From the outside, the medical student life is, unfortunately, not the most glamorous. My mornings are filled with three or four hours of lecture, a quick lunch while doing some Board Review questions, and afternoons and evenings of more classes, mastering that morning’s presentations, and reviewing old material to prepare for Step 1 coming up in June (hopefully and preferably with a quick running study break!). When I talk to my dad or sister on the phone and they ask me what I’m up to, the answer is usually the same: I’m walking home or taking a break from studying.
In general, maintaining a healthy, balanced, and fun relationship is tough, but with its demanding requirements, med school poses some unique challenges to any couple:
- We only talk about med school. I dare any group of second year med students who are put in a room for five minutes to not talk about something related to classes, the last exam, or the impending Boards; the work and stresses of school are consuming, and our excitement about what we’re learning about in class and anxiety of exams can’t help but seep out!
- Our schedules are unpredictable. While our schedule of lectures for each day is totally dependent upon that of the busy clinicians which may allow for meeting at 7AM Monday morning or 4PM on a Friday afternoon as a second year, I’m lucky that I have a ton of flexibility with how I structure my day. While I’m usually a class goer, I may choose not to go to class that day depending on if I’m behind on studying (not an uncommon occurrence) or have a doctor’s appointment, so my schedule on any given day or week is totally different from the last. As third and fourth year medical students, we will be working many hours each week including shifts of overnight and weekend call and may even be rotating in another city for weeks at a time.
- Most of our time is spent in the library. I don’t even question or think twice about it anymore: nearly every evening and weekend day is spent crushing more studying. It’s easy to forget that “normal people” out in the real world don’t think like this! And unless you plan on dating your anatomy textbook…or your anatomy partner, it’s hard to even physically meet other people.
- We’re forced to think long term. After four short years of medical school, my classmates and I will be scattered all around the country to continue our training as residents for three to seven years with the added possibility of moving somewhere to continue a fellowship. Many of us will be in our 30’s or even older at this point, and if getting married and having children is on our radar, it’s definitely something that needs to be carefully planned around these moves and life changes.
Still, there is hope, and it can be done! Many of my classmates are in serious relationships (some with other med students in ours or different classes), a handful are engaged, and even fewer are married. Read more about my own experience of dating while in med school in my next blog!