My outfit: Top | Denim | Shoes (under $100 & look designer!) | Monogram
Today marks four years of marriage for John & me! I’m so grateful for John – he’s an incredible person and I could sit here all day long and type all of his wonderful attributes and characteristics but I think he’d be embarrassed as he is one of the most humble people I have ever met. Anyway, I think the Lord daily for giving me John – and for creating John to be patient enough to deal with me! 🙂 
If you are ‘new’ here or not familiar, I started this blog during John’s second year of medical school. It was meant to be a ‘journal’-like space of our time living in Virginia and powering through the medical school days (which we don’t miss at all). By the end of medical school, our little online journal had evolved into what it is now. It was not something we planned but we have loved every minute of it & are so grateful to have you all following along. John is behind the scenes big time despite what can be a grueling residency schedule. He does all of the photography here (i.e. he moonlights as a photographer) & he also helps arrange all of my travel as well as a few other tasks. Really & truly, I don’t think I could do it without him as blogging requires me to wear SO many hats (literally and figuratively, haha.) 
Anyway, I get asked about residency a lot by you all – I actually decided not to do a post on residency because I didn’t think many would relate but over time I’ve had more requests so voila, here I am! I thought I’d share 8 ways to make medical school / residency a little better! Keep in mind, every program is different…. very, very different. We have surgery resident friends and it is SO much more intense than internal medicine. But overall, residency is definitely not an easy time and it’s really hard to understand what it’s like unless you are actually going through it or you are married to someone going through it. This is random, but when John and I were dating and getting more serious, I actually googled “is it smart to date a medical student?” haha. I remember thinking wondering if he would have time for me,  if he would be annoyed that I don’t like science or blood, etc. I was skeptical of getting too serious because I didn’t know what to expect! Luckily, I quickly realized my concerns were silly! Anyway, that’s part of the reason I wanted to write this post in case any of you don’t know what to expect w/residency and/or medical school. 
1. Flexibility: I think being flexible during residency has made it so much better for us. Obviously, his schedule is not flexible but mine is… I.e. If John is on nights, I typically will change my schedule up to align with his. I’ll stay up 2-3 hours later than normal doing work so that I can sleep later & have lunch with him the same time the next day. Or, if he has a Wednesday off, I’ll coordinate my whole week so that on Wednesday I’ll be able to spend some time with him. 
2. Making the most of time off: I’m not going to say we are the best at this – when John is off work, he is usually working with me on a project. It’s not the best habit but I would advise to making the most of time off and having fun  or just getting quality time together. For us, we love to travel and see new places. Every quarter or so, John will come home from work on a.. say… Monday and be like “hey guess what, I have a 3 day weekend next weekend” and we will literally will try to find a place to go that weekend, right away. That’s how we were able to go to the Bahamas in February actually. It is always so last minute, but it’s a fun way for John to see some new scenery and get a break from Tulsa. And I still work on these trips so I just need a good wifi connection!
3. Expectations: I sound so negative saying this, but set your expectations low. Personally, before intern year began, I’d heard enough (horror stories) that I didn’t expect to see John much or to get holidays with him… so when I did get to see him for a full weekend or have him home for Thanksgiving, I was over the top excited. Also, I remember him coming home at 5pm every now & then and it being like a huge treat to see him that early in the day. After intern year, things got better, however! We shall see how this last year is… 🙂 
4. Independence: As busy as blogging keeps me, I am grateful for it because it keeps me from being too lonely when John is on a tough rotation. I’ve learned to be independent and stay busy on my own. I recommend finding things to do to keep yourself busy whether it be working out, picking up a hobby, getting involved in church, cleaning your house, DIY projects, etc. Also, we got Fitz during the first year of residency which made our lives SO much happier! 
5. Support: I’m so fortunate to have friends and family who are aware of my situation and support us so much. Really, we are so blessed to have these people in our lives. An example, last Thanksgiving John was on a demanding rotation and was not getting any time off during the holiday. My family all drove to Tulsa and did Thanksgiving at our house so that when John got off work that night he’d be able to have dinner with us! I didn’t want to leave John alone on Thanksgiving, but I also didn’t want to be without my family so it all worked out! Another example, when John is on nights – life can be pretty lonely. Sometimes his night schedule is 6pm-6am, for 5 consecutive days which is so tough on him but also takes a toll on me. This past weekend, my friend Elle came to stay for two nights which meant the world to me because being home alone all weekend would have been my alternative. 
6. Comparison is the thief of joy: Ya… this one is tough. I have been guilty of this over the years, especially during the medical school years. I remember being 25 or 26 y/o and John being a medical student (aka no income + medical school debt) & us having to move monthly for his rotations so I couldn’t have a permanent job (I had just finished my Masters in Business and always loved working and having a job so this was tough on me mentally). We had to live in friends’ basements, spare rooms, my parents home, etc. I would get on my personal Facebook page and see my friends from college who were living really beautiful lives.. they were buying homes, having children, going on vacations… you get where I am going w/this right?! I would compare our lives to theirs and it wasn’t pretty. Luckily, I would tell my mom these thoughts and she’d quickly say “oh! Emily, that is silly, you will be so happy you went through all of this in just a few years!” And she was right..  everything worked out for us, but better than I could have planned for myself. I just share all of this because no matter what you are doing in life – don’t compare! Or! If you have to compare, make it healthy and let it be motivation. If you find yourself comparing, forward that energy into something better. E.g., I was always disheartened that I’d finished my MBA and couldn’t pursue a ‘dream job’ w/my degree, instead I used my energy on my blog and turned it into my very own business that could withstand the demands of medical school and residency. *see full post on how we moved monthly here.
7. Plan Ahead: By nature, I am *kind of* a planner. I say kind of because I have a ‘life plan’ but when it comes to the trip I am going on next week – I probably don’t even have a flight booked yet, haha. (really though!) John and I are an interesting mix because we both are super career oriented. We are both very driven people, but we are also both family people. We love kids and can’t wait to have our own. However, residency pays very little and parenting is demanding/expensive so we made the decision to both work though residency so we could both pursue careers and save money to have children / pay off medical school loans. Anyway, this is what works for us. There’s no ‘right’ way, per se, but I believe planning ahead & being practical is important. Also, with me working through all of this, John only had to take loans out for tuition for medical school which makes a huge difference in the long run. Again, there’s no ‘right’ way – you do what’s best for your family & situation. 
8. Be A Cheerleader: My friends tease me because to this day I still know every cheer, chant and dance from high school! But, it’s vital to be a cheerleader for your spouse/significant other going through all of this. John will spend 80 hours some weeks dealing with very ill, dying patients and he’s drained and exhausted. I consider it my job to cheer him on & remind him that he’s making a huge difference in people’s lives. Let’s get real, I could never do his job or even power through the years of education (and science!!) he’s gone through. 
Overall, it’s really all about making it a new normal, if you will. And making the most out of little victories. 🙂 
Full blog post on this look here.
Christmas Card 2014 – My dress is here. (in ‘lead’)




Full blog post on this look here


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48 thoughts on “8 Tips For Surviving Residency

  1. I appreciate this post so much. You really capture what it's like to be married to medicine. I remember intern year, we had just started dating, and my expectations were the cause of many disappointing and lonely evenings Lol. It has gotten much better each year and it's so true that you learn to be more independent! Happy Anniversary & cheers to our amazing Doctor Husbands.

    -ashley ciaccia

  2. Hi Emily, my name is Kathy. I'm 22 & I've been following your blog for a while now. I look forward to stopping by everyday because you are absolutely stunning & I look up to you. I'm currently in college studying for my MBA as well. I've been dating my boyfriend for almost a year now. He is close to completing his BSN & plans to transfer to a CRNA program. Right now he works as an RN in the ICU at a local hospital & I totally agree that they do need their cheerleaders to lift their spirits after long days of keeping dying patients alive. I can't take it when I see him in his scrubs I think he looks so cute 🙂 lol I don't know if I've missed your age? Not that it's too important for your followers to know but I was just curious. Best of luck & lots of blessings to you & John. You both are #goals

  3. You two are perfect for each other!
    I love the realness of this post and you admitting to comparing yourself to your other friends and how good they were living, that's a bad habit of mine but I love that you brought that up because I love being able to relate.
    XOX Mollie

  4. This post meant a lot to me to read! I just got married about two months ago and my husband just began his third year of medical school. It's already tough as his first rotation already requires him to work 6-6 including every other weekend :/ – thank you for this post as I know it will help me as I begin this journey with my husband through rotations and residency!

  5. Happy Anniversary! Thanks for sharing and being so real – it's so refreshing to hear how different couples make unique dynamics work for them! It's all about give and take, and always being each other's biggest cheerleaders, so I couldn't agree with you more!

    xo, Marissa

  6. You are a wonderful wife to stand by your husband through everything. You're his biggest cheerleader. I'm not American nor have I and my husband studied medicine, so I can't relate to that part, but I do understand sacrifice. You both sacrifice for each other and that's what makes your marriage work.
    I can relate to the part about comparison because I feel like that now. Going through a hard time right now; I took a risk and quit my job in pursuit of a new career. Started my blog because I have too much free time on my hands, but I'm trusting that God will come thru for me. My hubby is so supportive and I look at my friend's working and going out and wonder when it will be my turn. My hubby and I are going thru such a hard time that it was my bday in June and we couldn't celebrate at all. All he could do was send me a heartfelt message about how one day everything will change and we'll be able to enjoy life. I believe him and I know things will change, but it can be hard. Sorry for the sob story.
    I love your blog ever since I started following. Keep being you and putting God first. He guarantees Your success. All the best.

    Mich x

  7. Happy Anniversary!! I loved this blog post and it was so nice and refreshing how real you are! God definitely had a plan for both of you and His plans always work out so much better than we could ever imagine.

  8. Happy anniversary! This is my favorite blog post ever! My boyfriend isn't a resident or in med school, but has a career that also demands long, weird hours. I do get discouraged a lot but reading this definitely helped 🙂 thank you!

  9. I ordered the monagram necklace and received a scratched up thin piece of metal for $220. It turned a streaky brown color in the box without being touched or worn. Very disappointed in this being recommended!

  10. Happy Anniversary!! I am applying to medical school now and dating has been such a fear for me because I'm not sure where I will be in a year and I've also never really had a serious boyfriend ever. After reading this I feel like I should take the chance and if someone works out to pursue it. I love hearing y'alls story and it's so uplifting!! I wish you all the best in the upcoming years and I really gain hope from y'all.

    Keep Sparkling✨
    Sparkling Southerner
    Find me at : Instagram

  11. Love this! My boyfriend is starting his second year of med school, so reading your posts about you and your husband's journey through med school and residency is so inspiring and helpful!

  12. Happy anniversary!!! My husband just started surgery residency in a super intense program and it is ROUGH. Feels good to know I'm not the only wife going a little crazy! Feels selfish to say it takes a toll on me when I know how hard he's working but I appreciate your words of encouragement, truly!

  13. So nice hearing you share about this, and I don't even have a hubby in residency. We've moved so much and had a little one in between one of those moves and clearly I wouldn't change it for the world, but goodness gracious its darn near impossible to survive all that change of a new baby and a new city/house/job/directions, etc. Y'all are doing what's right for you and that's what's important! Happy Anniversary!

    Erin, Attention to Darling

  14. Thanks for writing about this! I've been dating my boyfriend for 8 years now. We've gone thru undergrad, my nursing school (I work nights in an ICU), his med school and now he's in his intern year in residency. It's good to have reminders once in a while and tips of how to get thru it. The comparison part was especially important. It's so hard to do that sometimes, but it's the truth. Just glad to know it will get better. I've been following you for a while now and always tell him how it will get better eventually because I point out how often you guys get to travel or see each other 🙂 thanks for reminding me there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

  15. Happy anniversary! Although I enjoy your outfit posts, I love that you occasionally share your personal experiences with us. A lot of successful bloggers only seem to show the glamorous parts of their lives but I like how you are honest and show your readers where you came from and what you experienced to get to where you are today. I've been married for 2 years and although my husband isn't working in medicine, we have our own challenges and things can be hard sometimes. It sounds like you've been through a lot and are a wonderful wife for being your husband's biggest cheerleader! Best of luck with everything you do!


  16. I loved reading this post! Thought it's not nearly as grueling as med school/residency, my fiance is finally in his last year of his PhD program for Bioengineering! He also lives on a student salary and also works crazy long hours! I'm definitely ready for it to be done but grateful he'll have an awesome career path afterwards!

    Happy Anniversary!!

  17. You two are so cute! I can only imagine how tough it is during residency. My husband has a very demanding job and finding the time to juggle that with everything else has been a challenge but we have survived it thus far!

    Happy Anniversary!

    ps. I would love to see some wedding pics!


  18. Happy Anniversary! This is such a sweet post and shows your love and support for your husband! Annnnd it's your friend Caitlin's birthday! Did you know her back then?

  19. Happy Anniversary. My cousin is a teacher in Ohio like me. Her husband went through medical school later in life after two small children were born. So she completely agrees with you. You have to let go of a lot for awhile. Thank you for sharing so candidly especially about marriage. My husband and I have been married 5 years in September, and this is encouraging and inspiring. I found your blog from Caitlin's blog and have delightfully enjoyed you and your husbands life story. It's great to see such wisdom at a young age. I pray God's richest blessings on your marriage and on your wonderful blog!! Amanda 🙂

  20. Love your blog and your overall passion for fashion and travel. What makes it so special is your willingness to share your life essentially. I also dated and married a surgeon, so I can relate. You guys are a great couple. Thanks for sharing, as always. I'll be starting a home decor blog soon and will use you as a role model.

  21. Very inspiring! My husband travels so much for work only home about 2 n half days a week. Plus I just started my own business (not blogging) so it's nice to see that I'm not the only one who's had those feeling and compared myself to others! Thank you for the post!

  22. Loved this post. While I don't have the experience of being married to someone in medical school/residency I am a police wife. So a lot of what you spoke about is very similar. I think the suggestions that stood out most were flexibility and being his biggest cheerleader. It pays off in the end. Thanks for sharing your residency story and the beautiful pictures 🙂 Happy (belated) Anniversary!

  23. Hi Emily!

    I've been following your blog closely for over 3 years now. A friend recommended it to me because my now husband (then boyfriend) also named John was at the same point in medical school as your John! Its been so interesting to go through the same ups (match day!) and downs (rough schedules) from afar 🙂 I really enjoyed this post and couldn't agree with each point more. There is nothing quite like being married to a resident and its hard to explain to friends whose husbands don't have to plan vacation time months in advance or miss holidays with family.

    Thank you for writing this post and for all of your work on your blog. I truly enjoy it! I also follow your bestie Caitlin. You girls are so fun 🙂

    Have a good weekend!

  24. I love this post! Especially since my husband doesn't have a typical schedule either (He owns and operates a creative design agency) and I do youtube, so I too will change my schedule around to accommodate his! It's refreshing to see other couples do the same! And about being his cheerleader… So true! In proverbs one way God describes a wife is as a husbands divine help, cheering our men on is a huge component to their success! You are a gift to John, and I'm sure he survived because of you! I respect what you both do, and how you put each other first! Thanks for sharing as always!!! ~Stephanie 🙂

  25. Thanks for posting this. It's so hard being a medical school student and resident,but I feel it's even harder on our significant others. The hardest thing is telling everyone you love "I don't know" because you don't know your schedule ahead of time or what time you'll be out of the hospital. God bless you two.

  26. This is a great post! I'm in my 4th year of medical school and can definitely relate to #6. I just turned 30 and see all of my friends getting married and having children and it's really tough to stay positive and push through. I wish you guys the best through his final year and beyond!

  27. This post made me feel so much better about what my boyfriend and I are going through ! Thank you for sharing, it really helped me come to terms with how I have been feeling and cannot wait for the long ride to be over!

  28. I'm dating someone finishing up medical school and those questions at the beginning were definitely going through my mind. Thank you so much for giving me some insight. Love your blog been following for years 🙂

  29. I've been reading your blog for a year or so and it's my first time to comment! What a great post about marriage! I love the last one about being a cheerleader for your spouse. I am a family medicine physician and my husband is a pastor. Those years in med school and residency were SO tough, but I think God knows the challenges and the blessings and what marriages He has set up for it. Marriage is such an incredible gift from God, so thank you for honoring it in such a public way on your blog. Blessings to yall!

  30. Thank you so mUch for shaRing this! I’M marring a Resident in a few months and was looking for tips on how to not be overwhelmed with it all and a new marriage. This was so helpful!! i thought of your blog first and foUnd exactly what i needed! I will For sure Be SaVing this for next year. ❤️