Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Tiffany Hillam!

Name: Tiffany Hillam
Student's Name: Steve Hillam
Student's Graduation Year: 2011
Your Birthday: 10/21
Blog: http://hillamfamily.blogspot.com/

Tell us about your family.
My husband and I have been married for seven years. We have one little boy, Nathan, who is two! He is the love of our life. We are in Utah doing rotations and love it! We enjoy being together as a family- going on bike rides, hiking, cooking, and laughing.
What is your favorite food?
I love food! It's really hard to pick a favorite but I love chocolate and Diet Coke as my "treats!" I love going to new restaurants and eating out. I love being in Utah near Cafe Rio!
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Being a wife and mother.
Where do you like to vacation?
We love going on vacation and can't wait until we can do it more often! Before Medical School, Steve and I would take vacations every chance we could! A few of my favorites were going to Yellowstone and the Tetons, Hawaii, and California.
If you knew you could try anything and not fail, what dream would you attempt?
I would love to sing on Broadway! In my dream I have a great voice, no stage fright, and my show would be sold out every night!
It's really too bad I wasn't born with that talent! lol

Monday, October 19, 2009

Meet the New First Year Rep!

Jennifer Orgill

I am from Arkansas though my husband and I moved here from Utah. We have been married for two and a half years and we have one son, Brenton who is 15 months. I enjoy painting, running, camping, hiking, crafting, travelling, and just hanging out.

As First Year Rep I am helping to plan the Columbia trip and the Couple's Event. Aside from those it would be great to plan a "girl's night out" at one of the coffee shops and just hang out and relax.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Heather Anderson!

Name: Heather Anderson
Student's Name: Andrew Anderson
Student's Graduation Year: 2012
Birthday: October 16th
Blog: heatherandandrewfamily.blogspot.com

Tell us about your family.
Andrew & I met at a rodeo in college, so we try to go to one every year. Sam is almost 2 and tons of fun! It is such a blast to watch him grow up and rediscover the world with him.
Do you have any pets?
...no, maybe a dog someday...
What is your favorite food?
Today, I think I'll choose a sun-warmed juicy nectarine.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
perhaps making it to be a quarter of a century?
Where do you like to vacation?
We usually visit family, but I would love to visit Europe: Paris, Rome, Dublin, Madrid...
What super-power would you most like to have, and why?
This came up in a conversation the other day! I'd have to say the ability to choose not to sleep. How sad is it that I need a superpower for that!
Where are you from?
I was born in New Hampshire and my family moved to Idaho when I was 8
Are you a beach, country or city person?

Right about now, I'd love to be lying on a beach soaking in the warmth. I would love to end up living in the country for the beauty, the peace, the lifestyle. But I also love the excitement of visiting a big city. If I were a single working woman, I'd live in an apartment in Manhattan...
If you knew you could try anything and not fail, what dream would you attempt?
Publish something I've written ... I'd probably still be too big of a wimp ...
Describe your perfect day.
Breakfast in bed (waffles & fresh fruit). Hanging out with my fam. Curling up with a good book. Dinner I don't have to cook ;-) Staying up late to work on projects and just hang out in a quiet house.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Happy Birthday Michelle Lewis!

Name: Michelle Lewis

Student’s Name: Ian Lewis

Student’s Graduation Year: 2013

Birthday: October 6th

Tell us about your family.

I am the oldest of 4 and now have two kids of my own. Nathan is 3 and Ella is 2. They are an adventure!

Do you have any pets?

No, But I grew up with some very strange ones.

What is your favorite food?

A big, hot mostly baked chocolate cookie with a scoop (or two) of ice cream on top sounds really good right now.

What word describes you best?

I am way too complex for a one-word-says-it-all description.

What is your favorite color?


How do you want to be remembered?

As a wonderful wife, mother, and friend to all. (I have a lot of work to do :)

Where are you from?

Springville, Utah

Are you a beach, country or city person?

It's a tossup between beach and country. I am definitely not a (big) city person.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Match Process

Newsletter article by Education Chair, Marbree

It is stressful, scary, and there is nothing any of us who have already been through it can say or do to fully eliminate those feelings. (Honestly, a little bit of fear is healthy to keep you from making rash decisions). My goal with this article is to help you get a little better grip on the situation and to give you some confidence in your decision making process. And remind you that there is hope on the other side.

Before we go any further, I want to define the terms I am going to use, so we are all on the same page. “Clerkship” refers to 3rd - & 4th-year clinical training while “internship” and “residency” refer to post-graduate training. They are all comprised of “rotations.”

The first thing that you need to realize is that – as you have already experienced in this journey of medical school – you and your student have differing perspectives and priorities because the lives you are experiencing are different. This does not change as you consider which clerkship sites you are going to put and in what order on your rank list for the match in October.

Both you advocates as well your students need to keep in mind that communication between the two of you in this process is at the heart of the success of your relationship, their success in their chosen profession, your success in your life, and the success of your family. What I write here is based on the certainty that the successes stated above will fail if the two of you do not, or cannot, communicate each step of the way.

We need to keep in mind long-term as well as short-term happiness. When we first arrived at KCOM, the Financial Aid office gave the advice, “You can live like students now, or you can live like students later.” They were warning against taking out excessive loans to pay for pizza delivery or a bigger house or a brand new car instead of making more frugal, but adequate, choices. The same is true of your lives over the next few years: where your student goes for rotations and/or residency. Your family may live in a small apartment, a big city or rural community, drive a long commute, live far from friends and family, and sacrifice your student to very long work hours or multiple out-rotations away from home. Your family may move several times now to get the best training site in each phase or move multiple times in the future because your doctor-partner is dissatisfied with their job or location.

This is not just because your doctor-to-be is probably going to be the primary breadwinner for your family. They will also likely be the primary debt-owner and will have to continue to work until that debt is paid off. This is true even if they quit being a physician and start a new career afterwards – sad but not uncommon, especially as it is becoming harder and harder to work in health care. But if you can find situations that help him/her get a quality education that is appropriate for them in an environment that you can at least tolerate, you will both have a much better opportunity to end up in an equally-satisfying place. Rest assured that KCOM makes sure that all of the sites you have to choose from for the clerkship match are high-quality options, no matter what their individual attributes. You will be fine wherever you match, as long as your student chooses to be dedicated and you choose to be flexible.

Here is a contrast of how medical students and their advocates prioritize factors choosing a clerkship site:


  1. Geographic location – return to Utah, East Coast, the mountains, AZ/FL/CO are “fun places”

  2. Long-term medical training/career goals – what residency programs will be available directly through that rotation site (i.e. OPTI programs) – important if pursuing a highly-competitive residency field, if they don’t “have the numbers;” getting their foot in the door and getting face time.

  3. Training-style emphasis – “book learning” didactics vs. “hands on” experience. This often lines up with the hospital-based vs. preceptor-based division, but not exclusively. For example, whether you will learn by heart everything on a differential diagnosis or be the “first assist” to the surgeon or perform a colonoscopy as a medical student.

  4. Presence or lack of “house staff” (i.e. interns and residents in addition to the students)

  5. Family considerations –job opportunities for their advocate, school systems for children, general community environment, social opportunities, etc.


  1. Family considerations – job and social opportunities for yourself and your children

  2. Geographic location – relative to family, friends, home or places you want to live in or visit

  3. Time with their student –commuting hours, work hours required, months to be spent on out-rotations, etc. NOTE: Almost everyone will have to do some out-rotating to search for residency programs, no matter where you are based. NOTE: Students are not protected by the “80-Hour Rule” that limits the number of hours interns and residents can legally work.

  4. Long-term medical training/career goals – i.e. final position/salary for their doctor-to-be

  5. Cost – cost of living, housing, expense of travel required to get to family

As different as these perspectives can make you feel, you are a family, a team with your student. (Otherwise, you probably wouldn’t be signed up for the SAA newsletter.) This cannot be a decision made by only one person. Unattached, single people have that luxury – you and your student do not. You, the advocate, have either been around long enough to have been a part of the original decision to pursue becoming a doctor, or you decided you liked your student enough to take that future as a part of the package deal.

There will be compromises – and most likely should be – on both sides. For example, a friend of ours paid for undergraduate and med school through the Army scholarship program, so he owes the military 9 years of service after the completion of his residency. His wife worked out the compromise that she would go far away from family to a 5-year residency in Hawaii and travel wherever the Army sent them afterwards if, after his commitment was up, she got to choose where they settled down (and she gets to open a bed and breakfast).

Medical students’ families do put up with inconveniences and discomfort in the short term, often putting their own dreams on-hold, to get their student through training. The students themselves do choose training sites for the impact it will have on their personal life as well as their education. Neither of you can allow yourself to become a wholly “sacrificial partner” nor should you expect your partner to become one. Delaying ones’ personal preferences is one thing, but wholly squelching them, especially unacknowledged, isn’t healthy or wise. Both you and your student need to always keep in mind that the job is not more important than the relationship.

Dr. Kent Blanke, Director of Medical Education for the residency program in Kirksville, gives a speech every year to the incoming intern/residents’ spouses. He wants us to know that our resident really would prefer to be home with us, but sometimes that is a sacrifice they have to make for the sake of their training. Medical training—from MCAT preparation to retirement—is stressful enough without adding family discord too. You cannot have long-term goals for your career and not have long-term goals for your family. The relationship has to emerge healthy and strong on the other side of this next phase, not just the education. Our doctors-to-be are going to need us.

Another hard part of the match will be the temptation to feel that you have to write in stone the path for the rest of your lives now, almost a year before the next phase even starts. Yes, for some, they will make (or have already made) a plan that they will stick to – completely as planned – without any hiccups or detours. And they will be completely happy with the results. But most of us will not.

Your student may match to their “perfect” training site and end up hating it. You may match to a “so-so” site that you plan to just use as a transitional point, then end up falling in love with the hospital and community and decide you want to settle down there. An unexpected rotation may totally catch your student off guard as either loving or hating the subject, totally changing the specialty they were convinced they wanted to pursue. Births, deaths, illnesses and financial crises happen. So do awards, fellowships, research opportunities and terrific mentor relationships. Rotation sites can open and close. And who knows what the future will look like as government health care reform takes effect. A concept that totally blew me away as we prepared for clerkship is that physicians do relocate during their careers for totally normal reasons, just like other professionals.

Read about Marbree's Personal Experience & advice.
Check out these great resources to help make your decision.

Rotations Terminology:

Marbree, our Education Chair, defines terms commonly used in discussing "rotations".

  1. Rotation – clinic-based training shadowing/assisting an attending physician in their specialty (i.e. Family Medicine, OMM, or Radiology), typically in 2- or 4-week or 1-month increments, concentrated on that specific discipline for that time period. Clerkship, Internship, Residency, and Fellowship training are comprised of multiple “rotations” as compared to 1st & 2nd year, which were classroom based.
  2. Clerkship – the 3rd and 4th year of medical education at KCOM, before graduating with a D.O. degree. Also referred to as “clinical rotations” or “rotations.” Your student is officially a “3rd/4th-year Osteopathic Medical Student” or “OMS-III / -IV.”
  3. Internship – the first year of post-graduate training (PGY-I). The medical student is no longer “Student Doctor So-and-So” but has now received their D.O. degree and is an Osteopathic Graduate Medical Education Year One(OGME-I). Frequently, this is lumped into the term “residency” but is technically a separate entity.
  4. Residency – post-graduate training beyond internship (so, PGY-II and up).
  5. Fellowship – further training in a subspecialty, most commonly, post-residency.
  6. Training site – the “home base” location for a rotations program (i.e. hospital, med school, AHEC or OPTI office)

Read Marbree's article.

The Match Process: Personal Experience

Newsletter article by Education Chair Marbree

When my husband, Mat, started medical school in 2003, we were pretty sure that he wanted to pursue OMM/Family Practice or Psychiatry either at Kirksville or Grand Rapids, MI. By the time the clerkship match came around, we were open to other ideas because his interests had expanded. In the fall, Mat and a classmate visited the hospitals in Rolla, MO, and Cape Girardeau, MO. We ended up ranking #1 – Rolla, #2 - KVille, #3 – Cape, #4 – Genesys in Grand Blanc, MI, etc.

We really liked Genesys and would have enjoyed a short-term move away from home. But we also knew that many of our friends wanted those spots much more than us, so we probably wouldn’t get to join them (Arizona and Genesys were the hot spots for our class). We are both from Missouri and part of our school funding was through the state primary care recruitment program (PRIMO) so we planned to eventually practice in MO. Mat liked the Missouri programs we ranked because they were all three hands-on. In addition, we liked that neither Rolla nor Cape had house staff so he wouldn’t have any other people to compete with for procedures and learning. He also really liked that they were preceptor-based programs, expecting it to make him push himself to learn more than he would in a strict didactics system. The clincher for Mat was that when he toured the two other programs, even though they both impressed him, it was at Rolla where he felt most connected and welcomed – both by the hospital and Dr. Hugh Schuetz, the DME.

We were matched with Cape Girardeau in the December match, and even though we were in no way traumatized, we just didn’t feel as much “at peace” about it as we expected, so we requested to be moved to another site, preferably Rolla. We didn’t think we’d have much chance since we did match to one of our top 3 and others were trying to scramble out of 5th & 6th slots or non-matches. I think Rolla had 5 slots that year. We petitioned for them to open a 6th slot, which is at the discretion of the host hospital (and their budget). Springfield, MO was still waiting for approval as a clerkship site, so once it was, two students left Rolla to train in Springfield. A third student ended up staying in Kirksville for a research fellowship. We were easily moved into the newly-vacated spot in Rolla, although it wasn’t until almost February that the reassignment was official.

I was satisfied with our program match for Mat’s sake but was still a little nervous about our community match for myself. My only images of Rolla were from passing through the rundown industrial side of town along the interstate and always on dreary, overcast days. And I had a less than positive expectation of weirdo engineering majors at the University of MO-Rolla. So I was apprehensive. However, when we went and visited together to search for housing, I was really impressed with the town which seemed like a combination of my favorite parts of Kirksville and my home area of Springfield, MO.

As it turned out we found a great neighborhood and people weren’t any weirder than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. I got a job with great people in a pharmacy through a KCOM alumni connection. We discovered a former classmate from Truman was going to the same church we attended and found some new really great friends. Dr. Schuetz and some of the other preceptors became mentors and friends who invited the students and their significant others to BBQ or to hit the local pizza joint. We loved the hospital and the community so much that Mat has already signed his contract to join the hospital’s internal medicine clinic (which, you may have noticed, was not on his list when we started this process in 2003) next July when he graduates residency. And we are both thrilled. So a rotation site that left me a little dubious of what my life would be like has turned out to be the place that I am very eager to get to call home for good.

Read the rest of Marbree's article & advice.

Website Resources for the Rotations Match

Researching the communities: here & here (allows side-by-side comparisons)

Information on Military Medical Training and the military match: here & here

Tiffany Sweeney's blog has great information about the residency match process - both MD & DO:

Information on AOA-approved residency programs available: here

Osteopathic Postdoctoral Training Institution (OPTI) sites: here

SOMA Clinical Clerkship Database (under construction)

Read Marbree's article.

Advice for the Rotations Match

Newsletter Article by Marbree, Education Chair

  1. Start now. Especially if your student has another year or two before they go through the clerkship match process. Make a binder or file to keep the information about different programs or general advice. Go to Hospital Day. Visit sites over midterm break. The hospitals get really excited to have you come to them and get some one-on-one interest.

  2. Talk to the students or residents and advocates who have been at the site, not just the recruiters and “officials”. They may still give a slight bias, but these are the people who will be able to tell you what life is really like. Plus, programs don’t care as much about how many students they recruit, but they do care how many interns they recruit. And converting students into interns is a lot easier than starting from scratch.

  3. Visit at least one rotation site. Even if you aren’t able to visit any other locations, you will get to see firsthand what you do or don’t like. Then you can formulate a list of questions that you want to have answered by your other candidates. Scheduling a visit to one of the nearby sites (i.e. Kirksville, Moberly, etc.) can be a worthwhile experience even if you are sure that you don’t even want to be in the Central Time Zone.

  4. No matter where you match for clerkship, your student will almost definitely have to do at least a few out-rotations away from home. Especially if they are interested in a highly-competitive residency program (i.e. Radiology, anesthesia, orthopedic surgery, dermatology, urology & ENT). If they have a military commitment, none of the clerkship sites feed directly into a military residency. It is not normal to match to a residency program where you have never had any “face time” and almost impossible when there is any competition at all for the slot.

  5. Do not “stack” your rank list so that you either match to your first choice or not at all. Do not put all your eggs into one basket. Do not put down a choice that you would not actually consider accepting. Besides, it is good practice for the residency match. The school does allow negotiations and is willing to cooperate with you. The residency match program does not. Take advantage of the flexibility now. If you match to a slot at all for residency, then you are legally obligated to that site.

  6. This is a fluid process. Clerkship sites can be approved for additional slots or entire new programs can get approved after the official match in October. People in slots you wanted may be accepted to fellowships or need to change locations due to family events (or even flunk a class and get Fifth-yeared).

  7. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – of your student, of other advocates, of residents and their advocates. Ask anyone you can learn from.

  8. And above all else, keep the lines of communication between yourself and your student open and active throughout the process.

Read the rest of Marbree's article.

Club Fair

Orientation Video

Just wanted to share the video we showed at Orientation . . .