Advice For New Medical Residents

7 Tips for the Spouses of New Medical Residents

Beginning residency is a monumental achievement (my eyes fill with tears just thinking about it). You and your partner have worked so hard and deserve a hug from someone with enough gusto for the occasion- like the President or Miley Cyrus or your mom. You are diving head first into a new chapter of life with the poise of Gwyneth Paltrow and, as was in my case, the preparation of a mosquito in molasses. 

I will try to help with this transition by sharing some quick logistical notes and leaving the emotional aspects of being a residency spouse for another day. I am happy to offer the below list of observations to all spouses, partners and families of medical residents.

Stay Away From Fixer-Uppers

Unless you fancy yourself as talented as a solo Chip and Jojo from HGTV’s Fixer Upper, I would suggest finding an affordable living situation that doesn’t need a lot of work or updating to enjoy. 

To date, I have fixed toilets, changed air filters, unclogged tub drains, handled the lawn, changed high/outdoor light bulbs… thanks to YouTube (and my parents on FaceTime). 

My husband cringes at this topic. Yes, Levi is certainly capable of helping knock these things out; he just doesn’t have the time or energy. And since I don’t enjoy attempting to retile the bathroom or shiplap the playroom on the weekend right now, move-in ready home for the win…

 Find a home where you can relax and spend much needed quality time with your partner when they are at home, even if it is the size of a shoe box. Light a candle from Anthropologie and call it a day…

Hire a Lawn Care Service 

Or get a self-propelled mower, some cute boots, sunscreen and a podcast – you’ve got this. Also, let’s hope the local city ordinance isn’t terribly diligent on lawn maintenance guideline enforcement because who needs to mow the backyard anyway? I usually do some gorgeous floral pots on the porch to distract from the yard, while repeating to myself that I want to focus extra energy towards the things I enjoy.

Add Blackout Curtains to the Cart 

Your partner will need to sleep eventually and at strange times of day. High noon might be their best sleep so a good set of blackout curtains is worth every penny. And if they don’t get good sleep, you will have an angry riled up version of New Year’s Eve Mariah Carey on your hands (“They said there would be tea?!”). Special huzzah to silk pillows and masks that are supposed to leave us wrinkle free and extra beautiful. Get one for you and your spouse. Be sure to keep a tiara under yours to wear around the house after rockin’ your kiddos bedtime routine alone for the 100th time.

Get an Old School Analog or Digital Alarm Clock

Running late for rounds or didactics… is not a pretty thing to witness. Think Ferris Bueller racing home except the fun montage is replaced with total panic. iPhones are too finicky—they must be charged and their alarms are easy to snooze. Use your iPhone as a backup-you’ll need it for Daylight Savings etc.

Live Close to Their Hospital 

Commuting is for the birds. Residents are already at work for long hours, no need to add the stress of a long commute. My husband has mistakenly driven into a shopping mall entrance on the way home from a long shift thinking it was our neighborhood (multiple times). Exhaustion is real. Yes, we now have a rule that he must Uber home if too tired.

Plan on Being in Charge of All Christmas Shopping

This includes yourself, so be sure to pick something fabulous. And the budget is tight for many of us, so start strategizing a Black Friday and Cyber Monday game now. Many of us have been in training for this type of shopping for years, time to show off those skills.

Most Important Note for Last …

When you are happily enjoying Shonda Rimes’ fabulous Grey’s Anatomy, or ABC’s new hit, The Good Doctor, the soundtrack will be drowned out by your very own resident’s commentary on how everything is wrong and annoying. Plan on binging your favorite medical show while they are asleep or better yet out of the house. McDreamy deserves full attention…

  • Courtney and her husband Levi live in Oklahoma with their 3-year old daughter, Kennedy. Levi is an emergency medicine physician and Courtney writes A Cheeky Girl Blog on all things fashion, beauty and mom life. Find my blog at

Share this article:

Newsletter Subscribe

The MedCommons Monthly

Friendly tips and expert advice delivered right to your inbox.  

Connect With People Who Understand

Medical moves without friends, family and a sense of community can be lonely and isolating. It shouldn’t feel that way. We’re here to help. We’ve built a way for you to connect with a community of physician spouses who know from experience that ​​residencies and fellowships are emotional and exhausting times. Quickly develop much-needed friendships to provide the comprehensive support you need.