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.


Rachel said...

I stumbled on your blog when Google searching Louisville wedding locations and your blog has been awesome! You've already gone through all the things my fiance and I are going through now. I'd love to chat with you about how you reached your decisions if you have the time, email me at renix86@gmail.com. Thanks!

Our blog is: benandrachel.wordpress.com