From study dates and ski trips to intramural championships, Doctors Guillermo and Jesse Alfonso reflect on how they found their perfect match in the most challenging of environments: medical school.
We caught up with Guillermo and Jesse to learn more about how they balanced the extreme pressures that came with the journey to becoming physicians while still finding time for their relationship and successfully navigating the couples match into residency.
How did you two meet?
Jesse: We met our first year of medical school at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine – Carolinas Campus (VCOM-Carolinas)! Technically we met before school even started. We both moved to Spartanburg, SC a few weeks before the start of classes to get to know the area better. At the time, I was living with two roommates, and we invited all our classmates in town to get frozen yogurt and Guillermo was there. I must be honest: it wasn’t love at first sight! We started studying together and though Guillermo will deny it now—it was obvious to everyone around us that he was in love with me. Perhaps at the time I was naive, but looking back, I was definitely missing all the tell-tale signs. Finally, we started dating, and we never looked back!
Undeniably, medical school is a lot to manage! How did you two juggle a relationship and medical school at the same time?
Guillermo: This is so true, medical school is a lot to manage, and we’d be lying if we said it wasn’t very difficult sometimes. What we found helpful was making time for activities and adventures outside of school and the classroom. Together, we coached a basketball team at the YMCA of Greater Spartanburg (championship winners 2017!), played intramural sports and went on many ski trips. We mentioned that our relationship started with us studying together, but once we started dating, we actually stopped studying together because we each had our own separate study methods. I think studying separately and respecting one another’s individual study techniques really helped to keep medical school stress separate from our relationship.
What tips and tricks would you offer to medical students and physicians on how to maintain a healthy and happy relationship during medical school and residency?
Quite simply, make time for things and humans you love. Medicine is always going to be a big part of your life, and some would say physicians are married to medicine. But medicine isn’t everything. Some of the things you like will be things you do with your significant other and some of the things you like will be things you do without your significant other, and we think both are equally important. Some months, it will be harder to balance the two, and that is all right. During your more difficult months, you need to power through, and knowing that you have a support system at home who understands the struggle makes all the difference. Keep your head up and have something to look forward to when you finish!
What was the couples match like?
We participated in the couples match in 2019, and if we’re honest, the process can be super confusing. Once you figure it out, though, you will realize that it doesn’t hinder you from matching to your top choice residency. In our experience, programs were very receptive to the couples match. We suggest that if you’re going into it, make sure to let your interviewers know. Many of the interviews we each landed were because we brought up the fact that our other half already had an interview at the same program in a different specialty. At the end of the day, despite the confusion early on, the couples match was a great experience for us. We both successfully matched to the University of Arizona College of Medicine at Tuscon—Guillermo into radiology, and Jesse into pediatrics.
If you could go back and do it all over again, would you change anything?
The one thing Jesse would change: NO boards beard for Guillermo.
The one thing Guillermo would change: NO karaoke for Jesse.
In all seriousness, we wouldn’t change a thing. As cliche as it sounds, we believe everything happens for a reason and you end up where you are meant to be and with whom you are meant to be with. ♥️