by Laura Yeater, MD
Fourth year of medical school is always touted as the “best year of medical school” and a time when you should travel, enjoy life, and make the most of your “freedom” before starting residency. A year filled with celebrations such as match day ceremonies, awards ceremonies, and graduations. Many residents have described the 3 months between match day in March and starting residency July 1st as one of the best times of their lives: a worry-free time where they could enjoy themselves knowing that all their hard work during medical school had paid off and they had finally secured a job in their specialty of choice! As a fourth-year student I was so excited for this “golden” time and planned trips with my family, trips with my classmates, and weekends away with my husband. I had given my parents and grandparents my match day and graduation day dates over a year in advance so that they could get the time off work and have no excuse to miss these huge milestones. I was so excited to make the most of the end of fourth year–and then COVID-19 hit.
Coronavirus, a term that changed from medical jargon to common household lingo, changed every single one of my plans. First match day went virtual and I remember being devastated but saying, “It’s okay, we will still all see each other at graduation” and then a few weeks later graduation became virtual. This meant that our class would never have a chance to say goodbye in person or take celebratory pictures together. My international trips got cancelled and my weekends with friends and family were also quickly cancelled. My last holiday at home, Easter, was celebrated with my family via Zoom which meant that I wouldn’t have seen many of my cousins since New Year’s Eve. I couldn’t even hang out with my friends unless we were outside. It was especially devastating when considering the fact that I was moving 1700 miles away and had never lived outside of Northeast Ohio before. My husband and I spent most of what should have been a great adventurous time sitting in our home watching TV and movies, going on walks, and feeling pretty alone. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t extremely disappointed and that I didn’t get pretty down sometimes, especially when I thought of having to move to a new city far from all of the people that I loved after not seeing them for months.
I arrived in Salt Lake City unsure what to expect and moderately apprehensive since all of my recent expectations had been majorly let down. My husband and I set up our apartment and started to explore the area. We quickly fell in love with the mountains and hiking and the people. We were able to take a few weekend trips camping at the local national parks and got to meet some our co-residents. Quickly after meeting my co-interns and some of the program faculty I remembered why we fell in love with this program in the first place. I was greeted with open arms and excitement and passion for family medicine. My co-interns are the most genuine, kind, passionate, and supportive people I know and the faculty have been wonderful. Even with all the social distancing and mask wearing I know that the University of Utah is the right place for me. The combination of wonderful coworkers, a beautiful setting, and a passionate community have finally made something feel exciting and wonderful in a time full of uncertainty. One positive for the residency class of 2023 is the bond that we will share over our experiences with COVID-19 and moving across country during a pandemic.
This will be a challenging year to be a fourth-year medical student as well since all away rotations and in-person interviews have been cancelled. It will be more difficult than previous years to know if you jive with a program and their residents. My advice as someone who is on the other side of the match process is to follow your heart. Additionally, if you are considering the University of Utah for family medicine you should know that if you match here you will be met by exceptional residents who want to support you in any way possible. You will be greeted by excellent support staff who will seamlessly get you hooked into a health system and you will have faculty that will be innovative and creative in order to give you the best learning options possible even if we are still in the midst of a pandemic. With all of the challenges that the world is facing I cannot be more thankful to have arrived to my new home. The transition has been easier than I ever imagined due to an excellent group of people surrounding me.
Laura Yeater, MD, is from Ashland, Ohio and chose family medicine at the University of Utah due to the unique opportunities to train in an academic center, get rural experience, and spend time in a community hospital. She also was attracted to the outdoor activities and ability to explore a new part of the country. The plethora of outstanding faculty and friendly residents were icing on the cake. Her medical interests include women’s health, obstetrics, medical assisted treatment and hospice and palliative medicine. She hopes to one day work in a small town and care for entire families