Dear Fourth Year Medical Student Spouse and Significant Others,
First, I just want to tell you that I see you and all the hard work you do. You are amazing and your loved ones would not be the able to be the best darn doctor they can be if it were not for your support too, so thank you for all that you do! You are the real MVP behind the white coat! Congratulations on making it through medical school and now onward and upward to the next new adventure and new beginning… residency!
Currently we are about to go into our second year of residency (Yayyyyy!!!). Residency is hard, there is no question about that! Intern year is by far the worst year of this journey for us. Many of us have to move across the country with relatively short notice and leave behind all of our family and friends. We then have to start over again in a new town, often feeling alone and scared. The advantage of starting is over is exactly that, a clean slate, a fresh start. A chance to begin again. For us this is our next chapter in our medical journey and we hope it brings us peace. But I am not going to lie to you, it is hard at times. The hours are awful! Your spouse is now at the bottom of the totem pole. The pager will now be your worst nightmare and don’t even get me started on the dreaded words “on call” and “overnights”. All of these things you didn’t have to deal with in medical school are now going to be part of your new normal and it’s going to be a difficult change even for the most seasoned couple. Hang in there, friend!
Even though, this medical journey can be challenging at times. It will get better over time. Just be patient. As I’ve said in the past, find your tribe (I hope you heard me in the back or I will say it again!), don’t be afraid to call upon them when you need something or even just a shoulder to cry on. People will admire your strength and those that truly have your back will be the ones to catch you when you fall. So, if you fall, dust yourself off and stand back up! But don’t be afraid to ask for help!
When we first started our medical journey I would often hear other medical spouses talk about how they resented their spouse for putting their family through this grueling lifestyle. I am often taken back by these comments. When I married my husband almost ten years ago I knew he wanted to be a doctor. I knew some of the challenges we would face. I was the one who pushed my husband to apply to medical school. I felt like if he was passionate enough about this dream then he should pursue it. Even though at times this journey has been more than challenging, it has been important for my husband and I to remain on the same team. We both made the plan to pursue this life. We both agreed on his match list. We both know that residency is just temporary. So when those feelings of resentment start to creep up on me, I just remember that this was just as much my decision as it was his. Talk with your spouse about your struggles. Make a list of things they can do to help you, this can be as simple as listening to you vent or taking out the trash. Marriage is hard work and it requires constant up keep so be sure to work as a team! Always be each other’s biggest cheerleader!
I often have to remind myself that this medical journey is a long one and it is important not to put your life on hold. Being a wife and a mother is often a selfless job. We sometimes have to sacrifice our own happiness for others. Some days are harder than others but remember that someday all of this will be worth it. Live in the moment and just take it one day at a time but don’t forget to take care of yourself. Sometimes just working on being the best version of yourself is enough.
Remember that everyone’s medical journey is different but we all have the same end goal to help our medical spouses live their dream of helping others, and if your ever in Florida let’s go visit Mickey Mouse and grab a Dole Whip!
Your Fellow Dr. Wife in Training