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Lives of Doctor Wives

Monday, June 3, 2013

Med School Madness

The Q and A … Part 1

A while back I read a blog post that reminded of me of how uniquely awesome we all are. Specifically, medical school wives. We are all on the same road but we are experiencing it differently. I wanted to write about those experiences so I enlisted the help of several women whose husbands are in medical school or just finished. They are all in different stages so I was really excited to ask them a few questions. I sent out the same questions to all of them and I received wonderful responses. As I got back answers I started to see a theme forming. All of them value a positive and flexible attitude. Professionally, they are a diverse group. This group of girls include a flight attendant, volunteers, nannies, a writer and editor and wives whose work is now at home.

In this post I will concentrate on a few practical realities of medical school wives. I will share their responses on finances and their lifestyle as a medical school family.

The contributors* to these posts are Tabatha and Jennifer whose husbands are now done with MSII and are preparing for STEP 1. Rachel and Amanda whose Student Dr. H completed MSIII.. Lastly, Mia and Margaret are currently celebrating the completion of MSIV, my congratulations to them and their husbands! What an exciting time.

Now, Lets get to their responses!

Q-Has your lifestyle as a medical family changed dramatically since the start of medical school or has it been more of the same?
A- Most of the girls who have been with their spouses since undergrad state that this is 'more of the same'. Those who feel differently are a bit non-traditional.
Amanda-Our lifestyle has definitely changed dramatically! We became a one income household and we moved very far away from home. I had to adjust to some culture shocks and start to accept that studying and catching up on sleep comes before anything else. She adds that most household issues are her responsibility.

Margeret- DrH is MD/PhD and we met during his last year of research, so he started MS4 about five months into our relationship. The med school months were definitely different from the research months, but it was good to get that experience! He also had tougher rotations toward the beginning of MS4, so by the time we hit the last few months, his schedule was pretty cushy and we got a lot of good time together as we prepared for our wedding!

Q- Many things during MS take an adjustment period. What are some things that took you by surprise and gave a moment or two to adjust?
Jennifer- The competitive nature of med school and the hierarchy that exists between the different classes, and even the competitiveness between his classmates.

Tabatha-The biggest aspect of medical school that took me by surprise was the emotional toll it took on my husband. I knew it would be demanding mentally and very time consuming but I was completely unprepared for the emotional breakdowns my husband would have to endure. I felt helpless as I would try to support him without knowing how. You can only tell someone so many times it's all going to be okay before you yourself stop believing it. But eventually it DID get better. In fact, it got better than I would’ve ever imagined!

Rachel-Our first away rotation. It was technically a "rural rotation" his third year for family medicine, but it was a hard two weeks getting used to him being gone. It was a great trial run before what is to come: three months of back-to-back away rotations this summer.

Amanda-The amount of time required to study! I also think the studying and time constraints surprised me because we had both been out of college and in the work force for several years, so we were used to working hard, working double shifts, overtime, and holidays. It was more shocking than my spouse expected to become a professional student again! Never mind studying for Step I and Step II, I don't see him for weeks!

Mia- Tests! I wasn't prepared for the constant testing, studying for tests, “test weeks” and then boards, too.

Margaret-Learning to think of a scheduled shift as more like...guidelines. I got REALLY stressed out once because DrH was more than 90 minutes late coming home from the hospital and totally unreachable by phone/text. I actually drove from his house to the hospital to check for wrecks along the road. Of course, it turned out that he'd just been in a different room from his phone with a patient who was coding. I am a planner, so it took me a while to realize that shift times are not set in stone and to be more flexible with them.

Q-When I speak to pre-med couples, the topic most often discussed is finances. Is this subject a source of stress for your household or has it been surprisingly uneventful?
Jennifer- The financial stress is always a current running underneath everything. I would say our biggest fights are sparked because of stress concerning finances. I know that we'll be able to pay back our loans, but it is hard to think about the amount of debt we are accumulating. She also notes is difficult to continually say 'no' to her kids on things they want but trust this is building good character in them.

Amanda-What a headache! My spouse has his first B.A. in Finance so we went into MS with a beautiful color coded excel spreadsheet...and to make a long story short...we no longer use said spreadsheet at all! The Spouses Organization set me up with a sponsor and she told me "don't worry about the money, the loans cover everything". And she was so right!

Mia- Our savings combined with student loans allowed us to comfortably cover all of the MSIV expenses while allowing me to stay home with our son and travel on interviews with my husband. We were careful with our money and planned for the future, which made finances (nearly) stress-free.
Most of the girls are awesome planners, most mentioned they live 'simply' and enjoy wise shopping and I was surprised at how much some of them enjoy spreadsheets and financial planning. Most also manage their household finances.

Q-Lastly, for those who transitioned from classroom to rotations in MS3, tell us what that is like?

Rachel- Rotations are a thousand times better than classroom! You will go on a new adventure every month. Your spouse will have a personality not laced with anxiety, again!

Amanda-For us the transition to clinic was AMAZING! We are now closer to home and not having the intense study schedule has led to a much happier and pleasant med student . As I sit here writing this evening everything is great.

Mia-My husband was much happier during rotations than he was in the classroom. This reflected in every aspect of life for us. He has always studied at home, so he wasn't around quite as much. But, there was much more quality home time during rotations.

I want to end this by sharing that although some things are very difficult most of the girls in this group expressed a positive view on medical school. I noticed the tone became a bit lighter when rotations in MS3 started. It's fair to point out that those who are done mentioned med school goes by fast and we should enjoy more and worry less but understand that is easier said than done. I want to thank Amanda, Tabatha, Rachel, Jennifer, Mia and Margaret for their contributions.

Don't forget this is the first part of this Q and A and next time on Med School Madness we will touch on friendships, what these girls worry in regards to their husband, a little on time management and goals. I'm excited to post that!

Thanks for reading!! :)


*While all these ladies are real, some of the names are not and they have been changed for privacy issues.

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Blogger Elle Liabilities said...

Thanks for posting this - hope this becomes a regular thing on this blog!

June 4, 2013 at 8:37 AM  
Blogger Your Doctor's Wife said...

Thanks for linking up for Medical Monday! Always great seeing you on the grid.
I'm glad to hear the loans now cover everything.! That wasn't the case with my Doc H.

June 4, 2013 at 3:59 PM  

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