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Lives of Doctor Wives: May 2009

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Survivor Saturday--My "Survival" Websites

I was reading through some of my favorite websites recently, and I realized how much I truly owe to the Internet for helping me survive my husband's residency. Not only was it a constant source of entertainment during those long, lonely call nights, but it also helped me get through those first months of motherhood when my family (and, many times) my husband couldn't be there to help. Here is a short list of my go-to websites--the ones that helped me then, and the ones that continue to help me during my husband's current wacky work schedule:

1. Mamasource.com--After I had my son almost three years ago, my mother told me about this website that she had discovered through an old high school friend of mine. All I had to do was enter my zip code, and I was immediately connected to other moms in my community. It was an amazing resource for me when I had so many questions as a new mother, and I didn't want to be constantly calling my mom or my pediatrician for answers. Other moms (like other wives) are such incredible founts of knowledge. I learned so much about different lifestyles and different ways of parenting. I also met an amazing group of mothers, who allowed my son and I to join their little play group. Those were my son's first experiences with other children, and he always had a great time, as did I. When we knew we would be moving back to our home state after B graduated from residency, I entered my new zip code into the Mamasource website and immediately asked about any moms groups in my new home town. I found a great one which is organized through a different website, and now, I'm one of the co-organizers! My son and I have learned so much about our new town and all its wonderful opportunities for families, and it's all because of this one website!

2. The Food Network's website--I've always loved watching "The Food Network", since its early days on cable TV. I've found over the years that the chefs have become more accessible to the average home cook, and their recipes have become easier to recreate. What I've always loved about the channel and its website is that I'll watch a show and think, "I can do that here at home." Then, I'll go to the website, look at the recipe, and realize that I actually can do it. I'm a huge fan of Giada de Laurentiis, and lately, I've been making more and more of her dinner and dessert recipes. Rachael Ray's meal ideas can also be very easy and great for kids. I always feel good when I make a healthy meal for my family, and the Food Network's website has helped me to do it more over the years.

3. My local hometown's website--This is different for everyone, but I've found the websites of the last few cities in which I've lived to be very helpful resources. My current hometown's site lists all the parks and trails in the city, several community events, and other pertinent information. Our parks and recreation department here is just amazing. They have activities for all ages, and everything is accessible through the website. My son and I recently attended a party for preschoolers at one of our community centers, and it just took a few clicks through the city's website to sign him up for the event. I can also find out about the hours of our local farmers' market and the schedule for the city pools. I highly recommend that anyone Google his/her local city's website and discover what's happening there.

4. Twitter.com and Facebook.com--Okay, so maybe these sites didn't help me survive residency, especially since I don't even think either of them existed five years ago. Or, if they did, I didn't know about them. However, they have helped me keep in touch with old friends (and new ones) more recently, and they are endless sources of entertainment. Also, I sometimes get updates and information on amazing events happening in my area or in my old hometown. I find both websites most helpful during my husband's super busy call shifts after my son's gone to bed.

5. Blogger.com--This one is pretty obvious. I still write posts for my very first blog on Blogger. With absolutely no previous coding experience, I've been able to keep my family and friends connected with what's been happening with my little family. Many of my friends use Blogger for the very same reason. It has allowed me to learn so much about myself as a writer. I've discovered a real enjoyment in expressing myself in this way. It has become one of my favorite creative outlets. Also, it has helped me connect with a lot of amazing women who are going through many of the same situations that I experienced just a few years ago. If "Lives of Doctor Wives" had been around then, it would have definitely been number one on this list!

There are many other great sites on the Internet, but these are the ones that I've visited the most over the past few years. I hope they're helpful to all of you, too!
Amanda--wife of an OB/GYN and current "survivor"

Edit to add: I just remembered that another great site for me is Netflix.com. For about $20 a month, I've been able to see more movies at home by myself or with my hubby over the past several years, than I've been able to go to the movie theater to see or to the video store to rent. The website is so user friendly, my movies come in the mail in about a day, I get to have three movies at a time, and there are no late fees. Plus, now that my husband as an XBox 360, we can stream some movies through his game system directly from our NetFlix account. Sorry if I sound like a commercial, but I've really enjoyed my membership, and it's helped me through some long call nights!

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Where Do the Rings Go?

Just a fun little Friday post...

As a brand new MS4, R is about to engage in at least 3 months straight of surgical rotations. The rest of his year is sure to be filled with more surgery, maybe a little research, some vacation, and hopefully lots of traveling for interviews. After that, the surgery thing will [hopefully] be a regular activity.

So, for those of you who are married to surgeons a little farther along in the training, what does your husband do with his wedding ring (if he has one)?
I've thought about a chain, but I doubt R would wear that. If he just takes if off at the hospital before scrubbing in, I'm pretty sure he'd lose it every now and then. The prevailing idea would be for him to leave it at home, which will probably be what he does, but I'm just curious if your husbands do anything special with their wedding bands.
...does anyone else think about stuff like this or am I just a little nutty? :)

In anticipation of criticism, let me say that I realize at the end of the day, a wedding ring is just another piece of jewelry and that my husband's fidelity is in the hands of the man who wears (or doesn't wear) the ring. I'm also not trying to imply any stereotypes about doctors, nurses, social workers, patients, or anyone else in the hospital. I just know that I like wearing my ring at all times, particularly at work if I'm having a rough day. It's nice to look down at my hand and remember that great guy I get to spend my life with, so it'd be nice for R to have something like that, too, particularly with the long hours he'll have. This post is not meant to be about how to mark territory but rather just fun ways to address a common but overall insignificant problem.

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Compass Bank isn't the only one!!

My friend gave us the Compass Bank information (can be found on this blog) for a home mortgage in which they don't consider your debt in the calculations, as long as you are in deferement. Well, a couple from hubby's program recently put out a contract on a house, and I asked her what bank she used and what her rates were....

The local bank offered her 5.9% 30 fixed, no money down, $1,000 in closing costs because they are keeping the loan "in house" meaning they won't (can't) sell it on the secondary market.

I called two local banks where we are going and they told me the same thing...100% loan, closing costs are very low and they didn't see any problem in approving us, even though we havn't put in any paper work.

My other friend was offered 7.5% apr thru Compass Bank...so, we will likely save 1%, which is a ton of money over the long hall. The bank president, with whom I talked, acutally started laughing when I told him the rate Compass was offering.

Anyway, don't go straight to Compass...you do have choices!

Bank of America, with whom we have our current mortgage, told us to buzz off, in so many words, and that no one is doing 100% loans anymore.

Ha! It pays to shop around and ask questions. I did tell them my husband was a new doctor, just out of residency, blah blah blah...

Will keep you posted on what our final rate will be.


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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

1 reply!

So my husband has submitted THREE applications for sub-internships (August, September, and October) and we finally heard from one of them! So my husband will at the very least be gone in October... hopefully we will hear on the other two sometime soon (although I know the September program just started reviewing applications today). I just wanted to share my excitement with someone!


My husband is getting sued!!!

I know...your TOTALLY jealous, right?

Try not to be.

Two years ago, while an intern, hubby attended to a patient who had a problem. The patient had a worse problem after my hubby went home for the night. Patient has since recovered with no more problems. Said patient is why our entire health care system is in jeopardy.

Anyone who even breathed near the patients' door is named in the suit...seriously.

Did hubby freak out? Yes
Did hubby spend an entire afternoon going over the papers he was served? Yes, this happened during one of his four days of vacation. Kewl, huh?
Did hubby drink several beers and run his hands thru his hair? Yes
Did hubby spend an entire day going over patient records and rechecking his notes? Yes, another day of vacation burned
Is hubby worried? Yes and No. The program he is in has lawyers working on it. Yes, he is covered by their malpractice insurance.
Did hubby have to fill out many many extra pages when filling for his DPS/DEA numbers? Yes

Was this a pain in the #ss? Yes

Hubby also spent many hours typing out his statement of what happened during the shift. He remembers it quite well.

And of course all this happens on the heels of (finally) signing a contract with his new job that he will be starting in August. They didn't seem to mind, strangely enough.

So...anybody else's hubby/s.o. been sued yet?

I know it will happen to all doctors at least once during their career...but his hasn't even started yet. I'm not worried, just another bump in the road.

cheers! amber (an almost survivor)

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Survivor Saturdays - Truly Awful Doctor's Wife

If you don’t already have an Awful Story, you probably will by the time you finish training. Or maybe not. Maybe I’m the only Truly Awful Doctor's Wife. But in case you don’t have an Awful Story, I thought I’d share mine in hopes of saving you the shame and disgrace of being a Truly Awful Doctor's Wife.

So Michael was in his fellowship year in Pediatric Ophthalmology. We had been married since MS 1, and now he was PGY 5. That’s a long time. On this particular day, I was a little weary. Between caring for our (then) two kids and the house and everything else, I was pulling a load of laundry out of the dryer when I noticed my once-lovely black twin set sweater amid the t-shirts and blue jeans. The sweater set that my mother had bought for me. At a department store. In the Name Brand section. The one I couldn’t afford on Michael’s meager PGY paycheck. The one that very clearly states in itsy bitsy font on the underside of the tiny little tag on the inside side seam DRY CLEAN ONLY. The sweater that was one of the very few nice pieces of clothing I owned because when your husband is in training, you shop at consignment stores and Target. The sweater set that I could dress up, dress down, and wear with every pair of pants and every skirt hanging in my closet. Well, almost.

The sweater set I now held in my shaking hands was shredded. Shrunk. Grossly disfigured. Completely ruined.

The doer of such an evil deed? My beloved pediatric ophthalmology fellow who, of course, was presently at the hospital.

I grabbed the phone, angrily punched in his pager number with all the force that my size 4 fingers could muster, and waited for him to return the call.

Calm down, I told myself. Breathe. Do not yell at him. Breathe.

But of course, when the phone rang, I let him have it. I yelled. I insulted. I fumed.

And he took it. Graciously. Humbly. Apologetically.

Whew! I feel better now, I thought. OK, I’m calm now. I took a deep breath and casually added, “So how is your day going?”

“Well,” he replied, “I just told two parents that their baby has retinoblastoma. He’ll probably have to be enucleated.”

(Retinoblastoma: a rare and ugly cancerous tumor in the eye occurring in young children. Enucleation: complete removal of the eyeball.)


Michael sees retinoblastoma about once a year, and every time, he is devastated. He takes it really, really hard – often to the point that he can’t sleep at night. And the parents of these kids? I can’t even imagine.

And my stupid, stupid sweater was ruined.

And I just yelled at my husband, who was fighting to save a baby’s life.

Truly. Awful. Wife.

Never mind that he was doing the laundry. Never mind that he is the kindest, gentlest, most generous, most humble person I know. Never mind that he didn’t purposefully set out to ruin my clothing. He was trying to help. He was trying to lighten my load. And no one deserves to be treated the way I had just treated him.

So there you have it. I was a Truly Awful Doctor's Wife. I’m embarrassed to say it took another year or so after that horrible incident before I really understood what it means to respect my husband. I needed a few more kicks in the rear before I quit being so insanely self-absorbed.

He hates it when I beat myself up. He sees something in me that I find almost impossible to see myself. He is quick to sing my praises and tell anyone how much I have sacrificed for him, how he couldn’t do it without me. And even though I don’t think I deserve such adoration, I love him for it.

The lesson here? Spare yourself the humiliation. In your justified frustration, remember that he loves you. Remember that he is doing really important work. Remember that someone else’s very life is in his hands. Take a breath, and love him back. Try to keep it all in perspective.

There will always be another sweater set.

Jennifer Hunt
Survivor in Ped. Ophtho.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Personal Battles

This was sent to me by an anonymous lady hoping to get some advice from us, please do your best to help by sharing some constructive answers and perhaps personal experiences.

I'm just sometimes tired of 2 things that I've tried battling lately:

1. He is always busy and whenever he gets off work , he is just too tired to have a good conversation and we live an hour away till his posting finishes ( probably 1.5 years) and we only have one day in a week , where he tries to do everything at once. From his chores to catching up with me. I sometimes miss doing what "normal " couples do. I have been patient and usually i am but sometimes it really gets to me. I mean i deserve attention , don't i?

2. The nurses and certain doctors and patients throw themselves shamelessly at him. I'm glad that he tells me , but i do get insecure sometimes , because I'm not around.

Any advice?

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

1 Confirmed; 1 Still Awaiting Response

R got his July away rotation! It's his first choice of elective and time period for a program that I hear is very difficult/practically impossible to get into for residency unless you rotate there. So, while this by no means means that he'll match there, this was an important part of the equation.

So... Any tips for him or me? I know he'll need to get to know a lot of people and be well liked. Anything more specific?
Also, I will not be going with him; I have a job and a life here, after all! I'm not really worried about living without him here. I have friends coming in, finals happening, general enjoy-New-York-in-the-summer plans, so I'll be plenty busy. However, I do want to visit him for an extended weekend. I don't plan on getting to hang out with him too much as he will be busy networking while scrubbing in on surgeries, but beyond that, I'm not sure what to expect.

Yay! :)

...Now we just have to hear back about the one he's hoping to do for August...

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What is?

What is your beauty routine?

The reason I ask is because I basically dont have one. Everytime I am going to go out and have to wear makeup it stresses me out since I never do it but I hate to go to the hospital to visit my hubby without it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Budgeting During Medical Training

How many of you have an actual budget?  Do you abide by it?  Do you find that you have extra expenses that are not accounted for on it?  Do any of you go under on your budget?

Budgeting your finances through the years of medical training can be one of the best ways to keep your spending from going through the roof.  I devised a budget for our household and we try to stay to it as much as possible.  Almost any expense that you can think of (except those pesky tests and books) was put into our budget.  Sure, I budget the big items like groceries and gas and electricity—but many people forget to budget the smaller items like haircuts and clothing and the renewal of your Sam’s membership each year.  When I first started doing the budget for us, these were the things that I did not put into the budget.  Instead I just called them “extra expenses” and they were to come out of our spending money for the week.  Boy, was I wrong!  We ended up spending way more than we had budgeted.  Now that I have included these trivial items in our budget, we are able to keep to the plan for the most part.  We still over spend from time to time, but I would venture to guess that we keep that overspending to less than $1000 a year.  That’s an accomplishment to me! 

I downloaded an excel budget from Microsoft.com when I started.  I find that programs like Microsoft Money just get too involved.  My sheet is very simple and straightforward.  If you are interested in the form I use, I would be happy to share it.  I am not sure how I can do that on here, though.  Any ideas on how would be appreciated. ;)

I am interested to find out what you and your families do to keep a budget?  Do you have one?  What system works best for you?

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

To Stay at Home or Not

One of the issues that many couples face as they have children in a medical marriage is whether the wife should quit the workforce and stay at home with their children.  Every situation is different and every woman feels differently.  I had both stayed home and worked a fulltime job while raising 2 kids.  In my experience, it has been wonderful for our family for me to stay home.  There are less stressors in my marriage, more time for my sons and less headache and personal guilt for myself with respect to my family, job and friends.  Although I don’t usually express opinions in matters that are of a more personal nature, I will officially say that I think everyone should consider this situation if it is possible in your marriage while you husband/wife is in medical training.  I suspect, though I am not sure, that after training I will feel the same way about staying home even when my husband is a practicing physician.  We shall see when we get there.
I have two children with my husband and  I began staying home with my oldest son when he was born.  I finished out my year as a high school math teacher and thoroughly enjoyed the ability to see Bert everyday and never miss anything new that he did.  Everything went to plan until he turned 1.  Once he became mobile and started throwing temper tantrums, things became harder and soon I was aching to go back to work.  There are a couple reasons why I think this happened:  I was not involved in other things and I didn’t use parent’s day out—Basically, I didn’t have anything to keep me busy.  Everything was about Bert—that wasn’t working.  I also suspect that at 25, I was not mentally ready to stay home and be just Mom.  I loved my son, but I still craved that outside “attention” that being at home just didn’t provide me.  I sought out other employment and soon became a Realtor.  Bert began going to daycare fulltime and I went to work.  This plan lasted for a while.  I continued working and we bought a house (I had to go back to teaching if we wanted a house because I was not established as a Realtor and I was not making enough money—staying home was not something that we even thought about at the time).  Soon, the ache of wanting another child began and I got pregnant with Ernie.  I had Ernie at the end of my school year, had the summer off with the boys, and then went back to school for a second year of teaching.  Ernie started daycare at 4 months of age, and although I was okay with going back to work and sending him to daycare, I realized that there was not a moment all summer long where I wanted to work.  I was not excited at all about starting the new school year, but I was okay with it.  Staying home still did not cross my mind.  Several things happened in the next few months that changed my outlook. 
I realize that some of you cannot stay home.  Either you must work or you need to work.  It isn’t for every family.  I do believe it deserves major consideration for every family—and I do believe that every family should try to leave that an option if things are not working out during medical training.  There are things you can do to enable you to stay home.  I have found that even with the cut in pay because I was not able to work that tutoring job at my old school, our finances have not suffered in any way.  We still have cable, we still have spending money, we go out to eat, I have a gym membership and we eat very well.  We are frugal in some ways and not in others.  If I lost both of my part time jobs, we would have to cut back, but we would be able to work it out and keep me at home—and most importantly, we would make it work.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Dreamy Doctor Poll

Don't forget House, lol!



I know that for a lot of people this weekend was GRADUATION weekend! It was for us last night and we had a wonderful time! I'm so excited to be Mrs. Dr. Thomas Howard, hehe!!! I just wanted to say congratulation to everyone and wish everyone the best of luck on their next adventure....residency! If you have pictures or fun family stories about your graduation experience, please share!!!!

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Survivor Saturdays: Short on Dough? Make Your Own!

Some people have a misconception that being frugal is a bad thing. Knowing how to be prudent in spending equips us with the tools to roll with the punches. I didn’t grow up with everything I wanted, and I’m so glad my mother taught me to be resourceful. It came in handy. I considered it a challenge when my husband was a medical student not earning a paycheck, and I realized it as a blessing when we later had a house fire and had to get along with a lot less. Because I taught my children that living within their means is wise, I know they are prepared for any situation that comes their way. If you’re dealing with a tight budget, face your challenge head on. It can be fun! Here are some tips to getting more out of your budget.

1. Plant a small garden to save from paying for herbs and vegetables at the store.
Most herbs, tomatoes and lettuce are easy to grow and don’t take up much room. These make great gifts too, if you include a recipe or two with the bundle or plant.

My favorite recipe herb recipes:

Spiced Cracked Olives
Tomato Basil Pie

2. Make gifts rather than buy them.

Teachers love giant cookies. Sisters love photo albums. Mothers and Fathers love a day of service (help gardening, mass cooking, or housecleaning). As you get more confident, you can make more complicated gifts like soy lotions, aromatic candles, quilted items, spa booties, lingerie pillows, and so many other wonderful items.

Here are some of my favorite craft sites:



3. Make your own bread.

It’s much cheaper and so much better for you. Everyone loves the smell of homemade bread. You can buy larger quantities of yeast in a jar (name brand or generic). For recipes that call for a packet of yeast packet, use 2.25 Tbsp bulk yeast instead. Fleischmann’s, a popular maker of yeast, has a website of endless bread recipes at http://www.breadworld.com/. They even have a section on making breads that rise in the fridge all day and some that freeze and rise later. My favorite recipe is “You Are Special” bread, but they’re all good.

4. Cook ahead to avoid eating out.

You’ll save money buying in bulk and you’ll eat better. Brown hamburger and sausage separately and then freeze them in 1-2 lb portions. Bake several chicken breasts (boneless breasts at 400°F for 20 minutes) and then freeze them for later use. If you grill out, grill extra and freeze it in the same way. Then when you want to make sloppy joes, chili, poppy seed chicken, fajitas or whatever… you’re halfway there. Later as you have more time and money, freeze meals like lasagna, meatloaf, tiramisu, and other items you can pull out for unexpected company. Freeze them in throw away tins, but transfer the to nice pans for company.

5. If you’re planning to wear maternity clothes in the future, form a group of young moms who are willing to pool together maternity clothes.

Maternity clothes you fit into the first time, quite possibly won’t be the right size next time. Each pregnancy is different. By sharing a pool of clothes with other ladies, you have more selection, wider variety of sizes, and less cost. Be sure to set some rules up front. For example: participants cannot keep items they did not purchase, damaged items should be offered up to others in the group before discarding them, items cannot be loaned outside the group). I participated in a group of four women. We kept all of the clothes in bins and forwarded them to each other in a clean state. It was like Christmas every time because there were always a few new items. We tried to do the same thing with car seats and cribs, but safety standards changed so much that we always seemed to have to buy new ones.
6. Rotate toys in and out of storage to keep your children interested in then.

Don’t buy new toys just because your child is bored with them. Instead, rotate toy boxes so new items come out often. Most children have more toys than they know what to do with. Inevitably they get bored and ask to buy something new. Rather than buy new toys, pack up all but one box of toys. When your child says they’re bored, pack up the toys that are out and trade it in for a new one. If you have enough toys for 3-4 boxes, your child will have forgotten about a toy until the next time it shows up in a box. What fun! If you don’t have enough toys to circulate, find a friend who is willing to toy swap. I’ve even thrown toy swap parties, where every child brings a like new toy to trade with someone else.

Saving money can be fun and rewarding. Who knows... you may even enjoy it. I still make my own bread and grow my own herbs. I am also proud to say I can remodel a bath and fix a leaking pipe.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Family Fun

If you didn't get a change to read Bea's post on Finding Equanimity about Planning for Fun, I encourage you to do so. She really brings up a great point that if you want to do something with your spouse or family, whether it be going for a walk, getting chores done, or sitting around and relaxing together, you need to add it to your schedule and really make sure you follow through. Life can get overwhelming and if you don't take the time to work on relationships and have fun, even if it is just by yourself, things can get out of hand and the important stuff can fall through the cracks.

This got me thinking and as I was looking around the other day for bargains and inspirational posts, I stumbled upon this great post on Small Notebook about Pocket Change Date Night Ideas and how as medical students and residents we have such a tight budget, but still have needs to satisfy. This really hit a chord with me as I still remember the best date I ever had with Tom. We were still at college and hadn't been married that long, so things were new and exciting. We didn't have anything to do one night and were in the car thinking about what would be fun to do......but we didn't have any money really. We had some change in the car glove box and a full tank of gas. So we drove from Stillwater, OK to Tulsa. When we got there, we scraped together enough change to grab a bunch of $0.10 tacos and see a movie at the $0.25 movie theatre. We had the best time and I bet we didn't have more than $2.00 on us! Tom still talks about how much fun that was, him being a rich boy this was not something he was used to doing, hehe. But we loved it and we loved the fun time together and it hardly cost anything. Hopefully these two great posts will help you think of some new ways to keep family a priority!

I want to apologize for not posting in a while and letting the polls slip a little, with graduation, being sick, being pregnant, moving and just life, things have been a little crazy. I will be back on top of it ASAP!

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How do you kep your marriage alive and exciting with so little time and for some also so little money?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chat Forum

Okay I am not sure if I posted on this or not yet (so my apologies if I did already) but I found some of the women from this blog or vice versa from this website/forum:
International Medical Spouse Network
Click on forums and there are lots of chat boards to ask all sorts of questions (parenting, debates, etc.) You have to become a member to chat, and you have to have 100 posts before you can post in certain forums such as the medical specialty forums).
I think its a really neat forum and I have found other wives in the specialty that my husband would like to go into which has been really nice for getting advice specific to his specialty.


(Inspired by the last quiz)

In the past, R has asked me if part of the reason I wanted to marry him was because he'll be a doctor. My answer is, "well, sort of". You see, I always sort of figured that I'd marry a professional because I wanted someone a) smart and b) who had a steady job because I want to follow numerous career paths. Doctors fit that bill, but I never really saw myself ending up with a doctor. Life sciences don't really interest me and the training is so intense.

I really thought I'd end up with an engineer. I really like calculus and what I remember of physics, and 3 of the 4 guys I dated in college were engineering majors. R actually went to a very good engineering school for undergrad and was even a chem-e major for a short period of time. However, we know which road he ultimately chose.

My favorite type of professional, though, is attorney. I've only been around prosecutors, judges, public defenders, and BigLaw attorneys (no ambulance chasers), so perhaps my perception is skewed in favor of lawyers. However, I think they're hilarious. They're nerdy yet cultured. They read and have a good balance of arrogance and humility. So shout out to all the attorneys out there - you're my favorite.

My least favorite, no surprise, is investment banker. I have a number of really good friends who are investment bankers but on the whole the stereotypes exist for a reason. I will always think of investment bankers as those skeevy guys in bars hitting on girls a decade their junior as they hide their wedding ring in their pockets.

So, I'm curious how my fellow doctor wives feel. While having someone to diagnose you for free is great, if you were to just be around one type of professional, which would you prefer?


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to you all! I hope this day is filled with lots of fun...and to many of you who are on your own today because of your husband's schedule...Know it is all worth it. You are wonderful ladies who make family and marriage your top priority and there is not a more wonderful thing in the world to celebrate. Remember, it isn't just this one day that enables us to celebrate...Celebrate often and be proud to be a wonderful mother EVERY DAY!!!

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

He Got In...

We just found out yesterday that my husband was accepted in to the post baccalaureate program at the University of Rochester yesterday. He was accepted for the semester beginning in September but is deferring his enrollment until next June (time to save $$$, sell the house and figure out A LOT)! Anyway - we are just feeling excited b/c we have been praying that if medical school was not a part of God's plan for my husband that he would be rejected from the post bacc. We'll see what happens from here but thought I'd share!

To Be or Not To Be......

It was brought to my attention that this important question was asked a little bit ago in the comment section of another question and we didn't want to see it passed by. Please share your experience or opinion on this matter.

My boyfriend is a resident and will be going into his last year soon. He is waiting to match for fellowships and has asked that i move with him if and when he does. The thing is that i have a career and make quite a bit of money and money has never been the issue for me. I want to live. He has asked me for a 5 year commitment to wait for him while he completes his fellowship. I'm 31 and want to get married and have kids, sooner than later. He thinks we can do it all in a few years. The thing is that he isn't around and when things happen in my life like the death of a family member, he is not available to provide the kind of emotional support I need. My issue is communication with him and his understanding my perspective and valuing it and trying to figure out workable solutions. He thinks that just because he is barely trying to survive that I don't have the right to talk about my needs. Is this common?

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Survivor Saturday--Financing During Residency

This week's question comes from Kim: "I was wondering about financing during residency. It seems that a residents salary is so minimal and that it's almost impossible for us wives to work while the hubby is in residency (those of us with kids at least). What advice do any of you have about how to make ends meet during residency life. Did you have to take loans out to survive?"

Kathi's response:

When your spouse is interviewing for a job, urge him to ask if loan repayment is offered. If you play that poker hand and they don’t bite, ask if they offer a no interest loan refinance. That will save you the interest, if nothing else. If both of those options fail, you’ll have to get creative with financing.

Financing options are different today than in the past, especially in light of today’s economic climate. That being said, physicians have job security and banks are willing to take that into consideration. I suggest you go to banks in your area and ask if they have any “doctor loans” or “private banking” arrangements. Most banks will say yes to the latter and have no idea what that means. If you find one that seems to know what they’re doing, present your loan situation to them and ask what creative suggestions they may have. They may offer to refinance as a signature loan at an extremely low rate with option to pay interest only until your household income increases. They may also offer a more traditional loan, but stretch it out over 15 years. I doubt if they allow second mortgages anymore, but it’s worth asking if there are any loans available that will allow tax deduction (as a mortgage). The important thing to remember is that your financing options are not limited to what is offered to the general public and this is one benefit to all those years of sacrifice and hard work.

Jennifer's response:

A lot will depend on the cost of living where you live, what the PGY pay scale looks like at your program, whether or not you work, whether or not you have kids. I do have friends who took out loans during residency to cover the cost of living. In any case, your finances for the next 3-6 years will likely be tight. Here is what I would advise: be patient. You can make it work. In a few years when his training is done, you will be able to do the things you dream of doing but can’t afford to do right now. Hang in there for just a few more years. There are about 537 reasons I am not a doctor, and “delayed gratification” is right up there at the top of the list. It was so hard for me to be patient during residency, and I am the last person you want to take financial advice from, but I wish I would have been a little more disciplined and a lot more patient during residency. Check into different budgeting plans – Dave Ramsey and Crown Financial Ministries are two that I know of – talk with your husband, and make a plan that works for both of you.

In the meantime, there were a couple of things that I did that made it a little easier. First, I have a very dear friend who I met during residency. Her kids and my kids were born within months of each other, and they lived ½ mile down the road from us. We decided that we were sick and tired of not being able to keep our homes clean (our kids were around 3 and 1 at the time), and of course we couldn’t afford to pay someone to clean our homes (remember what I said about being patient? Very soon, my friend. Very soon.), so we came up with a plan that worked really well for both of us. One day of every week, we would go to one of our houses and spend a couple of hours cleaning it from top to bottom. (We can’t remember where our kids were during this time – either at preschool or plopped in front of PBS – there is so much of those years that I’ve blocked out!) Then the next week, we would go to the other house. We had great fun together, and we had at least one day twice a month when our homes were completely clean, which did a lot to help our sanity.

We also got together and made freezer meals. She had a freezer cooking cookbook, so we’d pick out a couple of recipes, go grocery shopping together, split the cost, then spend an afternoon assembling and cooking. For example, there was a recipe for seasoned ground beef that you could make into meatballs, spaghetti sauce, or meatloaf. That worked well – until the thought of even looking at another meatball made us queasy.

The two of us also took on home businesses during our last year of training – she sold Usbourne books and I sold Pampered Chef. That worked well because we coordinated our home show schedules with each other so we could trade off childcare. The supplemental income helped (though I think we spent most of our paychecks on books and kitchen tools), and it was a fun way to get out of the house.

Amanda's response:

Your need for financing with loans during residency will depend on where you'll be living and what type of pay scale the residency will be providing, which is pretty much what Jennifer discussed. My husband and I were lucky because he was able to finish undergraduate school without any student loans (a combination of a very good scholarship, working through the summer, and some help from his parents). He did get loans while in medical school, and we lived off those as well as any money I made while teaching or working in medical offices. I remember getting a seasonal job for Victoria's Secret one Christmas because my teacher's aide job paid hardly anything at all! Once he started residency, we found that we were able to live well off of what he and I made combined (I worked as a receptionist in a radiology department at that time). This was possible because we lived in apartments during his medical school years, kept a very low entertainment budget, ate most of our meals at home, paid off our credit cards every month, drove vehicles that were hand-me-downs from parents and/or already paid off, used hand-me-down furniture, and tried to live within our means as much as possible. Because we lived this way while he was in medical school, we were able to purchase our first home when he started residency. Again, we tried to keep our expenses at a minimum. We bought a small, relatively inexpensive (for the area) Cape Cod home with one bathroom and a tiny kitchen. It was a major fixer-upper, but because my in-laws have experience with flipping houses, we were able to make it comfortable and livable over the course of my husband's four-year residency. We continued to eat most of our meals at home, paid off our credit cards, and did other things (like joining NetFlix) to keep our expenses minimal. We had our son at the beginning of my husband's third year, partly because at that point, his program allowed the residents to apply for a medical license and begin moonlighting at other hospitals in the area. As soon as our son was born, I became a stay-at-home-mom, and my husband started moonlighting one or two evenings a month. He actually made more money in one moonlighting shift than I did in two weeks working in a medical office! We saved a lot of money by not needing day care for my son, I found a great play group that helped me get through those first couple of years of being a new mom, and we tried to do a lot of free and inexpensive activities for fun as a family. Unfortunately, when it was time to move and sell our home, we were in the midst of the housing crisis, and it didn't sell for as much as we had hoped. We're happy that it did sell, though, and we are grateful for our current living situation, which is above and beyond what we'd ever imagined. And, my husband has only been out of residency for about ten months! I know that not everyone is as lucky as us when it comes to being able to live comfortably during residency, but I wanted everyone to know that it can happen, if you're careful and live within your means.

We hope our responses answer your question, Kim! Thanks so much for the great response we've had, so far. Please keep leaving questions for us in the comments section. We're so happy to be able to share our experiences with all of you!

Kathi, Jennifer, and Amanda--aka "The Survivors"

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Mellowing Out

It’s official…I’m getting older.

…and Mellower (is that even a word?)

I don’t stress over things that I used to stress over. I kind of just go along for the ride.

Okay, this is either that I am getting older…or…

I’m finally getting used to my husband’s profession and caving to the fact that I often find myself in the position of being both “Mom” and “Dad.”


Please visit my blog and continue reading this post! :)


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Thursday, May 7, 2009

am I on

I dont know if the hospital where your hubbies work have this feature but at the end of last year Damians hospital begain to use www.amIon.com . I love it, it makes it easier for me to keep track of when he will be on call and if I need to plan something I dont have to call him, I could just log in and check myself.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Living through him

Do any of you ever get the feeling that your living through your husbands dreams. I fully support Damian but there are days when I fell kinda bad thinking that everything I do is focused on his career.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Survivor Saturday--Applying For Residency Programs

For our first Q&A "Survivor Saturday" post, we decided to answer the following question, asked by Tasha: "I'd like to know more about getting into residency. I think I understand how the match works, but what about the interviews and such? How important are boards/grades/connections in getting into a residency?"

Kathi's Response:

Residency placement has changed since we went through it, but since my husband has interviewed docs that are just starting out, I asked him what he looked for. He said that there is definitely a certain threshold that must be met, as far as scores and grades, but beyond that a good fit is most important. He looks for the physician who fits in with the existing docs and who seems like he would be a “good” doc – understanding the “art” of Medicine. I guess based on his answer, personality can take you some places and docs are more likely to be appreciated if they have a genuine desire to be there.
Jennifer's Response: -->Here’s the short explanation: around the end of MS3, he decides on a specialty. He submits one application for that specialty with a list of the programs he would like to consider. The programs look at grades, board scores, and recommendations--the more competitive programs will require higher scores and grades--then select the candidates they would like to interview. (Interviews happen around the middle of MS4.) He schedules his interviews (affectionately known as “the interview trail”), and interviews with various people at different programs, most likely including the resident interview committee: two or three residents in their last year of training. The program ranks their candidates, the candidates rank their top program choices, and all that information is fed into a computer, which then spits out The Match. Candidates and programs find out the results on Match Day, which is a huge deal and always very emotional.

Unless the program is close by or you are independently wealthy, you will most likely not be able to accompany your husband on all of his interviews, which stinks, but that’s just how it goes. So you are going to have to prep your husband to get the real scoop on each place. Our residency program (UIHC in Iowa City, Iowa) had an interview dinner with the candidates, the residents, and their spouses – no faculty allowed. This was a great chance for the candidates to find out not only about the program, but also about life in our community. I can’t speak for every program, but I would imagine most interviews would include some kind of opportunity for the candidates to ask questions about the community, any kind of spouses’ organization, demographics, etc. If he doesn’t have a chance to meet any of the wives, ask him to get email addresses or phone numbers so you can contact them directly. I’m sure any resident wife would be more than happy to talk with you.

My husband served on the resident interview committee during his 3rd year, and he came home with some great stories. So here’s what you should pass along to your husband as he prepares to interview: personality, personality, personality! Be engaging, but not obnoxious. Write thank-you letters. He can call the residents who interviewed him after the interview to let them know he’s very interested in their program (but be sure to do this weeks before Match Day – they make their rank list pretty soon after completing the interviews). There are stories after stories of candidates who didn’t get their first choice of program (Exhibit A, right here) that worked out beautifully, so have faith that you will end up exactly where you need to be.

Amanda's Response:

I spoke to my husband to get the specifics on applying for residency programs. Basically, those med students who want to apply use one website for everything. The candidates upload a letter from the dean of their medical school, fill in the blanks with information about their CV (curriculum vitae, or "resume"), post their board scores and med school grades, and submit letters of recommendation (or the writers of those letters submit them personally; he couldn't remember which was the case). Then, the candidates apply to specific residency programs through the same website, and all of their information is sent to those programs. The programs review the information from the candidates and send out letters to those people they'd like to interview. Once the interview process has taken place, the candidates rank the programs in order of their favorites, the programs do the same in regards to the candidates, all the information is plugged into a computer, and voila!, the candidates are (hopefully) matched. I'm not sure how much of the matching has to do with having connections in a program or whatever. I do know that my husband applied to six OB/Gyn programs in three states, and he was matched to his second choice. Compared to some of his colleagues who were trying to get into much more competitive fields, my husband did very well, even though he matched at the program farthest away from our families at the time. I know that grades and board scores have somewhat to do with matching and getting into a particular program, but like Kathi and Jennifer said, it's also about the candidate's personality and his/her fit within the program. I think most programs (like my husband's) have senior residents help with the interviewing process, since they know who would work best with them and their colleagues. My husband's first choice was the program at his med school, and that program took ten OB/Gyn residents a year. He thought he was a shoe-in, since the program was large and needed so many people. Imagine our surprise when he matched at a program in Columbus, Ohio, that only took four (now, five) residents a year! We discovered later that his first choice of programs matched a lot of students from out of state. We're not sure why he didn't rank on their list, but it doesn't matter now. In the long run, he found the right fit for him, and being in a smaller program meant he learned a lot more and did a lot more as a first year resident than some residents did in their second and third years in larger programs. As far as the interviewing process went, I didn't go with him to most of the interviewing cities, but I did travel with him once and was able to go to a party that was for candidates and their spouses. I don't remember much about it, except that I know it wasn't the place for us. I do encourage any wife of a med student to go to a candidate party if invited. You get a feel for the other residents (and their spouses) and maybe even some of the attendings, if they're invited. My husband's residency program always had parties for the candidates during the interview process, and resident spouses were invited to come along to meet the medical students. I really enjoyed it because it gave me the chance to meet the people who might be working with my husband. Also, I could give their spouses an idea of what life with a resident is like, and later, I could give my husband my own feelings about a particular candidate, if he didn't get a chance to speak with one of them. I encourage any med school spouse to get involved in the application/interview process as much as possible, because the spouse will (hopefully) be moving to wherever the medical student gets matched. It's a life changing experience, but in the end, it's worth it!

We hope our responses have answered your question, Tasha! If anyone has a more specific question related to residency placement or anything else pertaining to "the other side", just ask us in the comments section. I think we've all said at some point, "Gee, I wish I had had this sort of resource when my husband was going through medical school/residency!" It's really a joy to be able to help you all out by sharing our experiences with you. Next Saturday, we'll be responding to a question about financing during residency. Hope to see you, then!
Amanda, Jennifer, and Kathi--aka "The Survivors"

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Friday, May 1, 2009

We Matched! :o)

Today is fellowship match day...and Jason matched with with his first choice--here in Michigan!!!

YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :o)

This basically means that we DON'T have to do the following:

1. Put our house on the market immediately and sell it for a drastic hit.

2. Find a place to live out of state (the other choices were mainly out of state) and, of course, move (blah!).

3. Attempt to do all of this while he is busy with work and I would be busy taking an insane number of classes in order to finish my bachelor's before we'd need to leave.

*huge sigh of relief* :-D I feel like a human being again. ;-)

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