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Release: Nov. 8, 2001

UI College of Medicine program helps students travel

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Upon graduating from medical school, students earn the title "doctor" but their training is far from complete. The years after medical school are spent in residencies – usually at hospitals – where they pursue advanced training in the specialty of their choice.

Like medical school, residency programs are very competitive and require students to visit the hospitals of their choice for personal interviews. Many fourth-year medical students interview at several hospitals to ensure their acceptance into a residency program. This process can drain the students physically, emotionally and financially.

The University of Iowa College of Medicine is beginning its third year of helping to reduce the stress of the residency interview process with the Help Our Students Travel (HOST) program.

The HOST program invites UI medical alumni around the country to host a fourth-year medical student in their home for a night or two during residency interviews. Alumni volunteers provide students with a free place to stay along with valuable advice about their prospective new home communities, medical centers, specialties and graduate medical education.

"Iowa alumni are our greatest ambassadors, advocates and educational partners," said Chad Ruback, director of alumni and external relations for the UI College of Medicine and creator of the program. "This is a great opportunity for our alumni to play a role in the lives of the future doctors. It is also comforting for students to find a link to the UI as they are entering a vastly changing time in their lives."

The program totals for the first two years represent 44 student participants who had 125 of their HOST sites matched. During their visits they traveled to 78 academic medical centers in 40 states.

"We anticipate a high level of participation in this year's HOST program," Ruback said. "Because of the success of the program we have also opened it up to residents who are interviewing for fellowship programs across the country."

Although not all alumni have had the chance to host a student, the HOST program has had more than 350 alumni volunteers open their homes to a medical student.

"I remember the expense and inconvenience of traveling, often on short notice, to interviews in far-flung places," said Patricia Walker, M.D., Ph.D., an alumna host for the program in Irvine, Calif. "I hope by hosting the students that I can make the process more personal and pleasant. It reminds me that behind every training program there is a community. I encourage other alumni to participate as it is both a nostalgic experience as well as being a nice way to help encourage the newest graduates."

The generosity of alumni like Walker has helped fourth-year medical students collectively save more than $30,000 on hotels, meals, rental cars and other expenses. That is essentially providing a $500 scholarship to each student participant.

"I would recommend this program to everyone," said Josh Broghammer, a fourth-year medical student and participant in the HOST program. "The hosts were great and very welcoming. My wife and I plan on participating in the program and inviting students to our home when we are practicing physicians because we have seen how beneficial the program is to students."

For more information about the UI College of Medicine HOST program, call Chad Ruback at (319) 335-8886 or visit online at

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.