Students home in on alumni participating
in B&B program
During their fourth year of medical school, Dan and Kimberly Barclay Martin are saving "a fortune."
The Southwestern Medical School students are avoiding some of the expenses of interviewing for residency positions in cities across the Southeast - thanks to UT Southwestern Medical School Alumni Association's innovative "Bed and Breakfast" program.
The 16-year B&B program pairs students with alumni around the country who offer overnight lodging in their homes, and often dish up home-cooked meals and helpful advice, while their guests participate in out-of-town residency searches.
"We're doing the couples match, so it is necessary to save money any way possible," Mr. Martin said. "Interestingly, many of the people whom I'm on the interview trail with are envious of the program since they're having to spend around $70 per night while I'm staying for free. I'm planning to interview multiple places, so I'll save a fortune as a result of this program."
Since beginning their quest, Mr. and Mrs. Martin, who are interviewing for appointments in general surgery and pediatrics, respectively, have visited Birmingham, Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, Galveston, Jacksonville, Fla., and Jackson, Miss., without incurring hotel expenses.
"Everyone I've stayed with has been incredibly nice," Mr. Martin said. "I've stayed with people of all ages, from their 20s to their 80s. It's been a great experience."
Dr. Damien Luviano, who begins an ophthalmology residency at Martin Luther King/Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles in June, said UT Southwestern's Bed and Breakfast program offered him a "foot in the door" in every city he visited, as well as assisted with his decision to become an ophthalmologist.
"I used the program probably 10 times," Dr. Luviano said. "I used it to help me decide what specialty I wanted, shadowing doctors in ophthalmology, cardiology and general surgery. I also learned about the quality of various programs from asking questions of the alumni I visited."
Dr. Luviano said his most memorable experience was in Los Angeles, where he stayed with Dr. Ed Hill, a retired Beverly Hills ophthalmologist.
"Dr. Hill heard that the chairman of the program I was interviewing for was having a Christmas party at his home, and he arranged for me to get invited to the party the night before my interview," Dr. Luviano said.
"It turned out to be an amazing evening. It allowed me to meet many of the people in that program in a relaxed atmosphere and definitely influenced my decision in ranking that program higher in my list of choices."
Dr. Hill, Southwestern Medical School class of '56, said he and his wife enjoy the bed and breakfast program even more than the students. The couple has hosted at least a half dozen students, taking them to dinner, sports events and sightseeing around the city.
"I think it's an absolutely wonderful program and have been signing up for it 10 years or more," he said. "We look forward to having young people in our home and have had nothing but good experiences. And, if we can be helpful in introducing them to people, that's an added plus."
A favorite story of Dr. Hill's is of a student who visited during the Northridge earthquake that devastated parts of northern Los Angeles on Jan. 17, 1994.
"We had a young man staying with us the night of the last big earthquake and, needless to say, I don't think he chose LA for his match. He did help scoop peanut butter and jam off our floor that night after everything flew out of our pantry."
Many alumni go above and beyond simply providing a place to sleep, said Brian Wright, who will graduate in June.
"I've had great experiences with all of my stays," he said. "Almost every time, I arrived late and was allowed in the house before I even met my hosts.
"When I was in Seattle, I stayed with Dr. Bob Jones, class of 1952, for four days, so I could see the city. I showed up when he and his wife were at a church function, so a neighbor let me in, and I was in their house for two hours before they even got home. He also took me to my interview and introduced me around, and took me to two choral groups and a church function."
Mr. Wright had a similar experience in Charlottesville. Because his flight was delayed, he didn't arrive at the home of Dr. Matthew Goodman, class of 1988, until after midnight.
"The family was asleep, but left the door unlocked for me," he said. " I went to bed and met them in the morning. They had young kids, so I got to go to the park and hike with the kids, and watch some soccer games. Dr. Goodman also showed me around the city and took me to some of the places where medical and college students hang out."
UT Southwestern's bed and breakfast program was started in 1988 at the suggestion of that year's class president, Dr. Mike Hiller, said Wes Norred, vice president for student and alumni affairs.
"Since then we have been asking alumni in cities with approved residency programs to participate," he said. "Over the years, hundreds of students have saved thousands of dollars and, even better, have connected with Southwestern alumni they might not have met otherwise. This has been a very successful program for many years, due to the generosity of our alumni and their concern for our students."
Alumni who wish to participate in the program can sign up via UT Southwestern's Web site. Medical students can access a bed and breakfast directory on the Web site, using a password.