By Sammy and Rosa Sinno, Scott and Alicia Reis, Emily Cleveland and Gaurav Manchanda, Ajul and Shefali Shah, Anup and Rina Patel
“Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes.”-Jim Carrey
Life takes us down a great journey, full of peaks and valleys. Having a partner to share in the vicissitudes we encounter enriches our own journey and sheds light into this journey. Undoubtedly, the path to becoming a plastic surgeon proves challenging. After years of working hard in medical school, residents spend a minimum of 6 years and up to 10-12 years (including research) to realize their goal of being a board-certified plastic surgeon. Then, there are fellowship and career opportunities that, like residency, may uproot a family to an unfamiliar location.
So much in our literature is focused on our path and journey as plastic surgery trainees. We have dissected every detail about residency applicants, optimal training pathways, and fellowship/career choices. In contrast, a paucity of information exists on the support system that accompanies this journey. Our significant others are such an important part of our lives, sharing in the joy and triumph, comforting in the grief and failure.
As residents, we decided to ask our husbands and wives what they thought about residency. We asked them several questions and below you will find a summary representation of the responses. Our hope in sharing this piece will encourage fellow readers of this blog to share with their loved ones to let them know others are traveling down a similar path and provide feedback to us.
Question #1: Is residency what you thought it would be? Please explain.
Virtually, dead on: I knew it would be stressful, busy, and a long journey full of hard work. Work/life balance can vary greatly from rotation to rotation, but overall it is more bearable than expected.
Question #2: What is the best part of being a plastic surgery resident’s wife/husband?
Seeing how much he/she loves what he/she is doing and the impact these surgeries have on patients lives. Also, knowing that one day training will be over and all the hard work will pay off. Meeting new friends, having the opportunity to live in a different city, and hearing about interesting cases are also bonuses.
Question #3: What is the worst thing about being a plastic surgery resident’s wife/husband?
Not being able to spend as much time together as I would like. The long hours and uncertainty in scheduling make it difficult to see each other as much as we were used to and plan our time together.
Question #4: How do you manage the nights you are home and he/she is still at the hospital?
Initially, it is very tough to get used to waiting at home with cold dinner. Having hobbies helps, and I have come to accept “I will be home in 20 minutes” may actually in reality mean two hours. I try to do activities for myself, run errands, meet with friends, watch so when he/she is not working we can enjoy our time together.
Question #5: Out of all the operations he/she tells you about, which ones sound the most interesting?
A variety of cases prove interesting including face transplantation. DIEP flaps for breast reconstruction. craniofacial cases, ear reconstruction using autologous rib, and rhinoplasty.
Question #6: What are your thoughts about an extra fellowship year?
I am open to it. Time goes by so fast, so what is an extra year if it really can hone one’s surgical skills.
Question #7: If you could change one thing about his/her residency, what would it be?
I wish there was less home call and we knew the weekend schedule even farther in advance for planning purposes.
Question #8: What are you going to miss most when residency is over?
All of the great people in the program, especially the other residents
Question #9: If you could pick an area of training for him/hr, what would you pick? Why?
Whatever he/she enjoys doing that makes him/her the happiest.