Monday, July 26, 2010

They never told me...

I was talking to a great friend last night (I miss you and love you Vicky). Her hubby is a new resident in NM and they are some of our best friends. Anyway, we were talking about how hard some aspects of residency are. Things that no one ever told us... Sure we were told it would be hard...but I didn't expect some of the hard things. I know this is only the 1st year. And it will likely get a lot worse before it gets better. But it has been on my mind all day today. So I decided that I would write a little about what I have learned.

First of all: Match

  • No matter how 'sure' you are about where you are going to go, don't be!  I was sure I knew where we would be, and I was sure we would be at 1 of the top four schools on our list. We didn't end up at any of those. We are happy with where we did end up. In fact, we absolutely LOVE it here. But it was a complete and utter shock when we opened the Match letter. Once the shock wore off we were happy, but I think we were both a little overwhelmed at first. Again, we are perfectly happy where we are and know this is where we should be, but honestly, it was not what we expected!
  • Do not under any circumstances rank a program that you are not willing to go to. They tell you this all over the web. The Match process is not guaranteed. Quite frankly, there really are no guarantees as to where you will match or if you will match. But if you are not willing to live in any particular city, don't rank it. Remember the match is a contract, you match you are under contract to go there...even if you can't live in the city. So if you hated any certain place and don't want to take your family there...DON'T Rank it. No matter how worried you are about not matching, don't rank somewhere you don't want to go under any circumstances, because even if it is ranked last, you may end up joining there team and moving yourself and your family to that place you hate! 
  • There was one program that i didn't want to go to. I'll be honest, he ranked it first, but I hated the idea of moving there. Cold, Snow, Yuck! Didn't want that! But my husband did want it. He wanted that program and I let him have it on his rank list. Even if that meant me moving to the cold snowy world that I was happy to leave! Sometimes what you 'want' may be different from what he or she wants. Remember that sometimes you have to sacrifice to make sure he/she is happy...even if that means going somewhere not at the top of your list. (I got my first choice 2nd on the list, and my 3rd, and my 4th... our list was pretty similar with the exception of number 1).
Okay, so I am sure that there are a lot of other things that I could post, but I want to jump to what I have learned in the first month that Justin has been working! 

  • The hardest thing for me has been the time. I knew it would be bad and still, its hard! Justin leaves the house at 5:30 am everyday (late for some people). On days he is on call he stays there until about noon the next day. Then he comes home and sleeps for a few hours. Then we eat dinner, hang out for a little while. We put the kids to bed and by 9pm he is back in bed again sleeping. He gets up, leaves at 5:30ish. Gets home somewhere between 5-7, goes to bed at 9, gets up at 5:30 leaves and doesn't come home again til the next day at noon. That is what they call Q3. Call every 3rd night. It sucks! But even worse than that...sometimes it ends up being Q2...You never see them...Its hard! 
  • Moving to a new place where we don't know but 2 people (who moved up here from Lubbock for Residency) is really hard. Especially with 3 kids who want to have friends immediately and don't understand why they can't go to their friends houses in Lubbock. And then having to entertain them all day everyday, by yourself is really hard. I love my kids with all my heart (except what I reserve for Justin) but it is hard to try and make everyone happy all the time. 
  • Something that has been hard for me is hearing the stories...completely generic stories, no names, no details, just the "just had a kid come in that was really hurt" type story. (He is on Pediatric surgery right now).  It is heart breaking to hear him so sad about these patients that he is helping. But it is amazing to hear how much he is able to do. 
  • Right now, we live on a one month schedule. We (like in Med school) have no clue what his schedule will be like next week when he starts a new rotation. It is hard, you can't plan ANYTHING! I have a wedding to go to in October in Vegas and I can't plan much of anything, because I have no clue what his schedule will be. Granted, we are going under the assumption he will not be joining us...But it would be nice to know if he had the chance to and could go if we can fly him out!  
  • Paychecks at some programs don't come til the end of the month...That includes your first month. We moved up here on May 27 with only the leftover amounts of our student loans to carry us over until we got paid. Lucky for us, we qualified for the $8000 home-buyers tax credit and could count on that money coming at some point, so we know we can pay of the credit cards one day! But we have had to live on the money we had at the end of Med school to last through the end of this week. over 2 months on $1500...Lucky for credit cards eh? Find out as early as you can when payday is, that way you can be aware of how long you have to make your money last, especially if you have no income! 
We don't see much of Justin right now. But when we do see him, it is treasured time. We enjoy every minute of when he is home! He is busy, he loves what he does and I will sacrifice for the next 5 years to make sure that he is able to accomplish this goal...because one day, he will be the boss and he will have more control on what he least a little bit. We are only a month into this 5 year journey. I know it will get harder, I know that he will be treated like dirt sometimes, and I know that he will have hard days. But He loves it! He loves going to work everyday and taking care of people who need him. He loves signing orders and having his name show up on things. He loves making decisions and really changing peoples lives! It is what we have spent the past 4 years suffering for and what we will spend the next 5 years working for! We have been married for 8 years now and this is what we have been working for all that time. 

It is hard? Yes, tremendously. 

Is it worth it? Yes, very much so! 

Would I trade it for a non-surgical residency? Absolutely, 100%, no questions asked, NO! 

I love my husband more than anything and I would never ask him to do anything that his whole heart is not in. He tried to enjoy the 8-5 Doc jobs...but he hated it. His heart is in surgery and I wouldn't ask him to do anything that he wasn't 100% happy with. There will be sacrifices in our lives and there will be times of tears and times of hardships, but all in all, it is worth it. To see Justin doing exactly what he loves! 

I hope that this is helpful to someone out there. Going through the match and the transition to residency is a difficult process and I hope that someone is able to take some of my points and use them in their transition! 


Melanie said...

I will have to come back and read this a year from now! ha! good advice.

Kelci Stanfield said...

I found your blog on a forum somewhere (I think?) and though this is the first post I've read, I'm so glad I found you. My husband is applying to med school (made it to the waitlists and got denied, last round) and we have two babies, thinking about adding a third, soon. This was tremendously helpful in knowing what to expect, at least down the road. It sounds like we're the same kind of wife - I'd rather have my husband gone, working long hours doing what he loves, than working shorter hours that would make him miserable. Your positive outlook and family life is refreshing. Thank you!

(Expect 100+ more comments as I keep scrolling through!)