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On Being in a Long-Distance Relationship

Tamara S. O., M1

Relationships can be complicated to begin with, and they are made all the more difficult to navigate when your SO is hundreds if not thousands of miles away and you are trying to adjust to life as a medical student. However, you shouldn’t let the cynics stop you from giving your relationship a chance. My current boyfriend and I had to do long-distance in college on multiple occasions and after living together for the past year, we are trying long-distance yet again. From our previous experiences of love from across the ocean, I have learned that it is extremely important to figure out what you want and need from the relationship. Together, you can discuss your expectations and concerns and brainstorm ways to maintain a healthy relationship while apart. Maybe that means you agree to talk on the phone every night before bed, or to continue going on dates (e.g. candle-light dinners over Skype), or you plan to see each other on the weekends after block exams. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, there are many ways to keep the fire burning. Just be sure to keep communicating with each other on what is working for each of you and what is not, and then talk about ways you can both improve.

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On Being Married

Matt H., M1

My wife is probably the best person I know, and that’s part of the reason being married in medical school is so great. She is so supportive, helping out around the house, cooking for us, making me study, and taking me outside over lunch breaks to play Frisbee in the park. Two pieces of advice: (1) Find ways to integrate your spouse into the class, possibly through social events or student groups. Knowing my friends has brought my wife into one of the most rewarding and time-intensive parts of my life. My class has been utterly inclusive, and some people know me as “her husband.” (2) Be flexible with your time. As often as you can, be willing to spontaneously stop studying to read a book out loud to each other until you go to bed. Things like this keep me sane and show my wife she’s more important to me than schoolwork. In general we’ve had so much more free time together than we expected. Being married in medical school has been a huge blessing that I would highly recommend!

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On Dating Someone Outside of Medical School

Alex S., M1

When I first got to WashU, a wise man told me that “dating a non-medical student is a lot like dating a person; it’s just that they’re not in medical school.” You know what, fair point! As for challenges you might face, just be conscious that when you get to medical school, you are immediately going to have a support network and a hundred new friends, but your partner won’t. Take the time to introduce your partner to your classmates, especially those who are also in relationships. It turns out couple-friends are great, and there is no better resource for your med-school-adjacent partner than someone in their exact position! Your SO’s schedule won’t always line up with your own, and they may be free while you have to learn all of Histology in one night (4/10, would not recommend), but trust me, they will understand. More importantly, they’ll be there for you when you’re done! Dating outside of school has kept me grounded and sane, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Just make sure that when you’re together, you remember how to talk about things that aren’t medical school. And shower well; formaldehyde sticks with you.

On Having a Family

On Having a Family

Matt M., M1

The best advice about being married with kids in medical school applies to most relationships — make sure to spend time with your spouse and kids every day, dedicating at least one night a week solely to family fun. Since my wife and kids are temporarily living long distance, we do this by using Facetime at dinner and story time, and having board game night over the internet. Additionally, it is important to spend time talking to your spouse, so that you both know the joys and stresses in each other’s lives. You should focus on strengthening your relationships even when it feels like you have no time or energy to do so. You can do this by planning out a support system before starting school, so that you know how to prioritize your spouse and kids even when things get busy. Lastly, remember that this is only a relatively small part of your journey as a family. Overall, medical school can be a fun and rewarding experience for you, your spouse, and your children. It was fun to put two small white coats on my kids for their own White Coat Ceremony!

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On Matriculating with your SO

Meg L. & Sirui M., M1s

Sirui & Meg Senior Prom Picture
Sirui M. and Meg L., M1s, at their senior prom – long before they would learn the struggles of differentiating holosystolic heart murmurs.

So you’re thinking of coming to WUSM with your significant other? For the few of you that this may apply to — congratulations on surviving two application cycles concurrently! It’s been an incredible experience in medical school so far — it’s all the benefits of dating someone in your class without any of the potential drama. You’ll always have a second set of eyes around to ask about a Histology lecture or practice buddy for physical exam skills. You’ll share the same cycle of free time and study time. And, most uniquely, you’ll be with a partner who’s been in your life for a long time already, providing a pillar of stability during the tumultuous time that is medical education. Coming to medical school together means making a simultaneous commitment to both your careers and your relationship — you’re going to want to be at a place with mentors and advisors that will respect both those things and nurture you along this path together. It’s hard for us to think of a better place than WUSM for that.