MarathonsHurt

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So long time lurker, first real post...

I've been wondering recently about the social aspect of the MD-PhD path. Do most people who do MD-PhD's date during their MD years? PhD years? Residency? If a regular MD student chose not to date during school, well then they'd still be fairly young when they graduate and look for a serious relationship. Whereas for a lot of us folks, we'll be 30 something at that point...

Any current or graduated MD-PhDers want to share their relationships experience? How many of your classmates found someone and married during your school years? Did people start their families before residency?

"In the spring, a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love." - Tennyson :love:
 

lieberarzt

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I don't exactly have the perspective you are looking for, as I'm not a current student, but I thought I'd share my thoughts regarding relationships from what I've gathered on the interview trail. I've met several MD-PhD students, both during the MD and PhD phases who were (seemingly happily) married. Needless to say, I've also met (again, seemingly happy) students who were either single or in non-/pre-marital relationships. To me, this sufficiently highlighted the fact that there is no one rule for when/if/how one should approach relationships... do what you feel, at a pace that is right for you (and, of course, for your SO). I'd venture to guess that one of the most important aspects of a relationship during the MD-PhD training (and beyond!) would be communication and transparency (about what it is you seek out of the relationship, what your future aspirations are, etc.). :)
 

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Any current or graduated MD-PhDers want to share their relationships experience?
You don't want to know mine. It hasn't been pretty. Between not having an actual class to belong to, being buried in work all the time, being in a very male dominated research area, several failed relationships, and a lot of rejection, I've become very jaded on the whole thing. I was once keen on this whole family thing, but now I have no idea when/if I'll have a family.
 

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I've been in a relationship for the past 5 years (wrapping up M2 now). One of my classmates got married this year, and two started new relationships since coming here. It's definitely doable.
 
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I never dated a fellow classmate, in medical school or graduate school. I just wanted to get out and meet some different people.

I would meet people at bars/clubs, date friends/roommates of friends, got on some email lists for organized singles events, etc.

I dated all through med school and grad school. Had many non-serious(ie. months) relationships in that time, and a couple serious ones (ie. years). I got married after M4 year.
 

Neuronix

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How many of your classmates found someone and married during your school years? Did people start their families before residency?
I was thinking a little bit more about this part of your question. Certainly some of my classmates have gotten married or are in the process. With rare exceptions, it seems the common denominator is to marry someone outside of medicine. Marrying someone within medicine makes things very complicated with regards to timing graduation to graduate at the same time or within 1 year, to stay in the same city after graduation (or if you date pre-meds, when they get in), and some students are tied into programs like HPSP or NHSC which makes it complicated even after residency. Several students my year are with graduate students they met in lab. Some managed to stay in the city where their spouse had a good lab job or industry job, but some matched further down their rank list and did not. Some date completely outside of medicine, though it's very hard to meet people outside of medicine when you spend your life in or near a hospital or lab. I would say that among my classmates I probably get out and do random things the most, but I still end up only with women who are in medicine (or want to apply to med school) for reasons I can't quite figure out. The law students I've dated have been freaking insane.

Having children is very rare here. It requires a significant amount of family support, a stay at home spouse, and/or an amount of money you won't have just from being a student. I know one woman who had several children during the program and was generally held up as our role model in this regard. She applied to only residency programs (in a fairly non-competitive specialty) near her family for that support, failed to match, and the last time I checked is now just doing post-doc. It's no surprise to me why there are fewer women MD/PhD students and the women students are more likely to leave the program. Generally my MD classmates are waiting to become attendings to have children, but I won't be an attending until my mid to late 30s. Even then I'm expected not to go into private practice, but fight for funding and a tenure-track position, which is still not family friendly. My old MD/PhD advisor (a woman) always said she didn't understand how you can have a family and be a MD/PhD.

As residency application time approaches, I for one have been extremely hesitant to date. I have no idea where I'm going to end up both for transitional year and then residency.
 
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I dated a girl from my graduate department, but not the same lab. It's gotten me in a lot of trouble, we're getting married next week (no joke).
 

MarathonsHurt

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I dated a girl from my graduate department, but not the same lab. It's gotten me in a lot of trouble, we're getting married next week (no joke).
Congrats! Did you meet at a mixer? Part of the thing is, like Neuronix pointed out, we're with med students all the time, so how do you meet other people (particularly if, like me, you're not good at the whole bar scene)?
 

legnakrad

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Man... posts by Neuronix never fail to scare/depress me. :-/

I hope Penn MSTP isn't as scary or non-family-friendly as it sounds... (since I'm a woman and it's where I'm going... wooooo)
 

Neuronix

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I hope Penn MSTP isn't as scary or non-family-friendly as it sounds... (since I'm a woman and it's where I'm going... wooooo)
I don't think what I posted has anything to do with the program itself. It has to do with the nature of the MSTP beast.

Obviously, are there are things programs could do to be family friendly. Like providing health care benefits to entire families instead of just the student and providing campus or hospital based child care services, especially useful for long hour clinical people. But nobody does this that I'm aware of.
 
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I'd really second the focus on letting things happen as they come naturally as well as the importance of transparency and communication. I moved out with my fiancee and SO of 5 years and despite a smooth five years before, things fell apart. On the one hand you need to some serious commitment to work through such an intense transition, but on the other, you need to recognize that with time, something will eventually work out. It could be this year, it could be 10 years from now. The challenge is to not drive yourself crazy waiting for it to happen...
 

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This is one of the best threads I've seen on this forum in a while.

For starters, I think that it is perfectly common for people to date within medical school, and even get married to one another. In fact, it's quite frequent. Think about it: you're around the same people all the time, you have a known common interest, and it's stressful so you know that people are going to blow off some steam. What do you think is going to happen? I would say on average my med school had at least 5 couples per class getting married.

I, for one, married one of my MD/PhD colleagues in my same class. It wasn't really planned or anything, but it just happened. It's not the first time that it has happened in my program either. We share common interests, get along great, and it was never a problem that we were in the same program. It helped that we were synchronized so we could couple match.

It's also not too much of a logistical problem to marry another doctor. The couples match is relatively straightforward, although perhaps slightly more difficult than matching alone. However, everyone in the process is extremely supportive and more and more people take advantage of this every year. Compared to having one partner quit their job (as a doctor, or lawyer, or business executive) and move to whatever city you match in, I don't think it's any more difficult. It's quite easy if you're synchronized in year, and if you're off by 1 year you can often take a year of research to get synchronized. Well worth it, in my opinion.

For those who are interested in people outside medicine, more power to them! Everyone's going to be different in this regard. I would say, for most people who are in MD/PhD programs it will be best to find someone career oriented, whether it be in law, business, the arts, whatever. Because when it comes down to it, you'll be spending a lot of time on your career and the person most likely to understand is someone also deeply invested in their career. It doesn't have to be medicine, but it's hard to explain those 80 hour weeks and 30 hour shifts to someone who's not involved in their own thing.

Finally, I think it's reasonable to have kids during your MD/PhD program if you so choose. I did not, but several of my colleagues did and I think it worked out quite well. In fact, having a kid in the middle of your PhD can really work to your advantage. Often, your schedule is flexible and you can work from home, so you can help out more. Plus, by the time you are an intern your kids will be getting close to school age and much easier to manage.

In conclusion, date when you can, with whatever people make good companions for you. It may be more important than your career sometimes. Other logistical issues can be worked out later. I've seen all kinds of things work out, and you never know when it might be you.
 

MarathonsHurt

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This is one of the best threads I've seen on this forum in a while.

For starters, I think that it is perfectly common for people to date within medical school, and even get married to one another. In fact, it's quite frequent. Think about it: you're around the same people all the time, you have a known common interest, and it's stressful so you know that people are going to blow off some steam. What do you think is going to happen? I would say on average my med school had at least 5 couples per class getting married.

I, for one, married one of my MD/PhD colleagues in my same class. It wasn't really planned or anything, but it just happened. It's not the first time that it has happened in my program either. We share common interests, get along great, and it was never a problem that we were in the same program. It helped that we were synchronized so we could couple match.

It's also not too much of a logistical problem to marry another doctor. The couples match is relatively straightforward, although perhaps slightly more difficult than matching alone. However, everyone in the process is extremely supportive and more and more people take advantage of this every year. Compared to having one partner quit their job (as a doctor, or lawyer, or business executive) and move to whatever city you match in, I don't think it's any more difficult. It's quite easy if you're synchronized in year, and if you're off by 1 year you can often take a year of research to get synchronized. Well worth it, in my opinion.

For those who are interested in people outside medicine, more power to them! Everyone's going to be different in this regard. I would say, for most people who are in MD/PhD programs it will be best to find someone career oriented, whether it be in law, business, the arts, whatever. Because when it comes down to it, you'll be spending a lot of time on your career and the person most likely to understand is someone also deeply invested in their career. It doesn't have to be medicine, but it's hard to explain those 80 hour weeks and 30 hour shifts to someone who's not involved in their own thing.

Finally, I think it's reasonable to have kids during your MD/PhD program if you so choose. I did not, but several of my colleagues did and I think it worked out quite well. In fact, having a kid in the middle of your PhD can really work to your advantage. Often, your schedule is flexible and you can work from home, so you can help out more. Plus, by the time you are an intern your kids will be getting close to school age and much easier to manage.

In conclusion, date when you can, with whatever people make good companions for you. It may be more important than your career sometimes. Other logistical issues can be worked out later. I've seen all kinds of things work out, and you never know when it might be you.

Great post, thanks! Shifty, did you know any MD-PhD's who became involved in serious relationships with an MD-only classmate? I can see how the synchronized timeline works for 2 MD-PhDs, but with MD/MD-PhD, there's a 3 to 4 year gap. If your MD-only SO matches in the same city to stay with you as you finish your PhD and clinical years, then you're kind of locked into that same city as well when you are trying to match.

Anyone experience or know a story about someone who experienced the above scenario?
 
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I can see how the synchronized timeline works for 2 MD-PhDs, but with MD/MD-PhD, there's a 3 to 4 year gap. If your MD-only SO matches in the same city to stay with you as you finish your PhD and clinical years, then you're kind of locked into that same city as well when you are trying to match.

Anyone experience or know a story about someone who experienced the above scenario?[/QUOTE]

I know quite a few people who are in this situation. My SO is also an MD-PhD, but he is 2-3 years ahead of me in the program and just did the match. We agreed a few years ago that we would both stay in NYC since it has a lot of great residency and research opportunities for both of us (unless either of us gets an offer we cannot refuse). I also have friends who have MD SOs who matched. One stayed in NYC as well. The other did internship in NYC and is now going to Philly (and the other person will try to do as many away rotations in Philly as possible). I guess it depends on how well you can tolerate seeing your SO for only short periods of time over a few years. I wouldn't want to be in that situation. If you are already located in a city with several residency programs and universities like NYC, it shouldn't be a big problem. I guess everything also depends on how important your relationship is to you and how much you are willing to compromise for it (i.e. turn down a more prestigious residency so you can be with your SO). But if you can agree with your SO on a city with several opportunities for both of you, it shouldn't be too bad of a compromise (if at all). :love:
 
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I would say, for most people who are in MD/PhD programs it will be best to find someone career oriented, whether it be in law, business, the arts, whatever. Because when it comes down to it, you'll be spending a lot of time on your career and the person most likely to understand is someone also deeply invested in their career. It doesn't have to be medicine, but it's hard to explain those 80 hour weeks and 30 hour shifts to someone who's not involved in their own thing.
Absolutely spot on advice. :thumbup:
 

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I met my SO before med school, but we ended being an MSTP and an MD-only couple, at different schools, no less. Now she's an intern and sadly, I'm still a grad student. I think it helps we're both career-oriented for sure, but we have complementary temperments as well.

I also know several fellow MSTP students who dated in and outside of medical school and MSTP. It seems somewhat common to start a family during the MSTP here (unlike at Penn, apparently!).

-X
 

Neuronix

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I also know several fellow MSTP students who dated in and outside of medical school and MSTP. It seems somewhat common to start a family during the MSTP here (unlike at Penn, apparently!).
I get a little bit annoyed by people calling out my school. Everyone knows where I attend, even though I don't post it in every thread, but almost nobody else around here posts where they attend. I don't think what I say generally has much to do with my school, and I point out when I do think things are Penn specific. No matter where you go, what I posted earlier applies:

[Having children] requires a significant amount of family support, a stay at home spouse, and/or an amount of money you won't have just from being a student.
It may be a bit worse here because living in a city requires more money, which makes having children that much more expensive. But Philly isn't that expensive compared to the other big northeast cities, so meh. I think it probably would be easier to have kids at a more suburban/rural school, given lower cost of living and easier transport via car. I frankly don't think it would be possible to have children as a two resident couple unless both are in lifestyle friendly specialties or have family to take care of the children. I don't think it would be possible for two third year medical students to have children unless they are willing to sacrifice grades or have family to take care of the kids during the high hour times. Sacrificing grades has become a very dicey proposition, again, because I'm seeing an increasing number of students not match or go far down their rank lists. The problem is not necessarily finding daycare from 9-5, though this is expensive. But it's very difficult and very expensive to find regular child care at the odd hours required of medical trainees. This might work out for you if you match near your family, but heck, I'm being advised to apply to 30 programs around the country. My odds of matching in the same city I did my program in are practically zero. My family members don't live anywhere near resident training programs, and given the community program blacklist we MD/PhDs have, we're even more location restricted than our MD classmates. I think it's unfortunate how family unfriendly the MD/PhD proposition is, and I think by discussing it honestly maybe there might be change.

Frankly, as Shifty B pointed out "I've seen all kinds of things work out, and you never know when it might be you." I've seen things NOT work out as well. You never know when that might be you. If you're willing to take these chances, such as spending years apart from your spouse or sacrificing your residency entirely or switching specialties for something with easier hours and less competition, that's your choice. When faced with 5+ years apart twice in my own relationships and no other options except one of us sacrificing our career entirely, we've balked on it, but maybe some people would be okay with it.

About children, see:
http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=608481

I particularly like post #5, except where it states "goodbye social life" for residents with children, it can be read as "goodbye research life" for us. Something has to give. There is no balance at 80 hours a week.
 
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Ah neuronix, being depressing as usual...

I have dated throughout my training during med school and grad school. Though I'm now happily in a longterm relationship, I don't think it's impossible to date even in 3rd and 4th year and perhaps during residency as well depending on the specialty. The key is time management. You have to think of dating as a form of leisure activity. You need to get to a point where it's fun to meet new people. Arrange your weekends and free nights so you can pack in as many dates as possible. Do internet dating. Do speed dating. Do meetup.com. Do social events and parties both inside and outside of medical schools. Mobolize parents and church and etc if that's your thing. Be proactive. Try to be efficient in recognizing who you want and who you don't want. Once you met someone you like don't be afraid of making a commitment. Relax and be yourself. Someone out there will like you but you have to get to him/her via the law of large numbers.

A lot of really successful people at work aren't equally successful in personal life, and I wonder how much time they put into one versus the other. Neuronix is right, you can't do everything, but you can prioritize some things. I know for me being in a good relationship makes me hella more happy compared to being in a good job. Jobs come and go--really--residency programs and location matter FAR less than you think. But your spouse you have to deal with for the rest of your life.
 

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I get a little bit annoyed by people calling out my school. Everyone knows where I attend, even though I don't post it in every thread, but almost nobody else around here posts where they attend. I don't think what I say generally has much to do with my school, and I point out when I do think things are Penn specific...
I don't think you can reasonably expect to post 8,000+ times on this forum, many times with personal details, then on the other hand wonder why people know personal details about you.
 

Shifty B

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Great post, thanks! Shifty, did you know any MD-PhD's who became involved in serious relationships with an MD-only classmate? I can see how the synchronized timeline works for 2 MD-PhDs, but with MD/MD-PhD, there's a 3 to 4 year gap.
Somehow this thread got redirected towards having children (partially because of my own previous comments). I won't address that any more except to say there absolutely will be sacrifices made in having children. I didn't mean to make it seem otherwise.

Back to the topic of relationships, the 3-4 year gap works pretty well because a lot of residencies can be completed during that amount of time. If you manage to hook up with one of your MD-only colleagues, then the majority of specialties can be completed in 4-5 years. Then, when you're applying for residencies your SO can be looking for fellowships or whatever the next step is. There are a couple of caveats with this:

1) You're SO is going for a competitive specialty and your med school is in a small city. Probably not an issue if you're in NYC and there are a billion IM residencies, but if you go to med school in Wisconsin there may not be a lot of ENT programs around. Fortunately, many places have a history of taking their own candidates. Also, these programs love geographic reasons to stay so that works in your favor as well.

2) You somehow get desynchronized by 2 years. One year can easily be spent doing additional research, a postdoc, an internship (depending on what specialty you choose). Two years is worse. Say you meet an M1 when you're a PhD 1. Now, you have 2 years of med school left when they finish. So, your SO then stays for a 3 year residency, but you're still graduating one year before they finish. Then you're kindof stuck in the same place because you'll end up applying for residencies there, and your SO for fellowships, and so on. As long as you like the place you live, this is fine! If you're desperate to move, you're facing years apart most likely.

3) You have an MD to MD/PhD relationship that is in its infancy when the MD is graduating. Yikes! The MD is then facing the decision of whether to stay even though you've only been together for 6 months. If you aren't ready to commit, then it can put insane pressure on the relationship to succeed.

But let's face it, these problems are not going to be unique to MD-MD relationships. Almost anyone who has a professional level job is going to have to make some sacrifices to move on a certain time frame.
 
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Congrats! Did you meet at a mixer? Part of the thing is, like Neuronix pointed out, we're with med students all the time, so how do you meet other people (particularly if, like me, you're not good at the whole bar scene)?
Our situation is a little different because we are an MD/PhD and PhD couple, so timing is a little easier as my fiancee is finishing a post-doc in three years and then moving on and doing another post-doc at the same institution where I matched. We did long-distance for the three years of her post-doc, which also coincided with my MS3 and MS4 years, but we made that decision together that it was in the best interest in her career, and I think we became stronger because of it. I have to say when we met I wasn't really looking for a relationship.
 

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I don't think you can reasonably expect to post 8,000+ times on this forum, many times with personal details, then on the other hand wonder why people know personal details about you.
:laugh: It's not people knowing these things that bothers me. It's when people attribute what I say to specific details of my situation or draw inferences that these problems only happen at my school. I like to think these issues I'm writing about are very general.
 
M

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I'm finishing up Grad1 (Year 3 of the program). I've been married to an elementary school teacher since summer between MS1 and MS2. MS1, she lived 1.5 hrs away. That was a tough year. Ever since, things have been great. My schedule hasn't always been great for her, but fortunately teachers seem to have an inordinate amount of patience (if it's not used up by the time they get home). My friends in the program are almost all single. Most are dating and have done so successfully throughout their time here. IMHO, the trick is finding someone who you really get along with and making sure both of you can tolerate each other's BS. However, that takes a time commitment and you have to figure out when you want to do that. I will say that if you don't make time for it now, you probably won't later - things just keep getting busier (grad school being a possible exception).

Bottom line, it takes work, but it's worth it.
 

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I'm new to this forum, but I am currently dating an MD/PhD and I am also applying to medical school. Being in our current situation is difficult but worth it. In the end I think it is simply how you get along with the person and if it is truly worth it then you will find a way to make it work....even if it may be very difficult. I'm going about the whole MD/PhD route the hard way. I actually graduate this fall with a PhD in chemistry.