You just found out that your partner got into Medical School (yay!), and now you’re wondering what it’s going to be like dating them in Medical School. Will they be busy studying all the time? I’ll be honest; dating a Medical Student is nothing compared to Dating a Doctor who is in practice or in Residency. These are the best years but they will be a little more stressful than college. In Medical School, they will have less free time and more stress, but this is only the beginning.
The typical timeframe for completing Medical School is 4 years if you’re obtaining an M.D. or D.O. If you are earning a combined degree (i.e., M.D., Ph.D.), then the timeframe could be up to 7-8 years. Below is an example of what to expect if you or your partner are completing a 4-year program:
First & Second Year: Most of the time will be spent studying and attending lectures. On a given day, lectures start at 8 AM and go until 12 PM. After lunch in the afternoons, from 1 PM to 5 PM, may be spent in various activities, including cadaver labs, workshops, and simulated patient encounters (picture ‘fake’ patients or ‘actors’) in mock clinics. Evenings are spent at the gym for mental health, followed by a short break and then the library or home office to resume studying. On non-lectures or lab days, a student might study from early afternoon to late evening. On weekends, all-day study sessions are encouraged (when life permits).
During these years, managing a social life is much easier but always depends on the countdown to that next exam. These years they will likely become a hypochondriac and think they have every rare illness they just learned about. Trust me; this sounds funny but very true. You will probably also ask if you have x, y, and z. This is normal, and it will pass.
There isn’t much difference between the first and second year except for taking Step 1 of the medical licensing exam. If planning for marriage during medical school, a typical time would be the week after taking Step 1, before clinical rotations begin. If you are the spouse, be prepared to make all the wedding plans with little input from your partner (the medical student). Be assured they appreciate all the work that you’ve done to make this day come together. Many medical schools provide 2 months between summative exams and the beginning of clinical rotations for board preparation and for taking the exam. Planning will let you have 1-2 weeks after the big test allowing personal time.
Third Year: Day 1 will be a rude awaking for any medical student. With 2 years of memorizing diseases, drugs, and side effects from textbooks and lectures, the next 2 years in clinical rotations is where real medicine is learned. The books help prepare medical students to be doctors, but learning and starting to love medicine is achieved by rotating through different specialties from the nation’s best hospitals and abroad. The senior resident dictates a typical schedule for the medical service. When to wake up, when to eat, what patient to see, who to talk to, and when to leave for the day is a decision made by one of the higher-ups. Expect not to see your partner that much during this year. This year prepares you for what it’s like when they are in Residency.
In-between 3rd & 4th year:
Relationship Advice: If your relationship has made it through 1st and 2nd years, you’re doing something right, but 3rd year will test your patience even more. The key to making your relationship work is patience and communication.
Fourth Year: This is the greatest year of all. Medical Students look forward to being a ‘4th-Year’ from day one. Think back to Senior year (high school or Undergrad). At this point, they’ve made it through the passage of rites; both Step 1 and Step 2 are behind them, and they are all guaranteed to become Doctors. It’s also the first time in 3 years that there is more flexibility, ranging from choosing specialty rotations, away rotations, and even international rotations. Rotations during the 4th year are interrupted for 3-4 months to allow Residency interviews. No matter where they go, they need to be back by March of 4th year for The Match ceremony. Read more about Match Day.
Most will have the most flexibility in their schedule to complete residency interviews and take Step 2 of the medical licensing exam (CK).
Relationship Advice: Don’t be afraid to talk, and don’t focus on the negative because it’s only temporary. Plus, getting through these years will pay off for the more challenging years to come (Residency). Every relationship makes sacrifices, and supporting your partner during this time is crucial. After all, is said and done, it’s a shared commitment.
If you made it through Medical School, you need to be prepared for what comes next:
Disclaimer: The topics in detail above are to be taken as a general idea of what life may be like as a medical student or dating one going to medical school. Everyone’s experiences are different.