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.
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!).
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.
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.
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.
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!
And some couples’ photos to finish it off 🙂
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…
- 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.
- 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!
- 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…
- 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.
- 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!