By: Courtney Muse
I am the type of person that needs to have something to do or I get bored and then needy and needy just doesn't work well in med school lol. When my husband started the MSBS program, we both knew it was going to be best for me to work, we didn't have any kids so it would be a good way for me to spend my time.
I teach 8th grade U.S. History and work full time. With it being full time, it keeps me really busy. There is always lesson planning or grading to be done so because I know my husband is busy at home, I don’t feel rushed to be home. I am very lucky that I absolutely love my job and it doesn’t feel like work which has made a huge difference. During our undergrad, I had a job that was really stressful and I would come home in a bad mood and needing my husband to help me decompress or I would take out my frustration on him. While I still have those days, I just make sure I have other people to vent to. My coworkers or family members were always good to talk to and get advice from and then when I could talk to Brandon, I wasn’t relying fully on him to put me in a better mood or taking it out on him. If you are able to find a job that you love, it makes balancing medical school easier.
Our typical day started around 5:30 am. We usually get up together and get ready together, which was always a good way for us to get to spend some time together. I would go to work from 7 am until about 4 pm, run any errands, and then hit the gym on the way home. Once I was home around 7 pm, I would make dinner and just hang out and decompress from the day and then it was usually time to start getting ready for bed. Most nights, as long as there wasn't a test coming up, my husband and I would get ready for bed together too. This would allow us more quality time and then we could chat and have pillow talk. Some nights we would go on a walk together or go get a treat, we would usually eat together and would text or call each other for a few minutes throughout the day and it kept us connected.
Sometimes I felt like we were living separate lives and more like roommates than a married couple, because of how busy we both were. While work was important for me and studying was important to him, we had to make sure to have some sort of routine to keep us connected, but also I had to not be afraid to do things alone or learn not to wait for him to be available.
Another part of the work-life balance is chores around the house. We are both really busy and while med school takes more time, that doesn’t mean that my job is any less important and all the household chores should fall on my shoulders. We’ve communicated that with each other and have tried to split things up. Some people we know create a schedule and do one big chore everyday.
Another great way to keep the work-life balance is by planning ahead and working towards a common goal. We would always take time to look at the COM schedule and find the “Golden Weekends” where there is a test on a Friday and the students get a weekend off. We would plan some sort of staycation, dinner, party with friends, or even plan to do nothing as long as we were together. Having a weekend on the schedule where you both know that you will get to be together and decompress is a great way to stay motivated and have something to look forward to.
Of course, our routine isn’t going to be the same as everyone else’s but I feel like it is most important for you to make sure you have a life outside of your significant other and can be independent. Working, hanging out with my friends, going to the gym, or shopping were all things I did for me which has made our med school journey successful so far. If I was completely reliant on my husband to entertain me, things wouldn't look the same. They are really busy and need time to do school but that doesn't mean you don't take time to be together either. I have friends who didn't work and stayed home with their kids and they just made sure to have a routine as well. They either always ate dinner together or would have an hour a day where they could just hang out.
Talk to your significant other and make a plan that is going to work for both of you. I remember all of this being really daunting when we came to orientation especially because I hadn’t had to be super independent before, but it honestly hasn’t been as hard as I thought it was going to be. Make sure you take advantage of the MSP activities, bunco, bachelor/bachelorette night, etc. and be independent but don’t think that you are doing this all alone and you aren’t going to have a relationship with your significant other in med school. It’s possible, you just have to communicate, balance out work and time together, and find your people.