15 May 2015

Yr 4 Perspective of a Med School Wife: Sierra

Sierra was kind enough to share her perspective from fourth year. The last time we heard from Sierra, we had just finished first year and she had yet to marry her medical student.

How fun is it to have book-end perspective posts!

Residency: Emergency Medicine in Jackson, Michigan

Q: How did you support your med student in year four?

A: Honestly, I don't think I did a great job at this. I took on more responsibilities at work, hoping to distract myself from missing my husband while he was on away rotations, as well as to boost my resume since we knew moving for residency was going to be very likely. Looking back, I think I would have still taken on the extra responsibilities, but I wish I would have learned to balance things better so that I could have been more available to support my husband.

But one thing I made sure to do regardless of my own stress was to listen. Just allowing my husband to process his thoughts out loud about choosing a specialty and applying for residency was probably what he needed most. I also encouraged him to go for his dream specialty, even though it was risky.

Q: Did your family move for fourth year?

A: No, we rented a room from my brother during 3rd and 4th years. We saved money this way, but it probably isn't for every couple. Even though I think the challenges of this living situation actually ended up making us stronger, we are so ready to have our own place again!!!

Q: What did your student consider when selecting residencies for applications and the match?

A: We didn't allow finances to limit his applications. I wanted him to go for his dream, so he applied to all programs in his specialty of interest, knowing that realistically, most programs weren't going to offer him an interview since he didn't audition with them. But you never know unless you try! We had most of our discussions about desired locations as he was applying for audition rotations.

Q: What was the most frustrating part about Yr 4?

A: I am sure that my husband could list several and I could probably come up with a few if I thought about it for a long time, but I am just so thrilled at the way things have turned out that I only have happy thoughts :)

Q: Any advice for medical student significant others who are approaching this stage?

A: YES! And sorry if my honesty offends anyone, but here is goes...Please make sure that you and your spouse are prepared for the possibility of not matching because anything can happen and you must be prepared. Talk prior to Match Day about which specialties your spouse would be happy with if they don't match. Prioritize them and have unique personal statements written and ready to submit on Match Day for each possible speciality, if needed. And do your research. Find out all the programs that offer the specialities your spouse is interested in and if your spouse is considering a traditional year, cross-reference to find out which programs offer multiple specialties that your spouse is interested in so you know which TRIs will be most worthy of your attention if they have openings during the scramble. Do these things with your spouse because it also helps to mentally prepare both of you and creates a clear understanding of what would happen if your spouse does not match.

Also, know that Match Day is about your spouse's future. If you find yourself taking part in the scramble, please don't cry (or at least don't let them see you cry until they have a spot). This really isn't helpful in any way. And this might be different for those with kids, but from my perspective, be willing to go anywhere. Don't sacrifice what could be your spouse's entire career for a few years in a particular location. Residency isn't permanent.