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Pay It Forward

About four months ago, I received an email from my daughter Alex:

The son of a friend of a friend is a third-year medical student who has a one month rotation at our local Los Alamitos Hospital. Do you know of a place where he could rent a room for a month?

As I pondered the email, I thought to myself—I live by myself in a multi-bedroom home. I’ve had interns stay with me before. Should I open up my home to a complete stranger?

After all, if my child were a third-year medical student and needed a place to stay, I would think it was awesome if a friendly family offered a rent-free home to stay in.

It took me just a few minutes to decide to offer that Nathan stay at my house.

We texted a couple of times and spoke for a few minutes the weekend before he moved in. Up until that point, I had never met him in person.

What a nice guy, and what an awesome experience for both of us!


Nathan is 25 years old and studying to be a doctor of osteopathic medicine at Western University of Health Sciences. In their third year, medical students do month-long rotations at various hospitals to experience a variety of medical fields. His first rotation while living with me was in internal medicine. He actually ended up staying another month to complete his next rotation in surgery.

I haven’t lived with anyone for a few years, so it was interesting to get up in the morning and have someone join me for coffee and breakfast.

The best part is when we meet at home in the evening and talk through our day. I find his stories about various patients interesting. During his current rotation, his descriptions of surgeries he’s witnessed intrigue me.

During the last two months, we’ve also talked about how important bedside manner is. And how you talk to a family after someone passes away (fortunately, he is quite empathetic). And how frustrating it is to work with a doctor who is ridiculously impatient and demanding.

Nathan will be moving out this weekend; I think we are both a little sad. He is paying for his entire medical education himself, so he has expressed immense gratitude for his stay at my house gratis. For me, it was a gift to spend time with a young person at the very beginning of his career, and to be reminded of the fun of having a housemate for a short period of time. (I still appreciate my solitude, which I use to breathe deeply and decompress from my daily toil.)

If you ever have the chance to host a student for a few weeks, I highly encourage it. In addition to helping them by providing a safe, clean, friendly place to stay, it is a way for you to step outside your normal schedule and circle of friends.

In August, I will be hosting up to four students for a week, while the International Maccabi Youth Games are held in Orange County! I’m excited to have the energy of students in my home again.


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