Residency Location and Significant Other

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    Hi! First time posting on here. I’m in need of some advice from some ladies who’ve been in my shoes about choosing a residency program. A little background- I’m an MS4, non-traditional med student, a few years older than most of my classmates. I’m getting married in April to an amazing non-medical man who has been with me through post-bac and medical school, both in our hometown, where both of our families live. He has had a great, well-paying job that he loves.

    I have done really well in medical school, first in my class third year, and could probably get into a really top notch program for the specialty I am planning on going into. The problem is, he is really happy where he is and is not too keen on moving. We are also thinking of starting a family in residency since we are a few years older, and we have both of our families in town. I am afraid if I stay at my home program (which is a pretty middle of the road program) instead of going somewhere amazing, I am going to regret it forever. I’m afraid if I move him away from his job and support system, he is going to resent me forever. For some of you who have been through this, what are your thoughts? I haven’t started interviews yet, but I’m already agonizing over this decision.


    I haven’t been through this, but it sounds like it would be difficult to decide. I can’t tell you what to decide — it all depends on what is most important to you — but I have some thoughts.

    First is that it is not just his support system in your hometown. It is your support system, too. If you two want to have a baby during residency, you will really need all the support you can get.

    Another thing is: what exactly would happen if you went to the home program? Would you end up being unprepared to practice in your specialty? Or would it just not have as much prestige when looking for a job later? And if you are hoping to work in your hometown after residency, it may be easier to get a job if you stay at your home program because of the connections you will make there. Is your home program family friendly? Are the amazing programs family friendly?

    As for your fiance not wanting to leave his job to further your career, well, that is a dynamic that plays out again and again on MomMD. That is all part of marrying a professional man, which is what professional women tend to do. I think it is a delicate balancing act because both your careers are important. Just watch out because sometimes this dynamic gets worse when children come along. I’m not saying that he will do this, but often the husband will refuse to take on extra domestic chores because he doesn’t want to do anything that would jeopardize his job. Then it falls on the wife to do those extra things, which jeopardizes her job. For example, if the baby got sick in the middle of the day — who would leave work to take care of the baby? Does your fiance feel that you should be the default parent because you are female? Will you be working 80-hour weeks in residency and still be expected to do all the cleaning and the cooking, too? Not that there is anything wrong with you being the primary parent and doing the bulk of the domestic work, if that’s what you want (and if you have a lot of energy). But a lot of women have gotten burned out doing that and then they want to quit the profession that once meant so much to them. So this is another reason why having other helpful family members nearby can really make a difference. They can sometimes pick up the slack so that neither of you has to jeopardize your job. Hiring someone to do those things can also be an option, if you can afford it.

    It is great that you did well in school, and that means that you have choices. You can and should apply to lots of programs and check them out during the interview process. Then use that information to help you make your choice. Maybe you will decide that the pros of the home program outweigh the cons. Or maybe you will decide that going to the best possible program is more important than anything else. Or maybe the match process will make the decision for you — not everybody gets their first choice. And in the most extreme scenario: if you end up in a residency program that is not family friendly, and you don’t have any family support, and your husband is not willing to do a lot of the domestic chores, then it might be best not to have a baby during that residency.

    I don’t mean to be negative, I’m just mentioning patterns that I have seen here on MomMD over the years. You are lucky: you are doing well in school and you also have a good relationship. Hopefully the two of you will be able to work together to figure out what is best. Good luck with whatever you decide!

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