How to make a relationship work… (when you both are in med school)

How to make a relationship work: (WHEN BOTH OF YOU ARE IN MEDICAL SCHOOL):

In the tradition of the month of love. I wanted to share a little relationship advice. With both of us being full-time medical students, Josh and I have learned a LOT about what it takes to make a relationship work & I can’t wait to share these little tips with you.

Flashback: So back in 2017, Josh & I started dating while we both were living in Madison, WI. I was finishing up my undergraduate degree and Josh was finishing his masters degree. We were together every day…lived 2 blocks apart and everything was magical. THEN, about a month after we started dating, Josh found out that he got accepted to The Medical College of Wisconsin. I was an eager pre-med, so I was equally excited & jealous of Josh and his new opportunity!

Time went on and Josh had to move to Milwaukee to start his medical education. So, we did long-distance (okay, not thatttt long distance…but we lived an hour apart).  In May 2018 I graduated from UW-Madison and moved to Milwaukee with Josh. I applied to a couple medical schools, but didn’t get accepted right away.  Sooo, I was working FT and enjoying finally being able to live with Josh. Again, another magical year. As we were moving into our new apartment in Milwaukee after Josh’s second year of medical school, I got the call that I got accepted to medical school…2 hours away!!!! Now here we are…both of us in medical school…constantly driving back and forth to see each other…yet, still making it work. Every stage of this journey has been difficult and amazing in its own way. But we have learned A LOT. Let’s get into it.

These tips are specifically for people who are in medical school and for people who are dating a medical student. But I suppose they could be applied to other relationships too!!!

  1. Trust is BY FAR the most important thing. Trust is essential in all relationships, but especially in medical school relationships. Medical school is SO BUSY & OVERWHELMING! You constantly have classes, clinicals and requirements to get done. As the  significant other of a med student…you have to understand that your S/O won’t always have their phone on them, they won’t always be able to make it to events, they will need to spend a lot of time studying, they won’t be able to binge watch shows every night with you and they definitely won’t be able to talk for hours on the phone every day. If you don’t have a trust-filled relationship, OH MAN, it’s going to be very difficult for you. There are days where Josh has to be in the hospital ALL DAY (literally 24 hour shifts) and there are big chunks of time where he can’t respond to my texts. If I didn’t trust him, it would make both of our lives 100x harder. If you aren’t going to trust your significant other, then you might as well break up right now…just saying.

2. You’re dating a medical student, NOT a doctor. They don’t have a lot of money. Medical school is crazy expensive, and you don’t get very much money to live off of…so be prepared to live on a tight budget. Don’t expect fancy presents or expensive restaurants. This one is easy for Josh and I because we have always had to live on a pretty tight budget. But having false expectations of the financial status of your med student S/O could totally ruin things.

3. You need to have your own interests (that don’t include your S/O). If you are a dependent person and can’t do anything without your S/O….you’re going to be miserable waiting around for them to have time for you. During my gap year, I knew that Josh would need to be studying all the time. So, I started coaching as a way to fill my schedule. Having my coach work to do every day helped to keep me occupied while Josh was studying.

4. Communication about schedule/boundaries is key. Josh and I are super open about what we need to get done every week. So, if I have exams, he knows that I need to study A LOT and if we’re together, he has to be okay with sitting at a library all day with me. If he has a long week in clinicals…I have to accept that he won’t be home for dinner with me every night. It really comes down to a mutual understanding.

5. When you are together, BE PRESENT. No phones, no computers, focus on each other and make the time meaningful! When Josh and I get our school stuff done and are ready to relax for the night…we don’t just sit on the couch scrolling Instagram or Facebook. We intentionally put our phones on the kitchen counter and focus on just being together! Start to pay attention to how often you and your S/O are on your phones when your together. Is it too much?

6. COMMUNICATION. Josh and I are constantly talking about our relationship and how to make it even better. When problems come up, we address them right away. If he is feeling off about something, we talk about it ASAP. And vice versa for me. Don’t let little problems linger, you’re just making them worse. If something in your relationship is bothering you, BRING IT UP AND TALK ABOUT IT. Being open about what’s going well and not well in our relationship has allowed Josh & I to grow stronger as a couple and has allowed us to overcome problems without letting feelings fester.

7. Don’t add more stress. Medical school is stressful. The last thing your S/O wants is a relationship that causes them even more stress. If you are fighting constantly, it’s time to do some serious evaluation on if this relationship is truly going to work

8. FOR THE MEDICAL STUDENT: I know that medical school is hard and stressful. But if you want a relationship to work, you have to create boundaries between your school life and your personal life. You can NOT put all the responsibility onto your S/O to make the relationship work. Set the hours that you are going to study every day and work efficiently during that time. During your “off” time focus on your S/O, make them feel special and loved. Before I started medical school, Josh would tell me the times that he needed to study so that I knew when he’d be done. And as soon as he was done studying, I knew he was all mine! J

Medical school is a BEAST and having a relationship in medical school may seem stressful… but honestly, it isn’t as scary as it seems! Being engaged to Josh has been FREAKING AMAZING and he helps me to manage all of my medical school stress. We are each others biggest supporters, therapists and comforts. Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without him. ❤ Hope this gave you a little peek into what it takes to make a relationship work in med school!



2 thoughts on “How to make a relationship work… (when you both are in med school)

  1. My partner and I are both planning to go to med school and this is really helpful. We are both taking our pre-med and we’re both pretty aware of what it’ll be like once we go to med school.


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