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What I Wish I Knew About Fellowships: A Significant Others Perspective

By: Sara Muir

I can’t help but feel as a medical school spouse, information that trickles down to me is a little sparse (not to fault my husband, it’s just how it goes sometimes). I hope my thoughts and what information I’ve gathered so far in this journey can help answer some questions about the fellowship position. *Major disclaimer though: I’m only 3 months into this and others in my position may have totally different feelings and outlooks* and just so you have a little background on my husband and myself… Max is now a 3rd year student who began his Anatomy Fellowship this semester. We have a daughter, Matilda, who will be two in December.

When Max started talking about applying for one of the Anatomy Fellow positions, I honestly had no clue what he was talking about. I thought that fellowships were what sometimes comes after residency? Right? Yep, that’s a thing but it turns out that Rocky Vista offers fellowship opportunities before then. Once I pieced that together, then came even more questions about what a fellow does and how this will impact our lives.

Here are some basics. A fellow is a 3rd, 4th, and technically 5th year student who gets to teach either Anatomy or OPP to the 1st year students. In order to qualify to apply, the student must be a 2nd year student and match the school’s grade requirements.

The application process is much like applying to medical school: essays, an interview with the faculty, and then the dreaded part… waiting for a decision. Each year, two students are selected for Anatomy Fellow and four for OPP Fellow.

As I mentioned, fellows teach the 1st year students. So for Max, whenever the 1st years have a class that includes dissection/anatomy he is teaching. When they don’t, he’s doing rotations. On average, when he has been teaching, his days have been close to 9-5. There have been a couple 15+ hour long days mixed in but that’s not typical. This has been absolutely amazing for our little girl and me. I would say that since the fellowship began, we’ve seen Max more than any other time in medical school. It’s truly been life changing for our family.

Being a fellow also has a major impact on rotations. Usually, with rotations, you rank the rotation places, 1- (however many are available that year) and fate will basically decide your future. With the fellowship, you get to choose where you do your rotations. We chose to stay in St. George so Max wouldn’t have to travel for rotations. But of course, Max’s first rotation was in Provo for a month. Although we did not see that coming, we embraced the unexpected, and thankfully it worked out just fine.

So, in order to fit all the necessary rotations in while teaching it adds an additional year to medical school. Some might see this as a con but for me, knowing that we’ll definitely be in St. George for the next 3 years is the best thing for my family.

One of the most impactful and beneficial parts of becoming a fellow is that the last years of tuition are paid for by the school. For us, this alone outweighed any downsides— which I honestly can’t think of any.

I know that Max’s responsibilities and schedule will change but based on our experience so far, I can’t recommend it enough for those students who are interested to apply for a fellowship position. It’s an extraordinary learning opportunity. I’m so proud that Max gets to be a part of it.

Max and I would be more than happy to talk about any questions you might have so please don’t hesitate to reach out. Wishing you all the best on the journey you’re on!

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