Friday, October 5, 2012

The Third Year

You know, when you start on this whole wife-of-a-medical-student path, you encounter lots of folks along the way who are undisputed experts on medical school (BTW) who enjoy nothing more than warning you of the extreme suck-factor of medical school. A small portion of these warnings should be heeded. The others should be immediately purged from your mind before their destructive powers take over.

Medical school does indeed suck. That much is oh so true.

Here are examples of some warnings you might receive upon embarking on a med school journey:

"You will never see him again. Ever. In your whole life. He will pay the bills, leave a mess in the bathroom, father your children, and yeah, that's about it." Thanks, I was worried I'd never get rid of him. Relief!

"Say your goodbyes now while you still have him!"

"Your apartment will smell like corpses for the first couple of months of med school." Natch.

"My sister's brother left her for a 21 year old nurse with a nose ring after she supported his sorry ass all through med school and residency. I hope your husband doesn't do that to you." Thanks, complete stranger, for your concern.

"He will leave you eventually. You know that, right?" I guess I do now....

"You're gonna be roooollliiiiiin'." In $270,000 of student loans. What. WHAT.

Mr. Sensitive

Then, there were the helpful been-there-done-that mature second year, third year, fourth year students, residents, and actual doctors with advice.

"First year will be tough, and he will study a lot. Get a hobby and make some friends." Yes, do this immediately. I am hobby-challenged and unfortunately left my friend-making skills back in kindergarten, so this little nugget was a bit useless for me.

"Second year will be hell. Boards will turn him into a phantom." This. Is. So. True.

"Don't hate him too much the first two years. The third year is so much better. There's more free time. You will see him much more."

"Fourth year is incredible. Just have fun." I'm excited for this one!

"He will disappear again for residency." But, he will be making money. I think I can deal. (Just kidding.....)

So, now, me, the wife of a third year medical student will give you my very own low-down. For whatever its worth, here goes.

First year sucked.

Second year sucked more.

Third year has been easier so far. Sure, we still spend a good bit of time apart (EM rotation took him away for night shifts), but overall, he does have more free time. He actually watches TV with me (AND WHO DOESN'T LOVE FALL TV, WHO? I DON'T BELIEVE YOU. TWO WORDS: NEW GIRL.). He doesn't lock himself up to study for 8 hour blocks anymore. He has a memory that mostly works. His appetite has greatly improved. We spend most Saturdays or Sundays together without study interruptions doing fun things instead of zombie-ing out on the sofa because he is in a study stupor and I am just BORED.

[Isn't it strange that boredom usually results in inactivity. Why are we so dumb? Cats for instance are never bored. Sure, they sleep 18 hours a day, but the rest of the time they spend chasing their tails, pawing at everything, attacking curtains, rolling around in the bathtub, unraveling toilet paper, lounging on kitchen counters and tables that they should know better. Cats have got it figured out.]


Yes, we are poorer than ever. Third year has come with monetary obligations that we didn't expect or else just did a terrible job of budgeting. (Note: W's school has a statewide campus for third year, meaning that 95% of the students must move from Lewisburg for rotations.)

Learn from our mistakes/imprudence.

First mistake: Not budgeting for a moving company. / Not planning the move at a more convenient time for family/friends to assist (if you'd rather go that route).

We chose the moving company. You see, our families are in SC, and we picked Memorial Day weekend to move. I just couldn't do that to our families. So, the movers were really a necessity and ended up ($800 later) being a huge relief to both of us. Yes, it was nearly $1,000 to move us 1.5 hours, but it was two very tall flights of steps on both ends that W and I didn't have to wrestle our ridiculously heavy furniture up and down by ourselves. Also, I had to deal with our black cat, who hyperventilates, drools, panics, morphs into Satan while in a car. It was the longest 1.5 hour drive of my life. I had to bear hug her the whole time as she dug her claws into my thighs and salivated long, sticky, clear drool all down my front. AWESOME.

Don't do this.

Second mistake: Not asking W very specific questions about all that third year rotations entail. AKA Gas money has sucked our bank account dry.

For instance, I didn't know (I'm still not sure whether W knew this in advance or not) that W would be expected to travel up to two hours away for certain rotations. His first rotation was eight weeks in Family Medicine at a clinic 30 minutes away; then, his four week Emergency Med rotation was at the same location. This was a solid three months with a 30 minute commute (each way). Now, his geriatrics rotation requires him to travel 1.5 hours (each way) one day a week. I know this doesn't seem at all extreme, but consider our previous situation in Lewisburg. I walked to work every day and W (if he actually went to class) only had a 2-5 minute commute. We maybe got gas once every week-and-a-half to two weeks. Now that we have my brother's Jeep (because I was NOT going to be abandoned at work any longer), I shudder to think about our monthly gas expense. I would safely assume it has tripled since Lewisburg.

Third mistake: Higher cost of living.

I guess that we are complete idiots in this regard. We knew Lewisburg was expensive. We were paying $750/month for a one bedroom (all utilities included except electric, which several times reached a whopping $160, but was usually $50-$75). This is high for a town of 3,500 people especially when you consider the rowdy bar across the street and cattle trailers and gravel trucks (jake brakes always included) that would rattle past our street-front apartment at all hours. Our rent now is cheaper but no utilities are included. We easily pay more now than we ever did in Lewisburg. IDIOTS.

Also, there are actually like fun things to do here and more than 2 bars and 4 restaurants to choose from. YES, ITS TRUE. This phenomenon of having options was not considered. Big. Mistake.

Fourth mistake: Getting a 2 bedroom after having a 1 bedroom.

We definitely wanted a second bedroom since our families come so often to visit. Of course, a second bedroom requires a second bed. NO WAY. We thought treating ourselves to a new mattress was a great idea..................... And it was! I just wish we had budgeted for it.

Fifth mistake: Not considering the cost of all of the books and study materials--not to mention the insanely high cost of the board exam itself.

Nothing but a solid education (blah) is included in that $50,000/year tuition. Uh, DUH. We were only slightly blindsided by this one. Do your research. Study materials are freaking expensive. Beginning with second year, you should just go ahead and plan on spending $2,000 on study material and the board exam. If you are a DO student and plan to take MD boards, add another $1,000 to that amount.

If only it were this simple.

That about sums it up. I hope that this helps just a few of you or enlightens those of you who think doctors make it rain from day one.


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