• Students Keep Social Media Match Tool Alive

    March 14, 2023, David Mitchell — Unlike most of the Class of 2023, Tema Fodje won’t be waiting for an envelope or an email to open on March 17, Match Day. The fourth-year student at Wright State University’s Boonshoft School of Medicine already knows where she’s headed.

    Fodje, who matched to the National Capital Consortium Family Medicine Residency at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in December during the military match (i.e., Joint Service GME Selection Board), has been busy helping other students find their new homes in family medicine.

    She started exploring her options in family medicine during the 2020-21 academic year using the Virtual Family Medicine Match social media platforms that Phoebe Hughes, M.D., M.P.H., created on Instagram and Twitter while a student at Florida International University’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine.

    “I used it to find out about programs and to find out what’s out there,” Fodje said. “You know about the big-name programs, but there are so many other amazing family medicine programs that you may not know about unless you’ve been searching.”

    Hughes, now a second-year resident at Cascades East Family Medicine Residency in Oregon, had allowed different family medicine residencies to take over the Instagram account so programs could show off their facilities and answer questions from potential applicants.

    When Fodje entered her third year of medical school, she was disappointed to see that the Virtual Family Medicine Match accounts were inactive following Hughes’ graduation.

    “That was just an amazing resource, so I reached out and said, ‘Hey, if anybody knows who ran this page, I’d love to help get it back off the ground and run it,’” Fodje said.

    Fodje and Hughes connected, and for the past year Fodje has run the accounts with Tong Yan, a fourth-year student at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. The Instagram account has grown to more than 3,600 followers, while the Twitter account has more than 1,000. Fodje and Yan hope to find medical students interested in running the accounts during the 2023-24 match cycle.

    “Social media is really the big thing now to find out about programs,” said Fodje, who also ran a family medicine webpage for the military this match cycle with Erin Lucero, a fourth-year student at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine.

    Fodje initially applied to residencies through both the military match and the National Resident Matching Program, but she withdrew from the Electronic Residency Application Service after matching with Fort Belvoir, which brings together Army, Navy and Air Force trainees on an Army base in Virginia.

    She said the decision to pursue training through the military was an easy one.

    “I looked at the amount of loans I already had for the first year of medical school,” she said, “and I did not want to owe anymore.”

    Fodje will have a four-year commitment to the U.S. Navy after residency, but she intends to stay longer.

    “I’m planning to make it my career,” she said. “I have a lot of interests, and it seems like the things I want out of  family medicine I can really do in the Navy. I love the full-spectrum family medicine that we talk about. Unfortunately, on the civilian side, there sometimes are issues with being able to do all of that unless you’re practicing in certain areas. With the Navy, I will be able to do obstetric care. I could run a labor deck. I could run inpatient care. I love global health and the idea of being able to work internationally. With all of my interests, it just makes sense for me to stay in.”

    Fodje has already taken on leadership roles in military medicine, serving as the student member of the Uniformed Services Academy of Family Physicians. She said that experience helped her make connections, including fellow USAFP Director and U.S. Navy Cmdr. Francesca Cimino, M.D., the program director at Fort Belvoir.

    “You get to meet so many people,” Fodje said. “Something we always say is that military medicine is a very small community. That’s a beautiful thing because it’s never ‘goodbye’ to anybody. It’s always, ‘OK, I’ll see you some other time.’ For example, the students I saw at the USAFP meeting last year were on sub-internships with me this past summer. You get to know people, and these are people who are going to be in each other’s lives for — at the very least — seven years because of residency and our commitments. It’s been really great getting to join that community ahead of the residency.”