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Lives of Doctor Wives: Ten Things I've Learned From Our Medical Journey

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)!



Blogger Tif Sweeney said...

Thanks for having me today on the site!

March 30, 2013 at 1:00 PM  
Blogger The Frugal Exerciser said...

These points can be applied to a lot of situations in life, thanks for this post. I'm going back and reading your old post, I find them enlightening.

April 2, 2013 at 3:21 PM  
Blogger Tif Sweeney said...

The Frugal Exerciser ... You're welcome! Glad you enjoyed it!

April 3, 2013 at 11:58 PM  
Blogger Nicholas said...

Awesome! Thx. It's fun to have a reminder of those special times!

April 4, 2013 at 10:23 PM  

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