Her: “So what do you do?”
Him: “Well, I’m applying to medical school. If I make it, I’ll spend the vast majority of my time studying for the next four years. You and I will be able to go on cheap dates occasionally, but even then I’ll feel guilty about not studying. I won’t have any money, so you’ll have to support me on your income. Otherwise, I’ll have to take out more student loans on top of the 40 to 50 thousand per year in tuition. My parents don’t make enough to help with the enormous tuition bills, but they make too much for me to get a need-based scholarship. It will be incredibly easy to get student loans. Almost too easy. We will continue piling up student loan debt, unaware of the impact this growing burden will have on our lives until repayment kicks in about ten years down the road.
It will take time for me to figure out what kind of doctor I want to be, but my decision will be dictated significantly by how well I do on standardized tests and if attending physicians like me personally. I may fall in love with a high paying specialty, but I may not. Regardless of the career, I choose to pursue, the decision will heavily influence my earning potential and how quickly we can pay off my 300 thousand dollar debt. As an attending, we’ll live comfortably, but not luxuriously.
We can get married during med school or residency (elopement might be the best option unless our parents can pay for everything) and can even start having kids. Fortunately, I’m a man and having kids in medical training is generally accepted everywhere. However, you should know that my residency program will only allow three days of paternity leave. This will be just enough time to get you settled in at home before I’m expected to round at the hospital at 6 a.m. I’ll spend as much time as I can at home with you and the baby, but be prepared for my unpredictable schedule, late evenings, and frequent call shifts. I’ll be tired and irritable all the time. We will fight, most of the time about nothing important, but we will both have pent up anger and frustration that will need a release.
You may want your own career, and I hope you do. Unfortunately, as much as we both dream about having successful careers, one of us will probably have to make a sacrifice for the other, and given that our debt repayment is dependent on my future income, the sacrifice will likely be yours. If we somehow manage to find careers we both love in the same location at the same time, you will still have to do the lions share of the budgeting, bills, household work, and in general, holding our lives together in addition to your full time job while I slog through 70+ hour work weeks in residency.
I’ll support whatever career you choose as long as it’s one where you can leave at a moment’s notice to pick up sick kids from school. I’ll do this when I can, which will be almost never. After residency, I’ll try to get a job with stable hours in a location that will allow you to finally focus on your career. By then you’ll be in your 30s and hopefully won’t have any large gaps in your employment history from having to move every four years. I’ll do my best to avoid burnout over the years, which is specialty dependent, but for now, I’m just trying to study for the MCAT.”
Her: “Oh no, I mean how do you order? The menu here is confusing.”
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