Wednesday, August 3, 2011

a change of plans

We had a plan.

Okay, sort of. We had as much of a plan as you can in our interesting little situation. Y was going to specialize in emergency medicine (and possibly go into space). He was going to do an away rotation in Baltimore. He thought his chances of actually getting in there were pretty high.

So my brain did the only thing it knew how to do: it created a life in Baltimore. Maybe I would take the train into DC and work. On my days off, I would take Ike and we would comb the state of Maryland for the best crab cakes. My nieces and nephews would come visit me and I would be their fun yet educational aunt who took them to the Spy Museum but only after a visit to the Capitol.

Hello, fun yet educational aunt.

Y would... work. On his days off we would go to baseball games or take Ike on walks on the harbor. Or maybe Y would just sleep.

But then Y did the unthinkable: he switched specialties.

First he decided he was interested in a super specialized emergency medicine/ internal medicine program. There were only 5 in the country that met his criteria. One was in Baltimore, so I kept our Baltimore life active in the back of my head. But suddenly, there were 4 very specific other places we could live. Chicago. North Carolina. Richmond. Brooklyn.

New York hadn't been on our radar before. We weren't even considering it. But for one minute I let myself imagine what our lives would be like in the city. One morning, while crossing a busy street near my work, I even practiced the face I would make when Y announced "SUNY at Brooklyn!" on Match Day. I think it looked like a mixture of hipster wannabe and flat broke.

Or maybe it looked like this, at the thought of having to cross the Brooklyn Bridge again.

But that specialty was fleeting. After a slight existential crisis, Y is now set on internal medicine. The thing about internal medicine? There are programs everywhere. Baltimore isn't on top anymore. Goodbye, crab cakes. Hello cheese steaks. Hello Chicago dogs. Hello Grand Ole Opry. Hello clam chowda and cannolis. Hello Space Needle. Hello Stumptown coffee.

Cheesesteak, cannoli, chicago dogs.

I can't keep up with my thoughts these days. Neither can my stomach, because apparently most of my hypothetical future lives involve food.

Yes, this can be annoying. For example: Besides the fact that I think my brain is running out of juice, I would love to buy a bike. But do I want a bike for occasional, leisurely use or an everyday bike in case we move somewhere bike friendly where I could ride to work? Only time will tell. Time being approximately 224 days, 7 hours, 41 minutes and 13 seconds according to Mrs. Dr. D's countdown.

These are tough problems, people.

But in spite of this annoyance, I kind of want to relish in the moment. How often will we get the chance to daydream about moving [almost] anywhere we want? Not often.

So I have three questions for you: Where do you live? Why should we consider your city/state? Where would you live if you could choose 1 place in America?

(And yes- Y is placing importance on other things than the city and its food culture-- like the strength of the program, and of course, whether he gets a sense that he likes the hospital after he visits. )


  1. I'm going out on a limb here with my preference of Boston.

    The most relevant reason (for your needs) why you should move here is Boston is literally the medical capital of the northeast. Seriously. We have the best hospitals and the best programs just crawling with brilliant people and great experiences.

    If you choose to move to Boston, you don't HAVE to live in the city. You can live in the suburbs and take the T in, cutting your cost of living significantly but also opening you up to different parts of the state - whether you want to be closer to the water, closer to the mountains, closer to where the tornadoes hit (just kidding on that one... but seriously, don't move out to western Mass. Shit's crazy out there lately.) You can be an hour from New Hampshire/Maine or an hour from the Cape... which is pretty incredible in the winter when you want to ski and in the summer when you want to go to the water.

    We've got great food, intense people, bad drivers, four full seasons, intense sports pride (except if you're us and we only care about the Bruins), and you're close enough to everything you need. You're guaranteed to live within seven different malls, Targets, grocery stores, etc.

    I just have never been to a place that has so much packed into one entire state. I literally have 5 Targets within a 20 minute drive of me... I know I keep going back to the Target thing here, but I know that's something on which we can connect, ha.

    Anyway, Boston has kick ass programs and the best medical facilities you could ask for, and obviously that's your #1 factor. The rest is just bonus.

  2. shoot..if I wasn't so busy having fun in Portland I would have the time to tell you all about the great locally grown berries, micro brews, wineries...oh I'm exhausted just thinking about all the culture you could soak up. Yeah, there's that teaching hospital "on the hill" too if that holds any weight.
    Did I mention we are top rated for biking and pets? Gotta run...time to go can some more marionberries and air up the tires for the next biking adventure! Don't worry..where ever you end up I would be happy to send your nieces and nephew to you for an educational experience...even if it is just crossing the Brooklyn Bridge.
    PS. We have 3 H&Ms now

  3. As you know we're in NY, Long Island specifically. Somedays I love NY and somedays I wonder why we didn't just rank 3 year programs with low COL. For internal you can go anywhere and I think the most important thing for Y to consider is whether or not he feels like he meshes well with the residents and doctors who will interview him. It is really, really, really (cannot stress this enough) important to know what kind of hospital you prefer to work with. Private hospital vs. Charity. If J could re-do anything about his match list, we would take the private hospitals off the list. He just loves the charity world more. Private hospitals come with politics, money first, entitled patients and people who like to throw their weight around.

    For you, the most important factors should be: can you see yourself living there, finding a job and starting a new life from scratch with very little support if you're not near family. Some programs have awesome get activities/outings for spouses and you'll have a built in network. Others, like our hospital, cater more to the residents and forget they have families.

    COL should be a factor unless you both decide that you'll eat shit to make ends meet if it means a better program. That's basically what we decided to do and while I don't regret it. . . There are definitely days when I'd rather be anywhere but NY.

    Also, don't be so terrified of not matching unless you have a reason to be that terrified. We thought at the time we had a reason to fear not matching but looking back, we really didn't and probably could have taken some places off our match list.

    One more thing, if you can go to some of the interviews, especially the places that he's seriously considering, I highly recommend doing so.

  4. oh my god, this san francisco trip is doing to me what you did to baltimore. sourdough bread bowls, cable car rides, hippies (which means job security for me!), fog, no snow...i'm sold. luckily, my husband's research trip gave him a chance to check out the program as well and he really likes it still (so far). COL is high, we've looked into what it would be like to commute into the city, etc. we also have friends here, which makes it sound super fun. i'm trying not to fall in too much love with it. so....san francisco is awesome!

    as far as arizona goes, it's a cool state to live in (cool like awesome, not like temperature). Really great winters, lots of cool outdoors stuff throughout the state (hello grand canyon). but i cannot lie, the summers are hot as hades. no humidity, which makes it okay (in my opinion, i have desert blood) but it's still hot. you'd be looking in tucson (my home town, university medical center) or one of the various programs in phoenix. i grew up in tucson, so i'm biased (one million + with a small town feel) but phoenix is cool too. big city, lots to do.

    this whole residency business is one crazy adventure. for now, we'll just focus on surviving step 1. :)

  5. haha I did the exact same thing when Russ was choosing specialties. First it was ophthalmology, then internal medicine and now he's finally settled on geriatric psychiatry. With every switching specialty I did the same thing - started imaging our life in a new city and how it would be more/less fun, entertaining or affordable than were we are now.
    So answers to your questions:
    1-We're currently in Pittsburgh, PA (we were in Erie, PA for a year prior to moving here).
    2-You should consider PA because it's beautiful - especially the countryside. We love the outdoors and PA is filled with parks, camping and outdoor adventures. The seasons here are great (Fall especially) and summers aren't as bad as what we used to experience back home in Missouri. Pittsburgh has a great medical school (UPMC) and it's basically "top dog" around here - although I do have to admit that there is somewhat of a monopoly-driven base which we don't like much. Pittsburgh is a great city with great culture, food and entertainment options, but driving around here sucks since you are surrounded by rivers and bridges. Traffic is expected pretty much 24/7 and there aren't many options other than the main roads to get around. Obviously it would have been impossible to do so because of the rivers but the city isn't on a square-grid. And I'll be honest - the public transportation here SUCKS. I've used the bus for over a year and I'm going to start driving in Sept. because I can't stand it taking me 1 hour to get 4 miles (I would bike but there are no bike-friendly roads once you get closer to downtown).
    3. For us, we're personally hoping to get back closer to family in Missouri. We've been away from home for 3 years (Russ for 4) and we miss the smaller town and mid-west feel (I wish I could feel more at home in the East but I guess it just isn't in me). We're looking into KC and Columbia, MO programs but also in surrounding states. I think I'm more of a country girl at heart and although we love the city, we feel limited with what we can experience because of how costly it is to live in one off 1 income. Plus, we both want to be closer to family if possible.

    Geez...I just realized how semi-depressing my answers sounded! I'm sorry! I love this post though and I'm enjoying reading other comments :)

  6. I did the same thing when Joe was going through the interview and match process! He would list potential cities and I would imagine living in each one. There was one city he suggested and I was like "absolutely not!" even though the program was *excellent*. Well... guess where we ended up? ;-) And, honestly, I love it here.

  7. Thanks for the comments! Drew, can you be my life coach? :)

  8. Ashley - I LOVED Phoenix when I was there, but I don't know if we can take any more heat! Plus, I have a secret fear of Ike getting bit by a snake. Also a not so secret bad history with cacti. I think I commented on your blog, but I've never been to San Francisco (and as a side note, I spell it wrong EVERY time I write it) and would love to go!

    Brittany - I need to remember that; that I might love a place that doesn't sound so great right now.

  9. Late to the party, sorry.

    Heck yeah, internal medicine! The world is now your oyster, D & Y! (Yes, more food talk). Incredibly exciting, but of course also more difficult to imagine what life is going to look like after this year since there are now so many possibilities in front of you.

    Isn't it funny how you can tell yourself a million times that there's no way to imagine/predict how it will all turn out, but you still spend hours running through scenarios in your mind?

    Ah, medical matrimony.

  10. So we're in NY, but Drew has already laid out that land. I went to college in Baltimore and Josh grew up in the area. So, I'm partial, and the life you imagined was pretty head-on.

    However, if you really want to dive in to Maryland culture you gotta skip the crab cakes...put some newspaper on a table and go at whole crabs the old fashioned way. At least once :0) There is nothing like working you butt off for a half ounce of crab meat. mmmm. Then you can go back to crab will have earned it.

    Anyway, I've been playing the same game for the last 2 years...imagining different lives...then Josh threw me a nice little loop last month. He suggested trying really hard to stay right where we are.


    I like excitement, I like moving, I like the thrill...and he wants to keep me here? Flat broke? For 6 years on top of medschool?

    I'm like you, I have to dream about this life and get to know it, but it's pretty difficult to find the upside of staying in westchester.

    Your mention of haw many times Y changed his mind gave me hope :0)