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Lives of Doctor Wives: Remembering the beginning...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Remembering the beginning...

We have a question from Casey:

I was just wondering if you could ask the wives on the Doctors Wives blog about advice for wives/girlfriends whose significant other is just starting med school. Things that they've learned in their personal experience that helped them greatly with getting through that first year.

I know we probably talked about this before, but with med school starting in only a few months, it might be nice to revisit the topic. So, let's hear what you have to say! Let's help some of the ladies new to the experience out. :o)



Blogger Natalie said...

Honestly? i "overassumed" what medical school would be. i planned for the worst. and you know what? it wasnt as bad as i thought it would be.

my DH worked really, really hard, but what i found was that it wasnt all that different from what he did before. he had long study hours and research and shadowing in undergrad (that's how he got into Med School, remember?). and it just continued in med school. sometimes the hours were longer, but some days were shorter.

the schedule fluctuates from class to class. learn to live your life in smaller increments. there's not consistent "9-5" in medicine, so when you plan in weeks rather than months, things get easier.

basically, just learn to be more fluid. the first 2 years will be a lot easier than you imagine, and then one day you wake up and you're almost at Match Day (like me!!!).


February 22, 2011 at 11:27 AM  
Blogger Melisa said...

So much to say and only one little box... :o)

The hardest thing I learned in med school was to stop blaming my husband when he couldn't meet obligations. Realizing that he really and truly didn't want to stand me up for a date (birthday party, school event, etc), there was someone who needed him more than me. I learned that if I wanted to go somewhere or do something, I needed to assume he wasn't going to be there and plan accordingly. My life got a lot happier after that. Not easier, it was still hard, but I accepted the situation for what it was and didn't take it out on my poor hubby.

Forget vacations/weddings/etc in July for the next 4-7 years. He will not be available in July for the remainder of his medical training. Tell your family now so that your hubby will have to miss as few activities as possible. Or if they do have a reunion or wedding in July, be prepared to go alone. Heck, any time be prepared to go alone. The truth is, you probably will. They don't have an abundant vacation schedule. Brad has 1 week every 6 months and we don't always get to pick which week it is.

I lived in Loan Utopia during med school and woke up in residency with a serious income pinch. Yes, it is great to finally make some money, but it doesn't go very far, especially in high cost of living locations. Be prepared to feel poor. Of course, if you are able to work full-time, this might not apply to you... SAHMs, be warned.

For some crazy reason, I felt like med school was the end of the pain and residency would be rosy. Couldn't have been more wrong. Med school is only half-way (or less) through the journey. Prepare yourself mentally for that. :o)

Find a support system. Preferably people who can understand what you are going through. It really helps.

Of course, there are tons of positives to the journey too, but I don't feel a need to "warn" you about them. :o) It is an amazing journey and I feel blessed to be on it.

February 22, 2011 at 11:36 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

I don't think the first two years of med school have been that bad so far. I have a few pieces of advice:

1) Have your own life. I work full-time and I'm also pretty independent, so when he's studying late it doesn't bother me. I read a lot, watch Netflix shows, cook, etc to keep myself busy.

2) Do nice things for your med student when he's stressed, but if you're also working, he should still be able to do chores- don't let him get out of it.

3) Plan time together that you're committed to on the weekends- Fri and Sat nights we always have dinner together and usually watch a movie- even if he studies after the time together is over.

We're about at the point of starting rotations- and I'm nervous but excited about the change! Good luck, the time will fly by!

February 22, 2011 at 12:26 PM  
Blogger Jeni said...

When med school started we had two young kids and my husband had been home all summer so it was a shock to have him gone all of a sudden. We moved into an area with LOTS of young student families so we spent a lot of days at the park with the other wives and kids and I was so grateful to have that support. If you let yourself, you'll make lifelong friendships because of the bond you share as Medical Wives.

I also started taking piano lessons and joined a morning "mommy" aerobics class where I could bring my kids. We bought season passes to the local zoo and children's museum and frequented the library's story times. I started crafting during my lonely nights when my husband was gone studying and the kids were in bed. Just try to find things for yourself, keep busy. This is a great time to join/organize book clubs, craft nights, girls nights, playgroups, join a gym, read books you've been wanting to read, get things done you've been putting off. Even now, in residency, I have a to-do list of things I work on when my husband is on call and not home all night so rather than dread when he's gone, I look at it as my time to accomplish things, and when he's home we just relax and spend time together. I have some great memories from those four years. Enjoy it!

February 22, 2011 at 12:53 PM  
Blogger Allison said...

Find things for yourself. Get involved in something, have hobbies, go out with friends, etc....

And just know that it's only a season. It's not forever. There will be hard times, but he won't be in school forever. And then he won't be in residency forever either. :)

February 22, 2011 at 1:43 PM  
Blogger Mommy, Esq. said...

My husband is finishing up his fellowship in June, so it is kind of nice to have the opportunity to sit back and reflect on our relationship in the early days --- ie, when he began medical school. We started dating during his first year of medical school, which also happened to be my first year of law school. It was such a wonderful time in our lives, so my advice would be to be, and remain, optimistic! He is in for a lot of work, and a lot of studying, so be supportive. My hubby and I would go study together a lot, and I think that even if you aren't in school yourself you can still get a lot of quality time together if you just accompany him to study and bring your own book to read. He will need study breaks after all! Make time together to have dates or go out with friends ... he shouldn't study tooooo much or he will get burned out, and trust me you are in for a long - but fun - road ahead!
For us - the medical school years were a lot of hard work, but sooo much fun! The residency years - we felt more "broke" than ever before (and fellowship most of all!!!), but we've grown closer and closer every year. Now, we are at the precipice of the end of his training and settling down for a "real" job and while we have made so many sacrifices, and times have been difficult, I will always reflect on those times with fondness!

February 22, 2011 at 3:36 PM  
Blogger botanybabe said...

med school wasn't that bad for us either. it is a pretty nice balance of busy times and "down" times. so that is nice. the main perk to med school, i think is the community. you have a large community to fall back on. the class size is large so that is helpful to form close friendships. i also worked full time all through med school, so i was plenty busy too. now residency...different story. it will rock your world (sorry to be the gloom and doom). all i heard in med school was how difficult it was, so i knew it was coming and it lived up to every expectation.

February 23, 2011 at 12:53 PM  
Blogger K said...

3rd year is the only truly tough year because the hours are long.

years 1, 2, and 4 are easy. 40-50 hour weeks. sometimes less, especially if your husband doesn't go to class (lectures tend to be pointless and inefficient).

February 23, 2011 at 2:16 PM  
Blogger Dicey said...

First year can be super exciting and tough at the same time. I remember it as a big adjustment, but one that I still had plenty of energy to take on. Since your S.O. will have medical school to fill the time and provide a sense of purpose, I recommend doing things that make you feel happy and fulfilled. Also, try to maintain a robust support system of friends/family.

It's true what others are saying about residency being significantly more difficult than most of med school. I only reinforce this because I wish someone had pounded it into my head about 8 years ago. :)

Anyway, enjoy the journey, and all the best.

February 23, 2011 at 11:21 PM  
Blogger TheFamousStacie said...

I agree with everything, so I'll try not to repeat.

I loved that we lived on campus. That was the best choice for us. We had two small kids and that was the easiest way for Daddy to see them as much as possible.

One hard part was being around so many people who were in such a different family situation than us. Most were young - straight from college and single. My husband wanted to party like a youngster, like everyone else, and I wanted him home being the man of the house.

On night I gave up and said, "Fine be a kid!" He called me from the bar claiming to be totally bored and he came home. He never went to "Bar Night" again.

Another challenge was test block week. He was a wreck that week and the week before. He couldn't sleep at all. He would panic, it was awful. He yelled a lot during test block. very, very stressful.

Plan for the worst, hope for the best.

I'm just being honest here. My husband is wonderful and I love him with all my heart. It can be a hard time, even when your husband is a prince.

February 26, 2011 at 8:14 AM  

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