the decision to become a doctor


The initial decision to go to medical school and/or to support a spouse going to medical school is a huge decision. My husband and I deliberated for hours and days and weeks on whether it was a journey we wanted to embark on together.

We asked multiple physicians during my husband's undergraduate studies whether they would "do it again." Every single one of them said no, except for one who assured us that every one else that had said no had lied. The others assured us that there were plenty of other more satisfying, more lucrative, much shorter, and much easier paths to take. Another physician explained to us that whenever two doctors meet, there is an immediate connection because of the understanding of what (traumatic training) both have been through.

The most common warning that I received was that "doctors' wives are never happy."

Still, we both felt it was the path we wanted to take. Our personalities like a challenge, I guess.

However, I never really questioned whether it was the 'right' thing or the 'best' thing for us. It seemed automatic and completely worth it - all along. That was probably helpful for me. If I had questioned it, it may have been much harder to endure the difficult times.


Many people ask us about our decision to go to medical school, and whether we think it is the right decision for them.

My husband always asks whether the medical student hopeful LOVES to study.

Medical schools seem to accept people who are passionate. It requires a lot of hard work and dedication to survive the rigors of medical school and residency.

I always ask whether the spouse is willing to support the student/resident without actually getting to spend a lot of time with them, and live with very limited resources for many years. For some people these are real concerns, but for others these are small sacrifices.

I think one key to surviving this process is the ability of a person to be happy in their current circumstances, whatever they may be.


Since being accepted into medical school, my husband and I have been inundated with questions regarding how to survive the pre-med, medical school, and medical residency years. My husband and I were married while he was studying for his undergraduate degree. At the time, he was teetering between studying medicine and business. Thus, I was involved with his initial decision to become a doctor and every other detail involved in the long process, up until now. Hopefully this blog will provide some answers to those looking.


Jamie Lamb said...

We get the "would you do it again" question a lot, too. I can see why people ask it, but I don't feel like it's a productive train of thought for families already living the med school/residency/doctor life.

Life is what it is. My husband is gone a lot, but I like the person I have learned to be because of it. Families have been dealing with hardship since Adam. Wives of doctors often compare lives with their friends...but that doesn't produce happiness.

I'm happy when I step it up, and recreate my role. I can accept that I'm required to do more parenting than some moms, it's okay.

I have low days and high days...but the high days are always my decision. Since I came to that firm realization (about a year into residency), the high days greatly outweigh the low days.

You come to a point where you have to decide who you want to be. Do I want to be a frustrated, upset, overwhelmed, helpless woman?...umm, no. I want to be content, balanced, happy, and in control. It's just a decision, and it's not controlled by your husbands's job. Ladies, make the decision and never go back! Face your fears (of finances, cooking, discipline, whatever) and focus on your progress. It feels great.

And on days when nothing feels great, I pray until I'm at peace again. (after kids go to bed, of course!..we're not talking 30 second prayers here!) And my journal has been absolutely vital.

Young couples making this decision just need to realize that life is hard--for everyone! Live righteously, don't complain, and never give up. That's how to be happy during residency.

AlexaAndMatt said...

Hi! I stumbled upon your blog and I really enjoy the insight you provide to everything! I have a little bit different situation which I wanted to ask your advice about-

My boyfriend and I have been together for three years and we know that marriage is in the future. He is getting ready to start his first year of medical school this August (2011) and I am applying for medical school this summer.

We are both worried about our residencies. I will be a year behind him in school, so it seems as though we will be apart for at least one year. How do you think this will impact our relationship?

Also, when he applies to residency, will they take into consideration that we are married? As in placing us in the same city/hospital for our residencies.

This has been a topic of much distress for us both and I would really appreciate any advice or info about this!