Sunday, May 2, 2010

Medical School Family

Time management is definitely an issue in medical school. Finding a balance between the books, upcoming tests and family has been more of a challenge as time goes on. Last week, one reader asked how it all comes together on the family front. Rather than imply that I know exactly how it is, I asked my wonderful wife to share her thoughts.

Life as a Medical Student['s Wife]

Without blinking an eye I'll say it's tough.  Worth it?  Of course.  Before this experience, I remember talking to a friend whose husband had just finished dental school.  She said, "I proudly wear my wife's badge for having gone through that experience."  I laughed in ignorance.  Now familiar with the battles waged through this medical school experience, I fully support her honorary wife's badge.  While Josh and I have chosen not to have children in school, (heaven help those courageous couples who do have kids) there are plenty of battles we endure.  The two struggles that seem most prominent for me this year are time/patience and emotional connection.

Last year I wrote about adjusting to the first year. This year has been most trying on my patience and I've felt like my life has had to take a backseat to his career. I've been offered many opportunities to advance in my career which I've had to turn down due to his current position and our location. I've been supporting Josh from day one of our marriage. I take that back...after our amazing honeymoon in Paris and Eastern France, I've been the sole provider. This year we will celebrate our fourth anniversary. During these four years I've worked full time as a graphic designer, part time as a yoga instructor, freelance designer, painter, letterpress designer/printer, photographer and figure skater- simultaneously. Even with all of that, Josh manages to stay busier than I and buried in books for longer hours than I work. That means when there is down time I also feel obligated to take care of everyday chores. Usually, this is what Josh and I fight about - the chores - when we're both exhausted. I think we once argued for 30 minutes about our pantry door being closed vs open until we realized the absurdity of the situation. 

This year I've felt more distance between us also.  Because of our clashing time schedules, it's difficult to connect. Last year I embraced every moment of time he had available and dropped whatever I was doing to have some time with him. My responsibilities this year are more demanding and I can't always do that. That also may have been a bad habit I enabled Josh to expect. It is difficult to feel emotionally detached due to our schedules, but even more demanding to feel compelled to switch the emotions on whenever it's convenient. In the question posted last week on the blog, the fear of affairs during long hours of study after school was addressed. Josh's study partners are two Mormon boys, so it hasn't been a direct fear I've had to face, but it would be if he were studying with the opposite sex. We've learned to put each other on our daily lists of things to do. It's important to make some sort of connection in whatever time you share, to keep the pilot light on. We recently watched a NOVA documentary called "Doctors' Diaries" that followed the lives of seven medical students through medical school. It addressed the reality of divorce, the difficulty of relationships through school and the experienced perspective of the doctors after school. I would recommend watching their stories and being honest and real about what your unique relationship requires to stay healthy.

Thank you for your thoughts Willow. I agree that this has been a trying process with moments of joy. One of the most important things I learned before coming to school was from a doctor friend. He said that as a student we can set our own schedule and if we want our family to be a priority then choose it to be such. It is crucial to work with groups, patients and other classmates, but most importantly to know that our families are standing behind us. If it were not for my wife, I would not be where I am today. Thank you for your support and encouragement, you certainly deserve a part of my degree.

Board Prep Question of the Week
You went to visit your friend from college who recently had a baby. She named him Johnny. As the mother was gently letting you hold Johnny, he appeared really anxious and started crying once you reached to hold him. Johnny's age is most likely to be:

A. 2 months
B. 3 months
C. 5 months
D. 7 months
E. 4 years

Answer & Explanation

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much tackling my concerns, and giving me your perspective on the subject. Willow--I admire your strength, and will similarly work hard to adapt, be understanding, and be patient through the process. My husband and I have a pretty solid foundation, but it's always scary with the unknowns... I hope coming out of this experience, I too will walk away having earned a "Doctors Wife's Badge".

    I am a fan, and truly enjoy following your blog. Keep it up! But don't let it take time away from your wife! LOL. Good luck to you and your family.

    Warm Regards---


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