Connor and I are at Espresso Royale, a local coffee shop.
It’s Sunday morning.
December 10, 2017.
Let’s be honest: these past few weeks have been a stress storm. Connor has been pinballing across the United States for a myriad of residency interviews, me tailing along for a handful. He’s been to Cleveland, NYC, Long Island, Yonkers, Omaha, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, and all around Ohio and Michigan. 12 interviews later, we’re exhausted. And only halfway through. We still have Boston, San Francisco, and a few more in Pennsylvania and Michigan. Not only is this an expensive process (application costs + plane tickets + hotels + misc. = $$$ all on loans), but it is also a soul-sucking process filled with anxieties, uncertainties, and a bleak sliver of hope that you might actually get the coveted match-day envelope and that it might actually contain a place you wanted.
But I digress, I am not even in medical school. I’m just a med school spouse, but let me tell you, med school spouses should get a freakin’ medal. Because second-hand medical school (as I call it) is just like second-hand smoke. It’s more harmful than the real thing, it’s not even your fault it’s happening, and you have no control over the process and outcome.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled my husband is in medical school. He lights up when he talks about patients he was able to help and he legitimately enjoys the science that is the human body. I’m overwhelmingly content that he’s found his calling. And I’m also in school, so I understand the school grind, and I am studying toward my Master of Public Health, so our fields overlap but do not duplicate which results in stimulating conversation that doesn’t feel too much like “bringing work home.” So no, I wouldn’t trade our situation for anything else.
That being said, on top of my full-time graduate school demands, being a medical school student spouse feels like another full-time job. Sometimes I feel like an emotional support pillar that cannot waiver in my own personal stress because my spouse needs my consistency throughout this entire medical school process, the final step of which (being how a medical student gets matched to a residency program) seems like a highly-flawed system. It’s fantastic that there is a streamlined application, ERAS, but then you might miss the opportunity to interview at your top program just because you were in the bathroom for 5 minutes without your phone, only to come out and find an email invitation with all the spots already filled. Your poop just cost you your #1 choice. Then comes the interview offers, that often overlap and never pay for transportations and *almost* never pay for accommodations. Then comes the waiting. So. Much. Waiting. Yes, we interviewed in November and December and even some in January. But now we are waiting until mid-March to get matched. It sucks for the eager students waiting to get an offer, but hello what about spouses that need to find a job in the new place?? There is no way to narrow down where we will end up (did I mention the interviews interspersed quite literally from coast to coast?) and I can’t even start looking for a job until we are matched in March, after which we will both graduate in April and will start working in June – or at least he will start working, I might still be begging around for a job. As an ambitious and career-driven woman, this is extremely frustrating.
And then [[wait for it]]…there is the possibility of a Transitional Year or Preliminary Year! There are few specialties that require the 1st of the 4 residency years to be completed at a different hospital. The application for this 1st year is completely separate from the actual residency program applications, meaning you get matched to each one individually without regard to where the other is. You have to do completely separate interviews for these (so double the interviews and double the associate stress and costs) and then you find out which ones you match into all on Match Day in March. So we could spend our 1st year in NYC and the following 3 in Boston. Or perhaps the 1st year in Ohio and the following 3 in California. OR EVEN, perhaps we will get matched into a full 4-year program because, yes, the specialty Connor wants to go into has some programs that offer all 4 years in one place, meaning that if we matched into one of these 4-year programs, all of the 1st year program interviews we’ve been doing will have been a waste. Besides not having to go through constantly being relocated, I really want a 4-year program because it would be far from ideal to have me graduate and try to find a job with the caveat that I’ll be moving away in 1 year. I’m sure prospective employers love that.
So here we find ourselves. At a coffee shop. On Sunday morning. Me procrastinating on my 12-page Health Law paper. Him researching the 3 hospitals he has interviews with next week. And the glimmer of hope shines on throughout this stress and darkness, that come Friday, March 16th 2018, we will be matched. And the sun will break through the heavens to shine down upon us and this entire shit-process will not have been for naught.
At least, a girl can dream.