Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Household chores

So I've probably mentioned this before, but I do a majority of the chores in our household. Mr. Dawkter leaves in the very early hours of the morning and usually doesn't get home until after 6:00 (at the earliest), and since I am really only working part time, it just makes sense. I selfishly want to spend time with Mr. D when he is home, rather than having him work on chores and whatnot. I also must admit that I prefer to all the financial stuff, simply because I don't know if I could trust my husband to take care of it. And as for the cooking, cleaning, and everything else, I kind of enjoy it because I have the time.

Of course if I was working full time, things would be very different. Mr. D and I would be sharing chores a little more equally. It's kind of fine line because I don't want my husband to think he gets a free pass because he is a resident, but at the same time, for right now I don't mind doing the chores and would prefer to do them so that I can spend time with him when he is home. That is, as long as he remains appreciative. As of right now, he asks what he can help with as soon as he comes home from work, and what he can do when he has a day off. I make sure to let him know that there will be times in the future when he will be sharing more of the household chores, because it will happen, either if I go to work full time, or when we have children.

I never want Mr. D to think that because he has a "hard job" he doesn't have to do his share of the chores. After all, single residents manage to somehow do their laundry, grocery shop and get their bills paid. I'm a wife, not a maid/chef/personal assistant.

One evening about a month into residency, Mr. Dawkter came home from a long day of work and and asked me if I had watered the grass. He had asked me the night before to water the grass because the weather had been particularly warm and the grass was getting dry. The conversation went something like this:

Mr.D: Did you water the grass?
Me: No, I didn't get to it today.
Mr. D: But I asked you to water the grass (spoken in a scolding tone).
Me: Excuuuuuuuuuse me? I do the grocery shopping. I cook. I clean. I do the dishes. I do the laundry. I pay the bills. I do everything, around here, and I didn't get to watering the grass today. Do you think I sit around and eat bon bons all day? It's the freaking grass, I'll get to it tomorrow.
Mr. D: (pause)
Me: Who do you think you are? This is not the hospital, and I am not your nurse.
Mr. D: You're right... I'm sorry. I guess I am just used to asking for things to get done, and at work I get really frustrated when they don't get done.
Me: Well this is NOT the hospital, and I am not your freaking nurse.... and I certainly hope you don't talk to the nurses like that anyway, because I sure as hell wouldn't do what you asked if you spoke to me like that.

I never expected anything like that to come out of my sweet husband's mouth. Which is why I am watching him closely to make sure he doesn't develop a superiority complex as a result of residency. Luckily, Mr. D learned a few things from that experience. One of which is that you don't talk to people like that in order to get things done. He has also become a lot more gracious about all the work I do around the house. So far we haven't had any repeat occurrences, (and we laugh about it now). But then again, he knows that he'll be eating canned food and doing his own laundry if he ever makes a comment like that again!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Advice from the Doctor's Wife: Saving Money in Applying to Residency

Applying to residency is just another necessary cost or expense associated with becoming a doctor. People spend anywhere between a thousand dollars and $15,000 or more. We were rather fortunate and were able to spend a little over $5,000 in our application process.

I thought I'd put together a post on ways to save a little money in the process.

The most important thing I can say is that although applying is expensive, it's not something to skimp on. You can cut costs on hotels, flights etc., but I strongly recommend you do not try and save money by applying to less programs, or by taking less interviews. (Keep in mind that I say this because I am the spouse of an applicant who was applying to a competitive specialty where not matching was a risk/possibility).

The amount of programs you need to apply to or the number of interviews you need to take is all based on:
  1. What specialty you are applying to (how many programs and spots there are, and how competitive it is) and
  2. How competitive you are as an applicant.

For example we applied to a fairly competitive specialty that only had about 100 programs, and about 200 spots in country. We applied to 42 programs (that's nearly half), received 26 interview invites and took 16 interviews. Whereas an ortho applicant may apply to 65+ programs, and an Internal Medicine applicant may only apply to 10 programs. Whatever your specialty is and however qualified you feel, make sure you apply to enough programs. Even though it might be more expensive to apply to more rather than less programs, make sure you apply to enough programs, whatever that may be for YOU.

The reason I say this is because although it's expensive to apply to more programs or interview at more programs; matching is priceless. To put it in perspective, there is no amount of money that would have been worth saving if Mr. Dawkter would not have matched. Waiting another year, or choosing another specialty would not have been worth any amount of money saved. (Not matching is not the end of the world, but it's not something you want to endure because you were trying to save an extra thousand dollars, especially considering the expense you've already invested in medical school).

So my advice is to spend as much as you need to apply to as many programs and take as many interviews as are necessary for you or your spouse in that specialty.

Here are some ways you can cut costs that won't come at the expense of not matching:

  • Apply to programs within driving distance (driving is MUCH cheaper than flying and can provide flexibility to minimize the number of nights at a hotel)
  • Apply to programs where you have friends and family located and ask to stay with them rather than at a hotel
  • Find out what programs pay for your hotel (In the 26 interview offers that Mr. D got, only 2 paid for a hotel, but we took those. In some specialties most programs will pay for hotels; in other specialties it just doesn't happen)
  • See if your medical school has a program that allows you to contact alumni and stay with them (you can also call the program you are interviewing at and see if there are any residents/medical students you can stay with)
  • Call the home program and see if they have any hotels that offer discounts for applicants
  • Consider staying at smaller chains like La Quinta Inn (they are often cheaper than say the Marriott or Holiday Inn but still very nice)
  • Consider staying at Motels
  • Join Student Universe - they verify your school enrollment and it gives you a discount on travel
  • Join the hotel rewards programs
  • Join airlines frequent flier programs
  • Join AAA - it comes in handy if you have a flat tire or need a tow-truck, and most hotels offer a 5-15% discount for members
  • Consider applying for an American Express Gold Card - it's free for the first year, and provides 5% cash back for all travel (although you may not be able to carry a balance)
  • Don't forget to check out smaller airlines like Southwest that might not show up on travel websites like kayak, orbitz, or expedia
  • Pack snacks to minimize food expenses
  • Try and coordinate interviews in the same cities/states to save costs if it is an option (some specialties or programs allow you to pick from several interview dates, by coordinating interviews you can minimize your hotel costs and flights)
  • Consider flying from one interview to the next rather than flying home in-between
  • Ask family and friends if they are willing to give you their frequent flier miles or hotel reward points

If you don't have the money, consider taking out a Residency Interview or Residency Relocation Loan (either through your school or private banks - I am told that the major banks like Wells Fargo and Citi have them).

For a little more detail on how we saved money by using some of these tricks click here to see a post on my old blog. (Question #2).

Please feel free to add your own advice in the comments below. And as always, take what you find useful, and disregard the rest!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Little Bean

I think I've mentioned it before, but once a week I get to watch my cousin's little one. He is quite the cutie! This weekend I got a chance to take some pictures of "little bean." Here are a few of my favorites:

Isn't he handsome?

Playing in the leaves!

Love this smile!

Playing at the park

"Bounce! Bounce! Bounce!"

Hanging from the monkey bars!

And last but not least.... I think this is my favorite one!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Post-call Nap

So far month four has probably been the most demanding on Mr. Dawkter. So far the days haven't been much longer but the days seem to be more intense. I'm guessing this is because this is a very busy and complex service, with a large patient load, and the service is somewhat understaffed with residents. The husband is trying to keep up with the pace, but it has definitely been a challenge. Although its important to note that I've found that the first week of every month to be the hardest part because he is adjusting to a new specialty, new schedule, new staff and a new way of doing things. It's kind of like starting a new job every month.

After Mr. D's first night of call, he came home and took a nap. I was busy in another part of the house doing work when all of a sudden I hear him yell:
"Holy crap*! Holy crap* Holy crap*!" (*insert explicative here).
This startled me (I am a very jumpy person) and I ran to see what was the matter.
"I don't know" he said, "I woke up and didn't know what day it was and freaked out."
I think he woke up and it was daylight (he wakes up long before the sunrises every morning) and freaked out thinking he was supposed to be at work.

Poor guy!

Although it was kinda funny too!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Month 3, PGY-1

Its hard to believe that we're already a quarter of the way through first year, its gone by surprisingly fast! Month three (September) was trauma surgery, which I expected Mr. Dawkter to enjoy...... not so much. I on the other hand loved it! Trauma surgery is similar to the Emergency Room in that it's unscheduled patients, but rather than treating those that come in with the flu or other illness, they treat the patients that need emergency surgery. Examples of patients would be car accidents, broken bones or any major injury/illness that requires immediate surgical attention.

I thought Mr. D would love such a service - it sounds pretty exciting doesn't it? Well I guess trauma is divided up into two divisions, ICU (intensive care) and regular trauma. The ICU trauma is the patients that just came in or just came out of surgery and may not necessarily be stable yet. The other other part of trauma handles patients that are less severe and are closer to being released from the hospital. As an intern the husband was on the regular trauma not the ICU trauma, meaning his patients weren't as "interesting" and didn't necessarily involve critical care management. For that reason, after just coming off burns which involved more serious patients, Mr. D found that he did not learn as much (because he wasn't exposed to as much).

The other unique thing about trauma was that it was more like shift work because they have day and night shifts. With such a set-up there is no need for anyone to be on-call at night. Personally I loved the trauma schedule because he was on days, he had every Sunday off, and he was home every night! But unfortunately I was the only one in our house who liked it, Mr. D struggled with the service and its schedule, he literally counted down the days until the month was over. I however, enjoyed having a husband home to sleep with me each night! Although there were some long days he really wasn't sleep deprived because he got a full nights sleep at home every night.

And not very significant, but he did get his first "cold" at the end of the month which made him even more miserable. Usually I'm the one in the house getting sick as Mr. Dawkter has a great immune system and gets sick about every two years. For once I managed to escape catching it, but I'm not looking forward to him bringing home any hospital germs this winter.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Silver Lining

I've always admired people who can manage to make the most of a terrible situation. And it wasn't until recently that I really understood what people meant by finding a silver lining in the clouds.

The clouds in my life had been looming for months, and the weatherman was predicting this storm, but I still had hoped and prayed that it would pass without ever raining down. But a few weeks ago the storm hit and who knows when it will let up or pass over. As painful and as devastating as the "storm" is on me and my family, it has also brought with it some great blessings.

I always admired the song "Praise You in This Storm" by Casting Crowns but I never understood how people could honestly praise their God when their heart was breaking. It sounds admirable but I doubted that my faith could ever reach such a point.

Yet, somehow, here I am. Amidst the storms, drenched in rain, thankful to my Lord. The lyrics of the song go:

I was sure by now, God, that You would have reached down and wiped our tears away, stepped in and saved the day.

But once again, I say amen, and it's still raining, as the thunder rolls I barely hear You whisper through the rain, "I am with you" and as Your mercy falls I raise my hands and praise the God who gives and takes away.

And I'll praise you in this storm and I will lift my hands for You are who You are, no matter where I am, and every tear I've cried You hold in your hand. You never left my side and though my heart is torn, I will praise You in this storm.

So what you ask is this silver lining, that gives me faith and strength through this storm? It is the blessing of friends and family. In the past few weeks the amount of outpouring from my family, friends and even old friends and acquaintances has been amazing. I always knew I was blessed, but it wasn't until this that I realized how much my family is loved. Our extended family has really shown us unconditional love through both their words and their actions. And my family has become closer than ever. It is these wonderful people that make me realize that there is more to God's plans then what we are going through right now. I know that he may not answer our prayers exactly when or how we want him to, but he will give us the strength and support we need to get through this time, and answer our prayers in His time.

I look back now and see how much I stressed last year (to the point that I gave myself stomach problems) over applying to residency and "match," and I realize all of that was for nothing. I am so happy where we ended up, and honestly God's plan was better than I could have ever hoped for. So I try not to worry about this storm, and I will trust in God knowing that His plan is greater than anything I could ever imagine or understand.

To my family, you guys are awesome, I don't know how I got so lucky And to the rest of you thank you, your support means more than you will ever know.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What do you think?

Of my new blog design that is? It was created by Jenna of Bloggy Blog Designz, and personally I love it! I'm really happy with the job she did. She was particularly accommodating of my changes and modifications along the way.

I'm busy today getting stuff done because I will be watching my niece Lu Lu the next two days and my cousin's little one Little Bean on Friday, so I will busy playing and need to get my chores done before then! But hopefully I'll get back in the routine of blogging again because I have several things to write about!
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