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The History of MSP

Writers Include:

Michelle Hunt, Inaugural Class of 2021, Original Facebook Page Creator 2017, Original MSP Activities Chair 2018, MSP Treasurer 2018-19

Felicia McIntosh, Inaugural Class of 2021, Original MSP Secretary 2018

Haley Zarbock, Class of 2022, Original MSP Communications 2018

Larissa Clason, Class of 2023, MSP Communications Chair 2019-20, MSP Treasurer 2020-21 & 2022-23

KathrAnn Lee, Class of 2025, MSP President 2022-23


Medical Spouses and Partners, or MSP, created its first official Presidency in January of 2018, during the inaugural 2021 RVU-SU COM classes 1st year of school. There was already a Facebook Page created by Michelle Hunt in mid 2017 to reach out and connect to others, but the first formal presidency wasn’t created until January of 2018. The need for Significant Others to find support was severely needed. The first semester was tough on students and tough on their significant others and families.


The school took notice and reached out asking for any significant others that would be interested in forming some kind of group to make it easier to connect and support one another. Since there was already a Facebook Group, they started there. From this, MSP was created and molded into the amazing group it is now. While MSP is not an official RVU-SU club and is not run by the school, it is supported by the school. RVU-SU knows of MSP’s value to its students and this medical school community.


In honor of our MSP group hitting its 5 year mark, we wanted to share with our members a little bit about its history and upbringing. We reached out to some original MSP presidency members and some past MSP presidency members that really LOVE this group to tell you about MSP and their experience with it. MSP has come so far in the past 5 years and helped so many members connect and feel loved and supported.


How MSP began…


Michelle Hunt, Inaugural Class of 2021, Original Facebook Page Creator 2017, Original MSP Activities Chair 2018, MSP Treasurer 2018-19


My husband graduated as a member of the first class of RVU students. When he interviewed with the school, the buildings were not even complete. They met across the street and promised there would be a school there by orientation. Before medical school, my husband completed his Master’s degree in Phoenix at Midwestern University. This is an established health sciences college and they had a wife support group and Facebook page. I was more of a lurker on that page, but it made me feel connected to the other student families and gave me a place to belong. When we moved to Ivins, there was nothing like that. Since the school was brand new, I knew that it was an opportunity to start something. I started the RVU Significant Others Facebook page not really knowing if others would want to join. I am a shy person by nature, but I knew the small taste of what medical school would be like, and knew that I needed something to help me feel less isolated, less alone.

Our first year of medical school, this is what we had. There was no MSP, and it felt like the school hadn’t really considered the families of students and what we may need. I don’t blame the school for this, they were trying to get a medical school off the ground, but there was definitely a need for it. The first year consisted of park days, workout groups, and monthly meet ups at places like the Tilted Kiln and Waffle Love. If people wanted to be involved and meet others, we tried to create a space for that to happen, and it did.

When the second year of students started being accepted, the Facebook page changed. It doubled in size and was used as a place for resources. I created my own resource page and made it available to edit so that people could find recommendations for dentists, doctors, mechanics, hairdressers, etc. We all know how stressful it is to move! It was nice to see each other reaching out and supporting as others made the transition to Ivins.

It was at this point that the school reached out and asked if we wanted to be a part of a more organized group to support the spouses of the students. We met with the school and discussed what we were already doing as a group and if/how we could enhance it. I was in the first and second presidencies of MSP, and they looked vastly different from each other. There wasn’t a ton of organization at the beginning, because we didn’t know exactly what we were doing. There were definitely growing pains, but in the end, it has found its way.


The big focuses were on how we could support the students, each other, and contribute to the community. We met with city officers and discussed service opportunities, we had booths at the different school events, we did morale boosters at the school, and we hosted monthly activities for people to get together. Overall, we tried to keep others feeling connected throughout the medical school journey.


Felicia McIntosh, Inaugural Class of 2021, Original MSP Secretary 2018


We started MSP the second half of the inaugural year. I remember an email was sent out by the school asking for anyone who wanted to help and be more involved. Other schools had spouse/partner support groups and RVU thought that could be a selling point for the school. I’m not sure that everyone had the same goal/potential outcome in mind but overall we wanted a place that was safe for everyone who had a student at RVU to go to for questions, support, etc. Michelle Hunt had already started a Facebook Page prior that was for this purpose but it wasn’t attached to the school at all. She helped many in doing this after she had been a part of another Facebook Group at another university.


We knew the value of a resource like this but I think because the school wanted to be attached to it, it was hard because everything felt almost censored. I know for me personally, I thought it would be a great way to be/stay connected to my husband despite being so busy. He communicated his schedule etc to me really well but not all the significant others had that. Vie, Director of Student Life and Special Events as well as MSP school liaison at RVU-SU, suggested that we have a presidency. We had: President, VP, secretary, treasurer etc. We attempted to put on a few meetings to see what needs there were or if anyone wanted to be involved in serving each other or the students who did not have loved ones close by.


The school often asked us to volunteer for the schools events-mostly bringing food for activities, events, etc. I think they were very interested in supporting the students which is great, but could sometimes clash with how much support we also needed as significant others


Haley Zarbock, Class of 2022, Original MSP Communications 2018


My husband was a part of RVU-SU’s inaugural class but graduated a year later in 2022. Currently, we are living in Madison, Wisconsin. My husband is at University of Wisconsin- Madison in the intern year of his pediatric residency! I am a mother to 3 young kids, I have my bachelor’s degree in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations. For most of my career I have worked in marketing and social media. Once we moved for residency in June 2022, I quit all work and now stay at home with my kids full-time.

I was involved with the conception of MSP! It was our first year of medical school and we were also the first class at the Southern Utah campus. Since we were the inaugural class, obviously, nothing was established. Everything was very grassroots and we all felt like we were forging the way on our own. There was no easy way to make friends and there was no support or help for partners or families of medical students. Honestly, it was really lonely and hard for a lot of us. At some point during that first year RVU sent a message out to the spouses and partners seeing if anyone would be interested in forming an official, school-supported group. A few of us responded and we met together and created MSP!


Larissa Clason, Class of 2023, MSP Communications Chair 2019-20, MSP Treasurer 2020-21 & 2022-23


Unless you are a part of this world it's hard to really understand. Even coming into this journey I thought I knew what I was getting myself into and oh how wrong I was. When we initially moved to St. George for my husband to attend medical school in Ivins I was so anxious about being in a new city, meeting new people and finding a way to call this new place home. We were in RVU Southern Utah's second graduating class and MSP didn't exist at the time. You made friends by hoping that you got along with whoever the significant other was of the people your student studied with. Sometimes that worked great and sometimes it didn't.


The first time I was truly introduced to MSP was while I was on a girls trip in California meeting up with old college roommates. I remember getting a text from a friend named Caitlin Kunz, a former MSP President, asking how I felt about joining as the "communications" position of this group. I remember thinking "absolutely not" and that it would be a waste of my time. I worked full time traveling for business and didn't want to add something else to my plate, let alone something that was just starting up and had an unclear future ahead of it. After talking to my husband, asking Caitlin a million questions and talking to some other people about it I decided to join. For me joining was a means to an end. All I wanted was to be there for the incoming class for the one year I had planned to be in the group and help them find their place here without it taking the two years it did for me to feel like this was my home.

Shortly after joining, this group started to become more and more known to the significant others of RVU. We were all of a sudden a new resource for the school to help recruit new students, a group that threw events and most importantly to me, a group of friends. MSP gave Southern Utah a deeper meaning for me. It gave me roots here. It gave me a place to grow my personal talents, my friendships and my love of the school. When the group began no one really knew about it. Now if you search RVU you can often see MSP tied to it. This group has changed into something so unique and beautiful that it is the reason some of the students chose RVU over other schools they got into. This group has given our members a place to feel at home. I never could have dreamed of how far we would have come.


The creation of positions and activities…


Michelle Hunt - I honestly can’t remember the positions I held in the committees. Ha! I think I was Activities Chair and then Treasurer? We didn’t have clear cut roles and more bounced ideas around and tried to get things together. It was very informal, as it was the start of MSP. Probably my favorite activity we did was the welcome at orientation, where we had a panel of student spouses/partners who answered questions for the incoming class. I felt like it was very informative and helpful.


We also did a panel where we invited physician spouses from the community to come and talk to us. Not going to lie, I’m not sure everyone loved that one. It was scary, overwhelming, and just…a lot. The panel was brutally honest, which we needed. The reason I loved it is because it was real. Now that I’m in residency, I thoroughly appreciate the perspective those wives gave me. We needed to understand that the medical journey is tough in so many ways, both for the students and their families.


My favorite thing about the start of MSP is that it was an opportunity. I knew we didn’t have it figured out, and I wasn’t sad about that. It would grow over time into what it needed to be, but it was a starting place.


Felicia McIntosh - I was secretary initially and tried to support everyone in their roles and services. Because we were there during inaugural class, we had no one to look to for any advice or experience so we were all going through the trenches together trying to make things better for the next group coming in. Many groups and activities were started by so many of the others in the RVU community that were bunched/ umbrella-ed together in the MSP group.


I loved being able to get to know the next class and share whatever info we could about the area and school. We did a little meet n greet in the park for the next class when they did a second look day that was fun. We also did a little welcome/Q&A night that always seems to scare the incoming class, no matter how much we tried to make it less scary.


I was really excited that when I left, one of my original ideas was to fundraise and give back to the community by having a boutique of some sort. The next presidency put that into action with the first ever Winter Fest-which we came back to participate in. I loved bonding with some of the others in the group, this was by far my favorite part of the start of MSP-some of my closest friends came from that group.


Haley Zarbock - I was the Communications Director. Besides helping out with creating the bylaws (which the entire presidency did), I sent out newsletters, emails, posted to Facebook, and facilitated any sort of communication from MSP to its members. One of my favorite activities was when we had a panel of doctor wives come and chat with us about residency and life after medical training. It was very helpful and insightful!

MSP helped me get out of my shell and make friends! It was exactly what I needed during a very hard first couple of years of medical school.


Larissa Clason - My husband took a fellowship position at the school and in doing so added an extra year to his medical school journey. One year in the MSP presidency quickly changed into two and two turned into three. For my first year I was in the communications position. This role has since been adjusted to fit the growing needs of the group and no longer exists but was one of my favorites. I got to create our presence online and help with the official branding of the group.


For the other terms I served I was the Treasurer. My personal career is in financing so using these talents to further the vision of MSP was something I loved getting to partake in. Fundraising (especially Winterfest) is something I have loved being a part of and seeing the group benefit from the funds raised. People like to call me crazy for doing this for three years, and I know I kind of am, but the simple truth is that I love this group. I love the support it offers and I love that I get to be a part of something that helps so many people.


The continuation of MSP through these 5 years…


Michelle Hunt - I absolutely thought that MSP would grow, and I’m so glad it has! There is a very real need for it, and it has become something much greater than what it started as. I ordered shirts the first year they did them, and I love seeing it continue to evolve.


Felicia McIntosh - I knew that if we had people committed to MSP that it could be better with each group, but I had no idea what it would become after we left for 3rd year rotations. I think it’s important to have community and find those that can relate to this very unique way and stage of life because no one else gets it, except those who go through it.


Haley Zarbock - I remember being in our first meeting after the MSP presidency was established speculating if MSP would grow in the years to come. We hoped it would be helpful for future incoming classes. The first presidency put in so much time and effort to get MSP going and I am personally thrilled to see that it has grown into something even bigger and better than I had imagined!


Advice from those who have been there…


Michelle Hunt - Advice is hard to give, especially because I’m in the midst of residency craziness. I would say that first, don’t compare. Don’t compare your life to others, even if it seems like they’re going through the same things. Don’t compare your budget to anyone else’s. Don’t compare your debt to anyone else’s. Don’t compare your homelife/relationship with your student to anyone else’s. Don’t compare your students’ test scores to other students. Don’t compare your students’ goals to other students. There are so many paths in this medical journey that it is impossible to know which one you’ll take. We don’t get a lot of say in the matter, but we all end up where we need to be.

My other piece of advice would be to appreciate those who are walking the same path as you. I love my medical friends because they get it. Even now, in different residencies across the country, they get it. They understood that the weekend was no different than the weekdays when it came to my husband studying. They understood that there was no “quitting time” at the end of the day. They understood that I didn’t have a lot of outside support, so when I needed a babysitter, they offered, and they knew I’d do the same for them. We did potluck dinners so we weren’t eating at home alone. We watched the Bachelor/Bachelorette together. We sat at the park for hours, talking/venting/laughing/crying…you name it. While MSP isn’t a casual group of friends, it is the opportunity to find your people and make connections that will last long past medical school. Get involved as much as possible!


Felicia McIntosh - Less is more. Build on what is already there. Always include people of all backgrounds in the MSP leadership/committee because no one medical family is the same.


Haley Zarbock - Being the partner of a medical student puts you in a very unique situation that not very many people can relate to and understand. Medical school is hard on everyone – students, partners, families. Surrounding yourself with people who are in your same situation and who “get it” is helpful in so many ways. You have people who you can turn to when your partner is away studying, you have friends who you can hang out with so you don’t feel alone. You have people to turn to when thin

gs get hard or stressful, and they will understand you 100%. There are fun events you can go to to make sure you are taking time for yourself! Participating in MSP helps you form friendships that can last long after your medical journey is over. There is something bonding about experiencing something hard with other people. I will forever be grateful for the friends I made during my time at RVU-SU!

Larissa Clason - Graduating this year (May 2023) is going to be bittersweet. I have to say goodbye to close friends, goodbye to a school that has changed the course of my life and goodbye to the MSP community I helped create. If I had one bit of advice to offer I'd say jump in. Jump in and make this journey your own. It's often so easy to feel like you are only here because of your student. And although that may be technically true you are also here to further your personal talents and to grow. You matter. Your opinions matter. And you won't be able to truly see the impact you have here unless you jump in. Go to the activities. Create a group for a talent you have if there isn't one already. Find your place here. Find your home here. You have the world ahead of you and MSP is honored to be a part of your journey. MSP is a home, it's a family. It's a huge part of why saying goodbye to Southern Utah is going to be so hard. But what a wonderful thing it is that I have gotten to play a small role in creating this place so many can call a home.

MSP has been an amazing group for so many. What started as a small group has grown into something bigger. It has helped create resources, a sense of community, and created so many lasting friendships. Thank you to anyone and everyone who has made MSP possible! Celebrating 5 wonderful years! If you would like to help continue to evolve and support members more through MSP consider applying for a presidency position in February/March. Being a part of the presidency is an amazing opportunity to share your skills and help others find their way through this crazy medical school journey.


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