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On Being in a Long-Distance Relationship

Laura B., M1

Laura and her boyfriend, Timor, after the White Coat ceremony.

Long distance is tricky for any relationship. The key advice that I believe works for me and my partner is to keep up the communication any way you can. For instance, I make it a point to call him whenever I go grocery shopping or when I am walking to school. We even find it nice to keep each other on video chat while studying in the evenings. Although we don’t have very engaging conversations, it is nice to see each other over video while still being productive with schoolwork. It is also crucial, though, to have times where we can give each other our full attention. We plan weekly video calls where we promise not to do any work or will sync up Netflix and ‘watch together’, even though we were states apart. One thing that particularly helps me is planning trips well in advance to visit one another. The pre-planned trips serve as a nice timestamp to look forward to and seeing each other as often as we can makes the long distance feel less daunting.

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On Being Married

Kevin N., M1

Kevin and his wife, Alexa.

Medical school brings about many changes. In my short time in medical school, I have appreciated having the consistency of my relationship with my wife. Many married couples have hobbies that they developed together early. My wife and I like to run and bike. We also enjoy cooking and eating together. We have managed to continue these activities pretty consistently throughout the first semester of medical school, though we have definitely had to simplify cooking some due to time constraints. Thankfully, my wife has been through Physician Assistant school and understands the pressures of classes and clinical rotations. There are several students in our class who are married or partnered, and I’ve enjoyed getting to see the spouses and partners meet each other at extracurricular and informal events.  Having a supportive spouse in medical school can be a big advantage and certainly can add a lot of enjoyment to the process.

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On Being Partnered

Caroline S., M1

Caroline (right) and her partner, Naomi, pose with their apple picking haul at Eckert’s, just across the Mississippi River in Illinois.

My partner, Naomi, and I met in 2015, and since then we’ve moved twice together – including to St. Louis! We share a 2-bedroom apartment in DeBaliviere, and we designated one of the bedrooms as an office. I try not to work too much at home, but when I have to, I’m able to keep my “work vibes” in there and be fully present otherwise. It’s so refreshing to come home and not feel pressured to talk about school – in fact, she helps me remember that there’s a world outside of WashU. She encourages me to not worry too much about school, and it’s great to have someone to explore the area (read: try new restaurants!) with. She’s often able to help with things like grocery shopping or cleaning if I’m having a particularly crazy week, and vice versa, since we’re on different schedules. While we’re not married, she’s been allowed to come to all of the “+1” events like the Dean’s Welcome Party, and even club activities — basically, we’ve received nothing but support from everyone we’ve met so far!

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On Being Single

Angela C., M1

Maybe you’ve always been single. Maybe you survived an airport breakup on the way to orientation. Maybe your long-distance relationship was great … until it wasn’t anymore. Whatever the reason, you’re in good company. Trying to meet someone? Hinge, Tinder, and Bumble are populated with business, law, and PhD students at WashU and nearby Saint Louis University, with local engineers, accountants, and entrepreneurs, and with the full range of health care professionals employed and/or training at the hospital.  

There’s also something to be said for embracing the single life at this particular point. Our lives are busy with meaningful work (lots of it!), many extracurriculars, and close relationships with classmates. And whether you want to go abroad, tryout for the musical, start a study group, go out on weekends, or stay up half the night with new friends, being unpartnered can leave space and time to say “yes” to living your best life in other ways.

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On Being the Non-Med Student Partner of a Med Student

Naomi H., partner to Caroline S., M1

Naomi (left) and Caroline feed a goat at Braeutigam Orchards.

My partner, Caroline, has an aunt and uncle who were together when her uncle was a medical student. They gave us enough relationship advice and “pep-talks” to leave us feeling rather nervous about what this new lifestyle would bring. One thing they didn’t tell me was that my partner would begin a very serious and long term affair with a strange being named Anki?In many ways, our relationship has changed — or, rather, adapted. Caroline’s time commitments have completely shifted: she has a lot less time than she used to to help out with chores, go on outside adventures, go to concerts, or try new restaurants. I’ve had to accept some of these changes and take on responsibilities that we used to share, but I’m glad I haven’t accepted them all. When stress and time crunches have arrived, of course, she has had to commit time to study, but we’ve pushed and strategized to keep pursuing our shared interests. I think it has been really important for her to zoom out of the med school world at times, and I think we would have had a more difficult time if we didn’t advocate for and put a value on fun!

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On Dating Someone in Your Med School

Lucy S. and Cole P., M1s

Cole (M1) and his girlfriend, Allie (also an M1), at the Balloon Glow.

Wow! You started medical school AND you’re in a new relationship—think of what a field day your family is going to have asking more questions than you want to answer! But in all seriousness, dating someone in your medical school class leads to a uniquely positive medical school experience. Having someone by your side who understands the ups and downs of medical school makes the downs that much more bearable, and the ups that much more enjoyable. However, there are two things we think are important for success in your relationship and in medical school. First of all, make sure you’re on the same page with regards to both studying together and making time for your relationship outside of medical school. Everyone is different and respecting those differences is important for success both in coursework and your relationship. Second, it is critical to invest in friendships and relationships outside the one you share with your partner. Medical school is a marathon, not a sprint, and the bigger the team the better off you will be! Unfortunately, being in a relationship in medical school does also mean that your “partners” will occasionally sign you up to write stuff like this without asking first – but that’s okay because we support them in everything that they do xoxoxo <3<3<3.

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On Dating Someone Not in Medical School

Jackie H., M1

Dating someone who isn’t a medical student can be totally refreshing, but also a little challenging. It’s nice to be able to complain about classes, professors, Anatomy, and more to someone who is totally removed from it all. However, you might feel like they don’t fully understand at times. It’s also nice to have someone to cook you dinner or order you food and take care of your dog when you’re cramming for an exam. Prior to medical school, I worked very flexible jobs, so I wasn’t used to being away from home so much when I went back to school. Now, I really try to find a schedule for studying and spending time at home so that I can see my partner. My advice is to try to stick to a study schedule, but also be flexible when needed, plan date nights in advance, and openly communicate your expectations and needs on both sides!

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On Having a Family

Austin H., M1

Austin with his wife, Ally, and his daughter, Penelope.

Medical school at WashU is amazing. The professors, students, and entire med school community are talented and kind. However, I always hurry home each day to hold my daughter and kiss my wife. Before getting married, I thought being a doctor would help lead to a happy life. After becoming a husband and father, I know doctoring is a great career, but still only a career. While in medical school, I prioritize family time, but I’ve learned that flexibility is key. On a typical school day, I make sure to feed my one year-old daughter breakfast before school. At school, I call my wife to say hi. After school, we eat dinner together and I don’t study again until the baby is put to bed (normally by 7:30 PM). Most nights, I don’t need to study and my wife and I will have friends over or watch Netflix. WashU and St. Louis are great places to have a family!

Classmates’ couples and families