January 16, 2012

Cheerleading 101.

I always feel a lot more behind in this process than most of you (way to go, residency wives!) and I am always extremely grateful for your wisdom and glimpse into the future. My husband is officially registered for his Step 1 test date and is starting to get a little nutty about it. He's scheduled for June 7th and has a really solid plan laid out for his studies. He's been reviewing First Aid case studies once a week with a group of friends for about four or five months now and I know he's working really hard to stay on top of everything.

I looked back in the tags, but couldn't find a specific post, so my question is this: what was your role in Step 1 prep? I want to help him to be as successful as possible and I know that requires a crazy time commitment from him (especially in the 6-8 weeks before the exam) and emotional support, but was there anything specific you did (or have heard about) that your doc thought was really helpful? Or was there something you did (or would do differently) to maintain your personal sanity? Right now I'm in reassurance mode, constantly reminding him he's ahead of the game, he's working hard, everything will be fine, etc. 

Thank you, as always, for the advice. 


Becky said...

My husband is a third year and took his Step 1 in June of this past year. I can't think of anything specific that I did, except I tried really hard to give him the freedom to study like he felt like he needed to. We have twin boys who were five at the time and so we didn't really see alot of him. We would try to take him dinner at school at least once a week (he had to eat, might as well see us for a few minutes). It is a huge sacrifice for the wife and family, but I figured the best support that I could be was to give him the freedom to study like he felt like he needed to. And when he was done, we spent the absolute best two weeks as a family before he started in on Core 1. he and most of his classmates were more than a little freaked out, even with their 'study plans' in place, but they all did awesome--the studying paid off and I am sure it will for your husband too. It is definitely a hard time though. Second semester of second year through Step 1 was definitely the most challenging for us. But, it does get better.

Becky Stephens said...

We just did Step One last June as well! Studying could feel pretty lonely and isolating for my husband at times. I started helping him with his pharmacology flashcards every evening so that we at least got a little time together, and it was still productive for him. While it may not have been a ton of fun, we did have good laughs while trying to create mnemonic devices and what not. Plus, it was much more relaxing for him to learn the drugs that way. Also, even with the best laid plans, almost everyone we knew bumped back their test. So, don't book plane tickets for an immediate post-test vacation or that will add extra stress if he feels he needs to change it. We did go out of town afterwards, but we planned something that we were thankfully able to shift easy when he moved the test by 5 days. He may still be a little stressed and uneasy until results come back, too, so don't expect him to bounce back 100% the second he leaves! But, they do come back, and it really does all get better afterwards.

anorthowife said...

this is one of those things that totally depends on your StuDoc. for us, it meant that i gave him absolute freedom to study as much as he needed without any guilt. i also gave him a break from as much stress as possible. he stopped looking at the bank account, didnt worry about any household chores, etc. this let him focus 100% on the test.

each night i would give him a little pep talk before he would fall asleep and whenever he was taking a few minutes to breathe i would give him a quick back rub or temple massage. basically, i would do anything i could to show him some form of intimacy, but without actually distracting him.

i stayed away as much as possible and got together regularly with the other wives in the class. that way we could all support each other and not feel so lonely or isolated. this helped him know that i was being emotionally cared for and he didnt have to worry about his wife falling apart while he was studying.

it all boils down to freedom, IMO. give him as much room as possible and respect the boundaries and walls he has to put up. it was a brutal 8 weeks, but it had a MAJOR payoff for us and was totally worth it - we ended up matching in ortho :o)

Mrs T said...

my best advice is give him space. don't make him feel guilty for your loneliness {i was NOT good at this!} and be there when he needs you, but wait for him to make the move. offer meal delivery to library, coffee breaks, etc. but if he declines your company don't take it personally. getting through step 1 was as if not more stressful than residency match. so as much as possible, stay out of the way and keep your personal struggles in tact. depending on the specialty you are trying to match for, this test can be a ridiculously stressful experience.

and for you - hang in there! stay positive, find hobbies, take the opportunity to reunite with girlfriends, plan a trip alone, cook your way through a cookbook. what i did was plan a celebration trip so we both had something to look forward to after it was all over which was a good thing. i spent a lot of time researching, planning, etc. and it was something we were both excited for on the other side of the test.

good luck to you BOTH! you will get through it!

i can assure you life AFTER step 1 is way better!!! and that is coming from the wife of an ortho resident knee deep in intern year :)

Katrina @ Pics, Pages & Purls said...

like all the other ladies said before...give him his space. although, please schedule some date nights in there where you don't talk about the exam at all. you talk about everything else. find other people in the same boat and get together with them. learn a new hobby. don't just endure this time but enjoy it!

the Jennings secede from the South said...

The best thing during test prep for my husband and I was taking walks together. Adam was open to doing this and so, he would take a study break every day and we would pack up our baby (and babies for step 3) and would go on a walk. That has always been such a sweet time because there are no distractions (phones, things to be done around the house) and we could talk and process through things and just have a break.

Sara said...

This cheerleading post is spot on for us! Rob is prepping for boards right now and I loved reading everyone's comments.

bre said...

I really appreciate this post. My husband is taking his Step 1 the end of April. Although I am trying my absolute best to be completely independent and supportive of his study schedule - it is starting to get really exhausting. It's great to hear that a lot of you were/are able to connect with other wives in the program. Will definitely bookmark this blog, as it is definitely encouraging!

Marisa said...

It depends on him. My best advice is, ask him what he would like you to do. Because you could think you're totally helping, and in reality, you're driving him crazy. I kept the house really quiet for Andy, but I stayed there and read tons of books so I could be there for moral support. It helped him to see me, working, too. I quizzed him a lot. Of course, this required me to memorize some of what he did, which was kind of interesting. I did a lot of runs to the store for whatever he wanted. I read a lot of USMLE World questions aloud to him.

Maria Celeste Perez said...

My boyfriend of 3.5 years (on and off) is studying full time for the Step 1 and I don't know how to show him emotional support.

I try to do physical things for him like cleaning around the apartment, etc. but he doesn't care about that. And when I think I'm helping him "de-stress" by letting him play video games for one or two hours, or by inviting him to a get together with friends, we always end up fighting because he falls behind due to my causing him a distraction.

I'm also getting a graduate degree and I'm highly stressed with finals as well (although definitely not as stressed as he is). Because of this, I have become hyper-focused on studying too, I am not "kind" anymore, and I don't even feel like being intimate.

He thinks I'm being selfish and only thinking about myself, and that I'm ignoring him and his feelings. I want to be there for him, but i don't know what to do to show him that I care about him. I brought up that I wanted to break up, which I don't really want to do, but I thought that would be the best option because it would let us focus on studying, since I only seem to be a distraction.