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Lives of Doctor Wives: I Call Shotgun

Friday, May 22, 2015

I Call Shotgun

Medical school is like a road trip. You know the destination. You know what mile markers you will pass along the way. You know what you would like to achieve. You also know that road trips have lots of unknowns. The same thing that makes the trip exciting also makes it very scary. It’s stressful knowing there is potential for break downs or getting lost along the way. It’s stressful knowing that you could start your road trip and realize you may want to turn back. Even with all of these knowns and unknowns of road trips, we still get in the car, fill up, check for the wallet, grab the camera and buckle our seatbelts, because we all know the best part about road trips is not the destination … it’s the journey.

Through our medical school journey, I’ve been lucky enough to have the shotgun seat since the start of the trip. My husband and I have had many stops along the way. We’ve traveled the entire ride with our two children (buckled in, of course), and so far I would say we’re still enjoying the road, even though it’s getting a little bumpy.

My husband is MS4. As those who have traveled this road before us know, what makes the fourth year exciting also makes it scary. This is the part of the trip where we endure audition rotations, interviews, big financial expenses, ranking and the match. This is the year where the title of Doctor is given and with that so are the responsibilities of that title.

Are we prepared? I don’t know…

What I do know is that we traveled a long way to get where we are. The best part of riding shotgun is knowing you had a major influence along the way. I’ve been right by my husband’s side when he first decided we were taking the medical school journey. I’ve been right there with him as he prepared for the MCAT, sent applications, interviewed, got accepted into medical school and moved our family across the country.

I made sure I tightened our seatbelts as we endured the long days of MS1 and MS2 always keeping my eyes open and looking for moments of encouragement. There really isn’t much that you can do when your spouse is studying for 16-18 hours a day, other than being supportive and making sure they know you are there if they need you.

MS3 was a great part of the journey, aside from the stress of the board exam. It was the part of the trip where you really get to decide how you’re going to move forward. What kind of doctor do you really want to be? What size hospital do you feel best in? Can you work with others? Can you handle the long enduring days of this lifestyle? Can you handle death? Can you remember what you are learning? Can you apply what you’re learning? Can you rely on others to help, teach and guide you? With each question, my husband experienced a bit of self-doubt. He experienced the part of the trip where you think "Did I make the right choice?" The answer was yes. We have traveled so far to get to this spot. It is now time once again to tighten that seatbelt and finish the trip.

We know this year will be difficult. My husband scheduled 5 away audition rotations and I am prepared to be a single mom for literally half the year. We have no intentions of celebrating the major holidays on the actual day this year. We don’t even know if we will be home on Christmas or sitting in a hotel. We don’t know if we saved enough money to pay for this year, we don’t know if the CV is good enough to get interviews. We haven’t decided on our top programs yet. We haven’t even started to think about the match.

One thing we do know is that we are all still in the car heading in the right direction.

When I was asked to contribute to the LDW blog, I thought, "Yikes, I don’t have any good advice." I went back and forth about what to write and realized every journey is different, and what I could bring to the table is the importance of enjoying the journey. Our children are 9 and 7, we are 8 years into the medical school process and we are nowhere near done. The only ride our children will ever have with us as children is the medical school one, so we want to make sure to enjoy it.

To all the medical school families on this road trip, try to enjoy it. Remember why you wanted to go. Remember where you want to be. Make sure you still take a moment at each stop along the way to be grateful that you have traveled this far. I know we’re grateful for the journey so far.

By: Kendi Judy

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Blogger Jennifer said...

Thank you for the encouragement! My husband will start his 4th year the day after our 3rd child is born. Our first two are 5 & 7, so we've definitely done this journey together. It sometimes feels crazy as there aren't any others in our program with children as old as ours. This is a second career for my hubby. While I know it's the right decision it's also an interesting ride to be sure!

May 31, 2015 at 10:14 PM  

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