08 May 2015

Yr 4 Perspective of a Med School Wife: Shaila

Shaila and I were some of the lone Lebanon survivors this fourth year, and what a year it was for her family (1st year and 2nd year posts). We go to church together, so Shaila and I saw each other each least once a week. In fact, on Sunday we are going to do one of my favorite musical numbers together in sacrament meeting. Shaila has a beautiful voice, and I'm convinced I'll be crying my way through the song from my place on the piano.

Residency: Family Medicine in Auburn, WA

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

A: I tried to support Matt by TRYING to remain positive, or to lift him up by trying to see things from a different protective. I tried to give slight nudges with my own opinion, but without trying to "parent" him. Sometimes I was super stressed and anxious about how Matt was going about things, but I would sit back and let it get done on his timeline. He didn't need more added stress with me nagging. 4th year was by far the hardest and most stressful for us. Things didn't always go as planned, but they've all worked out and only a couple days left of Matt's last rotation. Yay!

Q: Did your family move for fourth year?

A: We have stayed in Lebanon all four years of medical school for several reasons. We didn't want to keep moving our four boys around and change school and friends too much. Malcolm is now 11 and in 5th grade, Quinn is 9 and in 3rd grade, and Winston is 7 and in 1st grade. (Sterling boy is still little enough to keep me on my toes at home.) We were especially worried for Malcolm getting into those harder years of school switching.

Another reason we didn't move was the overwhelming feeling of "moving home" to try and save money and bombard our parents with our large family.  But we were blessed to receive section 8 assistance halfway through 3rd year, so living expenses out of pocket were really minimal.

We also thought Matt would have plenty of opportunity to find rotations close to Lebanon, which didn't end up being case, but we didn't have it as bad as some. The longest period of time he was away from home was 12 weeks.

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

A: Matt and I didn't hash out a lot of things we wanted to consider for residency. Part of the reason is that Matt and I are usually on the same page about what we want for our family. But, I'm also not like some of my fellow medical wives who are super amazing and love to research it out, so I didn't really know how it all worked. Matt's always most concerned for his children's wellbeing, then his career, so I knew he had the right perspective. I supported Matt and told him I just wanted him to be happy. If he enjoys what he's doing, he comes home happy, which keeps me happy, and our children. Matt didn't have a set decision on what he wanted to go into, so he applied for two different things and left it up to our Heavenly Father to take us where he needed our family to be, and where our family could succeed the most and where Matt could continue to become the best doctor he could be. I believe things worked out better than we could've asked for.

Matt will be doing his residency in Auburn, Wa for family medicine. We are super excited to be moving back to our "home" state, 3 hrs from our parents and to have some extended family close by. This residency also serves a Marshallese community and Matt will be able to serve some people he learned to love on his 2 year mission for our church, and possibly use his rather useless language of Marshallese.

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

A: Finding/setting up rotations was definitely the most frustrating part of 4th year. Not only was it difficult to find rotations close by, but also when you think you have a rotation secured, and just a few days prior, they are cancelled. Matt ended up having to take his "vacation" rotation at a totally different time then we anticipated, and in the middle of January no less!

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

A: Let go of all expectations you thought 4th year to be. I didn't realize I'd be as much of a single mom as I was. I also didn't realize Matt would be setting up all his own core rotations. (Not that Matt communicates these things to me well. I'm learning as we've gone along the way.)

Just love and support your SO along their stressful 4th year. Try and be a positive force and uplift them during the lows. (I know a lot of students confidence wavered 4th year.)

Take advantage of all the moments together, if they're home, spend quality time together, if they're on an away rotation, remember they are on someone else's time schedule, or a different time zone, and you don't always get to talk.

Also find support from somewhere. There were too many times I felt alone and many days when I had no contact without the outside world, or even talked to an adult. Having family so far away and friends move away, and husbands basically out of the picture, our social life basically became non-existent.