Med School Spouse Interview: Year 3

Hi friends! I’m back with some more insight into the life of a medical school spouse. Years three and four are pretty different from the first two, as students are in rotations shadowing doctors in different specialties. As Matt is nearing the end of his time spent in classes, I thought it would be a great time to interview someone about what next year will be like. Thanks to my friend Molly for sharing her wisdom!

Tell us a little bit about you and your DrH. How long have you been together?
Alex and I met during our freshmen year of college when we were still teenagers. We were the same major, so we got to know each other over the romantic subjects of biology and organic chemistry. It took a season of friend-zoning and then me eventually asking him out, but we’ve been together since sophomore year of undergrad! We got engaged the summer before Alex started medical school, endured what seemed like a veryyyy long long-distance engagement, got married during winter break, and started semester 2 of med school the day after we got back from our honeymoon! We’ve been married for just over 2 years. 

How has your relationship grown since you first started med school?That’s kind of a tricky question to answer, since our marriage started mid-med school. I think we still hold to the patterns we established when Alex started med school, like having regular date nights, protecting our time with the Lord and making sure we bring issues up earlier than later. I think I had the most growing to do in our relationship, so maybe it feels easier because I’ve grown up a bit 🙂 I’ve learned how to be more independent and find fulfilling activities to do while he studies and rotates. But I’m thankful that we are still very much happy and in love, post 3 years of medical education! 🙂 

How has the third year of med school been different than the first two years?
I have a happier husband in third year! It’s really exciting for Alex to be able to work with patients and finally get some hands-on training. It’s an amazing thing to see your husband enjoy what God has called him to do. Third year is different scheduling wise, too; since his schedule changes every month, it feels less predictable. 

I’ve heard that their rotation schedule is more similar to a 9-5 job, and there’s less studying. Is that true? 
That hasn’t been our experience, but I think it depends on board exams and preceptors. My husband decided to take COMLEX in the summer after second year and then Step 1 in the summer after third year, so he is still in the board prep season. I’ve also heard of preceptors that sometimes let their students off really early, but there are others who like to work long hours. I was under the impression that he would come home from the hospital and just be done, but that hasn’t been accurate for us. But our weekends are great! He still studies on the weekends, but we get to do a lot more dates and fun outings together. The studying is definitely less intense, but it’s still there. 

Do you have any tips for supporting your spouse during their third year?
I asked Alex how I support him in third year, and he said: “By having dinner ready!” So I guess he appreciates being fed 🙂 I think it is also helpful to do research with them as they prep for audition rotations and residencies. I had more free time than Alex, so I was able to do an initial survey of programs. That made it a lot easier for him. After all, this is OUR journey and not just his; I want to be a part of it!

How do you stay connected to your spouse when they are at an away rotation site?
We were so blessed by not having any away rotations sites this year, so I can’t speak to that. We were long-distance for 8 months before getting married though, so I can imagine how it feels! It is difficult, but realize it is just a season and don’t make it more difficult by sulking (easier said than done). Have a daily time to connect with each other on Skype so you can look forward to that! And send love letters 🙂 

What’s one piece of advice you would give to an incoming third year spouse?
Be flexible! It was pretty difficult at first to not to get salty about not knowing his weekly schedule or when he would be home for dinner. Thankfully, I realized earlier than later that getting worked up about something he couldn’t control was pretty useless. Once you learn to just roll with the day by day schedule, it’s a lot more enjoyable. Plus, I don’t feel like I need to spend every ounce of precious off-time with him (like I did in second year). If he is home earlier than expected and I’ve already made plans, that’s OK! I know we will get quality time soon. 

I hope you enjoyed reading a little bit about the life of a third year medical marriage! I know I’m looking forward to hearing about all the things my husband will get to do outside of the classroom.

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