Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Careers and Marriage

For pretty much my entire career to this point, I have been pursuing my end goal as an individual, by myself. Of course, Eric has long been there to provide support outside of school, and he definitely makes the social rounds with me and my med school friends (honestly, I'm pretty sure some of my friends like him more than they like me!), but in my official role as a future physician, it's just been me, myself, and I.

Until now.

I've heard horror stories about med students being grilled about their relationships and/or future family aspirations, and I've even heard about some med students taking off their engagement/wedding rings while on the interview trail, so prospective employers don't question their commitment to the job. Certain specialties, for sure, are less family-friendly than others, and I can definitely imagine that a single female surgery applicant might be more appealing to a program director than a married female surgery applicant; fewer distractions to draw them away from a 100-hour work week. On the whole, though, Ob/Gyn is pretty family-friendly (well, the people are pretty tolerant of families, even though the work schedule is decidedly not so), so it never really occurred to me to hide the fact that I am getting married.

In fact, I am using my relationship to my advantage. You see, it might look odd to some program directors to see an applicant from Kentucky applying to small programs on the east coast. And indeed, on both of the interviews I've been to so far, I got some pretty probing questions about why the heck I wanted to come to New Jersey/DC. But everyone was satisfied to hear that both my fiance and I hailed from the east coast and were looking to return. And, in fact, that my fiance is already working on the east coast and that I'm hoping to join him.

And while I'm happy to handle all of those relocation/marriage questions (none of them so far have even come close to being illegal) myself, I'm realizing that Eric has a role to play in all of this as well.

Most programs have a night-before-the-interview social event where you can meet the current residents in a more informal setting. And a lot of those programs say that I am welcome to bring a guest (implied: spouse/significant other) to the social event if I would like. Due to his work schedule, Eric will unlikely be able to come to very many of them, but I definitely get the sense that these programs are, in fact, looking for residents who have happy outside lives and are willing to create a work environment that fosters continued happy outside lives -- great for me!

And then I came across this article from the NY Times, which discusses the role of the spouse in the job application process. Of course, much to my chagrin, it talks solely about the female spouses of male job applicants, but whatever. What I did find interesting was the idea that the spouse herself could play a deciding factor in the applicant's success. To be honest, it makes sense, although it's a little scary because I have never thought of it before. And as much as I am not a traditional type of person, the majority of medicine is still very much seated in tradition, and I can imagine that spouses are secretly of interest to residency programs, in both a positive and negative sense.

In fact, while on my OB rotation last month, the upper-level residents were discussing interview diners and were saying they always instructed their own spouses to talk up the spouses of the interviewees. And sometimes, the spouses shared information that was of use to the residents. Like, for instance, the spouse that disclosed that they really wanted to stay in their home state of ___, but that our program was strong, so the interviewee was checking it out. Oops.

So I have instructed Eric on what he can and cannot say during any significant other vetting situations. Luckily, I only applied to two programs outside of our desired geographical region, and I'm only keeping one of those interviews (my home program), and Eric can't come to the dinner. And of course, I've already shared with a few different people here that I'm not really trying to stay, so it doesn't matter anyway -- I've already shot myself in my own foot on that front.

But, whew, this process is exhausting! Explaining how I got to Kentucky, and why I want to leave, and making sure Eric sticks to his script as well, is a lot more than I thought I would have to deal with. All this for a job. That allows me to have a happy marriage.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I know it's been a while...

...and believe me, I miss blogging for all of you. I just wanted to let you know that I haven't forgotten about you, but I've been really really really busy these last few weeks. And before I can tell you about the caterer we booked and the tasting we had, I have to actually book the caterer. And if I'm too busy to book the caterer, well, blogging has to take a backseat, unfortunately.

But don't worry, there are lots of updates for you! Caterer, chair rentals, more escapades into purple bridesmaid dresses and fabric swatches, and a beautiful new pair of purple shoes. Purple shoes!!!

And if you really do care about me, and not just my wedding planning (just kidding, I know you only care about the wedding planning ;), you will be happy to know that my busy-ness involves flying all over the country interviewing for residency. Since Eric is counting on my future Ob/Gyn salary to support his poor liberal arts career (poor in the financial sense only), I'd better keep my end of the bargain and find a job!

Just kidding, just kidding. He loves me for more than my future earning potential.

Updates soon, I promise!

Monday, October 13, 2008

JoP Update

A few days after the last debacle, I finally got in touch with JoP #1 (the recurrent amnesia guy), and he told me to just call him a couple days before we wanted to meet, and he would meet up with us. So a late last week, I gave him a call and left a message telling him when I wanted to meet. He never -- and still hasn't -- called back.

JoP #2 called me back a few days after the first time I talked to her and was super-excited about meeting us for a consultation. For a $50 fee. I accepted, but immediately planned to cancel. I know $50 isn't THAT much, especially for these kinds of things, but this one keeps adding fees (the rehearsal is extra, too), and it just doesn't seem right.

We met with JoP #3 last weekend, when Eric was in town, and he has an interesting demeanor. He called me earlier that afternoon to confirm our meeting, which I appreciated. When we got to the courthouse, though, he met us in the lobby and asked, "Do you have your witnesses?" Immediately understanding what he thought, I quickly said, "No, no, we're not here to get married, we're here to meet with you." He apologized, asked us our names (which he had already done on the phone), and started walking us up to his office. He was chit-chatting with us, and, in the course of telling a story, asked our names again. Less than 2 minutes after the first time. I was not happy.

JoP #3 ended up being very nice, but I just don't think he's the guy for us. On the plus side, he adamantly sticks to the JoP-agreed fee of $75, while JoP #2 has raised her price to $125 for the ceremony, $75 for the rehearsal, and $50 for a consultation. JoP #3 doesn't believe that's right, and told us that if money is the hurdle preventing us from getting married, to be honest with him, because he has given discounts and performed ceremonies for free before. To him, the important thing is the marriage, and $75 shouldn't stand in the way.

Not that the $75 is what's standing in the way of us using him, but I like that this guy's heart is in the right place. He's a Baptist minister in his outside life, and serves as chaplain for the city jail. He gave us his card, to use or pass on to friends, to be used if we ever find ourselves behind bars. In that case, he would take care of us, "and get you a sandwich so you don't starve." I repeat: a good heart. His mother-in-law was also Wilma Rudolph, the track star, which is pretty cool.

I was also able to get him to dish on the other two JoPs. He told us that JoP #1 is a retired police officer, and is known for being difficult to reach. "He's retired, so he doesn't have the drive" to keep up with his marriage ceremonies, JoP #3 explained. I don't know what JoP #2 does for a living, but JoP #3 said he was aware of her fee tables, and disapproved. Apparently, when they were all elected, they all agreed to the $75 fee, and are supposed to stick with it. If I cared more, I would call JoP #2 and attempt to hold her to it, but 1) I don't think I want an officiant who I have to bargain down to an apparently previously agreed-upon fee, and 2) Maybe JoP #3 isn't teling the truth, so I wouldn't want to confront JoP #2 without some proof.

So here's where we stand:
JoP #1 is dead to us, since he won't return phone calls.
JoP #2 is pretty much dead to us, since she wants (comparatively) exorbitant fees.
JoP #3 is a nice guy, but his initial forgetfullness still bothers me, and something about his personality just didn't click with us, so we probably won't be using him.

Where does that leave us?

  • I have the name of a non-denominational minister who comes highly recommended from the local Knotties who charges $250 for the ceremony (consultation included) and $75 for the rehearsal. I don't like those prices, and I really don't want a religious ceremony, even if it is non-denominational.
  • The father of a med student in the class below me is a judge, and he apparently does weddings sometimes for people he knows. The student enthusiastically told me to let her know if I want her to ask her father for us, but I don't know how sincere the offer really was. I guess it can't hurt to ask, though.
  • My paternal grandfather is a retired minister. I don't think he can legally marry us in Kentucky, and there are a lot of emotional issues I need to work through to get to the point of asking him, plus there's the whole I-don't-want-a-religious-ceremony thing, but at the same time, it would be nice to have my grandfather marry us. And JoP #3, when I broached the subject, said that if we wanted my grandfather to marry us, he would just do the paperwork and let my grandfather do the whole ceremony, which is very generous of him. So it's an option.
I'm going to forget about it for a few weeks and maybe an answer will come to me in my sleep. Any other ideas would be welcome.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Free photography!

I can't believe this, but we won an engagement session with the fabulous DC photographer Carmen Fong! To win, I had to submit our engagement story, and while I love me some spotlight, it's a little embarrassing to have our story on someone else's blog. It's so personal, you know?

Well, whatever. If it gets us free stuff, so be it :)

Here's the catch: I'm in Louisville, and Eric's in AC. We have to figure out a time to get down to DC for the photo shoot, but in between all my residency interviews back east, I'm sure we'll find a time that works for everyone. (By the way, I've gotten a bunch of interviews, which makes me very happy!!!)

In the meantime, I have to start brainstorming ideas for places in the DC metro area to have the photo shoot, keeping in mind that it will probably be November or December. Tidal Basin? National Mall? There won't be any cherry blossoms, but those are still my favorite spots ever. Too bad the triceratops is long-gone from outside the Natural History Museum, or else there would definitely be a triceratops shot in the bunch. Georgetown at Christmas time, which is another one of my favorite things? The UMD campus? The zoo? Ideas, please!

Also, go check out Carmen's awesome photography skills on her blog. I'm so excited!