That said, it was important for them to have the schedule in advance or have Brian talk to classmates about what this rotation was like, so they can prepare themselves.
Med student and a med student, england, one u-m medical school! Continue to follow her journey on Instagram, marathonsandmedicine. Shout out to my girl for being a hero. Chantal Mendes is a writer who loves science. We typically make a big breakfast, go to the beach or on a hike, and reconvene in the evening to cook dinner and watch a movie. Imho, your significant others of a relationship in a lot of undergraduate students hardly have much more than you face.
So this became a very important part of their preparation. Obviously, surgery was really tough since he was working very long days. They had an unusually difficult time with his pediatrics rotation. All because they both expected it to be a very light rotation. So the feeling that they had prepared and then getting the rug pulled up from under them was difficult.
When Sarah got to talk to other significant others while she was writing her book, there were themes that came up again and again. The lack of time together was one of the biggest ones. Another one is that sense of waiting. Almost everyone talked about how they would avoid feeling like they were waiting for their partner. There is this feeling of powerlessness in the face of all of that waiting. Another theme that came up was that sense of loneliness. It could come up when you feel like your partner is just not available. And you feel like a medical school widow or orphan.
One woman even described the feeling as being married to the shadow of the person. She felt she was married to the idea of this person because in reality, they were never there. Also one of the other things that came up is navigating social circles that involved a ton of medical people. When a bunch of medical students or doctors or residents get in the same room, that becomes the topic of conversation.
So dealing with the feelings around that was one of the things that all of them talked about. Personally, even when I would get together with Allison, my wife, and her fellow neurology residents, they would niche down and talk about neurology stuff and I felt I was an outsider even though I was a physician myself. But he knows there are twenty other people in his life who are happy to hear about. But she will hear about other things. The joke in the family was that all the girlfriends who came over dinner had to pass the test of sitting through his surgery stories.
Her mom told her of one particular dinner when she was dating her dad. So it can be an incredibly alienating experience. So talk to your partner in advance and set up signal so they become aware of it too. If it comes from your partner who changes the subject then great. Also, sometimes look at changing the conversation to another aspect of the topic. For example, Sarah finds certain things about the hospital that are interesting like the relationships between attending physicians and the medical students and residents.
But that can be a way to pivot the conversation away from the technical details.
Sarah says there are three keys that lead this kind of relationship to survive and thrive. For a medical student couple, that means re-negotiating what the relationship is going to look like as medical school progresses. Listen to it and validate that stress. Those may not be at the same degree. But having the other one validate it goes a really long way. Have those little gestures when things are tough. Things will fall through the cracks. So really be intentional and make sure you find time together. So be able to relinquish a little bit of the control.
Move plans around and find creative ways to spend time with each other. Sarah has had people telling her that all doctors cheat on their spouses. And these are things that can be hard to deal with. Sometimes random acquaintances make these comments about their assumptions.
A little bit of it is judging your relationship to that person. Sarah suggests you have to pick your battles, because this will happen a lot. It would be the best response to an acquaintance. But be more honest with people — and how it feels to hear comments like that — with people close to you. Tell them what it means to support you. That you need them to be there to listen to you. You want to surround yourself with people who are going to be encouraging and supportive. Sarah recommends having a check-in.
Or maybe the medical student is feeling overwhelmed or guilty that you had to move somewhere like what Brian felt.
Talk about how you can start supporting each other. What do you need?
What do they need? How do you manage each step? You can get there. It allows us to be able to share our information with more people than ever before. Medicine was just a distant thought in his mind and he already had a career… a good one. However, none of that matters now.
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