Funny timing – it looks like it was about this time last year when I first wrote about life as a med student’s wife, and the inspiration struck again today. While med school continues to be something that largely impacts our day-to-day life, it is no longer the all-consuming force it once seemed to be. (At least not ALL the time…)
Nathan is now halfway through his third year and his third (I think?) rotation. He’s currently in his second week of inpatient Internal Medicine at a hospital downtown. Needless to say, he’s had some interesting experiences along the way! I think we’ve both enjoyed the transition from textbooks to hands on work, and while there’s still homework some evenings and tests at the end of each rotation, it’s a far cry from Step 1 studying (a very welcomed change of pace).
Here are my insights/tips for this phase of med school:
- Get used to not being used to anything. With each rotation comes a new schedule, a new set of expectations, different locations, different teams/doctors, etc. For example, the first half of this rotation was outpatient. Nathan would begin his day at the hospital just before 8 a.m. and would be home a little after 6 p.m. most the time. This half is inpatient, which means he’s gone before I wake up (starts his shift around 6:45 a.m.) and gets home just in time for dinner (around 6:15 p.m.). He also works one call day every six days when he’s at work until 9 or so, and then at least one weekend day in addition to that. Each week can be different, so trying to get used to a schedule is nearly impossible. I recommend getting good at going with the flow as much as possible and appreciating the time together that you DO get – no matter how fleeting!
- Write notes. I may have mentioned this before, but Nathan and I still enjoy (and make good use of) little notebooks we bought for each other. When it’s been awhile since we’ve had quality time together, we’ll set out our notebook for the other person to take with them the next day and write a note. Sometimes they’re short and sweet, and sometimes they’re lengthy letters. Regardless, it’s a great way for us to feel/stay connected even when times are busy. Plus they’re a lot of fun to look back on!
- BYOB: Build your own balance. Nathan continues to be great when it comes to prioritizing work/life balance even when things get overwhelming. He makes time for church, family, us and football this time of year! Meanwhile, I also “build my own balance” by doing things on my own. I’ve learned to make plans the way I would even if our time weren’t “precious and limited”. Tonight, he’ll be home, but I’m still going to see my girl friend for dinner because I’ve learned better than to count on him being home at a certain time. Also, when I know he’ll be gone all day (like he was this past Saturday), I plan in advance. We’re fortunate to have family close by, so I got to spend a morning with Joanne shopping around town. Things like that really help us both stay positive, happy and fulfilled despite the constant changes in routine.
- Watch Criminal Minds. Or do whatever your thing might be…whether it’s a Netflix series like it is for us, or a new hobby you both enjoy doing, cooking together – anything! Find something that’s easy to do, relaxing for both of you, convenient and -most importantly – a joint activity. At the end of a long work day, we both crave couch-time and a crime show…so we do that together and it’s even better 🙂
- Talk about “someday” but appreciate right now. It’s so easy to look forward to the next phase in med school no matter what phase you’re in. We both daydream about what our lifestyle will be like down the road, what it will be like when he gets to have a say in his schedule, what we want our “normal” to be… and while that’s all fun and inspiring, it’s also important to enjoy RIGHT NOW. I can’t tell you how many times I look around our cozy little apartment and just thank God for the good days, the simple days, the days that we are living right now. We’re still falling in love with our city, we’re making new friends, we’re chasing our dreams, we’re growing up, and we’re doing it together. Just us two out in the world every day coming home to each other, putting on sweatpants and fuzzy socks and talking about everything life throws our way. Life with your best friend is awesome. I want to savor every step of the way!
With that said… It’s hard to believe this time next year he’ll be in the midst of residency interviews and all that jazz. Like anything else, we just take it one day at a time, but I’m sure this year will fly by. Until next time… that’s currently what it’s like being married to a med student!