Software Helps Medical Couples Stay Together
By Jennifer Ghandhi
Josh and Ginger Menendez (with their son) carry out a Match Day tradition—filling in their names and residency location on maps of the U.S. and Alabama.
Compromise is an important part of any relationship, but for couples preparing to graduate from medical school, the balance between give and take involves a third party: a computer program.
Each year, senior medical students must compete with thousands of fellow students and recent graduates for residency training positions at hospitals across the country. The doctors-to-be rank their destinations of choice; residency programs do the same for their preferred applicants. The final decision comes from the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP), a private, nonprofit organization that uses a complex, computerized algorithm to decide the best way to pair everyone up. Results are announced at medical schools across the country on Match Day—a nationwide event featuring sealed envelopes and a high dose of tension.
For engaged or married seniors in medical school, an already tricky process becomes significantly more complex. “There is a way for the computer system to link two students who want to stay together,” explains Laura Kezar, M.D., associate dean of students at the UAB School of Medicine. Known as the Couples Match, this process allows any two people to try to match at residency programs in the same location. (Although the two are usually an actual couple, students who hope to open a practice together also have been known to choose the Couples Match.)
Engineering an Entrepreneurial Future
By Cary Estes
IEM director Dale Callahan says the program enables clients by giving them the skills and confidence to pursue new business goals.
The problem with the corporate ladder is that there’s only one way up. Many creative professionals in technical fields view the climb as a fast track to frustration, with limited options to break out and take charge of their careers.
Since 2000, many of these workers have found freedom in UAB’s Information Engineering and Management (IEM) program. The program offers a master’s degree in engineering, but participants, known in the program as clients, say it feels more like an M.B.A. in technology, offering them the business knowledge and skills, and confidence, they need to venture out on their own.
“We take experienced professionals who feel unfulfilled and ask them where they want to go,” says IEM director Dale Callahan, Ph.D. “That question hits a nerve, because a lot of people don’t have an answer. They’re just following the process, and nowhere along the line has anybody asked, ‘What do you really want to do?’”
The IEM curriculum covers project management, marketing and business strategy, software engineering principles, and information security, among other topics. But it also offers valuable lessons in entrepreneurship, public speaking, and presentation skills, along with personal mentoring from faculty as clients develop their own business ventures. “We’ve become almost a coaching program,” Callahan says. “We broaden clients’ experience with what’s going on in the industry. But we also help them to define their goals and reach them. Most of them don’t know what they want. They just know they want something different.”
By Bob Shepard
In our increasingly mobile society, the fastest-growing segment of the population is also the slowest moving: Over the next few decades, the number of people in the United States over age 65 will double. But a major UAB study has demonstrated that mobility is just as important to older Americans as it is to their younger counterparts. In fact, for the elderly, the ability to keep moving can mean the difference between life and death.
The UAB Study of Aging enrolled a thousand people in five central Alabama counties and followed them for eight years. Over that time, participants who frequently ventured out beyond their homes, without assistance from equipment or another person, were far more likely to remain healthy and independent than those who stayed at home or left only with assistance, says Richard Allman, M.D., principal investigator of the Study of Aging and director of the Birmingham/Atlanta VA Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center and the UAB Center for Aging.
Allman compares the Study of Aging to the famous Framingham Heart Study, which began in 1948 and has provided much of the now common knowledge on the effects of diet, exercise, and medications on heart disease. In the same way, Allman says, UAB's study is “providing the knowledge that will be needed to develop and validate a whole host of possible interventions aimed at giving our aging population a better quality of life.”