By: Lindsey Yanke, MD
Before my husband and I started dating, he had decided he would never date a medical student. “Too similar,” he said. However, looking back over our time together in medical school, our two years apart while I finished medical school and he went off to residency, and our time in residency, we are both relieved we had someone who understood so much about what the other was going through.
The first year of long distance was the easiest. With me in my third year of medical school and he in his intern year of residency, we were both inexplicably busy – and yet we knew the other would always understand if our schedule changed or we were too overwhelmed to talk that day…or that week.
The second year of long distance was filled with impatience and significant Match Day stress that started even before interviews started coming in. Yes, I was in the bliss of fourth year, but all that free time apart meant a lot of stressing about how to get our lives to align through the unpredictable lottery of the match.
My intern year we were gratefully reunited in Salt Lake City, UT. The transition of going from being a medical student with no responsibility to an intern and feeling all of the responsibility for bad outcomes was a rough one for me. My husband seemed to handle this transition with much more grace than I, and so it was a shock to me to struggle as I did, however, he was on the other side of that stress. By the time I was going through it – he was a third-year resident, and he assured me, sometimes daily, that it was not the end point in any decisions. He was feeling the same stress of responsibility, but with a lot more experience under his belt.
When it comes to our medical practice ideals, my husband and I could not be more different. He loves the inpatient life – rounding, discussing, pondering. I get life from outpatient practice – the unexpected, all ages of life, pregnancy. Equally, we both despise the other realm. Outpatient clinic was the bane of his existence during residency, while I suffer through inpatient rotations. However, having someone at home who has such an extensive appreciation for the exact thing you are slopping through has its benefits. We pushed each other to appreciate the pearls we adored about what the other was going through. The things I complained about made him smile and gleefully explain how wonderful my experiences sounded. We helped each other soften the blow of a hard day at work by appreciating at least a bit of our days.
Being different genders in medicine has opened both of our eyes to the progress made in our field, but also to the work that still needs to be done. My husband has been instrumental in stopping me from generalizing based on isolated horrible experiences, and I have helped him see that isolated encounters do tend to have a wider base of origin. We have both seen our female colleagues advocate for themselves, ensuring their pay is equal, and we have seen their pay truly be equal. He is supportive and realistic while I am observant and passionate, and together we help each other seek change and change ourselves while avoiding burnout from frustration.
Seeing and being there for each other’s struggles, triumphs, and varied experiences has made us not only better doctors, but also more insightful to the different realities of our colleagues, nurses, medical assistants, and medical students. We both appreciate the challenge of being made to see the positives in our least favorite aspects of medicine, and we both rely on the understanding that comes from the other when medicine stretches us thin.
And though it sounds like all we do is compare our medical lives at home, in truth we mostly spend our time together woodworking, hiking, gardening, and being dog parents.
Lindsey Yanke, MD, is a second-year resident in the Family Medicine Residency program in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of Utah. Her medical areas of interest include women’s health, reproductive health, geriatrics, quality improvement, and medical advocacy.