At the start of each fall, Ohio State College of Medicine alumni across the country prepare to welcome fourth-year medical students into their homes. The Help Our Students Travel (HOST) Program matches College of Medicine alumni with students traveling to their residency interviews.
Richard (Dick) Wardrop, ’02 MD/PhD, was eager to volunteer: “I want students to use this program whenever possible because they may not realize it, but there are alumni out there who want to help, and this is a good way for us to stay engaged with the college.”
The program offers an invaluable experience for the college’s future physicians and, from what hosts and students say, gives alumni a unique opportunity to remain engaged with the College of Medicine.
Trudy Wu, ’19 MD, took advantage of the HOST program twice, selecting visits to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Nashville, Tennessee.
“The HOST program didn’t just offer a place to stay. During both experiences, the families went out of their way to show me around the city, drive me to my interview dinners and other interviews, provide meals, snacks and so much more,” Wu says.
Wu lodged with Wardrop, who until spring this year was clinical associate professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. “I truly felt at home, and this made the interview experience much more bearable. I even spent some quality time with Dr. Wardrop’s family.”
Jessica Williams, ’19 MD, also was delighted with the HOST program and her chance to stay with the Wardrops. “Residency interviews were very expensive, so I was extremely grateful to the Wardrops for hosting me. Then, they were very accommodating and even offered to host me longer for my Duke interview.”
On Match Day, Wu matched in radiation oncology at UCLA, and Williams matched in her dream specialty of pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.
Britney Farmer, ’09 MD, a neurology and psychiatry specialist at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, hosted Annaliese Seidel, ’19 MD, in January when Seidel interviewed for a residency interview at the University of Hawaii.
Seidel’s interest in rural general surgery led her to the University of Hawaii, which has a rotation at a smaller community hospital on another island, with exposure to rural practice.
“About a dozen dedicated rural surgery programs across the country offer residents opportunities like this to work in small community hospitals and cross-train in other surgical specialties,” she says. The plan is to broaden a resident’s surgical skill set to better serve a population with limited access to facilities with extensive resources, she notes.
While Seidel did not choose to pursue a residency in military medicine nor a career in psychiatry, Farmer says she enjoyed the opportunity to share her experiences as a military doctor. “I’m always happy to demystify this path. I know why I chose to serve, and I like to share that with others.”
A major HOST benefit is that students can defray some of their residency travel expenses while connecting with and learning from College of Medicine alumni. “It’s a good way to meet new people and helps network people into the residency program I was a part of,” says Wardrop, now professor of medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, where he hopes to attract Ohio State residents.
“Dr. Farmer was a gracious host,” says Seidel. “I enjoyed interacting with her family and the community — it helped me learn about life in Oahu and what I could expect if I was matched there.” Seidel has since accepted a general surgery residency in the Integrated Community and Rural Surgery Track at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Farmer adds, “It is personally rewarding to be able to give an upcoming graduate a warm introduction to the Ohio State College of Medicine Medical Alumni Society. My hope with hosting is that those students will in turn give back to another student when they are in need.”