when you’re married to a med student

cutie husband after one of his first days in the hospital

Sure I knew med students were busy, stressed, uptight, and so on, and so on when I met Dan. But he defies all med student stereotypes. My first introduction to the differences in my new boyfriend and other med students came by way of a comment from a friend of his from undergrad, also a med student: “You’re a saint for putting up with the craziness of his program. Though I’m sure he cries less than me, right?” I had questions after that comment… How busy was he? Was he going to get really stressed out? Would there be weeks I just wouldn’t see him? WOULD HE CRY? 

We’ve learned to sum up med school… and really our lives in general… by saying this: If you want to be stressed, you can be stressed. But you absolutely don’t have to be.

Being married to a med student does involve some major bummers. The biggest one I’ve come across so far has been that in this year, his third year, and next year, his fourth year, his schedule changes every four weeks. Totally changes. But it also changes from day to day… And sometimes he has no idea when he’ll get done at the hospital.

More than a few times, we’ve bought concert plans or scheduled dinner with friends or gotten excited about a trip without really knowing if he’d be able to make it. So far, we’ve been super fortunate to have him placed on good rotations with good staff. No missed concerts yet! And you guys, wouldn’t you know my ability to be flexible has increased? I’m better for it.

And then there’s the fact that he gets so little time off. Med school basically determined our wedding date.We got married on Dan’s first day of break to maximize his time off so we could take a honeymoon and visit family. A couple months ago, we went to Med Ball (med school prom), and we sat next to the dean and her husband. They quickly figured out we were married, and asked how Dan had ever found time to get married. Priorities, people, priorities. But, good news! Next year comes with its perks: two whole months off. We’re already scheming about how we’ll use that time.

And then there’s residency. Imagine this: Dan interviews for programs and ranks his top choices. Hospitals interview Dan and rank their top choices… Dan + a ton of other people. And then a computer does something crazy, and it decides where Dan does residency/where we move. Then, there will be a night in March of next year, when we will walk onto a stage in front of a lot of people — even people watching a live stream online! — and Dan will be handed an envelope. He’ll open it, and read out loud where he was matched. I’ve told him I expect to cry whether I’m happy or not because that’s just so intense! 

All this being said, I have to tell you that my husband is fantastic and my God is so good. While we have had to sometimes plan around med school’s constraints, it hasn’t been half bad. Dan has always put God, me, and family above school and work. He manages his time well so we have no shortage of time together. He desires to work hard and do well, but he knows the importance of not killing himself over med school competition. We can have a fair amount of confidence in an eventual income that will allow us to give generously and live hospitably.

And God has given us both similar passions and degrees that will allow us to do big things for the Kingdom and in our family. God has always, always paved the way for us to pursue our desires in the name of His glory despite the craziness of med school.

This past weekend, I got to be my husband’s date to a scholarship banquet at the Ritz-Carlton. Chandeliers above each sink in the bathroom. Complimentary valet parking and all. As the waiter placed my citron tarte in front of me, the med student we had been seated next to said, “There are some perks to being married to a med student, huh?”


9 thoughts on “when you’re married to a med student

  1. I just saw the backpack and before reading the post predicted… Med 3. I am a Med 4 (well, actually I just finished… YAY!).
    Third and fourth year are rough schedule-wise, especially with CaRMS, but I learned that God does get you through it all. And priorities are key! At least they were and are for me.
    Good for you guys getting through it! There is a light at the end of the tunnel!

    1. thanks, Hayley! I know it will be difficult at times, but I am determined for us to do our best and glorify God through it!

  2. Natalie, I love this line, “If you want to be stressed, you can be stressed. But you absolutely don’t have to be.” I really needed to hear this today. Thanks for the great reminder today!

    1. thanks, Alicia. it’s pretty hard to tell myself when I’m in the thick of it, but I always know it’s true!

  3. Oh Natalie, beautiful post. Love you guys so much – we missed you at The Black Keys concert but I was so happy you got to see Mike Birbiglia! (priorities 🙂 So thankful for your attitude and your spirit. Keep writing!

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