22 May 2012
Yr 1 Perspective of a Med School Wife: Tabetha
A: Brian and I met in undergrad at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, CO. I am was born and raised in CO and CMU was about as far away as I could get from home and still pay in-state tuition. Brian was born in Bend, OR but grew up in Pacific Grove, CA (Monterey Bay area). We never dated in college, in fact we weren't even friends. I wasn't even sure of his name until our last semester before graduation. I was a biology major and he was a kinesiology major. We had a lot of the same sciences courses together. In fact, from the time he transferred until graduation we had at least one class together every semester. It just worked out that we never really officially met until our General Physiology class in the spring of 2007. We ended up sitting next to each other at graduation (May 2007) where he spent the entire ceremony talking to me about his girlfriend--about how he wanted to break up with her but didn't know when or how to do it. After graduation I went home to the Denver area and he went home to CA. That summer we began talking online (video and chat) and on the phone. A friendship quickly grew between us and before long he was my best friend. The rest is history!!
When Brian was applying to medical school we were hoping for a school near family. Since my whole family is in CO our number 1 choice was Rocky Vista is Parker, CO. When he didn't get accepted there we didn't know what we were going to do. Then he got an interview for Western in Pomona. It was about 6 hours away from his parents but it would work. Then he was wait listed. We were getting married in July and were hoping he would start school that fall. Then, in May Brian got a phone call from Pomona saying he'd been accepted off the wait list!!! We were ecstatic to finally have a plan, to know what we'd be doing, and where we'd be going after our wedding!!! We were married July 10, went on our honeymoon the 12-19, and then Brian started school August 2nd! Talk about a whirlwind!! Our first year as a married couple was... A lot. It was difficult in so many ways, but not in any of the typical first-year marriage ways. Brian didn't pass two of his classes and was having a much harder time than (what I believe) most students go through. When the review board decided to have him redo the year rather than remediating the two classes, he asked the dean if he could be allowed to transfer to the new campus in Oregon. He was a part of the Northwest Track in Pomona and was afraid if he didn't transfer they would make him do his rotation down south instead of in the NW--we did NOT want to spend four more years in southern CA. The Dean agreed to allow him to transfer and that is how we ended up in Lebanon.
Q: What are your responsibilities while your husband is at school?
A: Since Brian and I don't have any kids my life at home is actually quite relaxed. I am a flight attendant and am sometimes gone up to 10 days at a time. While I am gone, Brian is typically pretty good at keeping the house clean and in order. When I am home my biggest responsibility is probably grocery shopping! Brian hates spending money so when I am gone he won't go to the grocery store, even if there is nothing for him to eat. I always make sure to fill the cupboards and the refrigerator before I leave so I don't have to worry about him not eating. Since I don't work everyday or have kids to care for when I am home it's important for me to have hobbies to keep me busy. Without hobbies I would probably get quite bored and resent all the time Brian spends studying or in class--not with me. I LOVE to bake but I try not to do that hobby too often, those calories add up quickly!!! I've recently began to try baking "healthier" treats that Brian won't mind eating and are still yummy delicious! We have lots of friends who are pregnant so I love crocheting hand-made gifts for their new little ones. I also recently started crocheting hats, gloves, etc. to donate to those in need. I love reading. I read about two books a month, sometimes more, sometimes less. Getting involved in a book club was one of the best decisions I've made for myself since Brian started school!
Q: What resources did you find in the community that are supportive to you and your family?
A: I never really searched the community for resources of support. Brian and I pretty much just figure things out on our own. When we were down in Pomona we didn't have any family near by so we really learned to rely on each other for support and encouragement. I was recently talking to my mom about how the most difficult part of our first year down there was not having any family near by. She made an excellent point, telling me that not having family nearby was a blessing in disguise because it forced Brian and I to learn to rely on each other early in our relationship and would make us stronger in our future together. Now that we are in Lebanon we are closer to family on both sides. He has family is Salem (an aunt, uncle, two cousins close in age, and his grandmother) and I have family in Prineville, about 2 1/2 hours away (grandparents, an aunt, uncle, and 3 young cousins). I personally have gotten involved with the complements club and it has been such a blessing to have that support specific to me!
Q: What did you find was the best way to support your husband while he was studying this first year?
A: I had a very difficult time with this. As I mentioned before Brian didn't pass two of his courses and was having a very difficult time. He would study 14-15 hours/day on weekends, and 5-6 on weekdays, more if they had a short class day. His self-esteem took a huge hit and by December (after failing his first class, MCBM) he was ready to give up. When IDIT started and he failed the first test he was depressed. I felt absolutely helpless. I would've done anything I could to help but the only thing he wanted was to pass--and I couldn't do that for him. I found the only thing I could do was to encourage him and tell him over and over and over and over, again and again how wonderful he is, how smart he is, how much I love him, and how proud of him I am. No matter what grade he got on a test I made sure he knew I was proud of him for what he was doing and that I do and will always love him. He tells me now this encouragement was what got him through. So, even though I felt like I was doing nothing, I was actually doing a great deal. It was also difficult for me to sit back and watch him get the best support from his fellow students. I hated that they were able to give him something I couldn't. It was very selfish of me, but deep down I knew they had a better understanding than I did and it was important for me to put my own feelings aside and support him by allowing others to support him.
Q: Did school become stressful on your relationship at any time? How did it effect the relationships he has with other family members and friends?
A: School never became stressful on us as a couple. If anything, as I mentioned before, it definitely brought us closer together. The stress it brought was always more to each of us as individuals -stressful on Brian for the obvious reasons, and stressful to me as a spouse trying to support and encourage in ways I didn't really know how. Because he was so stressed about studying as much as possible, relationships with other family members and friends (outside of school friends) were effected in a sense that he didn't put much time into them. He is very close with his family and it got the point where he only talked to his parents on holidays or the evening of a test (the only time he didn't study). After failing IDIT, Brian in a sense "gave-up". He figured 14 hours of studying wasn't doing him any good and cut back his study time and started spending more time with me and the friends we had made. Ironically, his grades began to improve. It is true! When students farther along in their studies advise new students to make sure to balance school and personal life, they aren't making it up!!!
Q: Do you feel connected with other signicant others of students, and have you found good friends?
A: This question comes with two very different answers. When we were down in Pomona, the answer would be no. I had a hard time connecting with the med student's wives down there. However, I found great friends in a couple of the female med students themselves. Now that we are in Lebanon, with an active complements club I have found friendship among the student's wives and have made some lasting friendships. I feel blessed to have had to opportunity to be an SO at both schools and have developed lasting friendships out of both experiences.
Q: Any advice you would give to new medical student wives?
A: The biggest piece of advise I think I could give would be make sure to be patient. It will take your student SO time to find what works for him (or her) and find a balance of personal and study time. Encourage your SO to spend time with you on weekends and to take the night off after a test if they aren't doing it on their own--but don't forget, patience is key; don't get frustrated if (s)he refuses, just stay supportive! Be encouraging and as hard as it may be for you sometimes, remember it's probably even harder for him (or her)!