This Page

has moved to a new address:


Sorry for the inconvenience…

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
Lives of Doctor Wives: March 2013

Friday, March 29, 2013

Ten Things I've Learned From Our Medical Journey

Ten Things I’ve Learned From Our Medical Journey
by Tif Sweeney

My husband started medical school as a non-traditional student.  He had previously worked in a different field in the medical world, but had bigger dreams he wanted to pursue.  In the heat of the summer of 2005, we packed up our moving truck and drove half-way across the country.  Today, he is finishing up his residency in Anesthesiology and preparing to begin a one-year fellowship in Pain Management.  Over these past eight years, I have learned a few things along the way.

  1. A family is possible.  A number of family and friends thought we were crazy to begin medical school with an infant in the picture.  When we showed up for orientation, I feared that we were going to be facing our crazy decision alone.  I was wrong!  We were not the only ones with children and we will not be the last!
  2. Support is necessary.  The journey through medical school and beyond is long and hard.  Your husband will work long hours.  He may be gone for very extended periods of time.  You cannot expect to face this time alone.  Many schools and hospitals have support systems in place.  If not, then you can reach out to local groups in the community, such as parenting groups, book clubs, etc. or your state or national associations (AMA Alliance or Advocates for the AOA).
  3. Don’t wait to live your life.  Medical school lasts four years.  Residency can last three or more.  This is a huge chunk of your life.  Live every day to the fullest.  Explore new opportunities and open doors to the multitude of connections that come your way.  
  4. Don’t forget the past.  Our medical journey has taken us thousands of miles away from family and friends and we rarely get to see them.  Take advantage of our modern day technology and stay in touch often.  They may not fully understand what you may be going through, but they love you nonetheless.  I have lost many loved ones during this journey, and I wish I would have talked to them more often.
  5. Discover something new.  The medical journey provides you with a variety of opportunities that life may not have otherwise shown you.  Take advantage of it.  Try new things.  Explore new locations.  Discover new hobbies.  Find everlasting friends.
  6. Be flexible.  In the years before medical school, I always knew that I could rely on my husband.  Today, I know that I can still rely on him, but I cannot rely on the hospital and patients that now control his schedule.  I’ve learned to take advantage of the little time we have and remain flexible in my plans.
  7. Organization is key.  Training in medicine means moving … A LOT!  Staying organized helps each move and transition easier every single time.  Personally, I’m a fan of spreadsheets for such things as tracking change of addresses or marking/coding boxes when packing for specific rooms/items.
  8. Communicate openly and often.  Open and honest communication can help to save a marriage and keep it strong.  With little alone time, communication has evolved from sitting at the dinner table having a one-on-one conversation to using technology to our advantage with texting, chatting, and email as well as having impromptu “family meetings” on the run.  I also involve my children in this process by sending pictures of good test scores, leaving special good night messages, or simply sending him little notes of silly love throughout the day.
  9. Calendar-ize.  Syncing up calendars have saved us much time and energy (especially when he actually looks at it!).  When he notes his call schedule, late nights, and night floats, I can better prepare myself physically and mentally for his absence.
  10. Have fun!  Take advantage of every second that you are together.  As you are passing each other on the way out the door, give each other a little love.  Leave each other notes of encouragement and support.  Surprise each other with a date (trading childcare if necessary with other medical couples!).  Find the positive in every single day, even during the hard ones.  Give each other compliments.  Smile.  Break out some dance moves.  Laugh.  And, remember what brought you together in the first place.  Medical school, internship, residency, and fellowship are all temporary.  They too shall pass in time!

Our medical journey has taken us places that we never imagined.  There have been ups and there have been downs.  As we approach the end, I can confidently say that we do not regret the decision to take this path at all.  We have grown personally, professionally, and as a whole family.  I cannot wait to see where the journey will take us next (as I continue to remind myself often of these lessons learned)!


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Medical Monday Blog Hop!

We will be co-hosting the Medical Monday blog hop in April!  We are super excited and hope you will all join us back here on Monday April 1st.  No foolin'!


Monday, March 25, 2013

Truly Awful Doctor's Wife

by Jennifer
From the Corner of My Couch

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. When he does screw up the laundry—or anything else—wait before you speak, and when you speak, treat him kindly.

There will always be another sweater set.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Loans for Residents

Finally.  Your husband has graduated from medical school and now he is going to have a real salary!  The average resident salary is sounding pretty good at this point, and you are making plans to buy new furniture and rent a cute little house.  But then you go into some credit card debt for all of those residency interviews.  And then the move (or two!) costs more than you ever expected.  You have another baby, move to a city with higher cost of living, start paying back those pesky loans, have to buy even more text books and medical equipment.  Suddenly you find yourself in the red and realize there will be no new couch, even worse you are wondering how you will make rent this month. Now what?

Fortunately, there are a few options for residents in regards to getting loans if needed including:

1)    Residency and Relocation Loan
What it is: The Medical Residency & Relocation Loan finances expenses associated with finding a residency, including travel to interviews and relocation costs which are not covered by federal student loan programs.
Repayment: Can be deferred until up to 3 years after graduation
How Much: Students can borrow from $1,000 up to $20,000, depending on the lender
Who Can Get It: 4th year medical students
2)    Private Residency Loans
      What it is: A way to pay for any expenses related to residency       
      Repayment: Can be deferred until up to 6 months after completion of residency.  Interest only repayments are also available up until the 2nd year in practice, depending on the lender
      How Much: Residents can borrow $5,000 up to $75,000, depending on the lender and the where you are in your training
      Who Can Get It: 4th year medical students, medical residents
      Where to get it: PNC On Campus, Sun Trust, also contact your local bank to find out other personal loan options

Obviously going into more debt is not desirable and your options should be weighed carefully before deciding to take out one of these loans.  Read the fine print, realize that the interest rates may be high and you may have to make payments on interest while you are still in training. 

Did you and your spouse take out one of these types of loans?  What was your experience?  Did you find other ways to finance your residency related expenses?

By Melissa Stringham

Labels: , ,

Friday, March 15, 2013

Making the Most of your Sam's or Costco Membership

- By Julie Newman

One of the leading topics on the LDW Facebook page is frequently how to survive on limited salaries during and just after the training years.  Those of us “on the other side” may appear to have forgotten those lean times, but believe me, they really do shape how we spend our money in the future.  For the first 2 years of residency, I had a much better paying job than my husband; unfortunately I lost that job during the recession of the early 1990’s, just as Princess Sunshine came into the picture.  Suddenly we were faced with a dramatically smaller budget and another mouth to feed as well as the other obligations we had made during the more robust economic times.  Fortunately my husband’s residency and fellowship programs allowed him to moonlight but the tradeoff was less time at home.  We made it work but it instilled in us a sense of frugality that we generally still follow. 

In order to pay for some of the things that we value (nice vacations, artwork, a nice house, education for the kids) we found ways to save on the day-to-day expenses.  One method is a membership at the local bulk warehouse store. We have been members of Bj’s Wholesale Club since 1990 when we knew we needed to start stockpiling diapers.  We have remained members of these kinds of clubs ever since.  I admit, sometimes I walk in just to purchase one or two items and walk out with a full cart, but it’s always things we need.  Overall I do feel like we have used our membership to its fullest.  A few examples (some of these may not apply given how far you may live from the store):
·       Gas for members is generally about 8 cents per gallon cheaper than other places.  Usually but not always.  That’s when the Gas Buddy app comes in handy.
·       Milk at my local groceries is averaging $3.79/gallon for 1%.  It was right around $3 at Bj’s.  Plus I get my son’s Lactaid for less.
·       I grew up in the DC area so to me, the best chicken has always been Perdue.  Bj’s sells containers of 6 individually wrapped packets (2 sizeable boneless, skinless breasts) for around $2.99/lb.  I’ll usually get 2 at a time and put them in my big old freezer in the garage.  Saves having to dash to the grocery and pay at least twice as much when I need to plan dinner.
·       We’re not big red meat eaters but I have purchased my tenderloin for the holidays there.
·       In general, if you’re OK with frozen seafood, you can get a 2 lb bag of shrimp for the same price as 1lb at the grocery.
·       I get my 2.5 lb bag of Starbucks French Roast beans (and usually wait for the coupon), which I can either grind there or at home.  I indulge in a Venti Latte about once a week.
·       I do buy some of my fresh produce there – 3 lbs bananas for $1.49; those mini carrots (treat for the dog, mostly); lettuce; berries; apples. Over the years I’ve noticed they’ve moved into stocking organic things as well.  The key is to buy the produce items you know your family consumes pretty regularly so there’s no waste.
·       Since DrH believes that no household should EVER be without toilet paper, we only buy it there.
·       In fact, we buy most of our household staples at Bj’s, including soap, ibuprofen, and my Tom’s of Maine toothpaste!

A couple of other tips:  Make sure you have enough room for storage because you’re usually going to get a large quantity.  For items like cereal, invest in the Rubbermaid storage containers (which you can pick up there!) so you don’t have those big boxes hanging around.  Once or twice a month they send out a coupon book and we tend to plan our purchases around those additional savings.  So even if I’m not completely out of Tide detergent, I’ll pick up another box with the coupon.  I don’t clip regular coupons but I understand they also accept the manufacturer ones on top of the club ones.  Try not to be tempted by the things you just don’t need or don’t use – I have gotten into that trap on occasion and ended up throwing those things out.

Although we really do maximize our $35/year membership fee (probably just on gas for our cars), I still have to go to the local grocery store once a week, but that bill tends to hover around $100 for a family of +/-4 (if you count the four legged kids).  The club membership is a great tool to have to help you cut your overall grocery bill but you have to use it wisely.

Labels: ,

Monday, March 11, 2013

The disconnect notice...

 I just walked in home after being gone for several days ‘back home’. We had such a great time with family and friends who we miss tons since moving for med school.  As we drove through KS my husband and I could do nothing but talk and enjoy being stuck with each other.  My husband made me laugh for most of the trip and we truly had a blast.  At some point I told hubby I was having a very ‘glass half full’ kind of day to which he agreed.  Truly, all was well in my world. 

So much joy, something had to give.

Upon our arrival we retrieved our mail and what do I find? A disconnect notice from our gas company.  Apparently, I forgot to pay the bill last month and since we were gone for a couple of weeks, the disconnect notices piled up in our mail box.  When will they disconnect our gas? Tomorrow.  It’s too late to pay over the phone tonight so I wait until tomorrow to deal with it all.  Will I pay the disconnect fee and who knows what else? Probably.  While I am trying to get this issue taken care of my sweet five year old boy has informed me that while we were gone his stuffed collection of ‘Angry Birds’ has shrunk and it's a terrible problem that we truly have to deal with right now. Of course it is.

At this point, perhaps you are wondering why I am sharing this non-sense with you.  My answer to you is, blame the hubs.  During my various forms of stressing, he smiled and said “You should post about this”.  I raised my metaphorical eyebrow at him to which he simply explained that there is probably a pre-med wife wondering if there will be enough money to pay the bills while in med school.  He thinks I should share this story to ease your budget concerns, if you have them.  In his words ‘you have the money to pay the bill but your life is just too ridiculous sometimes and you forget to pay a bill here and there’. 

He is kind of right.  Depending on where you live, there is enough money to pay the bills.  We are in the Midwest so cost of living is fairly low.  I’m a stay at home mom and we have managed to do okay.  We live in a tiny apartment, our cars are not new but they are paid for, there is food on the table every day and the basic bills get paid.  Before starting medical school, I didn't see how our budget would work since I stay home. I am happy to say that with some sacrifices and quite a bit of planning it works.  

I hope that if you have been stressing about your future budget once your husband enters medical school, this post gives you a bit of hope.  If not, remember there are lots of families in medical school and they are making it work.  Yes, some financial sacrifices are made but it can be done.   It’s not always super fun and your list of what is a necessity changes a bit.  It is a challenge but not impossible.  I share this with you not to give you a false sense of security but so that you may be encouraged with the knowledge that it can be done and a lot of us are doing it.  If you are following this blog, I encourage you to read the posts by others who give wonderful tips on how to budget when in medical school including the post by Melissa Stringham.  While her post comes from a residency point of view, her tips translate well to medical school.  I follow most of them and find her list to be very helpful.

No matter where you are in the medical journey, I wish you all the best of luck.  Now, I wait for the morning to arrive to hopefully pay my very late bill and keep some of my utilities on.  

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, March 4, 2013

That Interview Invite

After the application is in….secondaries have been received and sent back off…comes the agonizing wait for interview invitations…or rejection letters.

That first rejection letter HURTS….and hurts even more when it was a top choice school.  It feels like all of you and your spouse’s hopes and dreams just went up in smoke.  Good news…they didn’t!  If you are like most people, the application went out to a ton more schools. Which means that there is a bunch more emails or envelopes that still can help you out in reaching that dream! 

That first interview invite is so exciting!  (I’m thinking Sally Field “You like me.  You really like me.”)  It’s confirmation that all of that hard work has finally paid off, that all of that extra time doing research or shadowing served a purpose and all those hours spent on the application and secondary were worth every minute.

My husband scheduled his first interview for the first open spot.  It was about a month away.  Luckily for us, it was driving distance (about 4 hours).  I started looking for a hotel.  Then my mom asked, “Are you going with him?”  I never really thought about it.  But, yes, I wanted to!  After all, it wasn’t only him moving for 4 years…it was our whole family.  I wanted to check out housing, the schools, the community, and talk to people.  So we made the arrangements for me to join him.  I’m so glad I did.

While he was in his interview, I drove around town, talked to moms at the park, and found the elementary schools.  I ate lunch at a restaurant with free wi-fi and browsed craigslist for local rentals.  Obviously they wouldn’t still be available when we moved, but they gave me a great idea of what was available, price ranges and I could see the neighborhoods.  I drove by most of those rentals. I left that town feeling so comfortable and confident that I could be perfectly happy raising my kids in this town.  That was huge.

I can’t help but write about his first interview.  It really is the worst nightmare for a first interview.  This goes to show you no matter how much planning you can’t always plan!  We arrived the day before the interview.  We drove around the town noting what was familiar and what was new. Found the school and found the easiest route from hotel to school.  We also timed the route.  The last thing my husband wanted was to be late….little did we know…
My husband is early to everything.  Not just a few minutes early but EARLY.  His interview was at 8:30am.  The school was 8 minutes from the hotel.  

We boarded the elevator at 7:45am.  The elevator went to the next floor and picked up 4-5 elderly guests…walkers, canes and all.  The doors shut and the elevator made this weird noise.  I looked at my husband in a panic.  The elevator wasn’t moving.  It was stuck between floors!

Of course, my husband starts freaking out!  He can’t be late to his first interview!  I push the elevator emergency button to which the person on the other end was less then helpful.  I pull out my phone and call the front desk and tell them we are stuck in an elevator…me and my husband along with 4-5 elderly guests.  They tell us they will call 911.

Fifteen more minutes go by…still nothing.  It’s now 8:00am.  He has his interview in 30 minutes.  We start Googling the school and seeing if anyone will answer on a Saturday.  Finally, someone at the school answers.  He explains who he is and that he is currently stuck in an elevator at the hotel the recommended.  He would be there as soon as he could. I call the front desk again and ask them a timeline…they say they have no clue.  I hang up and call 911 myself.  The operator tells me the fire fighters are in route.  Thank Goodness! 

8:10am the elevator doors crack open, a bright light is shone through, and we see a crew of fire fighters.  I climb out with the aid of the fire fighters.  The elevator has my husband and the elderly guests.  He can’t leave them there.  So, he helps lift all of the little old men and ladies out of the elevator…all the time praying he doesn’t rip the brand new suit he is wearing.  Finally, he climbs out.  It’s 8:20am.  Crap. He explains to the fire fighters what is going on….they had a great sense of humor about it and offered to write him a note for the interviewers!  We run to the car and rush to the interview.

He gets to his interview with 1 minute to spare.  He walks in and they knew who he was…no one gets to the interview only 1 minute early on purpose!  During the interview one of his first questions they asked was, “What is one of your biggest pet peeves?”  He responded with a laugh and ‘tardiness.’  He went on to explain what had happened that morning and how he had the privilege of meeting the towns fire fighters.  The interviewers laughed.

Eight days later…he was accepted! 

My husband scheduled 4 interviews and cancelled one of them.  But I went along on the other 3.  One we drove to, the others we had to fly to.  Luckily we had family at home to watch our kids.  The cost of me going was just the extra plane ticket.  No matter if I went or not we would have to rent a car and book a hotel room.  The extra cost to me going was the ticket and a couple extra meals.  Being able to view those cities, the schools, the neighborhoods, the people, helped me so much.  Moving for us is huge…we’ve never lived anywhere but within 30 minutes of where we grew up.  My husband had great input when it came to the medical school and I had different input because of the community.  It gave us the best of both worlds and we were able to decide on what school was best for him while keeping in mind what community was best for me and our kids. 

Labels: , , ,

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Different Type of Survivor Story: When Match Day Goes Awry

By: Anonymous

Match Day season is upon us. A date that I became aware of long before my med student husband was cognizant of the fact that while we got to “pick” from among our med school acceptances, residency would be left up to the whim of a secret computer algorithm… Match Day was a day that I looked forward to with dread and excitement for 4 years.  A day that I could finally begin planning the next 4-5 years of our life… I am a long-term planner, and I held on to that date in my countdown calendar for all I was worth.
Too often in medicine (…and dare I say, life?) we only hear success stories (and even the failures that turn into success). We hear well-deserved gleeful shout-outs about outstanding board scores, enthusiastic reports of matching at one’s #1 choice, or the coveted perception of having a virtual pick of specialties and programs. Match Day is the culmination of years of hard work, and while not everyone’s match is their dream come true, those are the stories most advertised. There’s the occasional tale of a scramble (now known as the SOAP), or the rare resident who changed specialties mid-residency to pursue the dream, but it all ends well, and everything is still ultimately part of the Divine Plan. Anything less than success is not possible – you got into med school and you’ve passed with flying colors, right?
Then the unthinkable happens… it happens to you. If your story isn’t one you want to shout from the rooftops or ever relive again, welcome to our journey. Match Day is a dark cloud in our once sunny road of being married to medicine, and at one point we weren’t sure if there would ever be a rainbow at the end. I want to share our experience, because I am sure there are others out there who feel as alone as I did, amidst a sea of “We Matched!” success stories.
The long, dark night:
As you may have guessed, we did not Match. I say “we” because we have a team mentality that shapes our identity as a couple. However, not matching wasn’t the worst of it for us. The worst was that we were also not able to immediately scramble. Due to a still inexplicable chain of events, my husband’s “good” med school GPA had somehow translated into a Step 2 board exam score that fell just shy of the mark needed to pass. So, he studied hard and retook it, but the first available date was later than we had expected, and on the retake he barely fell short… again. Not having a Step 2 board score meant he was ineligible to apply for post-match positions (we are unsure of what this would have meant if he had matched at a program).
The timing of it all made it worse. Why?? WHY did this happen to us? Why now, when there was no time to retake the exam before the match? He had never significantly struggled academically in undergrad or beyond the normal challenges of med school. Practice board scores were average. Step 1 was a relative breeze. No repeated classes. A better than average GPA. Nothing that could have predicted a Step 2 failure for sure. We could point at this or that possibility – having the flu on the first test date, severe anxiety on the second…? Or a divine lesson or punishment from above? Overanalyzing did not help.
We had to honestly evaluate where we stood and where we could potentially go at that point.
“That point”, a time when we both seriously questioned the decision to pursue medicine, came down to a bottom line of $200,000 in student loan debt that we couldn’t simply wish away. We understandably felt that the door had slammed shut in our face. Clinically, he was beloved by patients and preceptors and had gathered outstanding letters of recommendation. We knew that logically, standardized test scores aren’t the best factor in determining what makes a good doctor, but that didn’t help our nightmare. Worse yet, our med school had a three-strikes-you’re-out board exam policy, meaning that this dream of medicine could go up in smoke mere months from graduation, unless he could produce a final successful attempt at this now dreaded exam. To further crucify our hopes, we found out that he did not pass the exam retake the night before Match Day… instead of an envelope of dreams containing our life’s destiny for the next four years, Match Day gave us an anti-climactic email stating the dreaded truth: we didn’t match, not even at the program that had promised us the moon (we had taken their words with a huge grain of salt, but there was still that desperate hope). Oh, the timing…
It was like everything in our lives crumbled into a pile of dust… we shut down our social media accounts, turned off texting, and let the phones ring. We left a host of friends and family clamoring publicly and privately for match results, wanting to rejoice with us… not realizing that every well-meant inquiry only drove the nails deeper into our hearts. (I have since stopped asking anyone where they matched, unless it is publicly announced.) Of all the things we have weathered together as a couple, this was our darkest hour. Until this experience, we had always had hope and my husband’s relentless ambition… he had proven he could beat many odds, yet now we were faced with “one last chance” that felt insurmountable.
One of the hardest things was all the phone calls from program directors that came in after the Match, hoping my husband would scramble into their unfilled position… phone calls that abruptly ended with the news that he did not yet have a step 2 board score. We were in the depths of despair. It felt like if he’d only had a passing Step 2 score at that moment, he would’ve been into a scramble spot within minutes of the You-Didn’t-Match bombshell.  I’m not even going to pretend that we handled this well… we are very private and we suffered privately – we had been burned, so to speak, when a classmate spread news all over that he didn’t pass the first time. This time it turned my husband into a shell of who he once was. It took our marriage to a new low, and nearly destroyed us. We only had each other. Through all of it, it was my husband’s willingness to seek help to move forward that eventually saved us…  he reached out to the school and his preceptor, applied different study methods, and took an anti-anxiety medication to get himself through the third exam attempt. Fortunately, it worked.
The light at the end of the tunnel:
Fast-forwarding a few months, my husband passed the exam on the third and final attempt… scores were of course delayed until the absolute last possible moment. Finally eligible to apply for post-match spots, we found that process was also not easy (hello, another round of expenses interviewing around the country) when finally The Position presented itself… At long last, it was as if the heavens opened and angels sang! Rather than feeling we were trying to kick down the door, it finally felt that the door swung wide open and the red carpet rolled out… He got a spot in a specialty we had never considered, in a location off of our previous radar of consideration. He accepted the spot on Friday and left for work on Monday. Even in our shock, we rejoiced.
Life was a whirlwind. It completely ripped us out of our comfort zone. Yet, he feels fulfilled. He is happy. WE are happy. He thanks God every day that he gets to help people; that he GETS to do medicine. And thankfully, clinical skills are his strength, even if standardized testing isn’t - so he has earned much praise and respect from his superiors. Looking back on our Match experience, we questioned then if medicine was the path meant for us. The miraculous details of how things played out, most of which I have not included here, left us zero doubt that THIS is where we were meant to be, doing what he is meant to be doing.
I will not question that life in medicine is hard, as is being married to it. However, our experience not matching left us humbled and forever grateful for what we see as divine intervention getting us to where we are today. I vowed during our nightmare that if things worked out, gratitude would forbid me from ever complaining about the “perks” of residency.
Being in medicine is a privilege, and too often I have heard unconventional match stories end with “But it all worked out and this is exactly where we were meant to be, doing what we are meant to be doing.” It sounds cliché, and the rollercoaster ride that results in such a statement is not an experience I would wish on anyone. I truly hope your match day IS a dream come true, but whatever happens - whether or not you end up in our shoes – cling to that thought: It WILL All Work Out. Obviously, not as we had planned or hoped. We truly believe that the hardest journeys produce the deepest perspectives and the most profound gratitude… and possibly, some of the best doctors.
It is so easy to be bogged down in the hardships of this life… and I’ll be honest – of course, ours is not the worst case scenario. There are beautiful, strong, amazing people who go through what we went through more than once. I say – without any judgment to any who verbally lament their suffering – that we are grateful to be in a special breed of medicine and to have our unique perspective. Not matching the way we had planned changed our perception of thankfulness and appreciation for the privilege of being here. And once those stinkin’ student loans are paid off, he is more than welcome to go work for the sanitation company or the Peace Corps or anywhere else he chooses… but I have a feeling that since medicine is what he loves, he will continue on this path… and I will stand proudly by his side.

Labels: ,