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It was the first day of medical school, and Stefan Chimoskey — clutching a cup of coffee — was hurrying to his seat in the lecture hall. Then his heart stopped: There was a pretty, dark-haired young woman at the bottom of the stairs. Seeing the cup, she smiled at him and said, “Hey, that looks good.”
In what was to become a family legend, Stefan Chimoskey, MD ’99, MBA, extended the cup and blurted, “Would you like some?”
Although Rossana Chang, MD ’99, politely declined, that meeting broke the ice. When the two found each other on the same bus during a weekend orientation trip, they hit it off. Soon, they were friends and study partners — but Chimoskey was interested in more.
“I had a crush on her for the whole year,” says Chimoskey. But both of them were dating other people, and it wasn’t until the end of the year that he saw his chance. Chang showed up at a classmate’s party, looking a bit glum, and confessed that her boyfriend had broken up with her. Chimoskey asked how she was doing; she shrugged and said she was feeling OK.
Chimoskey didn’t waste a moment. “Then do you want to go out with me?” he asked.
He regretted it a moment later and apologized, but she gave him a long look and said she’d think about it. First, she had to consult with a friend and fellow med student, Julie Foster, MD ’99. Luckily for Chimoskey, Foster encouraged Chang to give him a chance.
“Julie likes to take the credit for us being married,” says Chang.
From then on, the couple was inseparable. They dissected a cadaver together; they did their WWAMI rotations together. Chang specialized in pediatrics, and Chimoskey chose family medicine. At the end of med school, they signed up to be couple-matched for their residencies. “Couples matching is a challenge,” says Chimoskey. “We did something like 20 interviews all over the country. It’s not necessarily easy to have two physicians in the family.”
It was their first taste of the compromise and negotiation needed to balance their careers, but they made it work, ending up in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“You go in cycles for whose priorities comes first,” says Chang. First, she pursued fellowships in neonatology while Chimoskey cared for the family. Later, after a decade of practicing family medicine, Chimoskey switched to sleep medicine.
Today, they agree, their careers are in a good place. As chief of staff and NICU medical director at Avista Adventist Hospital in Louisville, Colorado, Chang combines patient care and administrative work. Chimoskey, medical director at Rehoboth McKinley Christian Healthcare Services Sleep Center in Gallup, New Mexico, conducts sleep studies for children and adults. He enjoys the flexibility of his schedule.
For their 20-year UW School of Medicine reunion, Chang and Chimoskey brought along some very special guests: their two sons, Peter (who, at 15, is already interested in becoming a doctor), and Dylan, 12. The boys toured UW Medical Center’s emergency room and neonatal ICU, walking through the halls where their parents first met.
Looking back and looking ahead, the couple has some thoughts for today’s medical students.
“I would tell them that they’re in for a really amazing journey in a career as a physician,” says Chang. “It’s everything I thought it would be and more.”
“Twenty-five years later, we still love medicine and we still love taking care of patients,” Chimoskey says. And each other, of course.