Medical school forges a bond of commonality where relationships are often a natural outgrowth for many medical students. For two med students in particular, volunteering at University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med) Student Outreach Clinics brought them closer than they ever could have imagined.
Though Lance Horner was born in California and Aradhana Mehta in West Virginia, they both ended up in Reno for high school. They both attended the University of Nevada, Reno and graduated in 2013. Lance earned a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry & molecular biology and Aradhana earned bachelor of science degree in biology. Though they didn’t meet until medical school, they both chose UNR Med to stay close to their families in Reno.
Finding more than common ground between classmates
“I was a first year and Lance was a second year, when we met,” said Aradhana.
“Lance was interviewing me for a volunteer position at the SOC where he was a clinic assistant at the time. We became really good friends while working together and I eventually became a clinic assistant, as well. We both continued to work at the SOC throughout medical school. I became the chief operations officer and he became the executive director.”
Lance and Aradhana’s medical relationship was built on shared values, similar passions, and deep commitments to medicine.
“The best moments that we shared at UNR Med were at the SOC. Spending our Saturday mornings and Tuesday nights there together really shaped our relationship. The SOC was always special to us because we both want to serve underserved populations in our careers, and this is the specific aim of the SOC,” said Aradhana.
Medical school: relationship training ground
Relationships during medical school or residency may offer the loving ear and warm shoulder of a partner who understands the ups and downs of medicine. There also are practical benefits to med school romances, like gaining a built-in study partner. But, they also can double the challenge of too little free time and joint punishing schedules.
“The entire experience is challenging and can be very trying on any relationship,” said Aradhana. “Since Lance is 2 years ahead of me, he was on his clinical rotations while I was still in my didactic years. This meant that when I had free time, he was busy in the hospital and when he was free, I was usually in some required lecture or studying for a test. It was nice in the sense that we both understood what the other person was going through and we both pushed each other to keep going even when we were exhausted from the long hours of work. During those years, we both grew together as people, as future physicians and as a couple.”
The uncertainty of their futures wore on both of them. Lance graduated with the UNR Med class of 2017 and matched at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) in general surgery. “Once Lance found out where he was going for residency, the remaining part of my medical school was wondering where I was going to end up and if it would be anywhere close to my husband.”
Aradhana explained further, there just isn't really time to be a normal couple. Spontaneous weekend trips, date nights, going to close friend's weddings and special events are big sacrifices during medical school.
The couple encouraged each other to keep going by celebrating the completion of block exams, board exams and the like, by going to dinner or a movie.
“Patience and understanding, as well as an equal partnership were all key.”
Passing the tests: smooth operator
“Looking back now and knowing the full story, I feel so bad for Lance,” laughed Aradhana. Lance spent seven days convincing Aradhana’s parents for permission to ask to marry her and making many promises to both them and her little sister.
Needless to say, his first proposal to the parents was accepted. What followed next made up for the parental test that he so carefully navigated, and passed.
The couple traveled to Spain during one of their breaks and visited Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona.
“Lance told me that he had planned a special scavenger hunt for me along the way and to pack three different dresses. At this point, I figured something was up, but I didn't want to ruin the surprise. We started in Madrid. He took me on a private boat ride under the stars, gave me a beautiful love note and took me to a romantic dinner. I thought a proposal was for sure going to happen right then, but it didn't. We went to Valencia, next, and after getting ready for our special night, Lance suggested taking pictures before dark. He found a beautiful balcony overlooking the ocean and pulled a photobook out of my bag. It was the one thing I will never figure out how he did without me noticing! I started looking through all of our photos together over the years and as I turned around, he was on one knee. I actually didn't even let him ask me to marry him, I just said 'YES!' and knocked him over.”
Ascending to the next level
Match Day for Aradhana was held on March 15, 2019 where she found out she also matched to UNLV, in plastic surgery.
Lance and Aradhana were married on April 5, 2019 in Las Vegas, with two ceremonies, including a traditional Indian ceremony.
From their early days in the SOC, to a match made in medical school, and two successful residency matches - two years apart, romance continues to soar amid the intense demands of training to be a doctor.
After residency, the two say they’d be more than happy to stay in Nevada and practice in Las Vegas. “Most of my family is here and his family is in Reno. We just love the community and the people that we work with,” said Aradhana.
Helping patients and being a loving partner take similar skills. Here’s to lasting love from UNR Med, to the operating room, and beyond!