Monday, February 15, 2010

Third Year Rotations

Many people don't realize that medical school is only traditional schooling the first two years of it. The third and fourth years consist of doing rotations (or small internships in the main areas of medicine) and flying all over the country to interview for residencies.

At my husband's school half of the students have to move to a city 8 hours away for the last two years and the other half have to spend a minimum of 5.5 months in that same city (aka if you have a spouse with a job in the original city you must set up two households which is pricey!)

I was very ambivalent as to which one we got because there are many positives and negatives to both. If we stay in our current city than we have A's family around, I have a job, we already have an apartment I am comfortable being alone in, we are familiar with the city and like the weather better, etc. Some negatives include only one of my spouse girlfriends is staying behind in our city and I will have to be away from A for a minimum of 5 months which means frequent plane ride visits and maintaining two households on one small salary. Obviously if we move to the other city then many of those positives become negatives and vice versa. Another positive to the new city would be plane rides for residency would be way cheaper and most likely direct - something we really miss in our current town's small airport.

So - we had the big day last week that would decide our next two years (finally!) and now it is even more in the air! :) A got his #1 choice and we are staying in our current city and he has the minimum amount of time away - but it is all in a row and at the end of third year. So we still might move in January for the last 1.5 years! I can seriously relate to another medical spouse blogger's anxiety and fear of the unknown for her husband's residency spot. This is something I struggle with daily and for now I can just be thankful that I know where we will be for at least the next 11 months. Ha!

How do you all handle the unknown of being in the medical world? I feel like this is just the beginning and I need some better techniques!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Budget time!

So I haven't really been able to post as much as I'd like (a.k.a. never) since my job decided to go from the most boring and slow job ever to the most boring and never-have-any-time job. But hey, better than no job right? :)

Since we are now in the fourth semester of medical school (which just happens to coincide with when we combined finances) I finally feel like we have a handle on things. Thank goodness. The first semester of living in a new town, having only one income, and dealing with the stress of medical school (and past CC debt to apply to said medical school) is far behind us and we have come such a long way. Let's see if I can make budget talk fun. No promises!

Something that we really struggled with at first was not getting to go to dinner or buy clothes or get anything we wanted on a whim. Especially when there are other students who don't mind taking out extra loans or using credit cards to do just that. Do not follow in their footsteps unless absolutely necessary! I remember back to the first months of school and we decided to set up a budget and an emergency fund. We only had $2000 in our emergency fund but that was enough to last us one month if I lost my job or to fix his unnecessary car parts that contain platinum just so we could get a smog test done to register his car...but I digress. I highly recommend doing this and really trying to stick with it.

We figured out how much money we were going to need per month and then set that money aside in a high yield savings account so we could get some interest on our loan money. Each month I pull out the amount we need to add to my paycheck to get through the month. The most important part of this method is to make sure you are budgeting through the month that you are getting your next loan payment. My favorite was when they gave us loan money for Jan-May 2009 but no money for June, July, or August. Some students didn't figure that out ahead of time and it was really hard for them to make it through. This also prevents pressure on the student to have to find a job and leaves them open to any non-paying summer opportunities that present themselves.

Probably the most crazy thing we did was set up individual fun money and joint money budget line items. I get a whole $50 to spend a month on myself! (Which is apparently the crazy part according to some of our friends...) This includes waxing my eyebrows (so fun huh?), drinks with friends, the occasional chai latte, and anything else that strikes my fancy. We have $100 per month to spend on date nights - which could probably be way less but it is the salvation of our relationship to spend time together and splurge once a week.

It was extremely hard for A to not spend money at first. He never seemed to know where it was all going! We fixed this situation by keeping our budget on the front door. If I buy groceries - I subtract it out of the grocery category and we can see exactly how much is left when we leave in the morning. Same goes for all the other categories. Using this method, A went from overspending in his category to coming under budget some months!

Anyway - as fun as I think this subject is I'll move on for now. I am kind of a budget and finance whore (which is probably why I work in accounting). I'll leave our budget for you at the bottom and leave you guessing as to how we not only paid for almost our entire wedding in between first and second year, but also a trip to Ecuador, and three out of state weddings that we were in - all without taking extra loans. I'm sure you ladies are on the edge of your seats....

Hope your 2010 is off to a great start! Some things on my mind lately have been our third/fourth year locations and boards prep fun (aka seeing my husband even less than before) and will share with you soon!

Rent $975
Internet $40
Electricity $80 max
Cell Phones $90

Car Payments $341
Insurance $125
Gas $125

A SL #1 $115
J SL #2 $100
J SL #3 $150

Groceries $400
J $50
A $50
Joint $100
Misc $150
Dr/Prescription $50

All savings, books, supplies, scheduled car maintenance, and major purchases are done at the beginning of the semesters (unless an emergency).

We definitely aren't perfect and could really scale down on some of these line items but I've realized we are a much happier couple if we make a few allowances.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Applying = Good Practice

When A began the process of getting into medical school (I'll begin with studying for the MCATs since I wasn't around in high school) it gave a glimpse into our future. He had tons of late nights studying, essay upon essay to write, long months apart, and less and less money due to applications and interviews. Pretty much how we live now or will in the near future :)

I met up with a good friend yesterday and she asked me, "How do you handle it? How can you spend so little time with your husband and still make it through?". My answer? I was lucky enough to know my future husband was going to be a doctor and when we began to talk about potentially becoming engaged I had time to decide if I could handle medical school and residency. And I also had lots of practice before medical school.

How the application process prepared me to be a medical spouse:

1. 2 month away rotations during third year do not seem as daunting when you have already spent six months apart when your significant other goes to the middle-of-nowhere-West-Africa to gain good experience for his personal statement by joining the Peace Corps (whoa long run-on sentence). Yes - this included spotty cell phone service (we talked about once a month, if that) and internet access only when he was at the hospital for health problems (it was especially crappy to be excited when he was sick...).

2. Going to school during the day is always followed by studying deep into the night. Dinners and fifteen minute breaks are lifesavers. As well as date nights. Libraries are the enemy.

3. Medical school is really, really expensive. Not only are there primary and secondary applications at $100+ a pop, there are plane trips, hotels, prep classes, and interview gear. This continues into medical school with random books, miscellaneous lab fees, USMLE prep, and residency interviews. Savings and budgets are your friend. State schools are highly recommended for the future of your student loan payments.

4. Proofreading skills and the ability to handle conversations about every, single part of the human body are a must. I can't even tell you how many essays I've proofread or slides of body parts I've looked at.

5. Traveling and moving to new places is pretty much mandatory. We moved from my home state to A's when we began our adventure and so far have traveled quite a bit for interviews and buffing up his residency application. Hopefully more to come in the future! (And this coming from the girl who used to have panic attacks and needed Valium to fly!)

6. Keep busy. The busier you are the less you focus on not having your husband around. Work out, clean house, cook, hang out with friends, work a second job - anything to keep from nagging your spouse for time he or she doesn't have. I almost prefer this because then I never take our time together for granted!

These are some key points I'll touch on in other posts. Hopefully I'll figure out how to upload a picture or two as well to keep things a bit more interesting. If you have any questions about the pre-med school process please feel free to ask in the comments. I don't know everything but I do know a lot about it!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How did I get here?

When I met my husband, A, my sophomore year of college I had no idea I would go on so many adventures, be introduced to so many things, or end up a doctor's wife. Heck, I thought I was going to be the doctor! (Although not a doctor of medicine, this still may be realized at some point!) I was from a small town and had hardly left my state, let alone left our country. A came into my life and not only introduced me to pad thai and sushi, he swept me off my feet and proposed to me on our five year anniversary in Whistler, Canada. Two days after I said "yes" he received his acceptance letter to medical school.

So there I was, newly engaged and about to make the biggest commitment of my life to a man that needed to make an even bigger commitment - to medicine. Some people may think I lucked out - I mean, who wouldn't want to live the life of a glamorous doctor's wife?? Now I know I lucked out to be with someone so passionate about helping people, learning about the human body, and being intelligent enough to put those things together; but the lifestyle of a doctor is hardly glamorous. I started researching everywhere to figure out how to keep a marriage together in order to survive medical school, residency, fellowships, and beyond...but there was hardly anything available! I wanted to know about student loans, budgets, time management, relationship advice, preceptorships, etc. and it appeared there wasn't anyone discussing these things.

I am the type of person that likes to know what I am getting into. In this blog I hope to be honest and straight forward about our life in the medical world. Hopefully you will be able to find some answers to your questions while enjoying a peek into my life. While my life is not entirely about medicine, our family's commitment through the next 7 plus years will be to help my husband become the best doctor he can be - all while realizing and completing our goals of having a healthy marriage, a sound financial future, a fun social life, and maybe even a kid or two thrown in for good measure! Enjoy!