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Lives of Doctor Wives: December 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Residency Roundup: New Year's Resolutions

Happy Holidays!
I send warm wishes of holiday bliss and wonderful memories!
For many people the beginning of a new year allows for a refreshing overview of their lives and make simple conclusions and goals to help improve areas. Traditionally I have been opposed to making New Years goals, finding them petty and unobtainable.  While working on this post however, I came across the following list that has me thinking.

The Top 10 New Year's Resolutions in 2012 were the following:
1. Lose Weight
2. Getting Organized
3. Spend Less, Save More
4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest
5. Staying Fit and Healthy
6. Learn Something Exciting
7. Quit Smoking
8. Help Others in their Dreams
9. Fall in Love
10. Spend More Time with Family

These are all great goals that would improve each of our lives.  Each family in residency deals with unique challenges, lifestyles, triumphs, and disappointments.  So contrary to previous years, I am going to compile a list of general resolutions that could help all Resident Families.

1. Perspective- Remembering that DrH works part of a team and appreciate when others are working or covering call.
2. Patience- Just get the bad days over with - better days lie ahead.  (Christmas Day is our official residency 'hump day'!!! The longest 2.5 years ever.)
3. Love- Finding new small ways to show love and appreciation within our homes and while DrH is at the hospital. 
4. Involvement- Stay busy.  Use service, hobbies, and/or work to keep your mind and time active. 
5. Happiness- Focusing on what is going amazing in your life.  We would all prefer to spend more time with DrH, but while waiting we need to find happiness in the small things around us.
6. Confidence- Especially our MS4 families!  Have confidence and success in your new residency city, as you prepare, move, and meet new acquaintances.

I suggest we look to 2014 with renewed ideas, hope, and happiness!

Happy New Year!


Friday, December 20, 2013

How to Get to Residency - a *hopefully* simplified explaination from a medical student's wife

Check out Sonja Mass's blog.  My husband just started his intern year in his family practice residency at JPS in Fort Worth, TX. I blog about working through transitions that we have gone through and to keep a record of some of our family adventures. It's a post I wrote in November (2012)  when all of our friends and family members were constantly asking about the process that we were in getting into residency to try to explain it to them. I could edit it a bit for the blog if you are interested in using it or I could come up with something original.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Waiting is the Hardest Part

The waiting is the hardest part,
Every day you get one more yard.
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart,
The waiting is the hardest part. 

"The Waiting" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers


During a particularly anxiety-ridden week, I got in my car to hear this song blaring on the radio. I couldn't help but laugh. Tom Petty really got it right on this one. Waiting is indeed the hardest part.

Waiting is where we are at right now, as I am sure many of you are too. After a couple of promising interviews, waiting is all we have left to do. In order to entertain torture ourselves while we wait, we have been obsessively hashing out every possible scenario. Many conversations later, I have realized that this decision comes down to much more than just medical school. The school is certainly the main factor in making this major decision, but there are many other significant factors to consider as well. Can we picture ourselves living and working in that city? What is the cost of living? How far would we be from family? You get the picture.

Following each conversation of weighing the pros and cons of this versus that, we tend to come full circle and realize that...we actually have no say. How bizarre is that? That such a life-altering decision lies not in our trusty hands, but rather in the unknown hands of an admissions committee. Unless multiple offers are extended, we do not get to do the choosing. We must wait to be chosen. The feeling is reminiscent of a junior high kid attending their first dance. We arrived in our finest outfits, made the best first impression possible, and now not-so-patiently wait for someone to ask us to dance. To compound the awkwardness, we stand squirming by the punchbowl resisting the urge to shout at the top of our lungs, "I'M A REALLY GREAT DANCER, I PROMISE!"

Being the type A person that I am, heck, that we are (double the fun here, folks) this lack of power has us feeling a little bit out of control. However, there are certain aspects that I can control...my optimism and my attitude. The next few decisions might be made for us, and that is okay by me. The end goal of this journey is for my husband to be a doctor, and we will do whatever it takes. The most important thing is that we chose to chase this big dream together. And that makes me proud.  

visit my personal blog at thehappyredhead.com


Friday, December 6, 2013

Christmas Gifts on a Budget from a PRO!

During this season, I become rather nostalgic for all those ideas I came up with to stretch our tiny budget during this season of GIVING! Our list seemed to grow with each child and activity but our training budget remained the same!
Instead of my usual blog on post-training/survivor stories, I will share a bit of my knowledge.
    Mellissa Henson's  Top 10 Inexpensive teacher/coach/friend gifts on the medical family budget.

  1.  Movie Basket 
    •  5 dollar gift card to Red Box (you can print them off online) 
    •  10 for 10 candy at Walgreens
    •  2 bottles of coke 
    •  microwave popcorn. 
  2.  Personalized Ceramic Tile 
    • Tiles from Lowe’s (1.49) 
    •  Vinyl name (The Henson Family with a scroll H, etc...) cut on my Silhouette 
    •  50 cent frame stand (Michaels with the coupon)    
  3. Personalized Plate with Cooking Accessories : 
    •  Plastic Holiday Plate from Dollar Tree 
    •  Vinyl name cut on my silhouette 
    •  Recipe Cards (Dollar Tree)
    •  Cookie Cutters ( Dollar Tree) 
  4.  Beach basket (for teacher who was doing a Christmas Cruise) 
    • Plastic Bright Basket (Dollar Tree) 
    •  Beach towel (on clearance since it is WINTER) 
    •  Sunscreen 
    •  Travel Bath and Body Works lotion/shower gel (Outlet) 
    • Magazine 
    • Crossword Puzzles (Dollar Tree) 
  5.  Christmas Kitchen Accessories
    •  Christmas/Holiday Tea Towels (Ross on Clearance)
    •  Wooden Spoons 
    • Recipe Cards 
    • Tied with Fabric Ribbon
  6.  Homemade Cinnabon Bread (mix is 3 bucks at Sam’s-my friend was a member). 
  7.  Personalized Glass Ornaments 
    • Glass Ornaments
    • Glitter and Pledge Floor Cleaner (used to coat inside of the ornaments)
    •  Personalized with Vinyl from my Silhouette 
  8.  Journals with Pens 
    • Pack of 4 “chic” journals from Barnes and Noble (on the clearance table) 
    • Fancy Pens (from that same clearance table) 
    • Tied together with Fabric Ribbon and a little poem on the gift tag
  9.  Personalized Coffee Mugs 
    1. Coffee Travel Mug (Dollar Tree or Hobby Lobby with coupon) 
    2. Personalized with Outdoor Vinyl from my Silhouette (for better wear and tear) 
    3. $5.00 Starbucks Gift Card 
  10.  Hair Accessories (gifts for my daughter’s friends) 
    •  Pack of Hair Ties/Headbands at Kate Spade or Juicy Couture (clearance)
    •  Organza Bags (Hobby Lobby with coupon)
    • Separate the pack into one or two in each bag
Happy Holidays!!

If I knew a year ago what I know now, our residency application process would have been much different.

If I knew a year ago what I know now, our residency application process would have been much different.  Of course, I’m now glad we didn’t know…but you should.

You see, a year ago my husband and I were waiting on Step Two scores to come in and working on his application for emergency medicine residencies.  Based on past years, the only concern we had for this specialty was a Step One score on the low end of acceptable.  But, he had experiences that far made up for it.  We were absolutely positive that if he did well on Step Two, we would have our pick of programs.  And, he did more than fine!  We celebrated Step Two for several days because his score was that good.  With a sigh of relief, we sent out applications and began to dream of the future.  We thought matching in emergency was a done deal based on what we knew from past years. 

Lesson One: Be wary of trusting statistics from past years—with changing specialties, these can be unreliable!

Unfortunately, a funny thing happened with EM last year.  It was suddenly very competitive.  We just weren’t getting the interview offers we expected.  But, we got the two that we wanted most—our home school and the program my husband auditioned with.  We actually turned down one more interview because it required a plane ticket, rental car, and missing a day of the audition rotation.  (It actually turned out he had the day off…whoops!) 

Lesson Two: Don’t turn down an interview for any reason unless there is absolutely no way to avoid it!

Another friend of ours applied to dozens upon dozens of programs.  He of course, received many, many offers.  He really wanted to be somewhere different and exciting.  He could only accept less than half the offers because of time constraints.  So, he accepted the offers in the biggest cities and declined most of the less competitive programs.  In the end, he matched at our home school—the only smaller city school he interviewed with and the very bottom of his very long rank list
Lesson Three: Make sure you are interviewing where you are most likely to be accepted.

When it came down to the final weeks of interviews, the advisors at my husband’s school began sending emails asking students to come in immediately if they’d only had a small number of interviews.  We discussed this but still felt confident with our plan.  In fact, we agonized over which of our two programs to rank first.  Both had given strong indications that we shouldn’t be worried about Match.

 Lesson Four: Listen to your advisor, meet with your advisor, and trust your advisor.  And, get a new one if yours isn’t very helpful!

As you can probably guess by now, we SOAPed.  While it was the worst thing that could have happened at the time, I am actually grateful that it did.  You see, we had almost applied for Family Medicine slots as well.  My husband was very torn between the two specialties.  But, after seeing the Step Two score, we didn’t do it.  In the end, we ended up SOAPing into a Family slot.  The program is fantastic, we love the town, and my husband realizes how grateful he is to be in family instead of emergency.  We like where we are and what we are doing more than anything we’d actually applied for.   

Lesson Five: Don’t be afraid to apply for two specialties.  It’s not extremely difficult and is much better than the SOAP process!

Thankfully, we had a couple things that helped us tremendously with the SOAP process—my husband’s personal statement and a letter of recommendation from a family physician.  He knew from the time he wrote his statement it that it could be used for either Emergency or Family Medicine.  The letter just happened to come during his sub-internship.  During the SOAP process, you can only use the materials you already have saved in ERAS.  So, he would have had no chance to write and load a family medicine personal statement to help him out.  And, there was really only one EM slot he could have tried to get into.  As it gets closer to Match Week, I’ll be back to discuss more specifics of what you need to know about the SOAP process.  But for now, know I want to share one last bit of advice.  

Lesson Six: If you think there is even the slightest, smallest possibility you might SOAP, consider having a personal statement that could help you into an open slot…and maybe even a letter from a faculty member outside the specialty for which you are applying.

I really don’t want this post to scare anyone, but I want to share the wisdom that we gained through the process.  Also, I’ll be glad to answer and specific questions, too!

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