Western Kentucky is special to Claire and Dylan Sanford. It’s where they met and started dating. It’s where Dylan proposed to Claire, on the same Owensboro High School court he played basketball and she cheered.

The couple remained in the region for college at Western Kentucky University, then medical school at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine-Bowling Green Campus.

After graduating medical school this spring, western Kentucky is where the Sanfords will spend their first years as doctors. On Match Day, they found out they both were accepted into the UK (Bowling Green) Internal Medicine Residency program at Med Center Health, a leading hospital system in the region.

“Staying close to home was important, but through training, we also got to meet all the Med Center Health attendings and residents,” Dylan said. “We really enjoyed being part of the team, and we really liked working with them. So we’re pretty excited to get to continue to do that.”

The UK College of Medicine developed key partnerships with Med Center Health and WKU to establish the four-year medical school campus where Claire and Dylan trained. Thanks to these community partnerships, Claire, Dylan, and their classmates at the UK College of Medicine-Bowling Green Campus were able to learn from Med Center Health residents and physicians during clinical rotations while utilizing WKU facilities and resources.

Meanwhile, the regional campus’ small class size (up to 30 students each class) allowed for more one-on-one training experience. Claire and Dylan not only became close with classmates and Med Center Health physicians, but also leadership and staff, including the campus’ student affairs team who Dylan said played a big part in helping them decide to join the campus.  

For their best chance to match into residency programs and continue training together, the Sanfords went through the National Residency Matching Program’s “couples match” and ranked more than 100 combinations.

When they opened their letters, their match in Bowling Green brought on a sigh of relief.

“We love Bowling Green,” Claire said. “I’m so excited to stay here and work with UK medical students at the Bowling Green Campus.”

Adding to the excitement, Claire and Dylan were two of 78 students across all campuses in the UK College of Medicine Class of 2023 who matched into Kentucky residency programs. This total was 42% of the class, the highest percentage in school history.

“I remember attending an open house event for the Bowling Green Campus, and they shared their mission of recruiting future physicians from Kentucky to train in Kentucky, and hopefully stay in Kentucky,” Claire said. “I feel like our class really embodied that mission statement.”

Growing up in western Kentucky, the Sanfords recognized the region’s need for physicians. When they complete residency training in Bowling Green, they hope to return to their hometown of Owensboro and practice medicine, doing their part to help alleviate the physician shortage in the Commonwealth – the special place they call home.

Claire and Dylan Sanford