HOSTS Q and A for students

For 2020/2021 and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students will register with their residency interview information and the Office of Alumni Affairs will match students with one or two alumni in the residency interview area to promote a virtual mentor connection versus a travel connection.  We hope to return to the travel program in 2021/2022.  Students will be provided with instructions in a separate email.

How many times can I use the HOSTS program?

We ask that students limit the use of the program to five times so that we are able to accommodate as many student requests as possible. We will make every effort to match all requests, but students should be mindful that additional requests will be handled on an "as available" basis after we have accommodated other students enrolled in the program.

Is my spouse able to stay with me?

We expect many hosts will welcome spouses. Students should include the spouse accommodation request on the initial registration form. If a student's travel is contingent upon the spouse's ability to be accommodated, students should elaborate in the "Comments" section.

Can I stay with a host for more than one day?

Yes, assuming the alumni host is available and agreeable. All requested dates should be included in the initial student registration form. We discourage extended-stay requests after a reservation is confirmed

Who are the HOSTS volunteers and where do they live?

All hosts are SIU SOM alumni who practice in most all 50 states. While we may have alumni practicing in a particular state, alumni may or may not be geographically close to the residency interview site. Questions regarding the proximity of alumni to interview site(s) should be directed to Julie Robbs at

What can I expect from the HOSTS family?

We ask the alumni host to provide complimentary overnight accommodations in their home. While it is possible that hosts may be gracious to offer transportation to/from interviews and airports, meals or city tours, students should not have an expectation of benefits other than complimentary accommodations. We encourage students to engage the alumni host in meaningful dialog that would provide insight on the prospective medical center, cost of living in the region, and other quality of life questions. If the host family is agreeable, we ask students to commemorate the visit with a digital photo of themselves and the host family. The photo will be used as part of a HOSTS program photo gallery on the School of Medicine alumni web page.

How do I sign up for the HOSTS program?

Complete the Student Registration Form to advise when and where residency interviews will occur. The student registration form must be submitted at least two weeks prior to the interview dates to allow adequate time for a host family match. The Office of Alumni Affairs will stay in communication with the student as the match proceeds.

What criteria are used for matching alumni volunteers and students?

When a student completes the on-line Student Registration Form, we contact prospective alumni hosts in the area. Alumni/student matching is done primarily by geography and alumni availability. When multiple alumni are located within the specified geography, specialty is a secondary factor considered in the match. The student will be contacted when a successful match is confirmed.

Do I have any direct contact with the alumni host prior to travel?

Yes! Once a match has been established, we will provide the student with alumni contact information. It is then up to the student to contact the alumni host and share the details of travel/ interview plans. Students must contact the alumni host to confirm their stay as soon as we communicate the alumni contact information. If a student's travel/interview plans change, the student must re-contact the alumni host and notify Julie Robbs of the change via email at

How far in advance should I contact my host?

Contact your host immediately upon receiving the information. If you are matched with an alumni host early, the student must reconfirm plans one week prior to your travel. The reconfirmation process is an important way to give hosts assurance that plans have not changed.

What if my interview plans or dates change or my travel is cancelled?

Contact your alumni host immediately to advise them of the change. Then contact Julie Robbs at or phone 217-545-7800 within 24 hours of the change.

Do I need to do anything after using the program?

Yes, we ask that you send a thank you note to the host family and complete an on-line evaluation of your visit within 10 days of the travel dates. In addition, please email digital photos of you with your HOST(S) to Julie Robbs at

Can the HOSTS Program coordinate accommodations for away electives?

Not at this time.