An open door policy: Alumni welcome traveling students to their homes

UF HOST program matches students with alumni who provide free lodging to students interviewing for residency.

By Priscilla Santos

It was a typical December morning in the Rocky Mountains: windchill below zero. Jaimie Johnson, a fourth-year medical student at the UF College of Medicine, had an interview at a downtown hospital for a residency slot. So she wouldn’t have to brave the cold and wind at the bus stop, her “host” for the two-day interview trip, UF medical alum Jason Shofnos, MD ’01, drove her to her interview.

“Dr. Shofnos and his family were wonderfully enthusiastic about hosting UF College of Medicine students,” explains Johnson. “And very helpful. Jason and his wife, Tara, would not let me wait for the bus in the freezing cold. I really appreciated that.”

Johnson, who graduated from the COM in May, participated in the Help Our Student Travel program, more commonly known as the HOST program, coordinated by the UF Medical Alumni Affairs office. The purpose is to match students with alumni who are willing to provide free lodging to soon-to-be residents interviewing in their city. Alumni also offer valuable advice and insight concerning residency training, the medical center and their community. And even a welcome ride if necessary.

Peter Salib is another fourth-year medical student who took advantage of the HOST program and says it is a great opportunity for students to meet a professional with a similar background and discuss issues relevant to doing residency at the particular institution.

“They have inside information about the city you are visiting and often about the institution where you are interviewing,” he says. “And they can save you quite a bit of money.”

Shofnos, a general surgeon at two hospitals outside Denver, recently hosted Salib and several other medical students. He says more of his fellow COM alumni should open their homes to future residents who share a common bond and trained where they trained.

“It was a long time ago, but I think if we all try to remember not only how expensive but also how stressful the situation was, we would be more inclined to help in any way we can,” he says.

Graduates of the College of Medicine interested in participating in the HOST program can go online and fill out the appropriate form at