RESIDENCY INTERVIEW season can be one of the most stressful parts of an intense final year in medical school. The interview process is grueling, the stakes are high, and there are a hundred moving parts to keep track of as prospective residents travel across the United States. The last thing many students want to worry about—with so much else on their minds—is paying for lodging in a strange city. To help ease those worries, Indiana University School of Medicine created Help Our Students Travel (HOST).
HOST connects IU School of Medicine alumni with fourth-year medical students who are doing residency interviews in their area. The school has graduates in every corner of the country. No matter where a potential resident is interviewing, there’s a good chance there is already School of Medicine alumni willing to lend a hand—or a home.
“You can imagine the cost of flying or driving to a residency program where you had to pay for the hotel as well,” says Jose Espada, Director of the IU School of Medicine Student Financial Services. “The HOST program alleviates that cost.”
Alumni host the students in their own homes, providing lodging with a personal touch in an otherwise strange city. But with the HOST program students get more than just a free room. Many hosts go all out, giving their visitors homecooked meals, transportation, and invaluable insight. In many ways, hosts serve as informal mentors to the visiting students, offering pointers for getting through the upcoming residency interviews, advice about working in the local medical community, and tips on life in that city.
Students and alumni are matched by filling out applications online through the School of Medicine website. Once the application is submitted, students are usually matched within two weeks if a host is available. Alumni who can’t house a student may also pay for that student’s hotel costs during the interview process, offering another way for alumni to support the next generation of physicians.
“There is not really a way to quantify the savings that the HOST program plays in the interview process,” says Jose Espada, “but undoubtedly the HOST program not only saves money for students who use it, but it provides a rich opportunity to learn about the area and the dynamics of the area's health care system.”