Dating a med student: The first two years

Before Mike started med school, I heard plenty of horror stories about how demanding it would be. And on Mike’s first day of orientation, a teacher told the entering class that if they were dating someone, they likely wouldn’t still be together in four years. So I was only half joking when I made him this sign:

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I can’t exactly mock that professor yet, but we’re halfway through and so far, so good. I’m actually surprised at how smoothly it’s gone for us, but most of the credit goes to Mike. When I told him about this post, he said “everyone deals with it differently.” Some students study 24/7, others get emotional before a big test, others want to spend hours in the anatomy lab. Everyone is just different.

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Mike’s own approach to med school fit in well with our life, and although he’s worked hard, he’s made me (and Latte) a priority too. We were also helped by the fact that we were living in the same city, we had already been dating for a few years and I had a new job to keep me busy. I do realize we were not the typical couple of 22-year-olds, and for the most part, I knew what I was getting into.

Here’s a few ups and downs of the first couple years.

1.  I saw plenty of Mike. He had a lot to learn, but his schedule wasn’t always as demanding, and on some days he was out for the day at noon (which, for me, definitely made transitioning from being a student to having a full-time job more difficult).

2. The days leading up to tests were less fun. Mike does best studying at home, so it was hard for me to not interrupt him to talk — or to try to watch a blaring TV show on Thursday night before a Friday morning test.  (But could he really expect me not to watch Parenthood?)

3. I’ve heard a lot about anatomy lab dissections and I’ve been shown some very pretty pictures of diseases and infections. I’ll let you decide if that’s an up or a down.

4. Scheduling things like getting married can be difficult. I’m completely fine with our time frame, given that we are young and it’s really the only time suitable for a fun honeymoon, but I can imagine that for others,  being controlled by board exams, residency interviews and hospital rotations would be more frustrating.

5. The summer between first and second year was relatively low key and fun, and there are fun events built into the schedule, like formal dinners and golf tournaments.

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6. Mike’s very decided and committed to an intense field, while my own career path can be a little hazy at times. I know plenty of recent college grads are also unsure what the next step will be, but being around med students can make me feel more ” behind.” Having said that, Mike is constantly reminding me that I’m only 24 and I’ll figure it out.

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7. The fear of the next few years probably takes the cake as my biggest struggle so far. Mike will be busier over the next few years, then we’ll try our best to stay in the general area for residency and then again for fellowship (training and then more training and then wait for it … a job). Those six years will include plenty of 60-, 70- and 80-hour work weeks. So the worst of it might be ahead of us. I have a feeling I’ll look back on this post in a few years and have a good laugh.

8. Going through the stresses and discussing the unclear future did bring us closer and reaffirmed my commitment to Mike long-term. Probably a good thing since we’re planning a wedding now, right?

To be continued! 

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