We're rolling in the loans and the long hours, and having such a good time, we're having a ball...! Welcome to the next three years of our life. Stay tuned for updates as they happen.

What is residency?

Residency is specialized paid training after medical school before doctors are released into the "real world" of medicine. My husband Will is specializing in emergency medicine residency, and he also does rotations in other fields for training outside the ER. He has weekly lectures, studies for huge tests he has to pass, and works long hours to be the best doctor for his patients for the next three years. In most states, you must have a residency to practice medicine.

What was it like to date a medical student?

We were long distance (2 hours), so we spent weekends together. It made our time together more purposeful! There was a lot of studying involved, but there was also nice chunks of time where we would go on hikes, play tennis, eat half-price sushi, get to know each other and each other's family better.

The first time I went fishing with his family/ the day he found out his Step 1 scores...!
I am more creative, and I tended to fill in the whitespace of dating by writing letters to him. He would sometimes surprise me with a poem! We loved playing games, being active outside, and tremendously enjoying each other's company.

A couple months before our wedding!

What was it like to get married during medical school?

Exciting! Expensive!

December 2012

But seriously: should we get married during medical school?

If your medical schooling other has loans and you have a job, you can make it work. We did! Be frugal, be supportive of each other, and spend time together as a couple!

We highly recommend the book 1001 Questions To Ask Before Getting Married and doing the chapters in order. It is fun, informative and really gets at the heart of knowing each other, as well as being a fantastic conversation starter for more questions you may have for your significant other!

{People have asked if this book is good for married people too - I think it is never too late to get to know your spouse better and more intimately!}

Should we get pregnant during medical school?

We did, and it was nice that Will was able to be around more - residency is very time consuming. It's not impossible to have babies during residency, but you'll find you miss medical school in that aspect! (Except the not-getting-paid part.) I was the primary breadwinner and I worked the first six months of my pregnancy (and then we moved) as well.

Before we moved to New Orleans - back at the spot where Will proposed!

What happens if I don't match?

Yes, this happens, and this happened to us. We were completely blindsided by this - it was never a consideration! Will had outstanding USMLE Step scores, attending recommendation letters, grades -- and he was waaaaay too selective with the emergency medicine programs he applied to (EM is an extremely competitive field - so one must usually apply to many, many programs to reach the magical number of 10 interviews, which is said to be one's best bet at securing a post).

{Minor rant: He also had a horrible, non-helpful advisor. If you have one as well, get help elsewhere. Seriously. Do not try to navigate the Match waters alone!}

Moving on: first, you scramble. If you do not get a spot there or do not want to go into a different field (we decided not to go into surgery), I highly suggest another year of graduate school. Will got his Masters of Science in Clinical Research at Tulane University in one year, and entered the Match again (applied to many more spots!).

I also recommend having a mentor to help lead you through this difficult year, and to remind you what a great prospective doctor you are! Will was lucky and had many doctors step up and really support him during this time, with advice and recommendation letters. Using your "off year" wisely is also a way to show that you are prepared to work hard and continue your education towards practicing medicine.

{Warning: going through Match a second time does not guarantee a Match either - he applied to two fields to secure a spot. We know people who did match the second time around, and who did not. The number of residency spots has remained stagnant while the number of medical students has gone up!}

The next year, he matched in Emergency Medicine! To an awesome program at a Trauma 1 hospital.

Then again, there is always a necessary reality check that life if not all about medicine.
So, don't despair - there is always a way!

Talk to me about the Match.

You apply to hospital programs. You get interview offers! You go to the dinner because that is where you can meet the residents (IMPORTANT) before your interview the next day. There is no formula to interviewing - it is like a first date. You want to make a good impression while remaining natural and not nervous/ awkward. You want to be memorable but not in a crazy/ cocky way. They are looking for someone to join their team - a colleague. Act like an adult, smile like you mean it, and sell yourself as the doctor you want to be. If you're the significant other, interact with people too and help sell your spouse by showing how awesome they are, not by saying it.

Once the interview is over, breathe and write a thank you note. That means they have to open your file again and look at you.

When filling out spots in order of where you want to go, remember that it is a giant algorithm. You could get your first spot if you're high enough on the list. Or not. No matter what, you're going to be damn pleased to get any spot. (Because you can't practice medicine without a residency!)

Is residency hard?


Is residency hard for the spouse too?

Yes. It's about "I'm ready for this to be over now and we're not even a year in" and not quite, "This is the worst thing that ever happened to us" because, seriously, your spouse is having the time of their life. Sure, it's hard. But they're getting paid and real patients. Will went into medicine to help people, and when he does, he glows - and that is awesome for me to share with him.

It is also trying - your spouse is gone for many, many hours and you miss him (or her - humor me). You learn to cope better, and maybe pick up new skills while you're at it... like avoiding laundry for weeks.

I mean, taking care of the entire house, bills, crazy work and therapy schedule, and weekly grocery shopping!

Best part of residency?

The satisfaction of seeing your spouse in the field of choice, and just loving it. It's also nice having a doctor on hand for any "problems" - It'll give you the comfort of thinking, you're right: this is not serious/ take ibuprofen!

Read more about our adventures here!

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