Married to a Med Student: Part VI (aka Graduation Weekend Round 2!)

Welcome to the grand finale of my Married to a Med Student series. Yes, I am still married, but as of this past weekend, it’s no longer to a med student – it’s to a doctor! Nathan graduated from IU School of Medicine on Saturday, May 13th and it was one of the coolest experiences to watch him walk across the stage and get hooded. It feels like just yesterday I was watching him take the Hippocratic Oath at his White Coat Ceremony (and we were boyfriend and girlfriend at the time) and now here we are…four years  of med school have flown by and we’re coming up on our third wedding anniversary. So many milestones this month!

Graduation weekend round 2 kicked off on Friday with a dinner banquet for the graduating class and their guests at the J.W. Marriott downtown. The last time I was at this hotel was for my bachelorette party…can you tell I’m getting nostalgic? Needless to say, this evening was a little different from my bachelorette weekend! Nathan and I dressed up and headed out on the town.

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After the cocktail hour, we were treated to a 3-course dinner. The dessert was chocolate (praise!) and we got to sit with our friends, Andy and Heather (bigger praise!).

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I also got to see Nathan’s official headshot and “Nathaniel Ross Beachy, MD” on a big screen, so that was pretty cool! Those were the main highlights of the evening 🙂 After a few speeches and a ton of awards, we headed back home to rest up.

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The next day, we were up bright and early to get ready for graduation. Nate drove down early and my parents came to our apartment for a mini-Mother’s Day before heading downtown too. I was so glad they were able to come! Having both sets of parents with us on this important day was very special to both of us. We are grateful for their love and support and could not have gotten here without them (to say the least)!

We met Don and Joanne at the convention center where they had seats saved for us (yay teamwork) and we had a great view of the whole stage plus some good time to catch up before the ceremony began at 10 a.m.

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Ready to cheer! Except they said no cheering so…silent cheering section!

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There were a few speeches and then the interesting part began – all the graduates! There were MD/PhDs, MS/MDs, MD/MPH, MS, and PhDs. They did the MDs last but Beachy is close to the beginning of the alphabet, so we didn’t have to wait too long for this moment…

(By the way – all photo credit goes to my mom, Patti Hartog Photography. Love this lady, her zoom lens, and her ability to always get to the best spot in a room for the photo op!)

After they read the Hippocratic Oath, we found our way through the massive crowd to Nathan – er, I mean Dr. Nathan! Of course we had to snag a few photos with everyone while he still had his gown, hood, and cap on.

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The people going into neuro from Nate’s class did a group pic because they’re the largest (or one of the largest) groups to ever graduate in a single class for this specialty. So cool!

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And some couples’ photos to finish it off 🙂

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He’s totally ready to be a doctor, right? Had to have some fun with it!

After the ceremony, we headed to Don and Joanne’s for an awesome cookout they put together for family and friends to stop by. We felt spoiled having so many of our favorite people in one place to celebrate! Not to mention the weather FINALLY shaped up and decided to be sunny. We soaked it up outside and had an awesome time visiting with everyone who was able to make it.

Nate and I took off around 4:30 to head to Andy and Heather’s for their graduation party. Total flashback to senior year of high school where you spend all weekend party hopping! It was fun to spend some more time with them before we all disperse on our big adventures.

This post is long enough as it is but that’s fitting because it was a long day that had been a long time coming! Now that he’s an MD, I’m going to chronicle the next phase of our lives with a Married to an MD blog series. I love being able to look back on the different phases of this journey because – like I said above – you blink and it seems to be over. Having it written down helps me remember what it was like to be in year 1, year 2, etc.

For the grand finale, I thought it would be fun to list my top 5 takeaways from being married to a med student over the last few years. Without further ado, here’s what I would tell Rachel of 2013 that I think would be helpful…

  1. It is a ton of hard work but it is worth it. Easy to say on the other side but…it is definitely worth it. When I see Nathan light up talking about neuro, or when I think about what’s in store for us in Charlottesville, I can look back at everything we’ve been through (Step 1 flashcards, sleepless nights/overnight call, crazy interview season, etc.) and know that it is all worth it. There’s a saying that “nothing worth having comes easy” and med school is a prime example of that! But for Nathan to get to do what he is passionate about for a living is incredible to witness, not to mention inspiring. Watching him chase his dreams has made me confident enough to chase mine – and now I’m certainly not afraid of a little hard work to get there after seeing everything he’s gone through to achieve his! Never lose sight of what’s in store, no matter how stressful things get along the way.
  2. Flexibility is key. Every month is different – heck, every day is different – for med students, and when you’re married, that means your day-to-day will be different, too. Learning how to constantly adapt is part of the journey, and it’s a skill that I’m sure will continue to serve us well as we move/start residency/change jobs/someday have a family/etc. This was challenging at first but now I’m so grateful for the ways we’ve learned to grow together throughout this process!
  3. Make your own fun. Along those same lines, there isn’t much time (or money) for “fun” during med school. That just means you have to get creative 🙂 We have found so much joy in having “at-home” cocktail hours on the back patio and evening walks during warmer months, Jeopardy competitions on the couch during colder months, using gift cards for date nights (we literally haven’t had to pay to see a movie since we got married…our relatives rock), and giving each other love notes as the best gift of all. It can seem like a lot of give and give at times, and sometimes it’s hard to see other people our age having incredible vacations, buying homes, going out on the town every weekend…but then I think about what we’re working for and what is fun for US as a couple, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Which brings me to my next point…
  4. Remember what’s important. We didn’t have time to commit to many things during med school, but the bedrock of our relationship (literally since the day we started dating) was our faith. So church and small groups have been a mainstay for all four years of school. Not only have we grown closer to God and to each other as a result, but we have also found amazing support in the friends we’ve made along the way. The more Nathan learned about medicine, the more his faith grew. I know it doesn’t work like that for everyone, but it was certainly the case for us. We have been continuously blessed over the past four years. God’s plan is always so much better than our own and He continues to be our rock. For those in med school (or married to someone in med school), I think remembering your core values and staying committed to them amidst the crazy stress can really help keep everything in perspective along the way.
  5. Find your support system. For Nathan, there were a few key teachers/doctors/mentors throughout this experience who made this entire journey worthwhile, kept him going, and revved his engine when things were tough. For me, staying in touch with old friends, making new friends at work and church and in the neighborhood, and enjoying quality time with family helped me stay true to “me” no matter what was going on at the time. As a couple, we leaned on family, church, and mutual friends to fill our tanks during the stressful stretches. They are with us when we’re down and the first ones to cheer for us when we’re high, and we feel so lucky. We could not have gotten through this without an entire network of loved ones around us! It truly takes a village and we are so grateful for ours ❤

So that’s it – ta da! The official end of my Married to a Med Student days. I’d say I’ll miss them (and maybe someday I will) but for now, I’m just too excited for our adventure in Charlottesville. Life is good no matter what phase we’re in when we have each other, and I can’t wait for what’s next!

MATCH DAY!

Match Day was a dream. It was definitely one of those “before and after” days, which we only get a few of in life, where everything leading up to it feels a little (or a lot) different from everything that follows. At the end of the day, Nathan and I both agreed that aside from our wedding day, Match Day was one of the most fun, exhilarating, perfect days we’ve ever had. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

We woke up around 7am and got ready for the day, ate food, and watched YouTube videos (aka killed time, which is what we’ve been doing all week). I was also lucky enough to have a letter from my sister waiting for me with instructions not to open it until 3/17/17 – Match Day! In the letter, she shared some encouragement for the day ❤ Sisters have a way of knowing just what we need and it totally calmed me down and got me excited for what’s to come.

Finally, 10am rolled around and we headed out for the ceremony downtown, where we met my parents and Ted and Nathan’s parents. The place was rocking!

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Why yes, that is a balloon structure in the shape of a DNA double helix. #medschoollife

We found a pocket of space on the second level where we could hang out until the activities began. I got to hear all about my brother’s show the night before in Nashville, which sounded amazing. He had driven overnight after the show to be there for me on Match Day. Isn’t he the best?!

 

Around 11:30, Nathan headed down to get his envelope along with the other 300+ students. It was crazy!

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We just stayed put and waited for him to come back. By the time he made his way back up to us, we had 12 minutes to wait (but who’s counting? Oh wait, we all were. Every single minute). So we took a lot of photos to pass the time!

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My perfect match – Nathan! 🙂
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Our friends Andy and Heather with their son, Garrett.

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Finally, they started the countdown to noon over the loudspeaker, when all the students were allowed to open their envelopes.

5…4…

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3…2…

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1…

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VIRGINIA!!!

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Thrilled is an understatement!!!

What can I even say about Virginia? It was our first choice, one of the most competitive programs on our list, and our biggest leap of faith (I’ve never even visited! Ha!). Virginia is the program we had a good feeling about from the start but didn’t even find out we had an interview for until December. It was our 11th and final interview (for those who know me, you know 11 is my lucky number so…I should’ve known all along). Nathan loved it. I loved it. But we just never wanted to get our hopes up too much. Seeing “University of Virginia” in black and white on his Match Day letter will always be one of the most surreal moments of my life. Our dream came true!

For me, it was Virginia and “other”…the closer Match Day got, the harder it was for me to think about anywhere else. I knew I would be able to adjust to whatever the outcome was, but not getting our first pick would sting regardless. It made getting Virginia all the sweeter when we finally saw the letter!

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After all the hubbub died down a little bit, the students were able to go on stage and announce where they matched. I got to go up with Nathan! This was broadcasted over a live feed, so Oma was able to watch in Tennessee and Ali and Luke could watch in Texas! We felt so loved by so many people all day, near and far.

After we announced on stage, we had nothing left to do but CELEBRATE! The Beachys hosted an awesome open house all afternoon at their place for family and friends to hang out and have a good time. I got to talk to Ali on the ride over and share the good news! Jack was squealing in the background some too. I think he’s excited to come visit us in Virginia 😉

It was so nice to have a place to land and soak up the good news with everyone. Both sets of Nathan’s grandparents came in town, our friends Maggie and Will stopped by, and Andy and Heather and Garrett also came. We had a ton of good food (of course), green beer, and watched March Madness all afternoon. Nathan and I couldn’t imagine any better way to spend Match Day than with people we love.

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Cheers!

Around 5:30, we left the house to go clean up a bit before the Match Day Party downtown. The med school rents out a venue and puts together a party for 4th years on match night with an open bar, live music, casino games (I learned to play Blackjack!), and appetizers. They also had the basketball games on. Score! It was a lot of fun to go celebrate with other people in our position and meet so many of the other students Nathan knows. We had an awesome time and really enjoyed ourselves!

We got home around 11pm and finished the night eating leftover cookies and cheeseball from my mom on the couch while watching more basketball. Of course we didn’t stop talking about Virginia the whole time. I can’t believe we finally know! It’s really real…and slowly sinking in. We’re really going to Charlottesville in a few short months. Our adventure is just around the corner. There is so much to look forward to!

As Nathan said last night: “We are gonna have so much fun!” It’s exactly what I said when we got engaged. I’m noticing a theme 😉 Life is good. God is good. UVA, here we come!

Married to a Med Student: Part V

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated you on life being married to a med student. I figured I better write one soon, because in a few more months, there will no longer be a med student in this marriage. That’s right – we are 3 months away from having a Dr. Beachy in the house! After four years of year-round studying, rotations, changing schedules, and tests, I am so excited for Nathan to be in the final stretch and for him to see all of his hard work pay off!

Compared to the first three years, fourth year has been a breath of fresh air. Rotations (so far) are more flexible, and he’s even had a couple vacation months in the mix. Nathan has been taking on some more housework and errands/cooking during his extra time at home, which has given me more margin during busy phases with my job. I feel spoiled! He has always been SUPER helpful around the house and with cooking even when he was working a ton, but now if we run out of something in the middle of the week, he’s (often) been able to run to the store and get it as opposed to before where we were both working nonstop so we’d just have to make do until the weekend. So, it’s a far cry from the first three years and a welcomed change 🙂

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Time for date nights and good drinks during fourth year!

The vacation months were necessary for him to travel for residency interviews. From October through January, he was traveling mostly around the southeast to look at different programs. After putting a lot of thought into it (seriously, you should see the spreadsheet…), Nathan ended up interviewing at 11 programs. We went back to visit the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville together over the holidays which was fun! We loved getting some sun in December. And then we also went to the Houston one together right after New Year’s, so I got in some good nephew and sister bonding time while he was busy at Baylor. Other than that, he has been traveling alone.

His last interview was mid-January, and now the next step is submitting his rank list on February 22 (eek – this month!). It all leads up to the big MATCH DAY on March 17th. I can’t believe it is so close!

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Loving the sun in JAX!

In the meantime, we are praying a lot and talking a lot about where to rank programs. This is the first major life decision we’ve made together (aside from the decision to get married, of course!) so it’s been good for us to work through it. We’ve known this was coming ever since he started med school, so it’s a little surreal to finally be making this choice and sorting everything out. I remember when we got married that I was really excited about the fact that we’d have an adventure together in a few years with residency starting a whole new phase of our lives. And now, in the blink of an eye*, our big adventure is coming right up!

*not really the blink of an eye; Nathan would argue it’s been a long time coming

March 17th is not only Match Day, but also St. Patrick’s Day, a few days after Nathan’s 26th birthday, and the first round of March Madness, so we are really looking forward to celebrating everything with friends and family. We have plans for a gathering at his parents’ house after the Match Day ceremony and it should be a lot of fun. Good food, beer, basketball, and celebration are on the menu – can’t go wrong! 🙂

Right now, we’re asking for prayers for discernment in making our rank list. I am honestly relieved that we do not get to make the final decision and that it is a matching process, which is new for me – originally (a few years ago) the idea that we wouldn’t have total control over this stressed me out like crazy, but this year it has been such a relief. I take comfort in the fact that it leaves room for God to work and put us where He ultimately needs us to be.

So, life married to a med student is wonderful right now, and life married to a doctor is just around the corner. 🙂 Stay tuned to find out where we’re headed next!

Married to a Med Student: Part IV

If med school could be equated to a lifetime, then 4th year = retirement, at least so far! Nathan is finally getting to do the rotations he wants to do with the doctors he wants to do them with, and it is SUCH a nice change of pace. After four loooong months of surgery this spring (February through May), he is finally getting back to being “human”…aka sleeping regularly, having a more routine schedule, having weekends free, etc.

We are officially 2 months into fourth year – the final year – and so far it’s been treating us well. It doesn’t hurt that it’s summertime and beautiful in Indianapolis, which has allowed us to be out and about for some fun dates and time with friends and family.

Here are some things I’ve noticed are different for us so far this (school)year:

  • Margin – We actually have breathing room these days now that I’ve settled into my new job and Nathan’s in fourth year, and we are so grateful for it. Of course, there’s margin built into fourth year for a reason. There’s a LOT to figure out, and we are spending a lot of time reflecting about where we’ve been and projecting where we want to go. Exciting times ahead!
  • Confidence – Nathan is much more confident both in terms of what he wants to do (neurology) and that he’s capable of doing it. This time next year he will be Dr. Beachy, and I think more and more people in the clinics are starting to treat him that way. It’s so fun for me to see how much he has grown over the last few years of med school, and every day his gift for medicine becomes more and more apparent.
  • School—>Career – This year is the transition from student to doctor, and a lot of energy goes into that process. Nathan is working on his resume, personal statement, and residency applications in preparation for interview season later this fall. He is focused on long-term career/job aspects more than studying for tests, which is a necessary (and nice, but still a lot of pressure…) change.

The craziest part of med school – that whole “Match Day” thing –  is getting more and more real as fourth year sinks in. For now, we are having fun looking into different programs and are loving our time in Indy while we’re here. It will be fun to see where life takes us for the next step!

Married to a Med Student: Part III

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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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 🙂
  5. 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!