Going To Med School With A Family

Going to Med School With a Family

“Okay, but your husband is going to be a doctor!” 

If I had a dime for the amount of times I’ve vented about this season of life to be met with that statement… I’d have a lot of dimes. There’s a romantic idea of what being married to a doctor is, or in my case a student doctor… but let’s really take the time to digest it.

When you seek medical advice, you are trusting that your physician has gone through countless hours of schooling, has invested a lot of time into studying their specialty, and has become an expert in their field. Becoming an expert in medicine is crucial and beneficial to those who seek help, but it doesn’t come without a time commitment, and then a time commitment on top of the time already committed. Confusing, I know. Just a roundabout way of saying… Whatever time you think doctors are putting into their medical work, double it… hell let’s triple it; sky’s the limit, time does not exist. 

I admire my husband’s drive, truly I do. However, I can admire him and feel sad for my family. He does his best, but he’s spread so thin… and where does that leave us? In cold, hard, black and white text; getting through medical school means family falls second. We have to. I accepted it. Now, I know in an emergency, family will be pushed to the top; but in everyday life… we are not, and that’s hard. We have three kids who are skeptical when my husband is going anywhere with us. Really digest that, my husband is so often not here that when he is, my kid’s first reaction isn’t “woo!”—my kid’s first reaction is, “wait, really? You’re coming?”

That’s just the start. Every day my husband leaves our house by 6 a.m. if not earlier, and every night I have no clue if he’ll even be home for dinner. He tries his best to carve out one hour at night to be with the kids. ONE HOUR! It doesn’t always happen, but he is consciously trying to do that. That means in my 12+ hour days I get maybe one hour of help. I get maybe one hour to do things without eyes in the back of my head. It’s exhausting. 

Now what’s your next thought? Get out? Sign up for extra curricular activities? Schedule play dates? Let’s clarify something—my husband is a student doctor, not a doctor, not even a resident. Our budget is tight. There is no extra spending. Even once he hits residency, there will be no extra spending. Our situation is unique in that my husband is a Marine Veteran, so we fortunately… SO FORTUNATELY… are walking away from medical school with little to no debt. (For anyone gasping and feeling any sort of way, I think he earned as much after two deployments).  However, we are in no stretch of the imagination living comfortably. We are more so living on a very tight edge, nervous for what financial burden lies ahead of us.

I’m starting to see a light on the slowest moving train at the far end of the tunnel, and it looks like residency. My husband is almost through his third year, which means residency is closer than not; however once that train pulls in we all have to jump on and accept the terms we are given. It’s a lot easier to pick up and go when it’s just you, or just you and your husband.. but now I have to take into account my three kids and two dogs. School districts come into question, quality of life for raising our children comes into question, and the thought of renting a house that will accept that we have two large dogs; there’s just a lot of balls in the air and I’m behind the scenes hoping nothing drops.

Medical school is not just hard for the students, it’s hard for their family. We miss him. When I take my kids to the zoo and see a family together and having fun, I think “I wish their Dad was here”… and it took me some time to understand that he thinks that, too. That he feels the burden of missing out on so much with his kids. Silver lining, my marriage has never been so strong… surviving medical school together has made us a better couple who really knows how to communicate. I know in the end, it will be worth it. I know this sounds sing song-y and depressing and perhaps whiney even… but damn, if it’s not the truth.

  • I’ve always known one thing about myself, I wanted to be a Mom. I’m here now, in the thick of being a Mom with three beautiful, crazy boys ages 5 and under. I write about what it's like as a Med School wife and family. Read my blog at thewombandboard.com.

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