Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Answers - Part One

Okay so as promised here are a few of the questions that were asked:

Q: My question to you, without getting too specific, is are you guys likely going to have to relocate very far for residency? I'm curious because we lucked out in the sense that there are more residencies in the NYC metro area than in some entire states, so our move will only be a matter of a few miles, and I know that is not the case for many residents and their families across the country. How will this affect your career?
A: One thing I had no clue going into this process was just how little control I would have over my future. I am a total control freak that absolutely hates change! I seriously went off to college because I knew all of my friends were leaving and I didn't want to be left behind, but I was scared to death to go. And then when college was over I think what made my decision to go to law school so easy was that I was scared to enter the real world - I figured law school would be an extension of college (boy was I wrong!).
Anyways, when I married Drew I knew I would have to follow him to medical school but I figured that once he was done we would get to "pick" where we wanted to live. Unfortunately with applying to residency, certain specialties aren't located everywhere, and then there is the whole matching process that really takes things out of your control. Although I was weary (probably an understatement) to move to Springfield, Illinois, I have really grown to love it here. Unfortunately due to Drew's chosen specialty, the only way we will stay here is if he doesn't match in neurosurgery. There is no neurosurgery residency program here, and in fact there are only about 100 programs in the entire country. Then when you factor in the fact that it is a highly competitive specialty, you really have to prepare to go anywhere you can match. I try not to think to much about leaving my job because I absolutely love it and the people in my office. I also am still worried about matching, so until we get word on March 15th saying that Drew matched in neurosurgery, I won't make any career plans. If, heaven forbid, he doesn't match, we would stay here and figure things out for a year. If there was a neurosurgery program here, we would absolutely considering staying.
Also as an attorney I am only licensed in the state of Illinois, which means if we match anywhere outside of Illinois, I will have to take another bar exam. Another thing I am choosing not to think or stress about, I will deal with that after March 15th.
No I do not want to leave my current job, and I do not want to take another bar exam, but ultimately we put a lot of thought and prayer into Drew's decision to pursue neurosurgery and I feel like it is his calling. Therefore I feel like God already has the next steps in our journey planned for us, I can only hope that that plan includes a new job for me that I enjoy half as much as my current one.

Q: I was wondering if you knew of any great blogs or resources for med students husbands? I can't imagine the preppy boyfriend dropping by one of ya'lls blogs, but I do think that it would do him good to hear some of what other people go through... like for instance, he doesn't believe me when I say that during the clinical and residency years, it is entirely possible that I will spend 24-36 hours continuous at the hospital.
A: I did spend some time searching last night and unfortunately I couldn't find the blog of a male medical spouse. I do think you will spend 24-36 consecutive hours at the hospital, but most of the time that will be because you are on-call for the night and therefore you will have some advance notice of when it is going to happen. The good news is that a lot of programs have what is called "post call" so that when you worked all day, and were on call all that night, you get to leave the hospital by a certain time the next morning (usually by noon). Your hours will greatly vary by your specialty and by your med school and residency program. A good resource to check out is FREIDA program search. Programs fill out surveys yearly and one of the questions pertains to the maximum amount of consecutive hours on duty. Another resource for him to check out is the International Spouse Network, although most of the members are female, there are some male spouses as well. It is a good resource to ask questions, and also a place where medical spouses can chat with other spouses who actually understand the stress and time constraints a medical career can have on a family. (I say that because the average person thinks a doctor's life is cushy because they are "rich," they don't always realize the time commitment involved).

Q: My question is if your costs counter for applying for residency are accurate? Currently it is at $900 and I have been told by some fourth years at our school to save up $10,000 to be on the safe side. I am sure that it may be more expensive for us since there are no programs my husband (or most students) are even interested in in our state but I was just curious since there is such a discrepancy and I have seen you mention how expensive it has been.
A: No that amount was not correct. We got so busy with interviews that I didn't keep up with my tally of expenses, but now my costs should be up to date. Applying to residency can be between $1,000 and $15,0000 depending on how many programs you apply to, how many you interview with and where the interviews are at. We were lucky in that although he took 16 interviews (he applied to 42 programs and was offered 23 interviews) he was able to drive to 10 of the interviews (he probably should have flown to one of those though). We also saved a lot of money with having him stay with friends and family whenever possible. Some locations (such as Dallas) were also a lot more affordable to fly in and out of. My expenses do not include the cost of any meals or snacks and I may have missed a few baggage fees in my calculation.
Here is a brief breakdown of our costs:

ERAS Fees: $655.00 (to apply to 42 programs).
Interviews: $4,307.98 (Hotels, plane, car rental, gas, airport parking for 16 interviews)
NRMP Fee: $50
Total = $5,012.98

Although that is a lot of money I still think it is on the low end. The two most expensive interviews were $811.62 and $717.16. One of our interviews was "free" in the sense that Drew didn't have to spend any gas money because he was already in town from an interview in the same city the day before, and he stayed with family so there was no hotel bill. Two programs also covered the hotel cost and he stayed with family/friends for five of the interviews. I have spoken with two other wives who applied in ortho (another competitive surgery) and their spouses did 18-22 interviews and their costs were closer to $10,000 and $15,000 (I know one of them said the cost to change two flights was very expensive!).

I apologize as my answers were longer than expected but hopefully they were helpful to someone! I still have more to answer but I figure that was more than enough for one blog post!


Kelsey Claire said...

That was all so informative. I would be so stressed. You are doing an amazing job of keeping a clear head. If you come to Dallas I will take you out!

Elle said...

Ooohhhh... I forgot I even asked you that question... thanks for the information and thanks for being diligent about posting it...

I also want to say thank you for not being ashamed to talk about the roll that God has played for you in all of this... I'm a Christian and just had a conversation with another one of my Christian friends about medical school and I think without my faith I would be much more terrified, especially with regards to the cost of school and moving and residencies.... oh my! :)

LittleMissDreamer said...

I just can't say how comforting it is knowing that other people are going through this whole medical school process too. Thanks for blogging about it. It really does help:)

Aly said...

So helpful, as always Marissa! I also really had no clue as to what this process would entail, and what it would mean for MY life, but to second what a few people have said above it has been so comforting to venture into blog world and find women who are going through the exact same process. Thank you!

Jessica said...

Thanks for being so honest about the financial aspect - it sounds like you got off better than it could have been. But for your sake I wish it would have been the original $900 :)

I guess I'll get on track to save atleast $10,000 in the next yearish - woohoo!

Elle said...

left you an Award on my blog.... drop by and see it when you get the chance :)

Justin and Gracie O. said...

This is so helpful! Your blog is the first place I have really heard about the costs for applying to residency programs. It is so nice to have a general idea and start budgeting/saving now. Thanks!