Keeping a marriage together while becoming a Doctor.

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by MacMD1334, Jun 2, 2008.

  1. MacMD1334

    MacMD1334 The Someday Doctor

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    I am 29 years old and my wife and I are the parents of a gorgeous 6 mo. old girl. We have been discussing much the difficulties we may face if I am indeed accepted to medical school and then the trials of a residency. Can anyone tell me anything that we could take into consideration? Anyone who has been there or who knows someone who has been there that can sort of tell it like it is and tell me how they made it through? Am I going to miss my child's formative years? Help!
     
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  3. Scottish Chap

    Physician PhD Moderator Emeritus

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    Try to attend a medical school and do your residency in a place where your spouse and child will be happiest and receive most support. I cannot emphasize this enough. I'm a student finishing MSIII who is married with a two-year old. No career is worth more than your marriage. Also, as a medical student, accept that you won't really get to know your classmates as well since free time and study time are better spent with and around your family. Treating medical school like a full-time job works well for most people in your situation (no goofing off after class - straight to the books).

    There is an element that you won't be able to predict as far as time constraints are concerned. This was an issue for me in MSIII and I'm positive it will be worse in residency. Just make sure that your wife knows the reality of this now.

    Lastly, it won't be forever. It's quite possible to balance everything. Good luck!
     
  4. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion

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    Whatever you do, don't sugar coat it. Don't promise it'll all be fine when you don't know what "fine" is yet. From what I've seen, it's false expectations that'll tear things down. For the student, it's the expectation that the spouse will understand; for the spouse it's the expectation that there will be lots of student left over at the end of the day and on weekends. I think it takes a lot of creativity and doggedness.

    I suggest that you get your wife to seek out 3rd party info that doesn't paint it pretty. Real people are best, but the new book "intern" by Sandeep Jauhar shows the ugly. There was a PBS Nova special that followed a bunch of Harvard med students for 13 years, and it puts a fair amount of coverage on how difficult it is to maintain marriages. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/doctors/

    Best of luck to you.
     
  5. Johnny_D

    Johnny_D Just strummin' away

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    There is no doubt that it is hard. I am married with 3 kids and another on the way! I am just finishing up MS I. I agree that you need to be in an area in which your spouse will be happy. We moved to Phila. where my in-laws live, so they can help out and offer support.

    The most important thing is budgeting time. I always eat dinner with my family and I help my wife get the kids ready for bed, read books, etc. If it is not right around exam time, I will spend a little extra time with them. On the flip side, when exams roll around, I may not see the kids for a week. I will see them for dinner, but other than that, I am studying.

    Make sure you spouse gets a realistic idea of how much time this will take up.

    Hope this helps!
     
  6. natesgirl

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    thanks for posting this thread I Will keep an eye out for more replies...
     
  7. m3unsure

    m3unsure Junior Member

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    Look, you should really reconsider medicine as a career choice. If you are already married, what is about your current job/lifestyle that does not please you? Better yet, would you rather be more miserable at work versus have a good time with your family? Or the opposite?

    Don't sell you little girl off for medicine. She is way more worth it than anything medicine can ever offer you. You don't want to miss out on her life during these years. Medicine will make you sacrifice a lot of family time. A LOT. I had close friend in med school who missed out on his daughter's Bdays and more, starting the third year. His wife was strong and accepted that her husband was now married to someone else as well - medicine. If you are that person who makes say 60-80K at a current job that still gives you time for your family, keep it or find something else in that realm. 7+ years of what is to come is not worth your family.

    Like another post stated, it will be crappy. Have your wife talk with resident wives and then assess the reality of medicine. Your wife will have to be a VERY VERY understanding woman in order to let her not add stress to your already hectic life. She is going to have to give up daily dinners. She will have to learn not to bother you when you come home from a rough day. She will have to carry the burden of family life/chores/whatever. Remember, it's not only you going to medical school and residency. Can she really shut up and suck it up?

    Medicine just doesn't pay enough for what you give up. Medicine is your priority whether or not you believe it even when you try to compromise. From what I've witnessed numerous times when the spouse is not in medicine, I feel that I likely will never get married because who wants to these days put up with an 80hr workaholic.
     
  8. noahconstrictor

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    wow. after occasionally lurking these boards over a number of months, this is the thread that finally got me to register.

    if you are a good husband and father, and your marriage is solid, it will work out for you. you will make time for your wife and daughter, and your wife will be understanding and give you the time you need in return.

    i can't speak from exact experience, but i am 26, married, currently in undergrad school full time (BA psych graduate, returned to take science and apply for med), and working nearly full time (32 hrs/wk).

    we're making it work. i know its not med school, and its not a 90 hour residency. but we've talked at length about what the next 10+ (!) can and will bring, and understand the sacrifices. it sounds like you have too. if your wife is behind you, go for it.

    have you read hot lights, cold steel? great example of a married doctor with something like 8? kids going through residency. would probably be very encouraging for someone in your situation, and its an interesting read anyway.
     
  9. Luxian

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    Ouch! M3unsure certainly has one perspective which you should hear, but at the same time I hear M3 is one of the worst years of the entire process. You are worked hard and you are expected to perform well with very little experience and no sleep!

    I'll drop in my two cents. I don't have kids myself, but I plan to have them, and given my current age (32) I'm certainly going to have to start before my residency is over! For some positive inspiring posts, read ShyRem 's posts. She is a mother and student and seems to be making it work.

    There are good times and bad times. From what I hear the first two years are manageable. You study hard, but you can study at home and your schedule is more flexible. Third year is especially hard (as noted above) but fourth year is easier. Then your internship is very hard, but as you get accustomed the other years of residency are not so bad. And there are choices to be made. Certain specialties are more demanding (surgery is notorious, while peds sometimes offers part-time residencies to new moms). You just have to find what works for you.
     
  10. ShyRem

    ShyRem I need more coffee.
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    Thanks, Luxian. :oops:

    It's possible, but it takes work and a lot of open frank communication. And a lot of honesty on your part. It's not easy to look at your spouse and say "I know I'm being a total !(@*# these past few days and I'm really sorry.. but I'm TOTALLY stressed out, I have way too much work to do and I just want to cry but there just isn't time, and I really really love you and absolutely don't appreciate you enough but so help me you're going to retire when I'm done. And I'd really love it if you could help me learn this stuff." They'll quickly say "no thanks"; then make sure you take 20 minutes to just sit on the couch and cuddle. Nothing else. Just relax. I can't count the number of hours my husband was sleeping with his head or feet in my lap while I had piles of books all around me. And it was really wonderful just to be together. And relaxing to stroke his feet or his hair absentmindedly while I was highlighting whatever the topic du jour was. You also have a responsibility to take the evening after exams OFF. Watch stupid movies every once in a while (they're good for you). Garden. Fix stuff at home. But do it together. The normal everyday things become special when you do them together. We actually look forward to going grocery shopping together because it's something we do together.

    It also takes a spouse with the patience of a saint, a strong character, the best cheerleading skills, a stiff boot to kick you in the rear, and soft but strong arms to fall into at the end of the day.

    The M3 year. well, I'm going to be about an hour and half away from home. Yeah, it'll totally suck. But we both realize that in the grand scheme of things it's not long. And there will occassionally be weekends I can come home... they can come up and bring me lunch or dinner sometimes... but it's not that long really. I suppose we're fortunate that neither one of us has ever had a "normal" 9-5 daytime job. Always a pager, always weird hours, always changing schedules, always subject to late nights (or mornings) when we just couldn't call home to say "I'll be late" so we already have that understanding.

    As for you missing your child's formative years: Nah. I actually do NOT do schoolwork when my kids are home and awake (ok, except for listening to Goljan while watching my son's little league games). I make dinner every night. I help with homework. We go shopping together. Your child will be sleeping quite a bit... make sure there's a decent schedule and you should have most evenings totally free, as well as several hours in the middle of the day on weekends to hit the books. (I miss those nap times from when my kids were young!!!!) My husband does the laundry, takes out the trash, helps clean the house, my kids have chores (which take more time on my part riding their rear-ends to make sure they actually do the chore vs. me doing it myself), and I even make homemade cookies (always a good study reward). And we're building an addition to the house and fixing/remodeling the interior. Slowly. Very slowly.

    Good luck. It's doable. Make sure you don't eat nasty crappy takeout food too much - you won't have the energy to keep on top of it all. Take care of yourself and your family during med school - the stress will eat you from the inside out if you don't. You'll find your choices of what you do to relax will change to be more family centered during med school. Enjoy the ride.
     
  11. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    According to an attending I have worked with, the answer is an emphatic yes. But apparently the kid will get the last laugh by holding it over your head during their teen years.

    Truth of the matter is that everything in life is a trade off. If you want to dive into a long houred, competitive profession, you have to do it with a fairly single-purposed mentality. You may not be married to your career, but it will certainly be a significantly time demanding mistress. So expect to miss a ton of stuff while you are studying, on call, etc. The first two years of med school will be manageable -- the equivalent of a long-houred job. So you will miss about as much family stuff as you would if you were gunning for partnership in a law or accounting firm. And lots of those guys have families. Third year of med school is something different. You will have overnight calls. You will have lots of 13 hour days. You will be at the hospital many weekends. A lot of the time when you are home you will need to sleep or study. Expect that year to take more than it's fair share of your life, and the balance you thought you created will fall out of whack. In 4th year you get the balance back. Then residency will be more like third year again. So yeah, you can't have your cake and eat it too. You might be able to sneak in a bite here and there though. All I can tell you is that many have done it. Some better than others.
     
  12. JRock310

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    this topic is definitely something that really scares me. i have gone through all of my college years with my daughter, and have had to sacrifice SOOOO much in order to do well in school. this includes time with her, and that has been really hard. i also have a serious boyfriend i met in school, we have been dating about 2 years now and i am positive we will get married. he supports my desire to go to med school 100%, but that is NOW...im nervous that when it comes down to it and we're IN IT together, but he sees how difficult it is, that it will not be pretty. however, he is the most amazing person, so like other posters have said...how your husband/wife is and how they deal w/ those types of situations is a huge part of it. i just visualize the big picture...in the long run, i will be able to provide for my family by doing something i LOVE. i will be able to put my daughter and other future children through college. i will be helping others in the best possible way that i can. the road has been really tough for me, seeing as i do it by myself...but very doable. especially if you don't sleep. :laugh:
     
  13. Runtita

    Runtita Goddess on the Move

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    Thoughts from a mom of 2 who just graduated:

    As a student:
    There will be times when you absolutely cannot be home (especially early and late), but those times are relatively few in school. If you think about it, while working a 40-hour/week job, most working parents (and most parents DO work outside the home) don't see their kids from 8-5 anyway. Study when the kids are asleep or in between classes. If you commute, listen to tapes.

    Don't fall into the trap of thinking you have to study every hour or be at the hospital even when you don't "have" to. I know too many dads who are never home and it's because they choose to sacrifice seeing their kids/wives because they are busy schmoozing the attendings. You do still have some power over your schedule, especially as a student. If someone says, "Go home", do it. Don't hang around just to prove you're worthy.

    If you can, consciously accept that you will sacrifice grades (somewhat) in order to be a parent/spouse, unless you are brilliant and can remember everything you've ever read/heard. Balance is the key. In the end, which will you regret more- missing your kid winning the spelling bee/taking 1st steps or getting that B in biochem?

    Accept that your spouse has her own thing going on. She doesn't exist only to serve/support you. She is her own person; let her know you value her accomplishments. If you respect her and thank her, she will be less likely to feel neglected/abused when you have to spend late nights in the ER and she eats dinner alone.

    Do what you can when you can. First quarter is hectic, but once things calm down, do what you can around the house. Even doing a couple of loads of dishes/week is appreciated.

    Revel in your family. Enjoy your time with them. They are your strength! When you have a hard day, they are there, loving you, even if you fail. Don't take that for granted.

    Ultimately, follow your heart. You can find balance if you so choose. I wish you well!
     
  14. efex101

    efex101 attending
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    It is a BIG sacrifice overall in both time for your family and time for yourself period. If you enjoy being with your family a lot and like being present for most activities/birthdays/anniversaries/holidays then you will be face an uphill battle. A lot will depend on WHICH school accepts you and IF they allow you to skip classes or not. Third year is tough but residency will be much tougher. In third year there were "some" rotations were the 80 hr/week rules were NOT applicable to medical students and hence spent 90-100 hrs/week IN the hospital and then you have to also read/study. Internship is on average 80 hrs/week (but many new interns will end up clocking more)
    So, think about this very very hard and see if YOU are willing to put it the time and effort and sacrifices entailed. Obviously this has been my experience with a husband that worked FT and two teenagers. I am sure some folks will "breeze" by medical school with minimal time and effort put into it, but for most of us it takes a lot. Worth it? for me YES but at a high price.
     
  15. Luxian

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    Congrats on managing the balance! It really is tough.

    What you mentioned hits home. I also have found someone fabulous and wonder whether he'll be as supportive when he realizes just what he's getting into as a potential spouse of a med student.

    And this is where it bothers me (and I hope I'm not getting too off topic). It seems that men who go to med school are considered a "catch" despite the fact that they'll have to work long hours. Women who go to med school have to spend all their time justifying whether or not they'll still be good mothers or if they're being derelict in their duty. I feel a real double standard in people's perceptions. Yes it's hard, and yes it's important to keep a balance, and yes there will be sacrifices, but does anyone else feel this kind of imbalance where men are judged by their salary and women are judged by their maternal instinct?
     
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  17. efex101

    efex101 attending
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    Yup, it seems that "women" are judged very harshly IF they do not fit into the societal mold regarding "maternal instinct" and hence are not good mothers-spouses if they pursue a career that is demanding (medicine/military/etc)....Also, women can be particulary malignant to each other regarding this issue.
     
  18. JRock310

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    totally agree.

    SUCH a double standard, as is everything w/ men and women.

    sometimes i will just sit down when i have a moment to myself and think...oh my god...why am i doing this? i definitely want to be a doctor...ive worked so hard to be where i am...but im petrified of the toll it will take on my family. however, i am all about not having to be "the best of the best" when i get to med school. f that. what do you call someone who graduates last in their medical school class?... a doctor. im looking forward to the P/F system, and even w/ P/F/H im not getting suckered into thinking i need honors on anything. i love my daughter sooo much and want more children in the future, and im going to spend as much time w/ them as i can.

    have you ever read "The Intern Blues?" there is a girl in the book, amy, who reminds me of how i am probably going to be as an intern/resident:laugh:
     
  19. Runtita

    Runtita Goddess on the Move

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    I agree with the double standard for men and women in medicine. So many of my classmates had wives that didn't work and stayed at home, cooking, cleaning, ironing, taking care of the kids, etc. Perhaps they felt more freedom to be away from home in that they didn't feel the same pull to be home that women/mothers do.

    I'm not saying that men don't care for their families, but that traditionally, the man's role has been to go off and earn the money/kill the beasts, while the woman's role has been to stay close to home, gathering/cleaning/mothering. Some of the difference is hormonal and some is societal; either way, it's hard to overcome.

    I have a husband who is doing his own thing careerwise but still bore the brunt of chores and kid-watching (and who will continue to do that while I am in residency). I am so fortunate to have his support. But I still feel the pull/guilt that I should be at home more. However, I did a stint at home for 6 months and I literally went bonkers. I am not cut out to be at home all of the time.:oops:
     
  20. JRock310

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    Runtita, neither am i!

    i stayed home w/ my daughter for 8 months before coming here to college...just because i wasn't sure where i was going yet 100% and until i decided, i was going to be at home w/ her....i am definitely not cut out for it!:laugh:
     
  21. OncoCaP

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    There are ways to deal with this, but it's usually far from easy. Let's start with the finances. Do you have enough cash to support a family for several years? There is a big difference in cost between supporting a medical student and a family and the financial aid usually does not consider this. Thus, you either need to have savings or a wife with a professional job or a background of having been raised by a grandmother on a Soviet pension and know how to live off eggs, apples, and potato pancakes.

    As far as the emotional stuff: It's almost a given that there is simply no way your wife is going to understand why you need to spend all those hours and might feel abandoned at times. You will need to make some time when you can but there are certain times when your schedule won't be yours to control.

    Also, don't assume that once you are done with residency that you will magically be working 8-5pm. Starting out of medical school, you may get lousy hours, but that depends on the specialty of course. Thus you many have a very long period of minimal family life involvement compared to your non-medical peers, depending on a variety of factors.

    Medicine isn't known for being family friendly. There are improvements here and there and specialty variations but overall it's not really a good choice for those who like to balance their family and work life. You really have to want to do this and a family that understands that your availability is probably going to be rather limited. It can be done, but it's like saying you can have someone throw knives at you and you're probably going to be OK. For an unfortunately not that unusual negative perspective see www.pandabearmd.com.

    Think of it as joining the navy. You aren't going to be home a lot (except preclinical). If you like to hang out in hospitals it's very nice. If you want to spend a lot of time with your family, it isn't such a good idea. Every year 300-400 physicians commit suicide. Medical student suicides are way above normal as well. This profession requires extra caution when it comes to dealing with stress. Don't go into this with any fantasy of what to be expect. It can be done, but just don't be blindsided. It's high stress / low reward for many years unless the joy you get from medicine makes up for the sacrifices of time doing normal stuff. I once asked a resident I admire whether he would encourage his daughter to go into medicine ... he said "**** no." That pretty much sums it up.
     
    #19 OncoCaP, Jun 8, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2008
  22. Avant

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    I just graduated and am doing a year of research while I try to answer some of the questions you are posing about residencies. I have toddler twins.

    Are you going to miss your child's formative years? It depends on your definition of "miss", not to Bill Clintonize too much. You certainly will miss a lot of time with her. The first two years of med school aren't that bad. But there's no way around overnight call or rotations that require enormous amounts time every day during the 3d and 4th years. You will be absent or busy a lot; whether this will count as missing her crucial years depends on your definition of an active, engaged mother. For some, that means being there 23/7 (obviously, these are not the people who go to med school when their kids are tots). For others, it means staying plugged in with the primary caregiver, whether it be a spouse or a pro, and making time with her when you can.

    When looking at med schools, I would ask whether you will be required to do away rotations, if any assistance is provided for childcare, and the number of students who are parents. The last question is a biggie. If you are seen as a fluke or oddity, and attendings are not used to med students as parents, then you may encounter additional trouble. I would also find a discrete way to discover whether a med school has an extended program in case you feel that you need more time.

    I've spent a lot of the last year asking similar questions to attendings and residents about residencies. And, to be honest, I've regretted doing so in most situations. One's view of what it means to be a good mother and spouse is so personal and the societal pressure to either conform or put up a good show that many answers seemed distorted. I had one attending tell me that residency is not so bad as it does not require that I never see my kids. And she meant that literally: That even if I only see them while they are asleep for weeks on end, I still will be able to see them. Asleep. Without them knowing I'm there, and zero interaction. I found this to be a laughably bad attempt to calm my concerns and realized we had completely different views on our expectations of ourselves as parents. I had another senior attending who is a single mom to 4 kids, 2 with special needs, who said that the kids need to learn to be independent at some age and so starting at, say, age 2 is fine. She's so fine with her kids being "independent" (which I think means being taken care of nearly exclusively by nannies) that she is picking up a Ph.D. in an unrelated field, despite also having extra administrative and research duties. Obviously, she doesn't see her time with kids as being too limited with her medical responsibilities. Our perspectives were utterly different, and thus her advice was not useful to me.

    So my bottom line is to gather as much information as you can about med schools and residencies, but beware of people's views of being a parent and a spouse during the process (and a big red flag should go up for people who have not gone through the process, regardless of their good intent - this is why I can't say anything about the residency experience). These are just too idiosyncratic to be able to apply reliably to one's own situation. The best you can do is to become as informed as possible about med school and residency, share all this with your spouse, and decide together if it will be worth it, knowing that both of you (ETA: all three of you, really) will most likely make a lot of sacrifices to further your goal.

    Good luck. :)
     
  23. oneandonlylo

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    I have recently gotten married and am in the middle of the application process. I feel as though having a relationship to maintain throughout medical school will definitely be a challenge, but I also know that if it weren't for my relationship and the support it brings I probably wouldn't have mustered the courage to go back to school and follow a path toward medicine at all. I worry about how things will be but I know that it will be worth it.

    That said, for those who are worried about the effect that going into medicine will have on their children and on their ability to be a good/present parent... I grew up as one of those children. My father was just beginning residency when I was born. Sure, I remember him not being home a lot. It was just a fact of life when my mom told us he wasn't coming home that night. Sure, we missed him. But we came out alright. Both my sister and I have equally good relationships with both our parents. There is no resentment at the fact that he couldn't always be around. I am sure that the situation was harder on them than I could have realized at the time, but I know that they worked through it. They've been married over 25 years.

    So yes, I worry about how much work it will take to make my marriage work, but I also know that it can be done.
     
  24. Luxian

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    Congratulations!

    I have to say that I think having a relationship with someone outside of medicine will be so valuable. It will help you keep your priorities straight and it will keep you from becoming part of the doctor-bubble that so many people end up in, no longer able to relate to their patients. Of course, you will have to be good at communicating and make some compromises, but you will gain love and support and perspective!
     
  25. MaryLennox

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    wow i just had a bit of a freakout over this a couple weeks ago.

    apparently my boyfriend's mother made some offhand comment to him that she would never let him marry me because of all the student loan debt i have/will have. it sounds silly but it totally shook me. i have only been with her son for a few months anyway, so why she is thinking about it i don't even know. but she has been nothing but nice to me and interested in hearing about what i do, and i THOUGHT she was impressed by my ambition/intellect/whatever. guess not- i guess the best girl for her son would be a babymaking, housecleaning machine. and i guess she thinks i am going to need someone to pay my loans. (if i didnt think i could do it myself, i wouldnt be doing this in the first place.)

    its not a huge deal so much because i care what she thinks. but it jolted me into the reality of how women who go into medicine may not necessarily be seen as anything more than a burden when it comes to marriage. and THAT is what scares me. it never even occured to me that it would be a real issue.

    i do feel better because he told me he would never listen to her advice on the subject anyway. which is comforting. but it's tough because when i decided to pursue medicine in the first place i was single and figured that whatever happened in my love life would take a backseat. but now that i've actually met someone so great i have begun thinking about all these potential future issues and how everything might or might not work out. it's scary.

    i also think a lot about whether being with someone 'outside' medicine is better or worse in the long term. i know there have been threads on that before, right?
     
  26. ShyRem

    ShyRem I need more coffee.
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    I think it's more of finding someone who's good for you rather than finding someone in or out of medicine. The right one is the right one regardless of what they do for a living.
     
  27. jace's mom

    jace's mom Member

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    (I realize that I don't know anything about your particular situation, so ignore this if you like.) My first instinct on reading this was so very negative that I had to post. Run far, far away. If she's telling him that she wouldn't "let" him marry someone, then there are serious control issues. :eek:
     
  28. Luxian

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    Yup, apparently men who go into medicine are a catch! They are good breadwinners in a high-prestige profession. On the other hand, women who go into medicine merely accumulate debt and then pass off their God-given obligation to be stay-at-home moms to their henpecked husbands.

    Sigh.

    Let's all go out there and prove them wrong!
     
  29. NY Musicologist

    NY Musicologist Career Changer

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    In addition to mommd, which another poster mentioned, you might send your wife over to the spouses/partners forum here on SDN, and/or check it out yourself. Many similar/related threads. Good luck!
     
  30. MaryLennox

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    lol. when we first started dating, he told me one of the reasons he liked me was because i was absolutely nothing like his mother.

    i used to give him a hard time for not listening to her more. now that i've heard that, i have come to appreciate the fact that he doesn't take her advice seriously. :) trust me, he isnt gonna let her opinion stand in his way. it just floored me that she would think something like that. i'll just have to show her how freaking awesome i am so that she will feel like an idiot for having ever made such an ignorant comment . . . :smuggrin:
     
  31. oneandonlylo

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    Thanks!
     
  32. jace's mom

    jace's mom Member

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    :thumbup: Absolutely! And thanks for understanding that I was in no way trying to give you relationship advice. It's just when I read what she said...yikes.
     
  33. FightOn

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    My husband and I just got married in April and will both be starting medical school in August at Western COMP. We are eager to start having children (I will be 28 this year and him 25) because I would like to start a family before starting our rotations. Are we crazy to do this? Anyone in a similar situation?
     
  34. JRock310

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    i dont think youre crazy at all. just my opinion, could be far different from anyone else's:laugh:, but if you want something bad enough, anything is possible. babies are tough...but you know what, so is everything else in this life. i have had my daughter all through college. i bet if i said to someone at the end of my senior year of high school, "do you recommend me getting pregnant and becoming a single mother, then choosing to be pre-med in college? do you think i can do it?" id prob get bombarded w/ ppl saying NO NO don't do it, it's too difficult, you may fail. but here i am, 3 years later:D obviously my daughter was not planned...but your situation is a lot more ideal, especially if your husband is 100% on board and the timing feels right, i say absolutely go for it. :thumbup: again, that's just me!
     
  35. DrJosephKim

    DrJosephKim Advisor
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    Make sure to intentionally set apart time for your spouse and family. You must be intentional. Take little mini vacations and get away from the stress of life.

    Also, family support can be very helpful.
     
  36. OncoCaP

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    No, that's a good idea. Kids can be infinitely more rewarding than medical school will ever be. You'll have a family that you can enjoy. Either have them early (1st year) or wait until after you graduate from med school. You'll need to have some accommodation when it comes to exams, but you'll figure it out. It helps if you have family (willing babysitters / childwatchers) in town or you'll need excellent hired child care (a nanny would be best, if you can afford the $40K/yr or so). Excellent child care is really the determining factor. Until you have the child care part figured out, don't even think about having kids; it's really a make-or-break on that point alone.

    Now, I'm not saying it's going to be easy, but if you cared about "easy" you wouldn't be going to med school. My wife isn't in med school, so we work it out that way (totally different situation) but I have a large number of kids so I have some sense about this.
     
  37. FightOn

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    Thanks for the vote of confidence. We will be living with my parents while we are in school, and they have enthusiastically offered to watch their "grandbabies." So we definately have the child care portion covered! :)
     
  38. viostorm

    viostorm Senior Member

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    Short answer ... yes. At the same time will you retire and say "whoa what happened, when did we have a kid honey?!?" .... no. The truth is somewhere in between.

    Your family WILL have to sacrifice so you can be a physician. You won't be there as much as if you weren't a physician.

    Best thing is prior to starting this make sure you and your family are on the same page. And don't be a jerk to them. Give them quality time. Don't do something really stupid like losing yourself to medicine and sleep with a nurse and end up divorced. This happens all the time.
     
  39. overthebars

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    a good husband and father, and your marriage is solid, it will work out for you. you will make time for your wife and daughter, and your wife will be understanding and give you the time you need in return.


    The above is correct. Working full time & doing undergrad in a reasonably challenging field of study is basically the same as med school (it was for me at least).

    I just graduated from MS and did very well in the process. I could not have done it at all without a very supportive and understanding family (wife + 2 kids). If you make time for your wife and kids, aren't a bad person in general and realize that with a family at home a neurosurgery residency maybe is not the best idea, things will work out for you just fine. I may be unusual, but if I have to be away from my family I'd rather be working in a hospital than doing anything else. So this experience has suited me well to date. No regrets.

    Keep this in mind for med school. If you have a family you will work much harder than everyone else. No studying until the kids go to bed, brief naps post call so you can play with the kiddies instead of sleeping for 14hrs, feeling "post-call" on the easy rotations because your baby didn't sleep well (who gets tired on psych?), begging senior residents to let you off for an hour so you can see your kid's school play (they always say yes unless its ICU), calling home to say goodnight between surgeries/traumas/codes instead of reading up on the anatomy, very limited time spent on yourself other than work, etc. I'm grateful I only missed one of my daughter's school functions in 4 years.

    At the end I was very conflicted on which specialty to choose. I was fortunate to find one that is stimulating and reasonably family friendly, not everyone is so lucky. Honestly, traveling for residency interviews without my wife and kids was worse than the 90 hour work weeks on surgery and ICU. I'm never doing that again.

    My residency is 3 years long (starting next week:eek:). I may do a one or two year fellowship afterwards depending on my family's stamina and the lure of a real paycheck. My intern year is heavy, as are the next two years, but the end is in sight. My daughter will be 11 and my son will be 4 when I finish here. Plenty of time to keep her away from ill-intentioned boys and make sure he isn't any more of a hooligan than he already is.

    Two of my mentors told me that I can be proficient at only one thing besides medicine during this part of my career. Right now I'm out of shape (gained 13 lbs in med school and lost loads of cardiovascular fitness), only read one non-medical book in the last 2 years, saw exactly one new release movie since my son was born 20 months ago, don't follow any sports anymore, and speak with my friends and extended family only sporadically, but my wife still likes hanging out with me and my kids run for me at the front door when I open it each evening. So I'm doing something right.
     
    #37 overthebars, Jun 15, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2008
  40. Shinken

    Shinken Family Medicine

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    I'm a nontrad that went to med school already with a child, and had another after the 1st year of med school.

    Yes, it's possible, it's doable, and heck, it's even fun! Just remember to balance family and medicine. The sacrifice has to be mainly your sacrifice. Sure, your spouse and your children will have to sacrifice some, but the bulk should be yours.

    I have now graduated, and I'm ready to start a Family Medicine residency. I'm still happily (very happily) married, my children are 8 and 3, and we're even talking about child #3! Everything is possible with enough motivation, hard work and sacrifice (as long as everyone is on board). We're doing great, my wife is very happy and proud of my accomplishment, and my children know I'm their father instead of some stranger that comes home to sleep.

    I've had such a great time in med school it's almost bordering on illegal. The key is to know what to sacrifice (yes, I didn't get the highest score on that test, but I passed easily and still spent time with the kids) and to sleep just the right amount and nothing more. Also, make sure everyone is involved with your life as a med student. That way, they all feel part of the "journey" and everyone is invested in the process.
     
  41. viostorm

    viostorm Senior Member

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    I have to caution you about this advice. I personally feel if you sacrifice your knowledge or patient care for your family you are in the wrong line of work ... because people's lives depend on it and depend on you devoting 100% to knowing what is wrong with them.

    I think it is completely unacceptable to purposely "slack" in medical school regardless of how noble the alternative.

    Disease doesn't care if its your kids birthday or if you haven't seen your family in a week. Anything less then your best from a physician is simply unacceptable.

    "I'm sorry I didn't remember that Strep Bovis is associated with colon cancer and hence didn't order a colonoscopy and now you are gonna die this month, but hey, I spent a great weekend with my kid during microbiology!"

    That stuff just doesn't fly.
     
  42. ShyRem

    ShyRem I need more coffee.
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    I take it, vio, that you have no intentions of ever being in any kind of relationship, getting married, or having children until you retire?
     
  43. Mdude

    Mdude New Member

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    what an utterly obnoxious and short-sighted thing to say. Would you not dare to take a single hour off from studying throughout your entire career? Do you oppose vacations, bc that time could be better spent reading up on the newest literature? The notion that balancing family time with your studies somehow makes you an ill-prepared doctor is absurd. The suggestion was not to forsake your studies, but to study hard and do well but also realize that you can and should be spending a portion of your time with your family. If anything, that time contributes to your mental clarity and well-being, something that I personally believe is an important ingredient in and of itself to the process of providing healthcare.

    Yuck.
     
  44. Luxian

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    Okay, but I think it's easy for students to forget what goes into doing your "best". I kind of pity the poor students that stayed up all night studying for the MCAT thinking that more=better. In every way a happy, healthy, competent doctor is better than an underslept, bitter, over-worked doctor. The patients of doctors who take narcs to make it through one more surgery are NOT better off than those who take off one afternoon to see their kid's school play.
     
  45. Lacheln

    Lacheln Cavorting in the Hills

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    Somebody needs a stickectomy.
     
  46. HanginInThere

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    Yeah, wow

    In viostorm's defense, I'm going to assume he didn't mean this post to come out quite as harshly as it did. From his past posting history, it looks like he is married (to another med student), and that he even has been working as a paramedic during his years in med school. So it stands to reason that he must have experience with compromise and choosing between conflicting priorities.

    The fact that he has 475 posts on sdn since Feb 2005 also suggests that he hasn't been spending 168 hours a week studying.

    In fact, if you scroll up just a little earlier in this thread, he takes a much less hardlined tone:

    [My emphasis.] So I'm not going to give that last post too much weight, and I'll assume the stick issue breeak mentions isn't a chronic condition.
     
    #44 HanginInThere, Jun 17, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2008
  47. HanginInThere

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    [Quoting just one paragraph each from two all-around great posts.]

    Thanks for sharing, guys. As a soon-to-be MS1 with two young children, both of your posts capture exactly what I hope my med school experience will be.

    Good luck with your residencies!
     
  48. Thespian666

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    There's something to be said for being a good human being; a much more difficult, and worthy profession in my estimate.

    So, cheers to those who choose to place compassion over martyrdom.
     
    #46 Thespian666, Jun 17, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2008
  49. Friendly

    Friendly Resident

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    Harsh and judgmental post.

    ....especially when you have chosen not to give 100% to your own medical studies. The only difference is that money is to you what relationships are to others in medical school.
     
  50. overthebars

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    Don't let people scare you, if this is really "a calling" for you med school is seriously the most fun you will ever have in a job. Time will fly, you will grow as a person and a professional & you will learn a ton about yourself. Having a great deal of professional satisfaction will do good things for your family as well, this is often underestimated. Besides money and access for your spouse and kids, it is a precious thing for children to see their parents love their work & pursue passions while really helping people. I want kids to feel the same way about their fields as I do about mine. I think my relationship with my spouse is actually better now than it has ever been because I absolutely love my job (and the experience has matured me...alot).

    A bit of unsolicited advice:
    1. When you are at school/hospital you are at work (it should be your only job, use every minute), when you are home you are home (until the kids are asleep). I can't believe how efficiently this worked for me.

    2. Avoid getting a side job at all costs, from what I've seen it generally tends to hurt your residency prospects and just leads to more time away from your family that you can't ever get back. Med school is only 4 years. Think long term. It sucks to be poor but a good relationship with your spouse and well adjusted kids are irreplaceable.
     
  51. montessori2md

    montessori2md Member

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    As someone who has watched lots of power-job parents, my 2 cents for those with the 80 hour week:

    If you have a good marriage, that won't change. If you had a marriage that was already unbalanced....who knows? It might just stay an unbalanced marriage. Or not.

    Workaholic parents are stereotyped as playing "weekend dad" too much, and there is a kernel of truth to that. When my son was an infant, it was his dad who saw him less, and he couldn't stand to hear him cry (which resulted in several cell phones experiencing death by teething, among other things). As the parent least available, you might consider defaulting to the primary caregiver's opinions on discipline, etc, as that person is the one forced to deal with the consequences. That said, you should be first in line to change a diaper or clean a high chair when you are home!

    We asked my son's teachers to keep an eye on him once I start school and to please tell us if his behavior changes. Sometimes caregivers don't want to tell you about negative things, because they know you can't stop studying, and therefore won't say anything. This is why I asked them to tell me. I may not be able to stop studying, but I can make an effort to try to spend more "quality time" if they tell me he's not himself.

    Date your spouse. At least twice a month. Once a quarter you should "check-in" to make sure there aren't any major things to work on (finances, child life changes (time to chuck the pacifier! Ready to lose some sleep?), etc). That way things won't build till someone pops. I have an awesome, best of the best husband, but he gets cranky if he's overly ignored or overworked. He claims to know what he's committed to, but I don't think he really does. We're fortunate to have my mom helping us.

    Make sure your spouse likes the area and home you'll have. Make sure there are affordable ways to take out your child to have fun -parks, pools, walkable areas, etc.
     
  52. Ebete

    Ebete Senior Member

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    Thank you, I really needed to read your post. Feel much better:D:Dthere is still hope for me!
     

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