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Lives of Doctor Wives: October 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tasty Tuesdays: Soup Recipes

With Fall in full swing and winter coming, we asked the LDW ladies for their favorite soup recipes.  Just reading through these makes your belly feel a little warmer. :) 

Butternut Squash, Southwestern, veggie and hearty protein soup recipes await you at the link:

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Residency Roundup: After the Interview

Many MS4 families have completed one or more interviews! Congratulations on starting yet another step in the 'process'.:)
The first wave of interviews brings a new onslaught of information and pressure.  How are you ever going to rank all these programs??  Below are a few points to ponder as you and your DrH prepare for your rank list.

  • Rank each program after each interview.  Another family ranked different aspects of the programs (COL, research, salary...) and compiled an average score for each program.  We just generally put each program at the top, middle, or bottom of the list with an explanation. 
    • First impressions- DrH should write them down while on his return flight home.  This was the most important for us.  We went with our guts on the majority of the rank list.  
    • Personal Priorities- Academic prestige, research opportunity, average case numbers and variety, home/in house call, proximity to relatives, parking pass...etcetera.  What are DrH's career goals? What procedures do you want to learn? Will your family be comfortable? 
    • Co-residents, Attendings, and Staff- Are they people you can be around? What is the atmosphere? Our bottom rank was due to a program director getting sloppy drunk and telling inappropriate stories.  
    • Facilities and Human Resources- Insurance coverage, meal plans, vacation requests. 
    • Housing locations- Would it work for your family? Jobs? School? Transportation?

Three years ago as we 'made' our rank list interview by interview, we continued to remind ourselves that  matching is left up to a computer program.

We ranked 15 programs

#1 DrH's Dream residency spot.
#2 Solid program, low COL, Family Friendly
#3 Close to Family
#4 Great personality match, 2 hrs from family
#5 Good program, low COL
#6 Medical School program, wouldn't have to move
#7-#14 No particular order
#15 Rather go here than nowhere

We are grateful to have matched at #4.  When we opened the match letter, we both didn't even remember this program on our list... but ten minutes after the match the program director called to welcome DrH into the program and we have felt blessed to be here since.

Happy and Safe Travels to all interviews!

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Friday, October 25, 2013

The Job Hunt

 The ultimate goal that so many of us have worked so hard for for so many years next to our husbands. It can work out exactly as you had planned or hoped or it can go all kinds of crazy directions with so many unknowns. I think the latter is more likely these days.

Every specialty is different, private practice is different then academics, etc but this is our story. 

My husband was a resident in a very small, competitive, surgical sub-specialty in one of the top programs in the country. Two years of research were built into his program and he loved to teach so all along he was pretty sure he wanted to do academics. He is not a PhD so a lab of his own was not his goal but he did want to keep a hand in the research he had started during his research years. He wrote a few papers (probably not enough) and presented a few posters, he went to a conference every year or so and we both thought he had networked well. With the help of his mentor and chairman at his residency he landed a great fellowship and we moved for fellowship knowing that the job hunt needed to start soon. 

His fellowship mentor was great, very well connected and interested in the fact that his fellows got good jobs where they wanted doing what they wanted. This was key because his residency chairman and mentor were not any help in looking for “the job.” We were both very discouraged by this as well as the fact that there seemed to be so few jobs in his sub-specialty for the year he was finishing. Because there are so few in his area we learned that graduates tend to stay at their residency or fellowship institution and that was not an option for him at either location.

A few months into fellowship he got a call from a practice in his hometown. We had lived out of state ever since the beginning of medical school and because the one academic program in his hometown had been through a lot of turmoil we had been very honest with our family and friends that we didn’t think we would ever be back. When my husband got this call he was pessimistic that a private practice job is what he wanted, he has very little business sense and was not interested in the politics of a practice. His mentor told him, “don’t close a door until you know what is behind it” and I agreed so he agreed to at least go on the interview and see what they had to offer. In the mean time he was applying for every academic job he heard of but most were filled internally or the job was pulled because they decided they needed a different sub-specialty instead of his, of course we would find this all out later not at the time of application.

At this time he also started working with a well known and well respected recruiter in his specialty. Working with a recruiter was not of interest to either one of us because so many do not understand his specialty and his sub-specialty within it. However this recruiter is married to a physician in the field and is well respected by both the candidates and the hospitals/practices because of her knowledge. I watched their site religiously and when a job popped up that I thought was interesting I’d bring it to my husband’s attention, like many other things he just didn’t have time to monitor it. His hometown has a very unique identifier that recruiters tend to use, someone who isn’t from there wouldn’t know where it was but we always laughed when we saw a post with that description because we knew which city it was. 

A month or so after the first call from his hometown a job popped up on the recruiter site that was also in his hometown, I sent it to him and he inquired about it. They were looking for an experienced surgeon, someone to lead a new group, not someone straight out of training so we wrote it off and moved on. A few weeks later another posting showed up that looked to be from the same hospital but it was not looking for a leader role and this time they called my husband the day it was posted, I didn’t even have a chance to send it to him. This job was more interesting to him because the hospital had decided to employ their surgeons directly instead of contracting with a practice. There was a tie to a medical school though they didn’t have residents in his specialty and there were ties to a private research company that could offer opportunities in the future. 

So at the end of October he had two solid leads, neither of which he was crazy about, several academic jobs in the pipeline (or so we thought) and then the shoe dropped that his fellowship mentor was leaving to take the chairmanship at another program. In his specialty fellowships are a one-on-one mentorship, they are not required or accredited so they are truly for the experience only. We didn’t know what we were going to do, what was going to happen to his fellowship and if we were even going to have a job to go to in July.

Thanksgiving weekend we lied to our families to rearrange our travel plans so that he could interview in his home town without anyone knowing he was there because we had decided after being told where to go to med school (he got in last minute off of a waitlist) and then residency and fellowship we wanted this to be our decision for our family of 4. The interview at job #2 went great, he was dumbfounded and at the end of the 2nd day they handed him an offer and a contract draft. We were both shocked to say the least, he still had an interview with the other group in town and he wasn’t even sure this was the direction he wanted to go. Luckily there was no pressure for a quick answer and we discussed things over and over and over while he went ahead with the other interview a week later. He knew very quickly the first job in his hometown was not where he wanted to be and we kept going back to the pending contract, the pros and cons, the lack of academics and the proximity to family (was moving back after 13 years going to be hard? yes!).

We finally took the plunge and sent the contract to an attorney a few weeks into December. It was obvious that an academic job was not going to become an option. The job had become more and more intriguing, he would be the 3rd of 5 they were going to hire and because they would like for him to start the day after his contract was signed we could leave fellowship early and start early. We got the contract reviewed and signed just before Christmas and were very happy to tell our families at Christmas that we were coming home after 13 years. What had been a very stressful six months was finally over. It may not sound very stressful here but it was a daily stress, discussion and sometimes argument about whether we were doing enough, whether 13 years of hard work was for naught if he couldn’t find the job he wanted and whether we were making the right decisions for our family.

Because of the location of the new job and where we would live my husband had to have two state medical licenses plus his credentialing for the hospital. He and I spent an entire weekend filling out paperwork, requesting more paperwork and reading instructions until our eyes popped out. I have this great picture of he and I sitting at a table with piles of paper and our two laptops open, it looks like someone’s office had exploded. But the licenses came through, the credentialing went through without issue and on April 10th our moving truck pulled up in front of our fellowship rental. We enjoyed his three weeks off getting settled in our new home and then he started the “real” job.

We are now 14 1/2 months out of training and I won’t tell you the transition was easy, it wasn’t. Moving in mid-April when you have to take your kids out of their school and activities isn’t easy, being new to an area and neighborhood (the kids and I have never lived here) while everyone else is engrossed in year end activities, etc. was hard but just over a year later we are glad we have made the right decision for our family.

Now I wouldn’t say all of our decisions were the right ones, we love our house now but looking at 20+ houses in a long weekend and deciding when you’re spending what we spent was probably not the best idea. We didn’t want to move twice because of all of the moving we had done in the past and in hind sight that was stupid, we should have rented until we found the perfect house. But its growing on us, our kids are happy here and I finally feel like I’m hitting a groove with friends, groups, etc. My husband couldn’t be happier with his job, he’s very happy with the case mix he’s getting and is very happy with his partners. It hasn’t been all champagne and roses as they’ve already lost one partner who they are now trying to replace and his NP left for a better job for her family but those are bumps that anyone is going to have and we have discussed that we could see ourselves staying here forever. Who knows what is going to happen with healthcare going forward but for now we’re growing where we’re planted and hoping for the best.

Everyone’s hunt is different, everyone’s story is different, every specialty is different but hopefully this will help you go into it with your eyes open and know there are jobs, and sometimes where you least expect them.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Show-Off Sunday October

It's that time again! Show-Off Sunday! Link up your blog posts, website, Etsy shop items, etc. This is your chance to SHOW OFF!  We can't wait to see what you have been working on!  Link up closes next Sunday.


Monday, October 14, 2013

No Kicking Allowed!

Interview season is upon us! What a weird transition. Countless hours have been spent pouring over every little detail in pursuit of this huge dream of medical school. All for the sole purpose of obtaining an interview and then hopefully, acceptance. And now...we wait. There are no more tests to take and no more essays to write. It is out of our hands and we don't quite know what to do with ourselves.

And then...the chatter starts. "My hubby got an interview at fill-in-the-blank!" Those joyful exclamations from my fellow pre-med comrades send fear coursing through my veins. Don't get me wrong, getting connected with the Lives of Doctor Wives crew and The Pre-Med Wives Club on Facebook has been so good for me. I love hearing about your experiences, both good and bad. This process can be an isolating one and I will never underestimate the value of community again. But still...when I hear about your interviews and your successes, I find myself reacting in the strangest of ways. I seem to have developed an unhealthy three-step process (maybe a coping mechanism?) and it usually looks a little bit like this...

1) Wow! Congratulations! That's awesome! So exciting! Hip-hip-hooray!

2) Oh. Well, I guess that means fill-in-the-blank must be scheduling their interviews. Hmmm, I wonder why we haven't heard anything? Are we at the bottom of the list? Did we not make the list? The sky is falling! (Dramatic, I know.)

3) Lastly, after the excitement wears off, and the fear begins to kick in, what's left is this...a strong desire to kick you in the shin. I know. So mature. This process is so exhausting that every now and again I find myself regressing into a jealous 1st grader, incapable of processing complex emotions.

Anyone else experiencing this phenomenon? Just keepin' it real, y'all.

And then, last Friday happened. My dear hubby got an interview! At one of the best schools in the state! Now you want to kick me in the shin, right? And that's okay. I, of all people, will not judge you. Kick away.

Have you ever heard the phrase "dangers of comparison"? Those three little words have come to my mind over and over again recently. I am learning that there's truth to it. Big time. Comparing our journey to someone else's is not only dangerous, it is counterproductive. Some might get so many interview invitations that they have to decline a few. Or maybe only one. Or none at all and have to repeat the process again next year. And all of these scenarios are okay, because it all becomes a part of our story.

I hope that your story has a happy ending this interview season. Shin-kicking jokes aside, I really do. There are only so many spots to fill and I sincerely hope that your husband proudly claims one of them. Mine too, of course! Because at the end of the day, we need doctors who have passionately pursued this endeavor and left everything on the line. Even though the wait might be excruciating, remember that it will end soon. As you support your man, stretch your bank account for travel expenses, and deal with the uncertainty that is sure to come, please know that a redheaded gal in Texas is rooting for you.

visit my personal blog at thehappyredhead.com
read my introductory post for Lives of Doctor Wives here


Friday, October 11, 2013

The Good, The Bad and The Funny

               The Good, The Bad and The Funny
Author: Sally Walton 

I thought I would write more on the lighter side and discuss the good, the bad, and the funny side of having a spouse in medicine. I know that a lot of topics discussed here are dealing with the difficulties that we face having a partner in medicine; the physical, emotional, and financial toll that it takes on us all. But I thought I would write about the little perks we get from being in this "situation", the hurdle I personally had to get over along the way, and the funny side of medicine.   

The Good

My husband is a Family Doctor, so we never run out of medication. Our house is filled with a good "dose" of medication that makes our bathroom cupboard look like a mini-pharmacy. I don't know what half the medication is used for - but it is there! If I have a medical question or should I say if a family member or friend have a medical question it is just a phone call away to the hubby or a second degree phone call to a specialist friend. Who needs WebMD.com? They are allowed to take a few med samples home right?

The Bad

When my husband started his residency I chose to work and not continue with my post secondary education due to the financial strain it would have put on us. After a year of working, I could feel the resentment building because I was losing myself in the process. I had some words of wisdom given to me from a friend during that challenging time "You are the only one who can hold yourself back" so with a bit of a mind shift, I went from feeling stagnated to looking at it as a stepping stone to where I wanted to go. It took a little longer but I finally received my education too. 

Medicine is a prestigious profession, and I totally get that, but I love introductions to new people because as soon as anyone finds out the hubby is a doctor - I might as well be a wall flower. I think next time someone asks what my husband and I do for a living I will say I am an astronaut and see if that trumps my husband...probably not:)   

The Funny

I could write a book about the funny stories that come from my husband and our medical friends. Of course names of patients and personal info is never included. It is this comic relief that counters the heartache that comes along with this profession. The best patients are the little old ladies who don't give a hoot and say what's on their minds. Before I met my husband, I didn't fathom that Dr's talked - but of course they do. If you bedazzle "down there" then that might be mentioned at a dinner party later that week. The "case studies" provide great insight into human behaviour and can be quite educational at times!  

Do you have anything to add to the list? What do you find to be the best, the worst, and the funniest about having a partner in medicine?

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Survivor Stories-The Journey

Last month, Dr. H and I had the extreme pleasure of attending the most beautiful wedding I have ever experienced. Experienced is truly the word.  It was meticulously planned to be a grand experience from the moment you entered the lavish hall for the ceremony and were greeted by staff with trays of  gorgeous beverages. This day was especially sweet for those loved ones and friends invited to witness this union since the bride has suffered through breast cancer in the past few years. Upon pronouncing man and wife, an actual choir appeared as if from thin air and began to sing “oh happy day”. This was a complete surprise not only to all of the guests, but also to the wedding party and the bride and groom. It had been a very special surprise from their parents.

As the wedding evening moved forward, we were treated to a lovely cocktail hour, three course meal, a sweet and savory buffet and many musical interludes both orchestral and big band. It was just fabulous! Throughout this  night, many of their friends and family gave toasts and told stories of the bride and groom. The thing that struck me most, was that not once was the word cancer uttered. Not one time. Many spoke of their challenges and tests and the couple's absolute love and resolve for each other. That word was  not to be spoken of and not to be given the time to negate their joy. But also, not to lessen it’s impact on their journey to this place. 

This made me consider our own journey here. So many times when people visit our new attending-era home, they say things like “you earned it” or “I know you are thinking it is about time”! Although I absolutely appreciate the solidarity and recognition of the sacrifices made, I realize that I  really don’t think of this stage that way. This life is much like the word not uttered in that beautiful wedding, it is not the focus but the journey. That journey made our marriage stronger, our faith stretch and our parenting skills sharper. We were all forced to examine ourselves deeper and to find joy when there often was none. We are better people because of it. That journey has made me who I am as a person, a wife, a parent and a citizen in this world. So those of you in the thick of it, I challenge you to consider the thought that one day you will not look back on training as a terrible time or as something to be forgotten. Embrace it. Embrace this journey, every lonely night, missed holiday, forgotten special moment. Own it. Use those experiences to move forward as a couple, as parents and as people. Dr. H is not the only one training for greatness!