Preparing as a Couple for Boards Season

We just FINISHED our last board exam of medical school!!! Our biggest and best milestone yet!

I am not a medical student. I did not take the exam.

Referring to we when talking about an intensive exam that I did not study for nor take for those eight grueling hours, is purposeful for me to continue to see this career in medicine as a team effort. When we started this medical school journey, we were a year into marriage and just found out we were pregnant (see what I did there) with our first child. The first year was a learning curve but the hard of medical school wasn’t something we experienced. He mainly studied at home out of personal preference while I was pretty content to work quietly next to him. We had time and focus for one another, shared household chores, exercised together, and took breaks to visit family.

Sometime during M2 year, my husband was introduced to First Aid, Anki, and Firecracker and they stuck around for all of M3. His new “friends” started captivating his attention. If you haven’t met First Aid, Anki, and Firecracker yet, they will soon make their way into your spouse’s life. The trio is known for their helpfulness and continuous presence. Anki has even been invited on one med couple’s honeymoon (not recommended by the way).

We have come to realize balance during board studying doesn’t mean a 50/50 split of time between work and family. Quality over quantity would be the ideal answer, but even quality is sometimes difficult. Your spouse’s mind will mull over all the information even when flashcards and practice questions are turned off. And on top of board studying, your student doctor will still have to balance rotations and other school responsibilities.

His medical school workload increased and at the same time, our household workload was increasing. We now had two kids under two. I was just going about my days doing the next thing. As he devoted time to board preparation, Tom’s capacity to help around the house and his ability to focus on studies with our first child (then second) playing next to him started to wane. Our once pretty easy medical school journey was changing but my expectations were not and dare I even type that they increased.

Why couldn’t my husband balance a demanding class load, sleepless nights with a newborn (x2), research, board studies, being human, loving God, helping around the house, and being attentive to my needs all at the same time? These were not just thoughts I kept to myself, my tone and comments often revealed what was in my heart. Oh so gracious of me right?! My resentment toward the medical school journey and my husband for choosing this path, seeped in slowly. After all, it was his fault, his tests, his calling, his career that was pulling him away from our family. Our marriage was suffering because our responsibilities were changing but we were expecting our roles to stay the same.

Our marriage was suffering because our responsibilities were changing, but we were expecting our roles to stay the same.

Tom has always felt strongly about doing well during medical school, not for his name, but for the safety and health of his patients. Just getting by has never been an option and I greatly admire my husband for his commitment to excellence in all areas of life. During the season of boards, his role was to work harder and score well, because his score isn’t just a score. It is a reflection of his ability to give quality care, how to manage patients, and think critically of medicine. A board score is one of the main gauges residency programs have of a medical student’s aptitude and the quality of your residency program will directly affect how equipped you are to practice medicine. The scores do matter. Through all the pressure, my husband’s WHY was always at the forefront of his mind and heart during the board season. AND he was doing the best he could balance this vision with his commitment to family.

Do you believe your spouse is doing the best they can? Do you give your spouse the benefit of the doubt?

For me the time consuming season of board studying and then more studying, pushed me beyond comfortable. With him studying more, I was thus left with his share of the parenting, housework, family communication, etc. But resentment didn’t just build because I felt like I was going alone at all the areas he used to be alongside me with. Resentment was building because while I was home managing the business, blog, and babies, I failed to remember our team vision. In all honesty, I struggled to have this shared vision for why we signed up for medical school in the first place. And I let fear that our overextended responsibilities would foreverrrr define our marriage. And yes, I have wrestled with do I keep blogging about the medical wife life, if we don’t have our marriage all together?

This season of residency preparation has taught me a lesson that will forever be a part of our marriage. For me and my husband to grow in appreciation for one another, we need to have a shared vision. During seasons of added responsibilities our roles may need to be readjusted—we may have to fulfill new roles that don’t come naturally in order to encourage our spouse to thrive in the place they are needed. Rather than allowing resentment to creep in through jealousy and comparison, work toward supporting one another in your *shared* vision and watch how appreciation will bloom and flourish in your marriage…even during this busier than normal season!

As I was processing the importance of shared vision, it hit me that due to HIPPA laws, I may never actually see my husband critically managing patient cases and caring for specific individuals. Sure I’ve seen a picture of him in his white coat next to a colleague and he shares general statements about procedures, but seeing him live out this shared experience will be rare. Since spouses are removed from physically experiencing the fulfillment of this training together, it is that much more important as a couple to talk about why you are on this journey and how to do it together.

The very reason The White Coat Wife continues to grow is because of our shared experiences of going through this medical career journey that draws us together. Thank you for reading along and please introduce yourself in the comments.

XX

Kristen

Photo by Sarah Cervantes on Unsplash

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Most people by the time they are 30 years old have graduated college and been established in their career or hometown for a few years, but that isn’t my adulting story. Living a nontraditional life I have learned a lot of maybe not so random skills, which has lead me to start this blog. I love helping women and their family find safer solutions to the not so regulated personal care industry, staying at home with Evelyn Paige, and dreaming with my husband.

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