Tania
March 29, 2017
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Tania

Tania

Name: Tania
Current Home Town: Newcastle, NSW
Family Profile: An Anaesthetics Reg husband and two kids – 5.5 year old boy and 3.5 year old girl
Occupation: Home Maker but also a Freelance Graphic Designer and Stampin’ Up! Demonstrator

What book are you currently reading? I don’t really read books, I read cross stitching patterns and at the moment carefully studying a card making supply catalogue from Stampin’ Up!

What TV Show are you currently watching?: I’m re-watching Once Upon a Time from season 1.

How many years have you been married? We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in January this year, we go married 1 week before hubby started Med School.

Where has your family’s medical journey taken you? We moved from Sydney to Wollongong for Med School. Since then we have lived in Westmead (Sydney), Orange, Gosford, and now in Newcastle.

How has being the spouse of a medical student, junior doctor, or consultant affected your career? When we lived in Wollongong I commuted 2 hours one way for my university degree and then job in Sydney. After having the kids we found with all the moving is easiest for me be at home, last year I started to freelance and I love that I can work that around everyone schedules. This year I signed up to be a Stampin’ Up! Demonstrator. I’m really loving making cards for our family and friends and holding card making classes. It’s been an awesome distraction from hubby’s exam study and crazy shifts.

What challenges have you faced during your years as a medical spouse? The biggest challenge really is that associated with moving and having to start again. Our son has been to two different preschools and now has started a new school – each year he’s had to make new friends. He has adjusted to this wonderfully, and we’ve all learnt to make new connections.

What tip or advice would you give to other medical spouses? Its easy to become resentful, particularly when you compare your life to non medical families. My advice is firstly don’t compare and treasure the times you have together, in the other times find friends who you can connect with and make your own memories in each new place you live in.

What’s in your future? This year we are in Newcastle and next year is yet a mystery though we hope to stay around here and we are enjoying the lifestyle here and I really don’t feel like starting all over again next year. I’ve made such great connections here.

Jess
January 11, 2017
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images-2Current Home Town: Newcastle, NSW
Family Profile: Husband and wife. Family planning has been delayed due to ovarian cancer
Your Occupation: Transplant CNC

What book or TV show are you currently watching/reading? Southern Ruby by Belinda Alexander.

Where has your family’s medical journey taken you? Armidale, NSW; Tamworth, NSW; Taree, NSW; Sydney, NSW; Newcastle, NSW; Maitland, NSW; Melbourne, VIC;

What did you find or have you found most difficult about the rigors of medical training? Frequent location changes.

How has being the spouse of a medical student, junior doctor, or consultant affected your career? I am very lucky that this has not been much of an issue so far. Next year I will have to give up my job and take any nursing job I can in the town of my husbands contract. The location is yet to be determined as he is interviewing at the moment. At the end of the day I choose my family over my job.

What tip or advice would you give to other medical spouses? Support each other and keep communicating.

What goals do you have for your family in the upcoming year? Continued happiness and meeting new people in our new mystery location.

What is your favourite thing about being an Australian medical spouse? That I get to spend my life with the man I love.

Sim
October 5, 2016
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img_7806                 Simimg_6381-modified

Lives: Melbourne
Married with two children

 

 

 

What book are you currently reading? Lonely Planet Books about South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, as we are going to Safari later this year.

How many years have you been married? 38 years.

Your husband has worked up to being head of the plastic surgery department of Monash Health. Do you have advice for spouses who juggle family and children, run the household and have a partner who is obviously extremely busy working? What has helped you over the years?  Being very supportive. Good communications. Try to manage the family yourself as much as possible and focus on the reasons why you want to do it.

What challenges have you faced during your years as a medical spouse? Financial problems in the beginning and manage the family the best I can. Sometimes being unwell, you still have to do it as I don’t have family in Australia.

You were educated in finance to help better manage and grow the incoming funds throughout your partner’s career, do you have any advice for other spouses who want to do the same? Firstly, pay off your mortgage as fast as you can, as it is tax free and capital gain free. If you have excess money, it should go to Superannuation.

Where has your husband’s training taken you over the years? Where has been your favourite place? My favourite place is New Zealand. I love the country but unfortunately, we had bad experiences with hospital management.

 Has being the being the spouse of a doctor affected your own career over they years? How/Why? Yes. I had to give up my career as a nurse in neonatal ICU. My children come first and my husband’s career is more important than mine.

 

Ryan
August 28, 2016
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Ryan

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Name: Ryan

Hometown: Christchurch, New Zealand

Family Profile: 2 Kids, Surgical Wife

Occupation: Digital Marketing Specialist

 

  1. What book are you currently reading? Nothing specific at this stage, but I do enjoy getting the latest from the digital marketing world through Flipboard. 
  1. Where has your partner’s training taken you? Where has been your favorite city and why? We have been all around NZ – Tauranga, Invercargill, Rotorua, Nelson, Christchurch, Napier.                                                                                                                                                                                    My favourite two places are Tauranga and Napier – they are small enough to still have a real community feel, but big enough that they have everything that you need! It also has amazing weather and great beaches!
  1. What’s been the hardest thing for you personally in regards to the rigors of medical training? Hard to put my roots down and meet people – I was studying full time for my marketing degree while we moved around the country. All my study was via distance. I went through a spell of depression due to the pressure to look after two kids, a wife going through a tough medical career and my full time study. I gave up a lot of the things I love like sport and meeting people. I really missed ‘adult conversation’ also
  1. What’s been the best thing? Getting to see a lot of the country that we wouldn’t do without the training. Although brining up two children was hard, I never regret the opportunity I had to see them grow up!
  1. Do you think it’s a different experience for male trailing medical spouses as opposed to female ones? How so? Hard to know really – I think maybe it is easier for females as it ‘seen as the norm’ (sexist though)
  1. What advice can you give to any spouses – but especially male spouses to help them along during the harder parts of the training? What has helped you? Take time for yourself. Exercise, join a club where you can have time for you – medicine takes so much from you, that you need your own time to recover from it. Understand that your partner knows that this process is less than ideal. Don’t sweat the small stuff – let your partner know that today you are not going to fold the washing as you need time for yourself. Congratulate yourself when you can – your job is as important as your wifes.
  1. How has relocating and being the spouse of a Trainee/doctor affected your own career? My CV has so many holes in it from moving – it pushed my current career out by 4 years, but my wife’s income allowed me to pursue my career as a marketer.

 

 

Heather
May 4, 2016
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Health Kell

Heather

Health Kell

Hometown: Mandurah, Western Australia

Family Profile: Husband – Peter – GP-Obstetrician, six Kids, 2 ¾ grandkids (one due in 21 days!!), twins who are 17 years old last ones at home, and a Maltese Shitzu

Occupation: Café Owner as well as assisting husband run busy Practice

  1. What book are you currently reading? Speeches by Martin Luther King
  1. How many years have you been married? 18 years in October
  1. Where has your partner’s training taken you? Where has been your favorite city and why? Byron Bay and Mullumbimby NSW, registrar training in New Zealand – Christchurch. Loved Byron Bay for its laid-back hippy lifestyle, beautiful food and beaches, scenery is outstanding
  1. What challenges have you faced during your years as a medical spouse? Managing a large family, particularly twins and stepchildren with someone who is hardly ever home!  Running your own business is completely different to working for someone and can be overwhelming.  Having patients who fall in love with your husband – and tell you – as well as feeling uneasy with some women around my husband.  Sometimes feeling like I am playing second fiddle to his job and his patients (probably because I am!!)
  1. You are involved in a medical private practice – Can you offer advice for anyone starting out, or helping his or her spouse start in a Private Practice? I would love to do that as it is such hard work and yet so rewarding.  My husband has amazing people skills and I have had to “up” mine to be more sociable and less introverted.  Handling budgets, spread sheets, staff conflict, terminating people, building issues, paperwork – but a lot of joy in seeing something we have built together.  Love to sit down with anyone and chat if that will help him or her – be my pleasure.    Getting the right staff is so crucial and yet so difficult – when you do it is a breath of fresh air.  
  1. What advice can you offer spouses that are beginning their journey through their partner’s medical training? Remember who you fell in love with, your friendship together, he is not just a doctor, he is a husband, father, your best friend – medicine can define them to the point where you can feel on the outside if you are not medically trained.   Going to medical conferences can be fun, some doctors get togethers are glamorous and fun too once you get to know others.
  1. Has being the being the spouse of a doctor affected your own career over they years? How/Why? I never really had a strong career drive, although I studied and did a degree, I have had a lot of different work.  Running a Café was not my idea – but I do enjoy it as well as sometimes hate it.  Working together for the last ten years with my husband has been amazing and we are the best of friends, which helps, plus I get to see him more.

Stephanie
February 22, 2016
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Stephanie

 

Stephanie


Stephanie

Hometown: Perth, WA
Fellowships: 1yr Vancouver fellowship follow by 1 yr Montreal Fellowship

Family: with then 9month old and 2 year old boys in tow …

Specialty:  Hubby is in Interventional Radiology
Occupation:  didn’t work during fellowship

1.  Where has his/her training taken you? Where has been your favourite city and why?   My husband completed his speciality training in Perth.  We decided it would be great to do a couple of fellowships in Canada – and it was the best thing ever! It was tough with such young kids in tow, but no regrets!

I loved Vancouver for its Stanley Park and its super-family-friendly urban planning. I would recommend staying in Yaletown for Vancouver.

Montreal was such a great cultural and architectural city. The Montrealites sure knew how to put on festivals and street parties! The kids and I got to visit a lot of pop up Art shops and galleries. Le Plateau is the place to live if you’re doing a fellowship. It is close to McGill University – so you get a very welcoming community of academics, students, American expat mums and local friendly families.

2. What’s been the hardest thing for you personally in regards to the rigors of medical training? The Exams. I hate exams. No I’m not the one sitting it, but it affects everyone. If you have a newborn and toddler thrown in the mix, something will just have to give.

3. What’s been the best thing about going away for fellowship? Reminiscing about our time in Canada and all the white Christmases our boys enjoyed. They tobogganed, they had ice skating lessons, they ice fished and they went trick or treating. We miss Thanksgiving, the Sugar Shacks and the seasonal maple leave colour changes. I will never forget how freezing -42 degree was or how close my boys’ toes got to frostbite.

4.  What’s your advice to people contemplating overseas fellowship? 
MONEY: Having savings helps. You will want to travel while away on overseas fellowships.

PLANNING: Being the trailing spouse with young kids is tough. Planning it like a single parent will help. My hubby’s oncall was crap and the pay was crap.

PACKING: Pack light. We took 5 large suitcases and 1 double Phil and Ted pram over. Everything else you can buy. Things are much cheaper in Canada and the States, and they have Dollarama Stores!!   Places we ended staying had a transient community, which meant many people were dumping or giving away things at the end of their lease. You will pick up lots of free household stuff there, also other families will want to give you lots of baby and kids’ stuff. We came home with 33 boxes …

VISA: Getting visas and sorting paperwork for overseas fellowships is frustrating even if you are super organised like my husband. Our visas arrived literally the week before we boarded the plane, we didn’t know whether or not it was going to happen.

HOUSING: In Canada, they will only advertise houses for rent a month or two before being available, it was stressful not knowing whether we would have a home for the kids or not. Luckily for us, we already had friends in Vancouver for our first fellowship, so we took over their rent. I also found sabbaticalhomes.com to be extremely helpful.

I found renting a fully furnished house saved a lot of time and stress, especially since it’s only for a year. We still ended up having to donate and give away lots of our stuff at the end of our stay.

FIRST WEEK: First week at the new country will involve getting your medical registration, getting a new mobile number, applying for your security number, driving license, opening bank account and getting a cheque book, sorting rent cheques, visiting childcares, sourcing reliable babysitters, purchasing a car and checking out the local community centres.

  1. What’s in your future? Lots of international conferences when the kids are older.
  1. How has relocating and being the spouse of a Trainee affected your own career? I’ve since been able to return to work part time with more life experience. I look forward to more free time next year when my younger boy enters Kindy!!

Stephanie is also our wonderful Perth Local Area Liaison! 

Jennifer
January 21, 2016
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Meet Jennifer!

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Your Name: Jennifer
Current Home Town:Hobart, Tasmania
Family Profile: My husband (SET 3 Orthopaedics Reg) and I have three kids, 2 girls (6 & 3) and a baby boy (6 months)
Your Occupation:  Mum, formerly a Solicitor

 
What book or TV show are you currently watching/reading?
The Goldfinch (amongst many others)

 
Where has your family’s medical journey taken you?
We have traversed 3 states. We have lived in Westmead, Orange, Melbourne, Gippsland, Albury and Hobart during the course of our family’s medical journey….and we are not done yet! About to embark on our next move back to Melbourne. Then perhaps fellowship in Canada.

 
What did you find or have you found most difficult about the rigors of medical training?
I find times when the training is particularly intensive challenging. During those times I have had to learn to be self sufficient and to carry the primary responsibility for caring for our family. Moving about has been wonderful in some respects, but also difficult when it comes to saying goodbye.

 
How has being the spouse of a medical student, junior doctor, or consultant affected your career?
Before we had our first child, we decided together that I would stay at home full time. I have not worked as a Solicitor since we had our first child. Our itinerant lifestyle makes it difficult to commit to an employer and my working would make relocating as a family difficult.

 
What tip or advice would you give to other medical spouses?
Embrace the opportunities that medical training presents. If you must move, treat it as an adventure and an opportunity to meet new people and discover new places. Make the most of the time you get to share with your spouse, no matter how small. There’s always room for small joys amongst the busyness.

 
What goals do you have for your family in the upcoming year?
To settle back in to Melbourne and reconnect with our friends, schools and community there.

 
What is your favourite thing about being an Australian medical spouse?
I have felt very fortunate to have been able to share in the medical training that my husband is undergoing. We have travelled as a family, met the most fascinating people and lived in some wonderful places. The opportunities to do new things are great.

 

 

Jill
October 13, 2015
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ADSN-2Name: Jill

Hometown: Rotorua, New Zealand

Family Profile: 4th year Radiology Reg husband, 2.5 year old boy, 14 month old girl.

Occupation: Registered Nurse but currently not practicing; instead I run a wedding photography business.

 

  1. Where has his/her training taken you? Where has been your favorite city and why?  We have had it pretty lucky. We meet in Auckland at University and then moved to Tauranga for the first 3 years of specialist training. We are currently back in Auckland for the last 2 years of training, before hoping to complete a fellowship in Australia in 2017. We love Tauranga! A beautiful beach town, no traffic, great for kids and wonderful friendly people.

 

  1. What’s been the hardest thing for you personally in regards to the rigors of medical training? Having children!  When we first got married Matt was a medical student and I was a new graduate nurse. We didn’t see each other much but I felt I knew what I was getting myself into because I would see the junior doctors on my ward working long hours.  There would be weeks where we wouldn’t see each other because we were working opposite shifts and it never really bothered me. If Matt said he would be late because a trauma had come in I didn’t mind because I knew that was just part of the job. I ould arrange to catch up with friends mid week and during the weekends when Matt was on call.

Then came children…..when your husband is working long hours you can’t go out and socialize because you’re kids go to bed at 6pm it can be isolating and lonely at times.  Children also add another layer of stress and I guess we didn’t anticipate just how hard it would be while studying for exams.  Crying newborns, toddler tantrums, sleepless nights, moving cities, working 7 days AND studying for specialist exams is crazy. A week before Matt’s exam our two year old had gastro and was literally vomiting on us at 2am. Not ideal when you are meant to be getting on a plane the next morning to sit an exam.  We can laugh about it now but so far the combination of young children and specialist exams has been the hardest.

 

  1. What’s been the best thing?

There are so many positive things; job security, decent wage, conference holidays (love this perk!!). I am really proud of what my husband does. Knowing that Matt is using his gifts to help people and make a difference in their lives makes me really happy.

I have also found that people often open up to you when they find out you are a Doctor or married to one. I’ve had many chats with strangers at the playground and when they ask what my husband does they often open up to me, talking about their own or their family’s health.

 

  1. What’s your advice to people just starting out or people that are struggling? 

Acknowledge it is hard sometimes: It’s ok to stop and acknowledge that this medical journey is very very hard at times! It’s difficult never seeing your husband, moving to a new city without friends and family, being a solo parent and supporting your spouse as they work crazy hours and study for exams. People would often say to me, ‘Oh well, it’s not forever, soon he will be a consultant.’  Thanks for that but even though it’s not forever it’s still hard at the moment. It’s like saying to a marathon runner, ‘I know you’re in pain and breathless but it’s not forever’. It’s still difficult while you are running the race.  Our children are 18 months apart and my youngest was waking up 10 times a night at 6 months of age. My husband was
studying for his written part 2s, we were moving cities and getting no sleep.  I kept apologizing to people because I would burst into tears from the stress. I was listening to a podcast the other day and it said that you don’t have to say sorry for being stressed. They gave the example of a guy climbing a mountain to get to a picnic at the top.  His friend is waiting and he drove his car up the mountain. When the climber arrives he doesn’t say, ‘I’m so sorry I’m sweating!!’  Of course he is sweating because it was hard work, he climbed a huge mountain while his friend drove.  It is stressful sitting exams and moving and it’s ok to acknowledge that.

Enjoy the current season: You can’t keep waiting for the next season to arrive as you will miss the now. It’s easy to think, ‘things will get better once he’s a registrar’, which then becomes ‘It will get better once he’s on a training programme, it will get better once he is a fellow’ etc etc. Having an attitude of gratitude is vital to survival.  At the end of every day I try and reflect on the things I’m thankful for. ‘Today was hard when my children were both crying and wouldn’t eat their dinner and my husband was working a long day but there were also things to be thankful for: the sound of my baby girl giggling, my son asking for a hug, hot coffee in the morning, phone call with a friend to name a few.
Find joy in the less then ideal circumstances: Make peace and find joy in a less then ideal situation. No it’s not ideal that your children haven’t seen their Dad for weeks and say things like ‘Daddy doesn’t love me.’  It would be great if your spouse didn’t work weekends and was home by 5pm every night but that’s not our situation so you have to make peace with that.  When we do spend time together as a family or Matt isn’t working a public holiday I am so thankful!  Make peace with your current season and you will have the strength to keep living and getting through each day.

You are not alone: I found it really helpful reading Doctor spouses blogs. Other doctor’s spouses are going through similar things as you.  It helps to share your stories, the highs and sad and lonely experiences. Just hearing that someone else feels the same way as you is really therapeutic. During exams I would meet up with other medical spouses in the weekends, it was great having adult company during the week.  That’s why I love this ADSN group, I’ve made connections through this and just reading other people’s experiences and coping strategies has been so encouraging. Through the ADSN facebook page I met up with an Australian Doctor’s wife who is in Auckland on fellowship. They are a little further down the road then us and it was so wonderful connecting with families that have been there.

*Perspective: Even though you might feel like things are really tough at the moment continue to be thankful. People often use the term ‘Doctor’s widow’ and I personally can’t stand it! My friend lost her husband at the age of 34 to bowel cancer last year. She actually is a widow! Even if my husband is stressed, not home much or overseas sitting exams he is still alive.

 

  1. What’s in your future? We are hoping to move to Australia for a fellowship in 2017.  We would love to settle in New Zealand but will have to wait for a consultant position to become available. At the moment we are taking one day at a time and trying to enjoy the season we are in.

 

  1. How has relocating and being the spouse of a Trainee affected your own career? I was working at a private hospital when we were sent to Tauranga for M
    att’s first year as a training registrar. I decided to start a wedding photography business, as photography has always been a passion of mine. My first year of business went well and then we had our first baby. The combination of Matt’s long hours, study and a second baby has meant I’ve had to put everything on hold until Matt has completed his exams. I’m totally at peace with the decision to put my business on hold and I’m loving being a stay at home Mama.

 

Alex
April 17, 2015
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Meet Alex!1743710_10151981682378807_666066383_n

Name: Alex MacArthur

Hometown: Formerly Sydney, now Canberra

Family Profile: Married with an 11 month old son.

Occupation: Advertising

  1. Where has your partner’s training taken you? Where has been your favourite city and why?

At this point, we are about to embark on our first real move, from Sydney to Canberra. My wife is a 4th year General Surgical trainee, so we’ve seen a couple of 3 to 6 month rural rotations during her training where we have lived apart but other than that we’ve been fairly lucky to have remained in Sydney for the most part. We’ll be in Canberra for at least a couple of years and I’m really looking forward to embracing the change and seeing everything the city has to offer, it may just turn out to be our favourite place to live.

  1. What’s been the hardest thing for you personally in regards to the rigors of medical training?

Past exams have been tough and we’re quickly approaching fellowship so a bit apprehensive about what is coming. However, I wouldn’t say anything felt really tough until we had a baby last year. It’s a huge amount of pressure and change for any working couple, and it just took some extra resilience and understanding with a spouse in surgical training.

  1. What’s been the best thing?

Without a doubt it has been watching my wife grow from a nervous medical student into the increasingly confident surgical trainee she is today. Listening to her stories and experiencing her passion for her profession has been really inspiring.

  1. Do you think it’s a different experience for male training medical spouses as opposed to female ones? How so?

Yes, I think it can be different. But with many variables, such as what your own chosen career and aspirations are, whether or not you have kids, what kind of family/support network you have around you.

I think gender certainly still colours perceptions and expectations of those around us, so I’ve found that many people outside medicine find it hard to understand what my wife is going through in her training, particularly with the arrival of our first child, and what kind of support that requires of me as a spouse. I could tell that many assumed my wife would be staying at home with the baby for an extended period, therefore having little-to-no impact on my own availability and commitment to my high pressure job. The truth however, was very different as I rushed out the door early for day-care pickups or had numerous days of carers leave to look after our son at home. Overtime and weekend work was mostly out of the question too. This situation is in no way unique as many working mothers and fathers go through to same thing as a primary carer of children, but I found it surprising how ‘old world’ gender role expectations clashed with the reality of having a female spouse in medical training.

  1. What’s in your future?

Stress, relocations and hard work! But along with that some amazing adventures, opportunities to meet new people, see new places and make some great long term plans for our careers and our family.

  1. How has relocating and being the spouse of a Trainee affected your own career?

As of Christmas I’ve resigned from a management position of a major Sydney advertising agency in order to make our next move to Canberra. I haven’t yet found the right opportunity in Canberra but remaining positive. I am looking in a significantly smaller market so will probably have to broaden my search and adjust my expectations, but it could all lead to an exciting challenge I might never have encountered if we stayed in Sydney.

 

Alison
February 17, 2015
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alison

alisonMeet Alison Seow

Hometown: Newcastle

Family Profile: Married with one toddler

Occupation: Registered Nurse

1. Where has your husbands training taken you? ACT, NSW, Victoria and Queensland (currently in Brisbane)

2. What’s been the hardest thing for you personally in regards to the rigors of medical training? Some of the harder aspects have included uncertainty as to where we will be going next, having to put my own career on hold, leaving old friends and making new friends. But by far the hardest is raising children without support from family or close friends.

3. What’s been the best thing? Exploring new places, meeting new friends and enjoying the beautiful and unique landscapes of Australia.

4. What’s your advice to people just starting out or people that are struggling? Stay positive and “go with the flow”. Try not to make detailed long-term plans as you may find disappointment when rotations are changed or training requires relocation. If you can, focus on the current rotation, make plans to enjoy the local sights, food and people.

If you can delay starting a family until you are settled in one place it makes things much easier (but don’t hold off too long). Joining group activities, volunteer organisations or social groups (such as mothers group) in a new place is a great way to meet new people.

5. What’s in your future? My husband is still training, so more moving no doubt!!

6. How has relocating and being the spouse of a Trainee affected your own career? My clinical career has suffered from a higher duties perspective, but I have been able to work in a variety of hospitals and departments, which has been interesting. I couldn’t access maternity leave as we have moved too much to accrue 12 months experience in the same hospital/health service, so I found it quite daunting to get back into the workplace after having my child. But the plus side is that I have used the time between jobs as study time, and have completed my Masters in Clinical Education.