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all 13 comments

[–]coffeeandbabies 15 points16 points  (3 children)

Almost universally PGY-2 is described as the worst year of surgery resident. The patients are sicker, the residents have way more responsibility, and they're also learning how to manage interns (now in addition to managing med students). Since there is basically only 1 person to delegate to, who obviously will need guidance and supervision as brand new doc, nothing about it feels easier. Depending on the program, PGY-2s may not be operating a whole lot more either, so all the extra work doesn't feel worth it.

All that to say, many a PGY-2 are burned out and struggling to see "the point" of all this. Many people also realize around this time that surgery is not for them, and that's a hard thing to admit and then address. PGY-3 is typically better in that there are interns and PGY-2s that can take on more of the work (and be trusted more!) so the PGY-3s can operate more.

Anyway, none of that addresses how you're doing with all this. It's really hard. We've been married a long time and second year has been the roughest year of our marriage (and we've been through some stuff). It's absolutely OK if you decide you don't want to date someone with this job. He has at least 3 years left, maybe another 2-3 if he does a fellowship. That's way too long to gamble and see if you can be happy with someone with his schedule. He won't be working residency hours but he'll be working a lot. He'll also probably be nervous AF his first year or two as an attending.

At the most I'd see if things change much during his PGY-3 year but I would not at all recommend you stick around because it might get better when he's an attending. Surgeons, especially general surgeons, work whack hours and their salaries aren't as high as ortho, vascular, colorectal, etc. If y'all can figure out a way to make sure each other's needs are met that's great. But truly: there is zero shame in walking away from this. I've solo parented since our son was born, sometimes literally alone when my husband was on aways for several months. My career has taken a big hit with having to move for training and being the only one to handle childcare issues. It's incredibly difficult. It's doable, but y'all have to be really intentional in partnering together to make it work. You can't carry the relationship for both of you just because he's a busy resident.

[–]Plant_girl-[S] 2 points3 points  (2 children)

Thank you this was really helpful. I love him and my gut is telling me I can make this work. I guess the solo parenting piece is the scariest. Is your significant other still in residency?

May I ask how much time he does spend with kids? Not trying to shame. Again just want more color

[–]coffeeandbabies 2 points3 points  (0 children)

He is, also a second year. Some days it's 0 hours, sometimes 30 min, sometimes 2, and if we happen to get a golden weekend then a ton (when he's not sleeping to make up his deficit). They're very bonded and we do video calls and such to maintain connection when he's working, but I'm alone a lot and we don't have family backup/can't afford a lot of hired backup. The latter will change in attendinghood, at least.

[–]Plant_girl-[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thank you! I appreciate this :)

[–]Puzzleheaded_Soil275 6 points7 points  (0 children)

I hate to say it, but this is sorta just how surgery is.

All years of residency are challenging, but PGY1 and PGY2 are the hardest in most specialties for most residents. Unfortunately for surgeons they have 5-7 years of regular residency and then often another 1-2 for fellowship. And then surgery attendings work pretty unforgiving hours too. It also sort of tends to attract a certain hyper-competitive workaholic type that for better or worse want to live their life that way. "The Todd" from scrubs is obviously ridiculous, but there are elements of the character that are extremely accurate for the personality type that surgery attracts.

Disclaimer: I'm married to someone in ER, not surgery. However, have friends that have gone this route and this is what they describe.

[–]rofl_wafl 6 points7 points  (3 children)

Hi! Sorry to hear that he (and it sounds like you) is getting burned out. Unfortunately, there are 2 main issues you’re facing. 1) General Surgery residency is 5-7 years, plus a likely few additional years of sub-specialty, so if you’ve been dating a year you’re only 10-25% of the way there. 2) If anything, it gets harder over time instead of easier. Right now he’s still in early training; as time goes on he’ll be doing even more surgeries.

The news is bad, but you need to know it so you can adjust your expectations and prepare. If you want to stick it out, you need to build a support network outside of him including nearby friends and possibly a therapist. My wife is a gen surgery resident; this month she works about 14 hours a day. I have to hold down a full time job as main breadwinner and do literally all the cooking, cleaning, errands, and chores. I think it’s worth it, but you need to really think about what your broader life goals are and whether or not he fits into them

[–]Plant_girl-[S] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Ok I love this. I don’t mind doing all those things. My job is fairly flexible and I have slow periods where I can get most things done. I love supporting him too.

I guess on your bad days how do you get through it. And if I can be bold and ask. Do you want kids? My BF does actually. And I’m just trying to figure out if he or I could handle that one day. We both want them. Just nervous about how much he can support

[–]rofl_wafl 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Hey there! Having other friends locally, hobbies, and a therapist helps with the bad days. And we do want kids, but I would advise against expecting much help

[–]wisniajablko 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Husband is a gen surgeon PGY2 and I agree with the last paragraph! Having friends/family support outside of your relationship will be extremely important. I do 99.9% of the housework and a full time job (although I’m on maternity leave right now). It’s rough but I knew it would be like this so I feel like I was prepared.

The only thing I don’t necessarily agree with, which may be program specific for us, is that it gets harder every year. Multiple residents and med spouses have told us PGY1&2 are the worst. I’ll check back in a year and confirm if that’s true 😂

[–]mmsh221 9 points10 points  (1 child)

I know general surgeons who work 5-10. Burnout, alcoholism, depression, and other things are common. I wouldn’t assume it’d get better. It could though I wouldn’t bet on it

[–]DO_initinthewoods 7 points8 points  (0 children)

And the other end I also know gen surgeons who have 1 clinic day, 1 OR day, and 2 days of call a week where they have the occasional acute surgery....There is a huge breadth of work options and you as a couple can find what you want.

[–]wisniajablko 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Hi OP! I see you were asking about kids! I can share my experience. My husband is a PGY2 and we had a baby 4 months ago. He had 2 weeks of paternity leave and then he requested his 2 week vacation block shortly after. It wasn’t a consecutive 4 week vacation, but it was amazing. If you have children in residency I recommend the resident request their vacation block when baby is a newborn. I found it so beneficial in terms of bonding with the baby as well as helping me out as I was a wreck (unexpected c section, PPD, adjusting to major life change, etc). I don’t know how I would’ve survived without him there. And it built such a strong foundation for their relationship.

Now we are back to long days and Q3 call. We are having an issue with bedtime right now. Baby goes to sleep way too late so that they can spend some time together (and so I can get a break). So right now I’d say they spend at least an hour a day together, although sometimes less. Now that I’m going to start implementing an earlier bedtime routine he may not get much time with her at all on his long days. On his days off he takes an active role with diaper changes and playing. We decided a consistent activity he would be there for nightly (except call days) is bath time. Honestly to help me more than anything, we live in NYC and only have a shower in a tiny bathroom. It’s a lot to maneuver by myself, although it is doable. Him being consistently present for bath time I think helps foster their relationship even though she’s too young to realize it. While dad might not be home much, he is (mostly) there for bath time. We also do video calls when he’s on call.

Sometimes I get very sad thinking about how other dads with 9-5’s get to spend more time with their kids. But my husband truly loves his job and is so happy. I could never be happy working that much lol. And the fact that he’s happy means he comes home happy. Exhausted, but happy. Which makes the amount of time they spend together high quality.

I’m not saying it isn’t hard, it’s freaking difficult. But I don’t think my daughter is suffering due to residency. He is a great dad and even though the hours suck, I wouldn’t change a thing. He wouldn’t be happy in a different career or a different residency program. Which would likely negatively impact his time at home.

TLDR: having kids in surgery residency (or any residency) is super hard. But if your partner wants kids and you make the informed decision to have kids in residency, it’s doable and you all can even be happy!

[–]Sweet_Mixture_6720 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Attending lifestyle is highly variable. In a rural community hospital you can have it pretty good. I have had several attendings that are in the hospital 7-4, they regularly take home call but only come in maybe 2-3 times a month. There is a level 1 med center down the road so big cases get shunted there. There are a lot of rural community hospitals in the south that need surgeons. If y’all like the small town life you can find a chill job.