Monday, May 7, 2012

The Med Student Spouse's FAQ Answered

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If you've happily skipped on over to my blog today in hopes of getting a chuckle, I'm sorry, but today's post probably won't do that for you (unless you enjoy listening to the realities of other,s lives- then maybe).

Being the wife of an attending who is settled in his job, I find my inbox filled with emails from the spouses and SOs of pre-med and medical students who are just embarking on the medical family life journey. All seek advice on various topics and issues. These ladies (if you're a med school husband please email and represent!) seek guidance, support, and want to know the truth. In a nutshell, they want a glimpse of what their family life will resemble given their husband decides to go the surgery route.

Here's a sample email:

Hi! I follow your blog and wondered if I could ask you for some advice: Do you know of any kind of surgery specialties that are family friendly? I ask in regards to time with family (the doctor's that is) my husband is a premed student and we are still deciding on whether a medical career is best for us. We have a daughter that is only a year old and she barely sees her father as it is. I just want to know what I'm in for. Thanks.

And my reply:

Hi Future Medical Wife!

Well, you ask a loaded question and it's one which deserves lots of discussion and forethought. According to Doc H, Cardiovascular and Vascular are the most time consuming specialties. However, if you ask the wives, they will also add all the other surgery specialties to the list. The bottom line is this: critical is CRITICAL. Patients cannot wait and they seem to need emergent care at night and on holidays. I've even been in the ER with on kid getting stitches and Doc H was tied up in the OR in the same hospital. That's life as a surgeon's wife.

None of our kids want to be surgeons. If anything, they might be toying with the idea of becoming an allergist, dermatologist, physical therapist, etc if they opt for a medical career. However, I think you will set the tone of how your kids either appreciate or resent his work. Doc H's first wife hated his job and verbalized it. She was just the kind of wife who expected her husband to be home at 5 for dinner. That idealistic family portrait is not conducive with a surgeon's work demands.

You and your kids have to be in it for the bigger picture and appreciate that in order to find that "happy" place. I am very supportive of his career. I am proud of what he is able to do. However, I will also say I enjoy time to myself and am okay alone with the kids. We (me and the kids) have our schedule and make things work for us. Unfortunately, we cannot depend on Doc H for anything. If he makes a school function, recital, family party, etc, it is just icing on the cake. If you go in with low expectations of his participation, you won't be disappointed.

But, keep in mind there are very many variables at to what his work load will demand. Such as: where will he practice? In a hospital? Private practice? How many other docs will he be working with? Share call with? etc...

I hope this helps. It's important to know the realities of the profession so you can both make decisions that fit your particular family and needs best.

I hope I don't put a damper on things for you. I just want to be honest. It's a tough life for the doc, spouse and kids, unless you all see the bigger picture and go into it with open eyes and an accepting heart.

If you need me...I'm here for you!

Big Hug,
Emma (Your Doctor's Wife)


15 comments:

  1. One of my closest and dearest friends is struggling right now because her husband is a foot surgeon (Podiatrist?)--I guess not officially. He doesn't have his own practice and he works in the hospital...I am so ignorant when it comes to these things--I get all of my information from Grey's Anatomy and you. And her. Anyway, I see her struggle--people assume that they have a ton of money because "He's a DOCTOR!" and assume her life is easy because of it, both of which are completely untrue. I think that it would be as difficult to be married to a doctor (surgeon) as it is to be married to someone in the military. They move around quite frequently and she is on her own most of the time. Oh--and stupid friends (like me) are CONSTANTLY asking for medical advice! I like to think that they are putting in their time now so that one day they will be rewarded and reap the benefits of this struggle. I'm sure THEY like to think the same thing...;o)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Lucky for me, Doc H is done with the all the moves. He is stable in his job. PHEW! I don't want to move until the kids have all graduated from HS. I like it where we are just fine! :)

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  2. It's funny that you wrote this, because this weekend, I got an email from a wanna be boyfriend of a med. student, asking for advice. I didn't know how to tell him about the sad, sad reality that is having a girlfriend who studies ALL the time. I advised him to make it all about her, to bring her coffee in the hospital and leave with no expectations for hanging out, etc. Seriously, though, The Lawyer is a saint and I know this. People in med. training are annoying and busy. It's a tough road to be their wife, husband, boyfriend, significant other, etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Lawyer IS a saint for being patient, but so is every spouse/SO to you guys! HEHE! Like I said, it takes someone who is in it for the big picture. And I will admit, there are some great perks, but they really don't seem to matter much when it's 2am and you have one kid up-chucking and another crying, all while your spouse is busy at the hospital taking care of someone else! Oye vey, I'm so glad we're beyond those years. Tough times.

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  3. I get these emails too! I was thinking about doing something similar. You gave great advice! I always hear that radiology, dermatology, internal medicine, and anestheiology (sp?), are very family friendly! My husband is interested in surgery, so I am in it for the long haul. I've heard that surgery is the worst. But, I'll remain hopeful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you get a rush out of hearing all about their cases and don't have a weak stomach. That will be your dinner talk for eons. I find it fascinating. I don't know how he does it all.
      You've got a long stretch ahead of you if he's still in med school. Keep you eye on the prize! (and email me if you need support) ;)

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  4. don't worry, we don't expect you to always make us laugh. keep your head up!

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  5. Ugh, my husband is doing vascular. It's rough but on the bright side you get the opportunity to have lots of girls nights! 2 more years and then another 2 more years for fellowship. Ps. vascular now has a short cut residency program in certain states. There are not that many spots for those but they do exist. Good luck!

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    1. Oh, Dear! Vascular! Well, you've got the right outlook on the situation! Haven't heard about the short cut residency program. Is that what your Doc H is doing? Where? What state?

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  6. Thanks for the valuable info! You should definitely consider doing a monthly "Ask Emma" post for med-spouses. It's so nice to hear from the perspective of someone who 'has been there.'

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    Replies
    1. I'll definitely consider that! Thanks for the suggestion, Katie!

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    2. I agree. That is an awesome idea! :)

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  7. So Pittsburg has a program- it is only 5 years. As well as Penn, Umichigan, etc. Here is a more up to date list that I found on one of the surgery sites. Usually there are only like 1-3 spots per program so it's pretty competitive.

    http://www.vascularweb.org/studentsresidentstrainees/applytoprograms/Documents/program_specialty_list%2012%2011%20integrated.pdf

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  8. And no my husband is doing the traditional version. 7 years and 2 years fellowship = 9. clearly the 5 year is much more appealing!

    ReplyDelete

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