt like it was a good mix. I think the MCAT studying was really the most difficult part to watch, practice tests, not being where he wanted to, study harder, get into the Kaplan course or whatever other course that he was looking into. And then finally getting accepted to medical school.

He was still studying for the MCAT thinking he was going to retake it and apply, but we applied to the U out of a whim, thinking we were going to go to MBA school somewhere else for the first year, get a better MCAT score, then reapply or apply to medical school. We got into the U, which was a big shock and such a fun letter to open. I can totally picture that where he was standing, where I was and our excitement after.

Dr. Chan: I didn't call him? I thought I called him. I thought I had a conversation with him on the phone.

Danielle: I think we opened the letter, and I think you called later that day.

Dr. Chan: Okay. All right.

Danielle: Yeah.

Dr. Chan: I think we've changed the process over the years.

Danielle: Yes.

Dr. Chan: It sounds like . . .

Danielle: Now it's email, not snail mail.

Dr. Chan: No, no. I still call people. I still call people. All right. So I think back to the lookbook when you guys got married, did you wear yellow galoshes?

Danielle: Yes.

Dr. Chan: I remember I saw a picture about this.

Danielle: I had red rain boots and he had yellow galoshes.

Dr. Chan: What's the story behind that?

Danielle: You know, we chose red and yellow for our wedding colors, and my brothers always teased me. "Of course you would choose mustard and ketchup," like they always would bring that up. But I had a really cute yellow umbrella, and it was raining on the day that we were going to do our bridals, or groomals, or whatever. And so I had red rain boots, and Tyson got some yellow galoshes that he could join with. And he even jumped into a pond so he could be soaking head to foot.

Dr. Chan: Oh, fantastic. Was that your idea or his idea?

Danielle: His. Definitely his.

Dr. Chan: Okay. That sounds really dirty.

Danielle: I know.

Dr. Chan: Hopefully that was near the end of the photo shoot?

Danielle: It was. It definitely was.

Dr. Chan: But it sounds like his personality though.

Danielle: Yes. Yes.

Dr. Chan: I know, I must say he's not in the room right now, so you can totally speak freely, and I'm sure he'll not listen to this later.

Danielle: He's a lot of fun.

Dr. Chan: All right. So medical school starts. What year is this?

Danielle: Let's see, 2013.

Dr. Chan: 2013.

Danielle: I think.

Dr. Chan: All right. So he's starting medical school. Were you nervous about the medical school kind of aspect of it? Because I know there's like this image before school starts. It's like, "Oh, he's going to be gone a lot and just in the books. I won't to have much time."

Danielle: You know, I think people, like, when they tell you about medical school, they always say this is like the hardest thing you're going to go through. And I felt like they were overdoing it. I tried to keep like an optimistic view on it, but I don't think I realized how hard it was until we got into his master's program. So we went the first two years of medical school. Then he did his master's and then finished. And it was in his master's that I realized, whoa, medical school is significantly harder.

Dr. Chan: Because he was around a lot more during his master's program?

Danielle: He was around a lot more. He wasn't studying as intensely. I mean, he definitely had to study and definitely had to apply himself, but it was just a different thing, different way that he held himself and studied. And medical school significantly was harder. I felt like he was also competing in medical school.

Dr. Chan: How did that manifest itself? Why do you think he was competing?

Danielle: You know, Alpha Omega Alpha. He likes to strive to be the top. I think all medical students have this same similar drive to do the best that they possibly can and obtain as much as they can. And so I think just him explaining the average test score or he was in the . . .

Dr. Chan: Those little percentiles.

Danielle: . . . top 20. Yes.

Dr. Chan: Class breakdown. How do people do on test A or test B . . .

Danielle: Exactly.

Dr. Chan: . . . and where he kind of fell within that.

Danielle: Yeah.

Dr. Chan: All right. So first two years, more classroom based. Where did Tyson study? Was he more of a home studier, or a library studier, or Starbucks studier?

Danielle: I think both. When he had classes up here, he definitely would study up here. I worked, so I think he would stay up here until I would get home. Usually, I would make dinner and then he'd be home, but he would study. I think that was the hardest part, was the first year of med school was the hardest for me, just because I wasn't sure how to, if I needed to help him balance his studying or if I just needed to support him studying nonstop. So I think that was one of the most difficult parts, is knowing how, if I should urge him to do more outside of studying.

Dr. Chan: So, I mean, would that be something you explicitly talked about, or you just kind of pick up cues from him, like, oh, he looks really busy or how did that work?

Danielle: We definitely talked about it. I would always kind of suggest that he would . . . let's go work out more, or we did a lot of hiking and a lot of outdoors because I just felt like he was always indoors studying. He loved studying outside as much as he could. So I think . . .

Dr. Chan: So would he take flash cards and books with him when you guys went hiking or . . .

Danielle: There were times.

Dr. Chan: Okay. All right. And you were okay with that?

Danielle: There were times that he would, but majority, we were . . . like I remember we picked up mountain biking end of the first year, beginning of the second year, and he would have lectures in his ear and I would listen to music when we would go mountain biking or road biking, we also picked up. But that didn't bother me. I understood that, for him, he felt like he could study more and grasp more if he kind of had it going nonstop. And he made a lot of flashcards. So I think one of the things that was hardest at the beginning was when we would go to family events or something. I'm from Idaho, so we'd have to travel. He would study a lot, and I think . . .

Dr. Chan: What part of Idaho?

Danielle: Idaho Falls.

Dr. Chan: Okay. Close by.

Danielle: Yes, super close. But when we were there, I felt, because neither of our families are from medicine, they have not gone down that road. And so I think that was the hardest, was explaining to my family why he had to study so much. I think that was really the only thing that was difficult on the family side, but they were overall super supportive and right there with us the whole time. But I think that was one of the most difficult things is . . .

Dr. Chan: Finding a balance at the beginning.

Danielle: Yeah.

Dr. Chan: Was he more of like a solitary studier, or would he involve you with like the flash cards and . . .

Danielle: Kind of both.

Dr. Chan: . . . helping him out?

Danielle: Yeah. I did my degree in medical laboratory science. So a lot of the times he would come about blood bank, or micro, or any of that aspect, hematology. So that was really fun because I could kind of study and share what I had already learned.

Dr. Chan: You have a spoken language, a shared language.

Danielle: Exactly.

Dr. Chan: Yeah.

Danielle: I think I would quiz him on that more than anything just because I knew what I was reading, but radiology, that aspect, it was cool, because he'd be like, "Look at this." There's pictures in the books that he would show me just because it was fun to learn, and yeah. So I think we would kind of share that study, love of learning because I love to learn along with him. So I think that was a little bit of the studying aspect.

Dr. Chan: That's beautiful. A part of medical school, I feel, in my perspective, there's a fair amount of stress. And like there are a lot of tests, but as medical students progress, they are in the hospitals more and more, and they are in the clinics more and more, and they're exposed to disease, illness, dying, and all of us experience stress differently. And I'm just curious, Danielle, when you looked at Tyson, how was that stress manifested, and how did you kind of help alleviate that stress?

Danielle: Oh, I have to kind of take memory lane down to the first two years, because I feel like that's when the stress was. I think, for Tyson, he would study more. So that's why I felt like the balance. It was hard to know when he needed a break and to kind of urge him to a break or to just kind of sit back and say, "Okay, yes, the test is coming, study harder." I think he probably got a little bit more quiet and kind of focused more rather than a little bit more laid back.

Dr. Chan: Did it ever get to the point like, "Oh, geez, did we make the right choice?" You're like, "Should we . . .

Danielle: Yes, we definitely thought about that.

Dr. Chan: Okay. "Should we really go through with this, because it seems like a lot?"

Danielle: After the first year, I think after the first test, we kind of were like, "Whoa," like, "This is a big shock."

Dr. Chan: Yeah.

Danielle: And then after the first year, we really did have a good sit down and just reevaluated, is this worth financially and family? Our motto is work hard, play hard. And so we decided we're going to work really, really hard and play in the midst of it. And I felt like after that first year it kind of made the second year a little bit easier because we really stuck with our motto -- work hard, play hard.

Dr. Chan: I love it. Would you sometimes identify with his test scores? I mean, if he got a really good score, did you feel like we did that together? I mean, do you understand what I'm saying?

Danielle: Yeah. Oh, we definitely would celebrate. We would definitely celebrate. I mean obviously, it's a sacrifice on both ends. We're both apart. He's studying really hard. But ultimately, this is a journey together, and we're growing together. So it was a lot of fun.

Dr. Chan: That's wonderful. How many hours a week are we talking about studying? Did you ever put a number on it?

Danielle: I worked full time, and it was double that.

Dr. Chan: Okay. Outside of class?

Danielle: Outside of class.

Dr. Chan: Okay. So he was putting in 80 hours.

Danielle: Eighty plus.

Dr. Chan: Of hardcore studying. Okay. Lots of flash cards

Danielle: I would definitely say, yes.

Dr. Chan: Would he have like a little academic lair or like a little stoop that was his?

Danielle: Yeah. Well, so at home, it was kind of he studied a lot like at our desk and then outside. He had his laptop a lot. He would go on a lot of walks with his iPad, with a lot of flashcards. So I think, at home, it was kind of just relaxed studying. At the School of Medicine, I know he loved to be by windows. That was, I think, one of the funnest parts. First two years, sorry, I was just thinking his study buddies, the group of friends who would study together, we would have them over to our house like on weekends, Sundays for dinners, and they would study, but it was fun to be able to get to know his friends.

Dr. Chan: The other partners and the others.

Danielle: Yeah.

Dr. Chan: And then it sounds like the students themselves. Yeah.

Danielle: Exactly. Yeah. So that was a lot of fun. But yeah, so he would study mostly in the School of Medicine building. I think he did have a few places in the library, but . . .

Dr. Chan: When my wife . . . when she was a student, she still studies very hard. I remember she had kind of this academic lair, and I would like hide little treats, like under textbooks to kind of give her that little . . .

Danielle: Give her . . . yeah.

Dr. Chan: . . . glucose boost. Anything like that for Tyson? Would you do . . .

Danielle: He loved Sour Patch Kids?

Dr. Chan: Okay. Would you hide those in the textbooks or the flashcards?

Danielle: I would buy him a great big bag, and he would have that at his station. I know he asked me to stop buying those [inaudible 00:15:11] there.

Dr. Chan: Costco does have great deals. Yeah.

Danielle: Yes. I would pack him lunches, and that was one of our really good friends. She would always tell me that she had to explain to him what I had packed, because there was one time he ate like the ground beef and the tomatoes and the lettuce, and then found the taco shells later. So we just kind of laughed at that, that the lunches I would pack, he wouldn't always comprehend what all the little baggies . . .

Dr. Chan: What order it's supposed to go in. Yeah.

Danielle: But yeah, I packed him a lot of lunches, and we tried to keep things as simple and as cheap as possible. So lunches were helpful.

Dr. Chan: Great. So you're going through medical school, you're kind of on this journey, but it sounds like Tyson took a little detour.

Danielle: Yes.

Dr. Chan: Let's talk about that. I mean, do you remember when this discussion first started and what were your thoughts about it?

Danielle: Yeah, I do, because I saw the BioInnovate Program, and I said, "That's you. Like that fits your niche." And he had started like the, or he helped kind of start the MBA one year for MDs here. So we always thought he was going to get his MD or MBA.

Dr. Chan: MD-MBA program.

Danielle: And so that was something that we always thought he was going to get his MD and his MBA, but this BioInnovate was just something that I kept looking at him, I thought, "This is just . . ." Tyson is so innovative and so committed and dedicated, and kind of just follows through on goals, that this to me kind of . . . I thought it would be something that would excite him a little bit more, because after the first two years of med school, they are burnt out, in my opinion. They've studied nonstop, and so . . .

Dr. Chan: They're toasty.

Danielle: Yes.

Dr. Chan: They're well done. A little burnt.

Danielle: A little bit. So that's why the clinicals is exciting, because they're going to be able to apply what they've studied, but I felt like Ty could use something that was kind of fun. Not that medicine wasn't fun, but just kind of a relief.

Dr. Chan: A little different.

Danielle: Yeah. Just kind of changed the course in his education. And so he looked into it and fell in love with it. And so we applied to the program, and he got in. And there was a scholarship with it, so that was kind of helpful.

Dr. Chan: That was great, yeah.

Danielle: And he did really well with that program and . . .

Dr. Chan: What was his project?

Danielle: So he had two. He did . . . The one that he got an award for, I can't remember what the award is called.

Dr. Chan: Grants.

Danielle: Yeah. It was a . . . Let me think of what the name is.

Dr. Chan: It's okay, you can make up the name.

Danielle: Yes. So they had him go over to India, and his original device was to detect hemoglobin noninvasively.

Dr. Chan: Oh, interesting.

Danielle: And so they went to India to kind of see what the global health needs were. So they were trying to figure out how to apply the noninvasive in those third world countries. But then he did a lot of deliveries there. He was helping the hospital as a medical student, so he delivered a lot of babies. And he noticed that they were cutting the umbilical cord with their teeth or not sterile utensils, and it was very difficult for them to cut it. And then it was like a string that they would tie on the baby's umbilical cord for it to dry. And so it just wasn't very clean, and so it was an umbilic kit that they decided to create. And so it was a way to cut the umbilical cord and clamp it, and then they would bury it, and it's biodegradable and very small dimensions. So it's easy to deliver and store and so . . .

Dr. Chan: You must've loved this from your medical laboratory science background.

Danielle: It was so fun.

Dr. Chan: Yes.

Danielle: It was so fun to kind of watch as they progressed that. So that's why he ended up doing two projects during that.

Dr. Chan: Cool.

Danielle: Yeah.

Dr. Chan: Did it ever get to the point where you guys had the discussion about him kind of stepping off and pursuing that, or the goal was always to come back to med school and finish out?

Danielle: I think that a lot of people when they went into that, I know that their minds kind of go, draw back to, "Okay, well, I have my engineering degree. I know I can make money doing this." And I even think he had some offers from like Silicon Valley. But we felt like it was important to come back. It was something we had already started. I felt it was like a goal that was like half completed, so you can't just stop. And the later half of medical school, I know it's busier, your third year clinically, but he wasn't studying nonstop. So I felt like it was more exciting to go back at that stage.

Dr. Chan: And you could see that end?

Danielle: Yeah.

Dr. Chan: Okay. So when he got his rotation schedule, it sounds like it was like it was a break. It was different. You know, stepping back into the swing of things.

Danielle: Yes. It was. It was exciting because he was in the hospitals. It was difficult. I think third year was probably the hardest for Tyson because you're working all day and then you're coming home and you're studying all night. Then you're working all day and studying all night. So the hours was hard. We had our second child our third year during surgery rotation.

Dr. Chan: Oh, okay. Very well planned.

Danielle: Right. Not at all, but that was the hardest for him, surgery rotation with a brand new baby. It was the funnest for me, because I was on maternity leave, but for him, I think it was the most difficult.

Dr. Chan: So it sounds like both of you decided to start having kids in medical school?

Danielle: Yes, in medical school. We had our first at the beginning of second year, and then second we were hoping the summer of between third and fourth, but just came early.

Dr. Chan: Fate intervened.

Danielle: Yes. So that was fine.

Dr. Chan: How did that impact medical school from your perspective?

Danielle: With children?

Dr. Chan: Yeah, with children.

Danielle: So I worked full time the whole time. So the only thing that was difficult was childcare. I wanted to work the whole time. Financials is stressful with medical school, so working full time was something that we chose together, and we had a great setup, and I loved it because I had a companion. When he was gone, I had . . .

Dr. Chan: So when Tyson's, like, hitting the books hard, you can take your children to the park?

Danielle: Exactly. We went to the library, went to the park, and he was with us on dinners and stuff when he could. Rotations were difficult for him to spend a little bit more time with the kids just because graveyards, or weekends, or what you have it. So I think rotations were a little bit more difficult for the family time, but we still made it and quality time. I think that's really what it is, is making the time you have worth it. And I think we really strived for that. Obviously, working hard was when he was studying or rotations, but playing hard, we were doing our favorite things. You know, ice cream . . .

Dr. Chan: Going biking and hiking with the kids?

Danielle: Exactly. Or ice cream runs.

Dr. Chan: Or ice cream runs. Or just walking down the street to 7-Eleven.

Danielle: Exactly.

Dr. Chan: Smoothie runs.

Danielle: I think, yes. So that definitely was fun. He was a little bit different also because he was gone a lot with . . . He did a lot of extracurricular with like the UFAP or UFP and AMA and AAFP. So he held a lot of those national and delegate . . .

Dr. Chan: Leadership positions, yeah.

Danielle: Leadership positions. And so he was gone for those, but that made it a lot of fun, because I know it kind of changed medicine for him because he loved the leadership and was very passionate about health policy and stuff. And so that was nice because I felt like he enjoyed medicine and enjoyed his peers and learning in the medical school. But it kind of gets like a task, like it's a hard task rather than a fun additional aspect to medical school. So I think that was fun for him, and it was fun for us. We went to Chicago multiple times together, kind of planned vacations around that. We went to Hawaii with him for one of them.

Dr. Chan: How about India? Did you get to go to India?

Danielle: That one, I chose not to go. Hard to get off work for two weeks.

Dr. Chan: A bridge too far. Yes.

Danielle: Yes. But it was fun to . . . It was scary with him gone, but at the same time, really fun to call and hear all about it. And I think that's . . . We would love to go on humanitarian trips after for global health, and so it's kind of just right there along our family goals where he's involved in that, and hopefully we'll be able to participate when we're a little bit more stable later.

Dr. Chan: Mm-hmm. When things to calm down.

Danielle: Yeah.

Dr. Chan: Which you will be in a few years, which we'll talk about.

Danielle: Yes.

Dr. Chan: All right. So, Danielle, like, you know Tyson the best. And you were there watching him the first two years of med school, when he went off and did his master's, and especially during third year. And I've had lots of people on this podcast talk about the decision about what kind of doctor they're going to be. A lot of it kind of rests on their third-year experience. Now, knowing Tyson the best, if you were to guess what field he chose based on his happiness or his experiences during third year, what would you have guessed, and did that actually match what he wanted to go into?

Danielle: Absolutely. I watched him go through all of the clinicals, and he would come home the happiest from peds or family.

Dr. Chan: Okay.

Danielle: And he chose family because he could still do peds. But he loved, he was just very passionate. I also felt like it was the mentors as well. He really loved the family medicine mentors. Not that they kind of helped him lean one way or the other. I felt like both his views and their mentoring relationships matched. But he really did come home absolutely the happiest and most excited to share about his day with family med.

And it was funny because we thought he was going to be an orthopedic surgeon. So it was really fun to go through the clinicals, and I'm super grateful for the clinicals because that really helped him see not only family lifestyle, because we were able to go out to dinner with an orthopedic surgeon and his wife and kind of talk about their life and going away from it saying, "Okay, what was surprising to you, what was surprising to me?" But just full spectrum, their everyday lives, and how much they work, and what kind of fits our personalities the best and his mostly, for sure, I felt.

Dr. Chan: So he came home just excited to be on a family practice rotation?

Danielle: He was super excited. Yes.

Dr. Chan: Did he do an orthopedic surgery rotation?

Danielle: Yeah, he did it.

Dr. Chan: How was he when he came home from that? Or he never came home? You never saw him.

Danielle: Oh, that's funny because we went down to St. George with him on a rotation. We kind of thought, "Oh, St. George, you'll be done at a certain time." No, that was . . . I never saw him in St. George.

Dr. Chan: Is this family medicine or orthopedic?

Danielle: No, orthopedics.

Dr. Chan: Okay.

Danielle: The kids and I had a really great time in St. George, but we never saw him, ever. And he was exhausted and still had to study for the tests after. And so that was the hardest time for him because he was just so tired. And I think also during that, you want do your absolute best and give it your best, and even though he didn't like it, surprisingly he didn't love the OR. We thought he would. All of his pre-med observations that he would go with other physicians, he loved the OR. Actually doing it every single day, he didn't love it. And so I think that was something that was a shock and surprise, but it was definitely difficult.

Dr. Chan: Was it hard for him to arrive to this decision? I mean, did he still struggle?

Danielle: No, once we made the decision, we were both really happy. I think he had a hard time because pay. But ultimately, you work for what you get paid for, and if you're going to work more, you're going to get paid more, just like an orthopedic surgeon. If you work less, you get paid what you want as a family med and just kind of have . . . So I think Tyson, for his personality, it worked best. He loved to go to work, come home, and we're going to have a lot of fun outside of work, whereas he felt like the orthopedic surgeons had a hard time walking away from work because of how much they were missing, the finances, and I don't know if that's with all orthopedic surgeons, but the ones that he shadowed, they had a harder time . . .

Dr. Chan: With boundaries.

Danielle: . . . vacationing and kind of . . . We love to vacation and travel, and in his eyes, they had a harder time getting away for that.

Dr. Chan: I think, at least my perspective, my two cents is that I think all physicians are compensated very well. Granted, I agree with you, Danielle, like there's a scalability that certain specialties, like orthopedic surgeons, they can make "more money per hour." But I think you hit upon it. I think no matter what kind of a doctor people choose to become, you can always work more. Right? So I know a lot of family docs who . . .

Danielle: That work a lot.

Dr. Chan: . . . who work a lot because you can always pick up more patients. You can stay later in clinic. You can cover this hospital or that hospital. You can drive out here, you know. So I think everyone internally has to find, kind of like what we mentioned in the first two years, find that balance of how much you're going to do work and how much money you're going to make versus your own mental health, your wellness, your family, responsibilities, hobbies, other organizations you might participate in. So I think everyone needs to kind of find that balance.

Danielle: And I think whatever specialty they choose, ultimately it's what they love. So if they love to be in the OR and love orthopedic surgery, they're not going to mind working those many hours. And so I think that was the thing that was harder for Tyson, is he found what he loved, but he was a little concerned about the pay. And so as soon as you took out the pay and really focused on what you loved and pursued what you loved, you were completely happy with your choice.

Dr. Chan: All right. So it sounds like family medicine at the end of third year, feels pretty good about it. Now walk me through the residency application process. What kind of discussions went into that and how did that unfold?

Danielle: That was hard because there's so many. And so we kind of narrowed it down, "Okay, where would we like to live?" Or if he had a program that he loved, what were the pros and cons of living in that area? We kind of always thought we were going to go away for medical school and then come back for residency. So now it was, "Do we want to go? Do we want to stay? Like where would we want to go?" So we finally narrowed it down and found the programs that we liked.

Dr. Chan: So how many programs did you apply to?

Danielle: He applied to . . . Honestly, I think he applied to five.

Dr. Chan: Okay.

Danielle: So I know we were . . .

Dr. Chan: That's a very low number.

Danielle: Low, low, low number. I know.

Dr. Chan: Were you nervous about that number? That's like the lowest number I've ever heard.

Danielle: I know.

Dr. Chan: Okay. I'm glad you're saying it on the pod.

Danielle: Yes, we were nervous just because we knew our chances of matching were a lot statistically lower. But those were the five we loved, and those were the five we wanted to go to.

Dr. Chan: Did he get interview offers at all five?

Danielle: Yes.

Dr. Chan: Okay. So let's talk about the five.

Danielle: Okay.

Dr. Chan: So which five were they?

Danielle: So we went to Vegas for an interview and Utah Valley, in Provo. He went to two in Indiana, and I'm missing one. So we went to one in South Bend and one in Muncie, in Indiana, and we liked both of those.

Dr. Chan: No Idaho programs?

Danielle: No.

Dr. Chan: Okay.

Danielle: Don't tell my parents.

Dr. Chan: Okay. Parents of Danielle, please do not listen to this.

Danielle: No, we love Idaho. But the programs, they just didn't fit us.

Dr. Chan: Okay. All right.

Danielle: So that's really . . . We loved Caldwell. We loved ISU, but they just . . .

Dr. Chan: What were you looking for?

Danielle: We loved . . . Tyson wanted . . . I don't know if I'm going to say this right, a non . . .

Dr. Chan: Unopposed.

Danielle: Unopposed.

Dr. Chan: Residency program. Okay.

Danielle: We wanted just family med, right?

Dr. Chan: So that means, for people who don't know what that is, is that if it's an unopposed residency, that family medicine is the only program within the hospital. So if there is a very interesting or complicated OB case, for example, the family medicine residents would be the first one called and get all the responsibility within an unopposed as opposed to an academic medical center where they would call the OB residency.

Danielle: Exactly.

Dr. Chan: And then the family medicine residents would not necessarily get to learn from that case. I am grossly oversimplifying it, but I think that's kind of . . . that's how I understand it. My brains.

Danielle: Yes. And so yes, the fact that it was unopposed.

Dr. Chan: So you guys wanted unopposed residence. Okay. All right.

Danielle: And so we kind of were drawn to unopposed. For Tyson, it was really important for family support. He loved the programs that kind of had family support with it. I didn't necessarily need that, but if he liked the program and it had it, perk. So it worked out for that aspect. And then the area, we loved all of the areas that we . . . like we could see ourselves realistically living there.

Dr. Chan: There is a strange . . . I'm glad you brought up Indiana. There is a strange pipeline between Utah and Indiana. I mean, what did you see? I mean, how do you understand this? Because this goes back like many, many years. Many of our students match into programs in family medicine in Indiana. I mean, what do you understand this relationship to be?

Danielle: I think they really promote it, because I know Tyson didn't think anything about Indiana until he was at a, I don't know, it's not a career fair. Do you guys call it residency fairs?

Dr. Chan: Yeah, residency fairs. Yeah.

Danielle: Okay. A residency fair. And I know that he really bonded with the people there and was surprised about their programs and interested in the programs. And then they kind of constantly were there for us when we had questions. And I remember going to dinner with Muncie and loved the program director that came.

Dr. Chan: And all the families.

Danielle: Yes. So it was fun. It was really fun to . . .

Dr. Chan: Because Indiana's really flat.

Danielle: Yes.

Dr. Chan: It's really different from Utah in certain ways.

Danielle: We weren't worried about that. Mountain biking, hill biking there.

Dr. Chan: Yeah.

Danielle: So it was really fun to kind of see and get to know the programs in that aspect.

Dr. Chan: So I was going to . . . that's my next question. So did you go to all the interviews?

Danielle: No.

Dr. Chan: Okay.

Danielle: Just because of work, I didn't. I went to the University of Utah and the Provo, Utah Valley. And then if he really liked the other three programs, we were considering going back for the second look day. But I really trusted him. I knew that he would choose an area that our family fit and meshed, and we really would . . . every time he'd get back or on his way home, we'd talk on the phone and he'd go into details about the program, what he liked, what he disliked. And we kind of started to do like an Excel spreadsheet to see if we could help ourselves . . .

Dr. Chan: The mighty Excel spreadsheet. I've heard of this.

Danielle: . . . help ourselves choose the best one that fit. So it was hard. It was really hard to decide, and it was hard to also play. We always felt kind of play the game. Like, if we don't rank them first, could we potentially get it with second? Could we potentially get it with third? And then we got a really good feedback just saying, "You choose what you want and it'll play out."

Dr. Chan: Danielle, when I'm listening to you, I get the sense that it was easier for Tyson to choose family medicine, but it sounds like it was much harder to focus in on, like to create that rank list.

Danielle: Yes.

Dr. Chan: Would that be accurate?

Danielle: I think we evaluated it, and reevaluated it, and reevaluated it up until the day he had to turn it in.

Dr. Chan: So did you have access to the list? Did you have a login?

Danielle: He told myself and his mother.

Dr. Chan: Okay.

Danielle: A login.

Dr. Chan: So would you go in there sometimes and kind of play with it?

Danielle: No. I didn't want to touch it. I did not want to . . .

Dr. Chan: Because I've heard of other partners, spouses, I've heard that they've had access to this list. So they kind of play with it sometimes.

Danielle: We had to login in case there was like an emergency . . .

Dr. Chan: Okay.

Danielle: . . . where we had to submit it, and he wasn't available or something. But no, I didn't want to accidentally like submit or do anything like that. So we did it together though. I remember the morning that we submitted, and we both were excited and happy, and oh, my gosh, Match Day, that was the longest wait.

Dr. Chan: Okay. So you submit the list and then any second thoughts, any regrets between then and Match Day? Or you're just feeling good . . .

Danielle: No, I think . . .

Dr. Chan: Or did you have these like moments like, "Oh, my gosh, did it not get submitted?"

Danielle: No, I . . .

Dr. Chan: Is the computer going to make an error?

Danielle: No, because we get like a confirmation, right?

Dr. Chan: Oh, okay. Good, good.

Danielle: That it was submitted and so we were just more anxious to know where we're going. Are we moving? Are we staying close? Are we taking the family? What would we do if we did move? What would we do here? And so it was to the point where I was like, okay, the last two weeks, it's like, okay, we're not even going to think about it. We're just going to wait. And then that Monday before Match Day . . .

Dr. Chan: You get the email saying if you matched.

Danielle: Yes.

Dr. Chan: Were you more worried about that than Match Day itself?

Danielle: Yes.

Dr. Chan: Okay.

Danielle: That day was a day of relief.

Dr. Chan: Okay.

Danielle: And then Match Day was just excitement.

Dr. Chan: So you get that email Monday. And then leading up to Match Day, did you sleep the night before?

Danielle: Yes, I think it was very restless.

Dr. Chan: Okay. All right. Restless. All right. Who was at Match Day?

Danielle: Both of our parents and our children.

Dr. Chan: Match Day happens here at 10 o'clock. They have like a little program. I think I remember seeing you and Tyson, and your kids running around.

Danielle: Yes.

Dr. Chan: Good food.

Danielle: Yeah.

Dr. Chan: People are not really eating as much though because everyone is kind of nervous. Everyone's on edge.

Danielle: Not hungry.

Dr. Chan: So there are some speeches, and they cut the red ribbon. What does Tyson do? Does he . . .

Danielle: He's waiting there, and our kids are with grandma and grandpas. And we had a designated spot we'd meet back.

Dr. Chan: Okay. So he goes up and gets his envelope, comes back. Not supposed to open it until . . .

Danielle: Without us.

Dr. Chan: Without you, okay.

Danielle: And then, he actually wanted me to open it.

Dr. Chan: Oh, interesting.

Danielle: So I opened it and read it, and just celebration and so excited.

Dr. Chan: So where are you going?

Danielle: We're going to Utah Valley University Hospital.

Dr. Chan: Provo, Provo.

Danielle: Utah Valley.

Dr. Chan: Going to Provo?

Danielle: Yes.

Dr. Chan: Tears of joy?

Danielle: Not from Tyson and I. We were just thrilled. Our parents were bawling, and I was like, "Oh, you're so happy for us." They're like, "No, we're just excited you're staying close." I'm like, "Oh, okay."

Dr. Chan: We had our own selfish reasons. We were secretly rooting for this.

Danielle: We were excited to go away. I mean, just because we didn't go away for med school and . . .

Dr. Chan: Well, you could make an argument that Provo is a different country.

Danielle: It definitely is.

Dr. Chan: All right.

Danielle: It will be different.

Dr. Chan: I'm not serious anyone listening to this. Okay. All right. So sell me on Utah Valley Regional. Why did Tyson like this place? What are some good things about it?

Danielle: He loved the program. When he was interviewing, these residents were the happiest.

Dr. Chan: Okay.

Danielle: Because obviously, everyone on their program will say residents are happy and love the program, but you can really feel it when you interview. And I was able to go to an interview. And so it was really fun to meet everyone and get to know them. And they really seem to be very close. They go on retreats. They have . . . I mean, the benefit package was great.

Dr. Chan: Mm-hmm. Health insurance.

Danielle: Health insurance.

Dr. Chan: I think they have a really liberal like cafeteria privileges.

Danielle: Yes, very much.

Dr. Chan: I've heard a lot of stories about like the food at Utah Valley Regional Hospital.

Danielle: Yes.

Dr. Chan: And I think the residents have a lot of access to that.

Danielle: Yes, they do. And phones. I mean, there is a lot of different . . . He loves to go to medical conferences, and so they have funding for that. But I think ultimately he loved the structure of the program, and he loved the program director. And I just felt like he fit there very well.

Dr. Chan: It sounds like it was a great match, a great fit.

Danielle: Yes. I mean there's a, they call it a VIP program. It's the Very Important Person program. So the spouse support.

Dr. Chan: Yeah. Tell me about that. What's that about?

Danielle: Isn't that fun? So they have a spouse support that they get together, the spouses. I even think there's funding for it, but the spouses get together and . . .

Dr. Chan: They take you out to dinner or . . .

Danielle: Not necessarily.

Dr. Chan: Like manis pedis or . . .

Danielle: I think it's more of the spouses get together while the residents are working.

Dr. Chan: Well, I hope they will buy you some food.

Danielle: Right. We'll see.

Dr. Chan: There's many restaurants in Provo, yeah.

Danielle: But I remember the Match Day I had text messages from that Very Important Person program, and I think there's a group text of like 30 of us. And we got to kind of introduce ourselves, and they help us with like renting and buying houses. They're posting things, what they see, good areas, and kind of helping us get an understanding of the health insurance, and what they do, and what other people do. So it's really nice to kind of have a group that I can say, "Hey, best pre-school, where do I go?" You know, kind of questions that the internet doesn't always feed directly to you. So I'm really excited for that program. We'll see.

Dr. Chan: So, Danielle, a question that I'm thinking of is with Provo, it's like 30, 40 miles south to here, were your job prospects ever factored in kind of like looking at these different programs? Are you going to keep on working here at the U, or have you started looking for jobs down south or . . .

Danielle: When we were doing our residency picks, my certification, I would have to take another test in California and Florida. So I mean those two areas, we love to vacation to, but living wise, we both aren't drawn to California living or Florida. We love to visit. So that kind of helped because we were kind of on the both page on that aspect. I can get a job pretty easily wherever we go, and so it wasn't really based around that.

Dr. Chan: Okay.

Danielle: But I know other spouses, especially for the male spouses, they kind of pick where . . .

Dr. Chan: There might be more geographic limitations about where they can . . .

Danielle: Yes. And I don't know if that's necessarily for everyone, but just talking to everyone, it's when they matched and, "Oh, now I have to get a new job." You know, "Job search starts for me," kind of a thing. And so I think that aspect was a little bit easier for us just because we weren't worried about me finding an area.

Dr. Chan: So based on my calculations from Idaho Falls to Ogden to Salt Lake City, now to Provo, in a few years, you guys should be down in St. George somewhere.

Danielle: Yeah.

Dr. Chan: It sounds like you're just like migrating south more and more for educational and occupational reasons.

Danielle: Yeah. We would love St. George. We've talked about that. I'm a golfer, so we would love to go to St. George. But we really enjoy the mountains and outdoor. We're big skiers, so with our end goal, have to be close to the mountains somewhere.

Dr. Chan: Awesome. Well, Danielle, we're almost out of time. I want to ask you one last question. Any advice for any significant others, spouses, loved ones, who are listening, whose partner they're about to start medical school, their loved one? What advice would you give them? Or how would you counsel them at this time? What's your greatest pearl of wisdom, I guess?

Danielle: I think, for me, I would probably share that, just get involved, whether that's getting involved with your spouse and studying or getting your own little niche in the city or community. I think that's something that I really enjoyed and helped with the lonely times. Because obviously there's going to be some lonely times, but getting involved and keeping yourself busy was the most rewarding thing for me, because then I didn't have as much downtime to think about that. And I think it helps make me a more well-rounded person. And so I think getting involved and staying optimistic.

Dr. Chan: Yeah. Your loved one will eventually match.

Danielle: Yes. Yes. He'll get that MD.

Dr. Chan: And then he'll be actually a doctor . . .

Danielle: And graduate.

Dr. Chan: And then it will be all worth it, yes.

Danielle: Yes.

Dr. Chan: Well, Danielle, thank you so much for coming on. We'll have to have you and . . . Well, maybe we'll have to have Tyson come on, you know, maybe especially as he goes through his residency program. I would love to hear how it goes, because it sounds . . . It's a beautiful story. It's a beautiful journey so far.

Danielle: Thank you.

Dr. Chan: Thank you.

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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