One of the resources I thought might be helpful to perspective students/spouses is to see a year in review from the spouses of those students currently in the program. I have prepared my own comments and next week will post a few interviews with wives from various backgrounds and families to provide a perspective of what it's like to be a "complement" of a Western University - COMP NW student.
Knowing that medical school was going to be jam-packed for my husband, I made big plans to keep myself busy. I would have to say that I've been overly successful in that endeavor. I commute to Corvallis for my 8:00 - 5:00 job, I take one evening class a week each semester, I am involved in church activities, I try to be social, and I feel like I carry the majority of the home chores - all in the name of love and sanity.
Lebanon has been so welcoming to all the students and their families. It is a very small town, but it is growing and there are many resources that we have loved having nearby. First off, we have very supportive church members. We contacted the local bishop when we were moving in to help us organize a moving party. It also seems like there is always a church activity going on that I am wanting to attend - "wanting to", being the key phrase there. Western University has helped the significant others of students to form a Complements Club, which is a fantastic resource that I don't take advantage of nearly enough. We look out for each other, and I definitely have my sisters backs (I don't know any of the husbands or boyfriends of students, but I would probably have their backs too). There are definitely other resources for students and families in Lebanon, but I have not used them much. I have, however, blogged about some of the fun things we have done in Oregon.
Supporting My Husband During Year 1
This first year of school included a lot of studying for my husband. He studies each week like it's finals week in his undergraduate career. This means that he is often either not at home or not paying attention to me when he is at home. I am a pretty independent person, but I even felt at times during the year that I just wanted to be selfish and tell him to not think about school for an hour. We have gotten better at communicating where we will be and how we can help each other. I tell him when I'm feeling jealous that he spends more time with his classmates than me, and he will respond with having me act as a patient for either a clinical class or osteopathic manual manipulation. We are going through this journey together, and since we are practically living two seperate lives, the most important thing is to share them with each other. I also don't nag about sharing household chores and have taken to doing them myself, as it gives him one less thing to worry about during cram sessions.
Moments of Stress
Probably the most stressful moment for us this year was right before the holiday break in December. Classes were coming to a close and Scott was studying for multiple finals. He was studying at school or friends' apartments a lot, and when I would see him we would have short and surface-like conversations. Because he is a student, focusing on tests and school, and hanging around 50 (ish) student bachelors, Scott was acting pretty selfish. I reminded myself that I'm a strong, independent woman and I can keep myself busy... but that wasn't it. I love my husband and love spending time with him, even if he's just studying at home. It was a lonely time, and I made it more lonely by not telling him before I felt bitter about it. I also felt hurt when his needs came before mine. We finally talked about it, and when we did, Scott felt so bad at how his actions had come across. We've been able to prevent other such moments of stress just by talking.
I had heard so many wonderful stories from friends and family who had attended dental or medical school about the close friends that they gained during school. I was lucky to make friends shortly after we moved to Oregon in May and even luckier to have one of the med school wives working with me at OSUF in Corvallis. I love all the ladies I have met so far and have found that there is always someone who shares common interests. Working full-time means that I feel a bit disconnected from other med school wives and the fun they are having in Lebanon. I'm glad that I have a good friend working full-time with me that I can vent to about medical school or life in general. There's a very good chance, too, that I will keep making friends as each new class is admitted.
Advice For New Med School Significant Others
Communication is key! Know each other's schedules and make time to spend with each other every day, or as often as possible. Have something (a tv show, church, etc) that you share so your worlds aren't completely seperate.