Life as a Resident: Things You Need (but may not want) to Know

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!

 

 

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Meal Planning Hack!

I’m about to get things ready for dinner and thought it would be a good idea to share a tip I learned from a YouTuber, Free to Frugal, about making meals easier. When we lived in West Virginia, I found myself spending so much time in the kitchen every evening and hating it. The food was good, but was the effort really worth it? Also, our wallets really paid for it.

Friends, I give you my meal board! This chalkboard was given to me by a fellow doctor wife and friend, and I’m finally putting it to good use. On weekends, I pick 3-4 meals to eat throughout the week and that’s what we do for dinner. Now my husband can eat lunch at the hospital, so that does save us money. However, he still needs to eat otherwise. I’ll make a meal one night, then we’ll have leftovers the next night, and so on and so on. It’s been a great system so far because 1) we aren’t overcooking and wasting food and 2) dinner ideas are on the wall, so there’s no stress over wondering what to make for dinner.

Do you have any meal hacks or tips to share? I love food, saving money, and my time, so share away!

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Calm in the Chaos

I’m going be real and raw here for a quick second: This move has been harder than I’ve let on. True, I’m happy where we are and most days I’m perfectly fine. Others, not so much. Without getting into the intimate details, it’s difficult uprooting your life every four years to move to a new place: College, grad school, medical school, and now residency. Last night, Matt and I were talking about this topic, and I told him how happy I was in West Virginia. He responded with, “no, you were comfortable, which made you happy. You’re not comfortable here yet.”

BAM. Way to tell it how it is husband, way to tell it how it is. He’s 100% correct too. I wasn’t initially comfortable in WV, but as I found a job and made friends who had similar interests, things got better. He assured that things will here too, although it may take time. Right now, I’m really trying to get my health back that was put on the back burner for so long in West Virginia. I’ve been walking the dogs an average of 14 miles a week and doing yoga 3-4 days a week, both which I knew are helping me physically and emotionally. Matt and I are getting back into meal planning and conscious eating (with the exception of chocolate chip cookies because, let’s be real, they stay in all circumstances), which has been good for our waistlines and wallets. I’ve been active in becoming a secondhand reseller on Poshmark and enjoying it very much. I’m also soaking up every day with my pets since time with them will be less when I do start a job, and their happiness enhances mine.

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Delco Park – 8:00AM – The loves of my life 

Most mornings I walk the dogs around our neighborhood, but I was feeling something different today. Ever wake up and just feel off? Well, that was me at 6:00AM when I officially rolled out of bed and said bye to Matt. I ended up taking the dogs to Delco Park to walk around the lake. Rather than the bustle of the school buses and cars driving by, the lake was so peaceful and calm. The breeze was blowing leaves everywhere (could fall really be on its way?!?!) and the sound of the water was so soothing. The stillness and quiet did my anxious self good. Plus, my companions were pretty cute 🙂

Just like the change of place for this morning’s walk was good, I need to keep telling myself that so was our move to Ohio. In another four years when we move again, that move will be good too. You know what else is good? God is good. Life is good. The sunshine is good. The fresh air is good: All things I’m surrounded by on a daily basis that I don’t even notice when my internal chaotic mess is stirring. Trying to find calm in the midst of chaos make not be as easy as a walk in the park, but I’m grateful that this morning’s was all it took.

Graduation, Another Move, and a New Home!!

Well, it finally happened. Matt graduated from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. *insert proud wife smile here*

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Dr. Matthew Smith, D.O. 

Four years seemed so long, yet they flew by so fast. West Virginia was good to us, and I mean really good to us. We got married and celebrated three anniversaries there, made lifelong friendships, I started my Social Work career with a state job, added three adorable fur babies to our previous pack of two, and I found my passion and heart for animal rescue. Oh, and of course Matt became a doctor 😉 West Virginia was truly Almost Heaven. However, as one chapter ends, another one must open. For us, that chapter is Dayton, Ohio, where Matt will be spending the next four years as a Neurology resident with Kettering Health Network. Although we were initially scared and nervous to start over again in a new state, the excitement soon took over and we began planning the next phase of our lives.

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The next step involved finding a place to live, and big news alert: WE BOUGHT OUR FIRST HOME! There are special mortgage loans available to residents due to the sheer amount of debt they’re in after graduating, and we were extremely fortunate to not only get approved, but also work with fantastic realtors. They were a husband and wife team and made the process a breeze for us, especially since we did 95% of everything out-of-state. We had three hours to look at homes on one visit to Dayton and then 1.5 hours over lunch to decide on a house. Well, the Lord must have known what He was doing because we absolutely love the home where we ended up. It meets each of our needs and beyond. There are tasks that need to be done, so I’ll make a mini checklist here so then it’s in writing and I know they must be done! 1) Clean front door 2) Paint white sides of door 3) Paint lamppost out front 4) Pull weeds 5) Try and not to kill the plants that were here when we moved in.

Although this post could go on and on if I shared all the intricate details of the move (DO NOT get an upper respiratory infection when moving), I will simply leave you with some pictures of favorite aspects of our house. We are proud of how far we’ve come to get here, and it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to call this house our home.

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Hello and welcome to our home!

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How long do I give until these are dead….?

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Love that window!

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Matt’s home contribution 😉

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For me a house or an apartment becomes a home when you add one set of four legs, a happy tail, and that indescribable measure of love that we call a dog. -Roger Caras

Plastic: Everywhere and Inevitable

Have you ever done something you’ve done hundreds of times only to realize the impact your action is making this one time in particular? I have eaten Rita’s Italian Ice for years and never thought twice about getting a plastic spoon at the counter. That is, until a few days ago when my husband and I took our dogs for a treat after a day of painting in our new house. I hadn’t been to a Rita’s in years since there isn’t one anywhere near us in WV at all and didn’t even think twice that I would be given a plastic spoon with my order. As soon as she handed it to me, I thought, “Where are my reusable utensils when I need them?!” Of course, if I would have ordered a Misto to drink, I didn’t have my reusable straw either and would have been stuck with a plastic one, something I try to avoid at all costs. Four years ago, using plastic silverware or a straw wouldn’t have fazed me. Today, it bothers me knowing that so much energy and resources are used to make something designed to be used once and then thrown away. As a whole, I feel society has the attitude of “out of sight, out of mind” when it comes to garbage. As soon as the lid shuts, we forget what we threw away. I know because I’ve been there. When I started doing research into my waste and carbon footprint, I was floored at how I preached recycling on one hand and was so wasteful on the other. My attitude today is much different than it was even a year ago. I don’t believe in overnight changes because let’s face it, we would all fail. I believe in baby steps toward change. Buy a reusable silverware set, a reusable straw, and use cloth bags at the grocery store. Simply say no to straws at a restaurant. Bring your own water bottle EVERYWHERE; it’s cheaper, better for you, and keeps plastic water bottles out of the landfill. My two favorites are Contigo and S’Well, which are durable and hold up extremely well. Hydro Flask and Yeti are two other high-quality brands if you want to splurge a bit, but Contigo and S’Well have worked fine for me. I could go on and on about the importance of using reusable items and ditching disposables, but for the sake of time and attention spans, I will leave it here:

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Where is your item going when it’s no longer needed?

I encourage everyone to think about their purchases and their environmental impact. Is an entire zero-waste lifestyle attainable for the long-term? Likely not simply based on the world we live in and accessibility (or lack thereof) in many areas to more sustainable options. It is possible, however, to reduce our impact and be more conscious with our purchases and where we invest our money. The planet and future generations will thank you!

The Beginning of the End

This is just a quick entry so I always have today’s events to remember. The days are winding down at work (two weeks left) and reality is setting in that my time there is ending. It’s hard to believe it was three years ago that I took my first application at DRS and felt like a bumbling clueless idiot. Well, today I took my last application with total confidence in my abilities as a Vocational Rehab Counselor, which is something I never thought I would be able to do. Matt also finished his rotations today, which means HE IS OFFICIALLY DONE WITH MEDICAL SCHOOL! Like me, he had no confidence when he started this wild ride four years ago. Today, he can ramble off diagnoses, symptoms, and treatment plans like it’s nobody’s business. Not to mention he’s decided on Neurology as a speciality, which is just plain awesome. Isn’t it funny how even the most confident person in the room once started off without knowing anything at all? It’s so easy to compare ourselves to others, especially when you’re considered a “professional” and expectations are set making it seem like you NEED to know everything. News flash: No one knows everything. I’m scared to death of starting a new job in a few months because I’ll have to start all over again. Matt will have to start over again. Starting over is hard. It will be okay because we’ve done it before, but we need to remember that in four months when we’re freaking out that we’re not learning things quick enough.

For real though, I cannot believe I can officially say Matt is done with medical school classes forever. As the wife who was brought out-of-state and into unfamiliar territory so he could do this, I must say I’m extremely proud of him. Here is a photo collage of him on the first day of each year of medical school: Top L-first year, Top R-second year, Bottom L-third year, and Bottom R-Fourth year. Graduation in 37 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Let’s Try This Again…

Since it has been six months since I’ve written anything on this page, I feel I’m way overdue for some blog sessions to start back up again. So much has happened in six months that it’s hard to comprehend how one person can handle it, truthfully. In a nutshell, Matt completed his three months away for audition rotations in Ohio, Illinois, and Pennsylvania; interviewed for seven residency programs; MATCHED at his top choice in Dayton, Ohio, for Neurology (from the state of the Nittany Lion to the Mountaineers to the Buckeyes, here we go!); and have been traveling back and forth to PA to be with my mom who has been in and out of the hospital with Lupus complications. Oh, and in the midst of everything, I’m wrapping up my job of the past three years where my coworkers have become my family and leaving the state that I’ve called home for the past four years. And last but not least, WE BOUGHT OUR FIRST HOUSE!!! Our loan was approved and now we wait to close in six weeks 🙂 In the midst of this mess, it’s amazing how God truly has provided for our needs.

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A whirlwind 48 hour Brooklyn adventure.

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Laughter heals the soul.

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View of Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge

I’m determined to not let time get the best of me and avoid writing for so long. I need to write because it beats punching pillows or letting it all out at Matt. As we were packing today, I came across journals and quote books I’ve kept since I was 13 years old. They’re the kind of books that I read and cringe, but also want my future children to have to reflect and learn from. Reading some of the entries in there was what made me actually decide to sit down at 10pm on a Saturday night and write again. I will continue with this later, but for now, I leave with the human beings and small adventures that have gotten me through the past six months.

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Thankful for these goons who are with me every step of the way.

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Spent some time with one of my best friends and her baby girl 🙂

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Nephew time at Thanksgiving.

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Clearly trainings are taken seriously in vocational rehabilitation 

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Friends who do brunch do it right.

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29th birthday shenanigans in a snowstorm.

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My faithful companions.