BLOG: The University Place Hotel — How I got into my fellowship program
This picture is an old one I took myself of the University Place Hotel. I stayed there overnight for the interview for my endocrinology fellowship in the fall of 1993.
“What university?” you may ask.
It is Indiana University (IU), but with a catch.
It is not the IU in Bloomington that most folks following college sports are familiar with, one of the famous Big Ten sports campuses. As a resident of Michigan myself, and a die-hard Spartan, IU is a personal sports rival.
No, this IU is in Indianapolis. And to be exact, it is not abbreviated IU, though we all call it U, but rather the abbreviation is IUPUI.
That is a very long abbreviation for a university. Outside of Indiana, perhaps few people know that the (reputable) medical school in the state of Indiana is simply IU. But no, it is IUPUI. It stands for Indiana University and Purdue University in Indianapolis.
The story goes that as the State of Indiana did not have medical school, it was decided that a medical and engineering campus would be established in the capitol as a combined campus for the older Bloomington and Lafayette universities. With time, it became a full university.
It is a large medical complex. When I went for the interview in 1993, there were five large hospitals on the original campus, west of the freeway crossings. But more than 20 years ago, a huge merger occurred with the Methodist medical complex located on the east side of the freeway crossings. This has expanded the medical operation of IU medical school big time. Now, the IU Health includes numerous hospitals and facilities around the state.
As I was in the senior year of internal medicine residency at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan, in the fall of 1993, I started scheduling interviews for an endocrinology fellowship.
And, for the readers who read my blogs, they will recall the story of how I decided to go into endocrinology. That is another story, which can be read in this prior post:
So, I interviewed for three endocrine programs: Loyola in Chicago, Hershey in Pennsylvania and IU.
I chose IU.
At the time, there was no ERAS, or Match Program, etc. There was very little demand for fellowships by graduating internal medicine residents, a bigger trend toward primary care.
What led me to choose IU is what happened in this hotel.
As is the case, the program would recommend to prospective fellow candidates to RSVP for a hotel room of their choosing in town or in some cases, a hotel room in the institution’s own university hotel. Some universities have their own hotels on campus. As a fellowship program director myself, now at MSU, I know that in our case, prospective fellow candidates can stay at one of our institution’s not one, but two hotels on campus. Needless to say, over the last couple of years into the pandemic, our interviewing has been conducted remotely.
After arriving at Indy, I checked into the hotel the day before the interview.
As is the case with most fellowship programs, including ours, the fellowship program coordinator or a similar staffer would come to the hotel lobby around 7:30 in the morning to pick up the candidate fellows to accompany them to the endocrine division's building. It appeared I was the only candidate for that day, and I am not sure if they had interviewed any more candidates except for the other two candidates who started with me the following July.
When I got out of the elevator that morning, and expecting to meet the fellowship coordinator, I was greeted by a middle-aged man wearing a white coat, with a stethoscope. He was standing at the door of the elevator and introduced himself: "Mel Prince"...!
"Wait a minute", I said to myself: "Is this not the program director, himself?"
Yes, that was Dr. Melvin Prince, Professor and Program Director, and famous scientist/researcher (I think he was in DCCT and DPP, as IU was a major site for both landmark studies)! I could not believe that the Program Director himself would come to welcome me and walk with me to the endocrine building. I recall telling Dr. Prince that he did not need to come himself to greet me and that I could have gone to the building myself.
After the interview, the same day or the next day, he called me offering me a position. I accepted immediately.
It is funny that I took the picture of the hotel at the time of the interview. At the time, cell phones did not have cameras, so this must have been my old camera. It seems that I took the camera with me for the interview. At the time, I was a newcomer to America, and I had not traveled a lot, if at all, prior during busy IM residency (and low finances). So, perhaps this trip was kind of a rare thing for me — business and tourism.