Relationships / Marriage

5 Creative Ways To Bond When Married or Dating a Doctor in Residency

As revealed in “7 Things That’ll Shock You When Married to a Resident”, life with a medical resident can change drastically from month to month.

Some months, you live a normal-ish life with a normal-ish schedule. Other months, it may feel like you never see your partner at all!

If you let it, a medical residency can take a very negative toll on your relationship. I’m here to encourage you not to let it.

After 2 years of being married to a medical resident, I’ve discovered some creative ways to spend time and make memories together, despite the time-consuming nature of medical residency.

(Keep in mind that these are scenarios that work for us. We don’t currently have children and I acknowledge that having them can make it difficult to take advantage of some of these ideas. Hopefully, the ideas below will inspire you to come up with creative solutions that work for your relationship/family.)

Married or Dating A Doctor in Residency??

5 Unique Ways To Spend Time Together

1. Attend Residency Program Activities & Events as a Unit

Most residency programs (if not all) host activities to promote a sense of community among staff and encourage a positive work life balance. Activities may include: games, outings, holiday parties, dinners, workshops, etc.

Some of these events will be exclusive to the medical residents, but, some are bound to be open for family/partner attendance. Instead of shrugging these events off as “work events” for your partner to attend, I highly encourage you to attend them together.

In addition to activities that are coordinated by the program, look out for other residency related events like when the job recruiters start inviting them to dinners or when individual residents host personal celebrations or parties.

Personally, I really enjoy attending these events. Not only does it give us a chance to spend time together, it helps me to become more familiar with my husband’s work environment and the people he is spending lots of time with!

It is also an excellent way to make residency memories.
I know this because we’ve racked up some great stories in the process- “Remember the time we went to that awkward dinner and the guest next to you said ….”

2. Sync Your Schedules

If you are married or dating a medical resident, you probably have a love-hate (maybe hate-hate?) relationship with the crazy schedule.

If you are really struggling to get enough quality time together, might you consider changing up your schedule? It might not feel like much, but when your partner is gone so often that they’re starting to seem like a figment of your imagination, an additional 30 minutes of awake time together might make a HUGE difference.

You can:
A- Get up early to be a part of their morning routine
Go to sleep early so that you can wake up at 4am (or whatever their early departure time is). Then, do your morning routine together, no matter how brief it is. If you’re dating, you can get up early to talk on the phone during their commute to work.

B. Organize your errands and activities to be home when they are home.
For example, consider scheduling most of your errands or appointments for the weekends that they are on call. This way, you can have more time together on the weekends that they are off.

3. Turn Mandatory CMEs or Trainings Into Fun Trips

Medical residents must complete CMEs (continuing medical education) in order to maintain their medical license. In addition to that, they will take various tests and certifications over the course of their training.

If your partner’s residency program provides time for them to complete CMEs and trainings, have you considered turning it into a fun trip?

CME credits can be completed locally or at conferences, but did you know that they can also be completed all over the country? (If you’re like me, you’re already thinking Hawaii or a cruise).

All of those are options.

Plan your own trip OR Check out these 3 websites for CME trip ideas:
University at Sea
Travel Medical Seminars

The obvious obstacle here is that a nice trip will require you to throw down some $$$. So, if you have the resources, find a nice vacation spot where your partner can train during the day and then lounge with you in the evening!
If you don’t have “big trip money” right now, consider something local. Drive into the nearest big city for weekend trainings or workshops instead!

4. Join Them At The Hospital

My husband always has to remind me that for some of his rotations, it is perfectly okay for me to come by the hospital/clinic and spend a few minutes with him.

Sometimes, I get intimidated with the thought that I’ll be distracting him from saving a life or something.

But, he has assured me that he isn’t always running a code, performing CPR or doing critical tasks like that. He has occasional downtime during when I can swing by for a quick chat or meal.

Sometimes, all it takes is a few minutes to reconnect.

5. Study Together

First, if you happen to be a student (or work online) while your partner is in residency, why not sync up your work times so that you can both study or work together.
It is a great way to be productive and also support each other (which is extremely important for a thriving relationship).

Second, if your partner is studying for something (aka all the time), you can spend quality time helping them study. Quiz them using flashcards or make up mnemonics together.

My husband and I do this often and we find it beneficial in so many ways. It’s a huge source of help and support to him, and it helps me feel involved in the success of this humongous life investment called medical residency.

What I’ve found with this medical residency family life is that you have to get creative. If you’re not creative or you don’t take the initiative to invest in your relationship, it can frustrate you to pieces.
I hope I’ve given you some ideas and tools to help your relationship thrive, even in this challenging stage of life.

Make sure to check out 7 Things That’ll Surprise You When Married To A Resident! It will definitely hit home!

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