Exactly one year ago today, I wrote an entry titled “Five Things Med School Has Taught Me: Spouse Edition”: I highly encourage you to check it out if you haven’t already. Even though Matt and I are no longer in the med school world, residency is a world of its own, and while I didn’t plan on writing this entry exactly a year later, the timing sure is appropriate.
- Yes, my husband has the initials D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) behind his name. No, that does not mean we are made of money. Med school costs money. Board exams cost money. Rotations and all involved (hotel stays, airfare, gas, interview clothes) cost money. The graduation cap and gown costs money. The move for residency costs money. Being 300K+ in debt for a career is not something many people know and while that’s okay because it’s not relevant to them, please stop assuming new doctors are rich: They’re not.
- Residency is a sacrifice for all parties involved, not just the new doctor. Medical school was tough, but being a resident intern takes thing to a new level. Matt is currently working day 8/13 (including being on-call this past weekend) and averaging 12 hour days at the hospital. His pager is attached to his hip (yes, pagers still exist and no, neither of us knew how it worked when he got it) and he continuously checks on his patients from his phone. His world is medicine and uses terms I usually Google when he’s done talking. His nights are often late and even though it really sucks, I’ve gotten used to flying solo to many outings and group activities.
- He has no control over his schedule. The shifts for the residents are planned in advance, and although he does have allotted vacation times, there are certain rotations when it cannot be used. Leaving early because of an evening activity isn’t an option either. Don’t get me wrong: Married Couples’ Small Group is fine by yourself, but it’s much better when your spouse can be there too.
- They will continue to question themselves. Becoming a doctor is a huge deal, but the pressure and expectations put on them immediately after earning their degree is enormous. While on-call yesterday, Matt had to deal with a situation via phone to a nurse to discuss medication options for a patient he had seen previously. As he’s flipping through his medicine book (I’m sure there’s a proper title and I just don’t know what it is!), he sounded confident that his advice was correct. Afterwards, he got off the phone, sat down next to me on the couch, and said, “Boy, do I pray that was the right thing.” Doctors are stressed and stretched thin in general, but new doctors are expected to learn and treat at the same time. It’s a challenging and rewarding spot to be in all at once.
- Be their sounding board. Seriously. There have been days where he comes home and needs to vent about this that and the other thing. Other days, all he wants is lay on the couch with Miner and Leia and decompress. Matt may be exhausted at the end of the day, but he’s also incredibly happy, and that makes this whole crazy journey worthwhile.
- Lastly, be proud of them for all they’ve accomplished and be proud of yourself for sticking it out together. The road to being a physician isn’t easy and the majority of people only see fancy cars and big homes at the end of it. They didn’t see the late nights of studying, the scrubbing blood out of a white coat, or the anticipation while waiting for board scores to appear. It’s a bumpy ride, but it’s so much better together!