Medical school, basically, is hard. Everyone who is currently a medical student or has been one knows this. Now imagine trying to have a romantic RELATIONSHIP with someone who is going through this process. Let me put having a relationship with a medical student into perspective:

Before being accepted into a medical school, it’s a time of applications, interviewing, travel expenses, application fees. nervousness, excitement, and  decisions.

And then once the student is accepted, the real fun begins.

Medical school classes blast information at the student like a fire hose. He or she has to study from sun-up to sun-down for test after test (that are sometimes held WEEKLY. For real?) And on top of regular class exams, board exams are thrown in there as well. These are huge, national tests that are part of physician licensing that have a large impact on the kind of doctor the student can be. They want to be a surgeon or a dermatologist but score poorly on the board exams? Forget about it.

And then after the class and test portion of medical school come the rotations – with long hours, stress over learning new skills, the desire to impress, and demanding and sometimes condescending attending physicians. It is exciting and stressful to be practicing and learning how to be a doctor with real patients.  And at the end of these 4 years, there is ANOTHER application and interview process (with even more money spent!) in order to be accepted into a residency program to further their medical training.

Sounds a tad bit crazy, right?

I’ve had my own experience with having a relationship with a medical student. My husband and I had been married for 2 years when he started medical school. It was definitely a hard adjustment for us. We were used to being married in college. Yes we were both taking classes and I was working a job and yes, we were busy. Well we THOUGHT we were busy. It was honestly a cakewalk compared to medical school.

That first year of medical school was especially hard on me as the spouse of a medical student. I was struggling with loneliness, loss of a sense of purpose, stresses at my first job as a nurse, and feeling like my needs weren’t being met, all while trying to support a stressed-out husband who thought he was going to fail medical school. That first year  I remember looking EVERYWHERE for resources to help me. I looked everywhere online for books or blogs that talked about being in a relationship with a medical student, and I was coming up empty handed. I found a few resources but it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t what I needed.

Well, I have news for you. I have finally found that resource that I was looking for almost 7 years ago. If this INCREDIBLE resource had existed during my husband’s first year of medical school, things would have been night and day different for us and our road would have been that much easier. I wouldn’t have had to figure out everything on my own.

“Love in the time of medical school: Build a happy, healthy relationship with a medical student” is a book written by Sarah Epstein, who is a marriage and family therapy intern, international speaker, and a fellow doctor’s wife. Her husband is currently an emergency medicine resident.

In this engaging and detailed book, Sarah includes every single stage of medical school and how to deal with each stage in your relationship in a healthy way. She even includes questions to ask yourself and each other and tips for overcoming obstacles. She addresses a myriad of topics, such as long-distance relationships in medical school, possible resentment of the medical student spouse or significant other, how to split housework, how to deal with all of the “medical talk” that happens in groups of friends, and how to keep your relationship healthy when time spent together is limited. And MORE.

She basically covers EVERYTHING you could possibly think of that would come up in a relationship with a medical student. And things you honestly wouldn’t think of (that surprise you when they DO come up!)  And all of her advice and guidance is based on a combination of her own personal experience and research. She doesn’t just use her own experience as reasons for why you should do something a certain way – she has included references to evidence-based research to also support her methods and claims.

Sarah first came up with the idea of “Love in the time of medical school” in 2014, when her fiance Brian was a third year medical student and she was between jobs. She said it was a challenging time for her and she started to write down a list of obstacles and challenges that all medical student couples face. She included a list of conversations that had been difficult for her and her fiance, unexpected obstacles of medical school, and feelings that were hard for her to articulate. She started interviewing other medical student spouses and looking for relevant research about medical school relationships.

“What began as a five-page e-book grew in scale into a full-fledged book,” Sarah says. “I wrote this book because I wish somebody had walked me through the mechanics and structure of medical school while detailing what stressors were likely to emerge and when. I remember wanting somebody to tell me that they understood the guilt I felt for wanting Brian’s attention when he needed to study for an exam. I needed help processing the anger I felt toward medical school, the loneliness of waiting at home for my boyfriend, and the confusing grief I felt about the aspects of normal life I gave up to marry a future doctor.”

Sarah also writes at DatingMed.com, a website with content and resources for medical school and physician couples.

When Sarah isn’t writing or attending graduate school, she enjoys painting, reading, and traveling. (Fun fact – Sarah has read a book a week since 2012!! *mind blown*)

In a nutshell: I have read “Love in the time of medical school: Build a happy, healthy relationship with a medical student” cover to cover and I am IN LOVE WITH IT. I finished it and I absolutely could not WAIT to share it with my fellow doctor’s wives!  We are almost 3 years out of medical school and I still found things that were incredibly helpful to me personally and that I am already starting to implement in my marriage.

If you are in a relationship with a medical student,I highly suggest you add “Love in the time of medical school” to your collection. You are going to need a lot of tools in your “relationship toolbox” in order to navigate medical school with your partner, and this book is one you absolutely want in there. I cannot stress it enough!

You can purchase the book on Amazon in paperback form or Kindle form here: Love in the time of medical school: Build a happy, healthy relationship with a medical student. I’m excited for you to have that relationship you’ve always wanted during the medical school years. It’s possible, and this book will help to pave the way. 

Special thanks to Sarah Epstein for partnering with The Mrs. behind the M.D. I received compensation in exchange for my review, however, all opinions are my own.

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