Entering medical school is no joke. It is time consuming. It eats up time for family, time for friends, time for a special someone and time for yourself. It is isolating and quite frequently depressing.
I don’t know these things personally – I am not a medical student. But my boyfriend is. I am a witness of his everyday dread and breakdowns. But I know that’s not all there is to med school. There’s more than I’ll ever know – more than all us non-med folks will ever know.
Being in a relationship with a med student is really complicated and it is not easy. It may never be. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible. You just have to be tough. You both have to.
As the non-med folk in the relationship, you have to be mindful of a few key things:
1. Never make them feel guilty.
Most of their time is for studying alone in order to stay alive in their survival of the fittest kind of world (AKA: Medical School). So, never make them feel guilty for having to do so. Never ever.
2. You should be the one to encourage them.
They need to know/feel you’re with them on this. Be their cheerleader. You know they’re doing this for a reason more than anyone else. They didn’t sign up for this because they wanted the stress. Remember that they are on their way in reaching their dreams and believe me, they would love to share it with someone special. And that someone is you.
3. Do not expect them to know everything.
They aren’t professional doctors yet. I doubt professional doctors know everything as well. But don’t get me wrong, they would love to hear medical questions and discuss it with you piece by piece, process by process. And, you MUST listen. They might be offended if you don’t.
Worst comes to worst in the relationship, there will be times (often) that you will feel taken for granted. As early as now, I am telling you to drop it. Why? Just imagine how toxic their life is right now, with tons of reports, exam weeks and rotations all at the same time. Take in to consideration that cramming doesn’t work really well in medical school. It takes a lot of time on an ongoing basis to keep up with their materials, their tranxes and past-evaluations. You must be thankful enough for the limited time that they can offer.
4. Don’t make them your world.
You should also pursue your OWN career while being supportive. You cannot expect them as well to be there all the time to do stuff with you. You HAVE to have your own friends, hobbies and interests. You have to save your own sanity. Learn to suffice yourself.
5. Do not compare your relationship with someone else’s.
Doing so would cause too much despair on your part. Remember that your relationship is unique. Yes, it may seem like too much work on your end, but you should also recollect the efforts and sacrifices that your medical student partner is doing to keep the relationship on the ground.
Honestly, I once doubted our relationship. It was exhausting and everything suddenly felt like it was about to shatter. But then all that we’ve been through flashed back before me. It was composed of years being together; years full of drama, of happiness, and of new discoveries that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
At the end of the day, it will always be him and I just cannot see myself with someone else. He has always been my rock and his hard work and determination inspires me to be the very best person that I can be. Through it all, to what may come next, I want to be there on his most successful day and I want him to be on mine. We’ll keep each other as long as we can. And I hope the same for you and your med student.