Married in Med School

Several months ago, someone asked me the following question:  Does being married in med school make it easier, or harder?  The answer is yes…being married in med school makes it easier AND harder.

Let me give you an analogy.  Being married in med school is liking having to run a million miles…Running a million miles really sucks, and having someone to run it with you kind of makes it better because at least you’re not alone, but you still have to run a million miles…and then you feel guilty for making them run with you.

That’s the best analogy I could come up with.  I am very thankful to have Nick along with me on this journey, but it seems like the road to being a physician is best traversed alone.  It is hard for me to balance time to study and spending time with Nick.  Unlike some of my friends, I can’t stay up late studying because I want to go to bed at the same time as my husband, and he has to get up early to go to work.  I usually sacrifice studying on Sundays altogether, as Nick and I try to spend that time with each other.

I think the worst part about being married in med school, is that I feel guilty all the time.  When you are a med student, you feel guilty every second you’re not studying.  When you are married AND in med school, you feel guilty when you’re spending time with your spouse because you’re not studying, and then you feel guilty when you’re studying because you’re not spending time with your spouse.

Med school is a selfish time.  There is no way around it.  I think that doctors are all very selfless people, but for a few years, you have to be selfish.  I can’t be a doctor if I don’t get good grades and pass med school, so I have to be selfish and spend all my time studying.  Med students often lose touch with family and friends because it is just really hard to find time to call people and stay in touch with what is going on in their lives.  I hope that when this is all over, we remember how to be selfless again….

I just don’t know how to not feel guilty about the fact that my husband moved to a new town in the middle of nowhere where he has no friends and there is nothing to do just so that I can pursue my dreams of becoming a doctor.  Every day I feel like the most selfish person in the world, and I don’t know if I would feel that way if I were single.

However, I can’t end without saying how much I love being married in med school.  I often hear my single friends talk about how lonely they are, and how much they hate to go home and eat dinner by themselves.  I don’t get to experience that perspective of med school, and I think it would be really easy to get lonely.  I never get lonely.  I always have my best friend here to cheer me up and give me a pep talk.  Nick is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I wouldn’t want to be in med school without him.

In the end, being married in med school is working out pretty well for me.  Aside from how guilty I feel for dragging my husband here, I am so blessed to have someone who loves me so much to come willingly.  Nick helps me out everyday by cooking and cleaning and offering moral support.  (He is also a good sport whenever I need someone to practice on!)  I am so lucky to be married in med school, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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About emilyehoward

My name is Emily, and I am a first year Internal Medicine Resident in Phoenix, Arizona. I live with my husband Nicholas and my daughter Anika. And I hope you enjoy my blog!
This entry was posted in Doctor, Health Care, Medical Student, Medicine, Osteopathy, Physician and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Married in Med School

  1. Ashley Gentrup says:

    Amen on the guilt! And on having to sacrifice relationships. And on the feeling selfish and hoping you can feel selfless again. I gets better as time goes on; the more you see patients and the less you have to study. Promise.

  2. Anne Fischer says:

    I have gotten that question too…and about having a kid in veterinary school. I think it helps keep school in perspective. Yes, school is very important and we have to do well, but no school is not our whole lives, and sometimes there are things that will always take precedence over studying and school, such as having some much needed family time, and staying at home with a sick child. We have things to look forward to everyday outside of school, mainly going home to a family. And, if people think that you get less busy once school ends, I have been told they are wrong. You always stay busy, and so why put your “life” on hold just because of school? We wanted to get married b/c we had found the men of our dreams, and I wanted to be a young mom. I am a vet student, but I am also a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend, etc. and school may change that for some people, but for us it can’t…or we will hear about it, especially from our husbands. Don’t feel guilty, just be grateful you have such a great and supportive husband.

  3. serend1p1ty says:

    Hi! I find your blog absolutely inspiring [: question, now that you have finished your first year in medical school and are in your second year, do you feel like you now have found a balance between marriage and med school?

    • emilyehoward says:

      Haha…good question. Yes and no. I have adapted somewhat this year. I study at home all the time now, so my husband is a little less isolated, but we still don’t get a lot of quality time together. It is always a struggle for us, and I am still trying to find a good balance. The last few weeks have been especially hard, as this block has a lot of material, and I feel very behind, but I am taking the night off to spend time with my husband. My grades might suffer a little, but sometimes you have to do things like that. I read an article the other day from a doctor who said something like “by choice, my family comes second.” How sad is that? My family will always come first, but it is easy to lose sight of that. I try to keep my priorities straight, but it isn’t always easy. So, I guess you could say we are still a work in progress. Glad you like my blog!

      • serend1p1ty says:

        Very well said! You’re definitely an inspiration as I work my way towards medical school. I’ve been worrying about the gap years and how that would affect having a family, but I’m glad to see that it can work if your heart’s in it – I also am considering osteopathic medicine as well – did you only apply to osteopathic schools? If so, what inspired you? Sorry for all the questions, but thanks again for all of the information!

      • emilyehoward says:

        Oh, I love questions! And i am always happy to help! I applied first to allopathic schools and didn’t have much luck. I didn’t get accepted anywhere, and I learned that the osteopathic deadlines were later and I could still apply. Up until that point I didn’t know anything about Osteopathy, but once I looked into it, it just felt right. I applied kind of late, so I got wait-listed. Then the next year I made a decision to only apply to osteopathic schools. I liked the philosophy of focusing on wellness and not just eradicating disease. I love the whole-person approach and the integration of humanities, etc, etc. I also thought I would have more success with the application process. You can call it whatever you like, but Osteopathic schools are a lot less focused on grades. They tend to look more at your motivation and your interests, and they really want people who want to be good doctors and go into primary care. And I definitely made the right decision for me. There are really great allopathic schools, too. I think it is just about what you want. I love my school, and I am glad to be a D.O., but I know it isn’t for everybody! Just let me know if you have any more questions!

  4. Isiah Duggan says:

    Hello I am a sophmore and in college and I am majoring in exercise science, and I love medicine and I love the whole person approach and wellness. I am african american, an I am working on speaking spanish. I also am taking some medical mission trips to Haiti and want to be a paramedic, and then go back to medical school. I have a 3.8 undergrad gpa and want to be a physician, do you think that DO medical school is right for me??

    • emilyehoward says:

      Definitely! It sounds like you have a passion for medicine and helping people, so you would be welcome at any medical school. I would encourage you to read a little bit more about the Osteopathic approach if you are interested. My recommendation is “The DOs” by Norman Gevitz. It is such a great book, and a really fast read. I love Osteopathic medicine, but I also know it isn’t for everyone. I really encourage you to look into it, though! I know how hard it is being pre-med, but it sounds like you are serious, dedicated, and determined! Good luck!

      • Isiah Duggan says:

        Thankyou so much! and when you say that osteopathic schools worry less about grades, how did you sense that in the interview process or how did you come to that conclusion?? I am really only considering DO because I love the idea I have shadowed a DO physician multiple times and have been around many more while shadowing in the ER, and I chose my degree “exercise science” based on the fact that if I did go into ER or primary care I could offer counseling or “health coaching” maybe suggesting a nurtitional change, exercise plan, yoga etc does this sound right to you?? also I did want to do an 11 month paramedic program once I graduated and then go to medical school do you think that would be okay?? Thankyou for your time!

      • emilyehoward says:

        During my interview, compared to interviewing at an MD school, I felt they asked more questions about my motivations and my extracurricular activities and hobbies than my grades. Also most DO schools have a lower average MCAT score for accepted students. Having a slightly lower GPA myself, I was given the opportunity to interview at every DO school I applied to, which was not the case with MD schools I applied to.

        I love the idea of having a nontraditional major, being an English major myself. It definitely gives you a talking point during interviews, and med schools love to see that you stand out and are thinking ahead. As for the paramedic program, that really it up to you. Many of my classmates were paramedics before coming to medical school, so they did have a leg up when we learned ACLS and have some hands-on experience under their belts, but it really isn’t necessary. If you are interested, I say go for it, but most everything you learn there will probably be covered again in med school. Hope this helps!

  5. Isiah Duggan says:

    Thankyou for all your help! I do have one more question! What are the types of specialities that DO typically go into?! and how competitive is it for a DO to match into emergency medicine or Anesthesiology?! thank you so much and what field do you want to go into and why?!

    • emilyehoward says:

      More DO students choose to go into primary care than at most MD schools, but many students still choose to specialize. I think that the fields that are competitive in the MD match are just as competitive in the MD match. I don’t really know that much about it. I plan to go into general internal medicine, so I am not really worried about competing for residency spots, as it isn’t nearly as competitive as some. I want to go into general internal medicine because I see it as a good fit for me. I think that it will be a challenge to see a lot of different types of diseases on a daily basis, and one of the aspects of medicine I am most attracted to is diagnosing, which I will definitely get a lot of in general internal medicine. I could also see myself specializing, maybe someday in the future. I am excited for rotations so that I can really see what interests me! A few specialties I am considering are Infectious Diseases and Allergy/Immunology. The truth is, a LOT of students change their mind during medical school. I was pretty sure I wanted to go into Pediatric Oncology, and I soon figured out I didn’t want to see kids all day, and I really didn’t enjoy oncology as much as I thought I would. Plenty of time to figure it all out!

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