27 June 2014

Yr 3 Perspective of a Med School Wife: Me

This third year of medical school has been a whirlwind tour! If you read my previous posts about each of Scott's rotations, you know that Scott was often away from home this year. I knew when we started year three that this would be the case, so I aimed at keeping myself busy. I MORE than achieved that goal.

My Responsibilities
Scott and I selected the Samaritan Health System track as his first choice for rotations during year three so that we wouldn't have to move and I could keep my beloved job. This worked out great for us, and I continue to work full-time in Corvallis. In addition to working full-time, I increased my credit hours in order to graduate from my MBA program on June 12! Increasing my academic load was a tough addition for me this year. Taking MBA two classes per term while working full-time was a bit of a stretch. While it certainly kept me busy, I had little time to deal with the organization of my home or get a chance to relax with Scott when he was home on the weekends. I was studying just as much as he was this last year. Words can't describe the relief I now have in my new degree. There has been much reading of fiction!

On top of academic chaos, this past year I've discovered how nutrition plays a part in my autoimmune disease, and I've focused on preparing healthy meals and snacks to keep me full and satisfied. For those of you who also try to eat healthy on a budget, you can back me up when I say that it is a huge time commitment. It has really paid off, though, because I am feeling (and looking, if I do say so for myself) much better.

Supporting My Husband During Year 3
While I was preoccupying myself with school and health, I slacked a little in my support for Scott. When he was home, I made sure he had food to take for lunches and that most of the housework was done. However, Scott also had a bit more free time on his hands (depending on the rotation). So I also started expecting more from him at home. He still isn't used to having these responsibilities. I have reminded him of how he can help me so that I am not overwhelmed by housework while he is home. Scott spent his evenings after work studying for the next day's patients and end of rotation tests, but he usually had more time to spend with me.

When Scott was traveling for his rotations, we would talk on the phone nightly about his experiences that day. Occasionally I would get a chance to visit Scott wherever he was, but more often he came home to visit me (and play flag football) on the weekends. It wasn't difficult for me to handle Scott's frequent travel, but I only needed to care for myself. We don't have any little ones at home.

This third year of clinical rotations is designed to give the medical students exposure to all different specialties in medicine and begin a portfolio of work experience for your residency of choice. Luckily I had done a ton of research in year one and two about residencies, how to apply, what experience and board scores would be needed because I had little time to research in year three when it was needed. I was able to guide Scott through the process of selecting residencies for audition rotations and applications when he didn't feel a lot of direction from his school staff. On our nightly phone conversations, I would ask him how he felt about the specialty he was shadowing and if he had contacted any locations that day to schedule audition rotations for year four. I'm not sure if that helped or added pressure for Scott, but it sure made me feel better.

Rotations Surprises
I think one surprise for me during this third year was that one rotation didn't clearly stand above the rest. Since Scott didn't go into this clinical year with a residency specialty in mind, I had imagined that he would recognize a clear winner during his rotations. I've heard so many stories of student doctors who, for example, thought they wanted to go into Emergency Medicine going into year three, and ended up loving Pediatrics. Scott enjoyed almost every specialty he shadowed, so he went with his initial impression. From the beginning of medical school Scott has had a desire to work with athletes in sports medicine. So the direction he is taking in year four is along those lines.

Preparations for Residencies
I tried to write about our preparations for residencies a couple weeks ago and struggled. Even though Scott and I know how to schedule audition rotations (click on this link to read more about scheduling audition rotations) and begin the process for residency applications, two weeks ago we still hadn't heard back from most of the programs to confirm dates. At the time, Scott was pondering what he might do if his selected audition rotations fell through. After our freak-out, Scott emailed and called all of his rotations for the umpteenth time. The next day all but one that were in the works were calendared.

On top of that, we had an experience similar to what happened when we selected medical schools for applications. Scott was having a conversation with one of his school buddies when his buddy mentioned two residencies that sounded like a great fit for Scott 's sports medicine dreams. We hadn't even considered these particular residencies because we really didn't know much about them. Scott was able to contact both of the sites last minute and schedule audition rotations to miraculously fill his audition calendar through November.

Separate from audition rotations that typically happen in the fall in preparation for the spring match, core rotations need to be completed as part of the school's fourth year requirements. These core rotations typically happen in the winter/spring as you are applying and waiting for match results. Scott is planning on working with the school rotations office to schedule these necessary core rotations in the Corvallis area and maybe a couple in Medford.


Advice for Significant Others Beginning Year 3
In year three all the rotations are planned out for your medical student, and there is a chance that you will get to see them more often. Take advantage of this time during year three... because come year four your medical student will be traveling the country for weeks at a time auditioning for residencies. While I can't talk from experience yet, at this moment I'm planning on Scott being gone for the better part of July through November.

Then, during year three brace yourself for some uncertainty. For us, at COMP-NW, the scheduling of year four rotations is on your own for the most part. Your student will need to decide which residencies to contact and how to arrange the entire year schedule of rotations. Not to mention the uncertainty of the match... but let's save that for another day, since even I am in denial about the match. We'll try to handle the second board exams and audition rotations, first.