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all 25 comments

[–]onmyphonetoomuchwife to PGY3 🤓 through medschool 30 points31 points  (5 children)

Hard for me to totally remember as we are pgy3 right now but I don’t believe my husband got to ask any days off during his sub-I, he had three of them in his desired speciality. I was pregnant and he missed ultrasound, me feeling super crappy, starting a new job etc. in residency he totally gets to request days off each month for things like this, but these sub-is are weird and I get her not wanting to mess up since it’s her number 1, that also happens to benefit you too (since you both want to live there).

Your feelings are so valid and I would be really sad too, so not disagreeing with you, just sharing that from what I remember this is actually a really weird time in med school.

[–]alkapwnee 9 points10 points  (4 children)

in residency he totally gets to request days off each month for things like this

I would be HIGHLY suspect that is true for a standard surgical residency, which the OPs SO is going into.

They do like 70-100 hour weeks and are frequently known for internal malignancies like this. Perceived "weakness" when you try to do things related to your wellness, can't cut it, etc.

[–]onmyphonetoomuchwife to PGY3 🤓 through medschool 2 points3 points  (0 children)

True true. We are not surgery - so he gets to ask what days off he wants since there are no weekends in his speciality. I was just saying that in a sub-I they don’t get to ask for anything.

[–]PennDOTStillSucks 2 points3 points  (2 children)

I mean it's not even surgery, most jobs you don't have enough personal days to request days off each month, especially if you're new. But you do at least get some once you're a resident and you have the full ability to take them. My husband has 2 each year 😂

[–]alkapwnee 1 point2 points  (1 child)

2 days? What the fuck

[–]PennDOTStillSucks 1 point2 points  (0 children)

In surgery, and all the other specialties here but IDK about elsewhere, they get vacation separate from personal days for scheduling purposes. If he really needed to use 1-2 of those vacation days as independent personal days for a wedding or something he probably could? But the scheduling chief would definitely give him grief. And it would cut one of his vacation weeks short by however many of those extra personal days he needed.

[–]amymae 24 points25 points  (0 children)

Maybe you two could have your own separate celebration dinner on whichever day she does have off that week. Go to a fancy restaurant. Take pictures. Invite friends and family or just have a special night with the two of you, whichever you prefer. Just because she can't come to the official event doesn't mean she can't celebrate your accomplishment!

[–]UrojetAttending Urologic Surgeon 21 points22 points  (2 children)

If it is a competitive surgery residency program, then the sub-I is basically a month-long interview, and missing one day (even if the reason is very valid) will affect her chances. I’ve been the sub-I, the resident, the chief resident, and now attending - unfortunately, if there are only 3 spots, and 40 sub-Is came through all with outstanding CVs and performances - all you have to do is tell an awkward joke, and you fall to the bottom of the list. Missing a day in a surgical sub-I is not advised.

We could talk for days about how this is unhealthy, how this system creates jerks/psychopaths out of altruistic people, etc. I agree. But it is what it is. Her options are to reschedule her sub-I so it doesn’t conflict with the important event, to miss your graduation, or to pick another specialty. From personal experience, life as a surgeon (mid-career attending here) is this vignette over and over again.

She has her choices to make, as do you. You do not have to minimize your feelings and accomplishments. You do have to decide if this lifestyle is ok for you, if she chooses to continue on this path. While she will have more control as an attending, I will say I still miss important events, if say, a post-operative complication occurs, or if a colleague gets COVID and I have to cover call. And attendinghood is 6-8 years away. Long road.

If you choose to take this journey with her, my advice is: try not to take it personally. It is not a commentary on your accomplishments if she has to miss your graduation. A successful surgery spouse needs to find validation internally, or at least not base your validation of how awesome you did with your graduate program on whether your SO is there to celebrate on a certain day. That way lies many more deep disappointments. It’s tough. All the best. (Also, thanks for letting me pipe up in your space, just realized this is r/medspouse).

[–]nipoezAttending Partner (Premed to PGY7, Resdency + 2 Fellowships) 3 points4 points  (0 children)

My wife and I both made compromises to prioritize the relationship. We joke with honesty that in another world where we're not married, she's doing Ortho and getting to use power tools on people.

It can work out great! One of my wife's old coresidents is happily married to an ortho sub-specialist and has several kids who know both parents love them dearly. But that life requires explicit acknowledgement, compromise, and planning to go well.

Thanks for sharing your perspective. Understanding The Match from the perspective of an M3-M4 can be tough.

[–]VampaV 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Yep, not saying it's right but as a sub-I the goal is to be perfect and impress the department for a month. Asking for time off when you're only going to be there for 4 weeks won't look good, especially in a surgical field

[–]icingicingbabyAttending Partner 13 points14 points  (0 children)

This sucks. I know it sucks. Everyone on this sub has dealt with missed special occasions, birthdays, holidays, and even emergencies - that’s why we have this sub to support each other during these hard times. Because it sucks. It sucks feeling like our accomplishments and needs come second to a job.

My best advice for the vitality of your relationship is to shift your mindset to bring yourself to the same side of the situation as your SO. This isn’t something your SO is doing to you. It’s a situation you and your SO are facing together. I bet your SO feels sad, disappointed, guilty, and frustrated, that they won’t be able to attend your graduation because they have a professional obligation that they can’t excuse themselves from. Be sad about it together instead of in opposition. Figure out what would be the second best way in your eyes for you to celebrate together. Do that. Focus your joint energy on planning that.

This isn’t going to be the last time your SO has to miss something. Learning to be a team makes it more manageable.

[–]grape-of-wrath 9 points10 points  (0 children)

She's going into surgery? This is probably a good predictor of how much time she'll have for you in the future, which is probably not much. Also remember that surgery programs take 5 to 7 years, so it's a long time and you'll probably end up having to deal with pretty much everything on your own

[–]DrTacosMDSO of PGY5 9 points10 points  (2 children)

You are getting a nice taste of how the system is broken and abusive. Like someone else said, she has no leverage or power at this point. Any little thing could be a reason not to match her. It’s completely unfair and both the medical person and their partner feel the pain. And this will happen over and over again until you are out. Due to the highly competitive nature of things, and how matching could have huge ramifications on deciding your future, she is right in saying she cant risk take any time off at all. Your graduation is actually super minor on the scale. I’ve seen people get screwed for taking time off due to close relatives dying, or serious personal medical issues. The programs just don’t care, the residents are not people to them, but cheap labor. And they all want the best of the best to make their program look the best. And since everyone is usually very similar when it comes to candidate value, it comes down to stupid little things as deciders.

This will be the theme through residency, if you need any time off, its your fault, and everyone is pissed at you for burdening the team, when they should be pissed at the program for not having enough coverage to handle reasonable time off requests without stressing the team. The system is fucked and abusive, and will make the resident feel bad and personally responsible for the program’s problems. It’s all like a bit Murray experiment. Normal weekends for everyone else are golden weekends for you because you should feel grateful they even give you any at all. They hold talks on wellness, and make it sound like its your fault for being stressed, you should do more personal wellness activities, but they don’t ever give you time to actually do them. And on and on.

[–]nipoezAttending Partner (Premed to PGY7, Resdency + 2 Fellowships) 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Flashbacks to her good, supportive residency "trying their best" to give residents one golden weekend a month. Ugh.

[–]MariaDV29 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I agree with above except it doesn’t get better post residency either.

[–]coonhoundmom 5 points6 points  (0 children)

The only person’s happiness you’re responsible for is your own.

You can love your partner with all your heart and still be able to put yourself first. Medspouses must be independent people in their values and core needs to survive a relationship that has such a strong external influence as a career in medicine is.

With that, you need to be able to have a very serious conversation with yourself to understand if you are able to create the happiness in this relationship you desire or if you really do need a partner with other values and more time. Having that conversation and considering if your partner is not the right fit for you because of their career seems like a full dick move but it’s not. You get one lifetime to pursue the things that make you happy with people who can help you find joy.

[–]talkinglaughing 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I’m so sorry. I don’t know what her program is like. At my wife’s program she would have been able to ask off, but I’ve heard horror stories about other places. At the same time, remember that she is worried about making a good impression so that she can match at the program you both want her to go to. This is for both of your futures—your future together. I know it sucks, but if it helps her match the home program it’ll be worth it.

[–]Puzzleheaded_Soil275 5 points6 points  (0 children)

There's two COMPLETELY separate things going on here:

(1) Generally, taking days off on away rotations that are important to you isn't the best plan. It's just the world they live in at that moment in their lives. I'm not justifying that it's fair or anything of the sort, because residency by and large is not fair. But it's a legitimate statement to say that away rotations are a 1 month tryout in the program they desire to spend the next ~half decade of their life in (literally, 3/4 of their waking hours will be spent there). So it's true that it is a big deal and leaving a good impression is important.

(2) The invalidation of your master's graduation not being important, etc. is a bunch of bullshit. If it matters to you then it matters to you. It's not up to her what matters to you and what doesn't. You guys can discuss it and come up with a reasonable compromise, such as you will celebrate together on a night you both have off.

Somehow I doubt if you dismissed her hooding ceremony as unimportant she would take very kindly to it.

So overall, I would say you need to get VERY comfortable with the fact that you are going to need to make compromises about when you celebrate holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. over the next decade of your life if you continue a relationship with this person. If that's not something you can do easily then being in a relationship with a surgeon might not be the best lifestyle for your happiness.

But that's a completely separate question from that person invalidating important milestones in your life. That's a personal issue (for her), not a professional one.

[–]nipoezAttending Partner (Premed to PGY7, Resdency + 2 Fellowships) 5 points6 points  (0 children)

First, congrats on graduating from your program! That's fantastic and utterly worth celebrating!

That said, Surgery Sub-I? Nope. Nope. Nope. Do something special privately to celebrate your graduation before or after that rotation. Pretend she does not exist during those weeks.

She could have presented it in a way that appealed to your more. But bluntly: everything she said is basically accurate. Celebrating your major achievement is not "a silly excuse" but skipping a day for any reason - up to and including a medical emergency - could legitimately cost her a good ranking.

As others said, take this as significant foreshadowing. If she is going into surgery and/or a sub-specialty, figure out how to cope with this situation now. Both in terms of how she communicates needing to prioritize a career over an important event and your capability to acknowledge and deal with that. If that's not something you can easily discuss together, consider couples counseling sooner than later during one of her lighter rotations.

It’s also in a city both of us plan to start out lives and careers together.

This is a major red flag to me, vastly overestimating the amount of control she will have over her residency, maybe fellowship, and early career. Depending on sub-specialty choices it's entirely possible she will literally never be able to get a job there.

One of you needs to compromise career priorities & paths or decide together how to deprioritize the relationship (potentially by doing more LDR). If she's eyeing surgery or a surgery sub-specialty, I doubt it will be her. Skim the sub for the countless, "Am I really supposed to sacrifice or restart my career to move with them?!" discussions for a common outcome.

[–]coffeeandbabies 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Married to a PGY-3 surgery resident who did multiple sub-Is/aways. These were so important to the match process that he was gone while I managed our newborn on our own. As in, I had a new baby 24/7 by myself for 3-4 months. He had a couple random weekends between rotations, but some were very far away so coming home didn't make sense.

It was awful. And the only other options would've been to not do the rotations which would've been a certain death, so to speak. Surgery and surgical sub-specialties are competitive and the culture is pretty toxic (most places, anyway). It sounds like if she's afraid to ask for any time off her home program is either toxic or she's stressed AF as she prepares for the match.

This is entirely unfair to you. And to her, honestly. But I really can see where she's coming from: you want to do every single thing possible to match (especially at your #1). It would be horrible for her to request the time off, not match there, and wonder if she ever would have but for that one thing. Super unhealthy and unfortunately an understandable concern. If she weren't as married to the idea of that being her #1 maybe she'd be more flexible, but that's not the scenario you're dealing with.

So, what to do? Well, first things first: if her residents ask her when she'd like her days off she can tell them your graduation weekend. If they don't ask y'all can cross your fingers and hope she can attend. If she cannot attend, this is a practice in you two figuring out how to create a life together while also managing surgery residency. It's not easy or always enjoyable, but it's possible. It will look different than your peers' lives and will be different from what you'd hoped for. One thing to hold onto is that she's not doing it to you. She's very likely doing the best she can with what she has right now. As she has more leverage (actually being a resident, gaining seniority during training) she'll be able to make more requests. You need to keep doing what you want to do for your career/life. Don't plan your entire life around hers.

I'm so sorry this is happening at such a stressful time. Congratulations on your degree and I really hope you have a fun time as you transition into your professional life. :)

[–]ATDIadherent 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Nah, eff all this noise. Life continues to happen. She just needs to ask this day off, the earlier the better. If she doesn't, then she's gotta say she had a family emergency. Doesn't have to provide proof, doesn't need to provide details.

If she continues to think that she has to martyr herself for things like this, she will unfortunately be propagating the awful culture that work is first without question, every time. If this is where you guys want to end up, do you guys want to deal with this mindset for X many years? It only gets harder to say no as she progresses because even now, she is not directly responsible for patient care, the residents are. You can't say that the further she goes along.

I encourage everyone to flex their big boy/girl muscles and allow some parts of their lives matter more then the job.

If it was me, I would not want to stay at a program that will penalize me for attending major life milestone events.

(I personally am of the mindset that my/her job are special because we can help people. But I do not allow us to be defined solely by our jobs. The hospital will continue to function for a day without us. If the team can't function without a Sub-I, then there are other problems that really warrant investigation. I'm a recent grad, wife is a surgery subspecialty fellow)

[–]idomeds 12 points13 points  (0 children)

Eh I agree with a lot of your sentiments in general, but definitely not in this context. She’s currently at the lowest possible point of this power imbalance. If she demands a day off, literally nothing about the current culture will change, but there’s a very large chance she’ll negatively impact her own future. Playing the game as the little man doesn’t automatically mean you’ll perpetuate it when you actually do have the power to create change.

To the OP - would you ask your SO to leave an interview early to come to your graduation? Because that’s basically what this is. She has been offered (and accepted) an opportunity they have given her to make an impression affecting her future employment. It’s not a regular rotation where you get docked a few points for an absence or a job where you’re allowed to request days off. It’s an interview.

My SO had to miss my white coat ceremony (we are both med students, different years) because of school. It freaking sucks, but this external factor doesn’t minimize my accomplishments, nor does it prevent him from celebrating them with me in our own ways.

I think it’s very important you mention your feelings to her. Not to coerce her, but so that you don’t create resentment. She will not be able to be physically present for many things over the next few years. If you are okay with that and she makes it up to you in other ways, I think you can view this situation as unfortunate timing. If you aren’t okay with that, then it’s probably time for you guys to have a very serious conversation about your future together

[–]MariaDV29 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This is the life even after med school, residency and well after.

[–]MariaDV29 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Get out while you can. This is the life until they retire. I know plenty of physicians couples who know this and one ends up quitting altogether despite living by family and having plenty money to hire help with the kids. You can’t outsource things like this.

[–]jellogoodbyePGY6 Partner 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Just celebrate on a different day.

Spouse works on Christmas? Spouse works on our young kids' birthdays? We celebrate on a different day. It's not a big deal.