Thursday, May 12, 2011

PA school tried to kill my marriage

Disclaimer: This is a long one…sorry.

I really want to write this article.  My intention is to share the crazy journey PA school has imposed in our life.  I don’t write it as a warning (because you can’t prepare anyone for this journey even if you try…they won’t listen).  And I don’t write it as a complaint (it has been hard but there is nothing I want more for Phil than for him to follow his dream and have a career he loves). I guess what I want is to share what I have learned and continue to learn among the struggle of PA school extravaganza.  And ultimately proclaim that circumstances in life can really suck but God is good and is allowing growth in our lives during this journey - even if the growth is hard to see at the time.

Here are specifics on why I named this article what it is:
  1.  First semester, my husband was required to be in class 8-5 M-F and then had to study and do lab work… no time to hardly sleep = no relationships = grumpy husband and wife.
  2.  56 classmates – only 8-9 are male… my husband talks on the phone to women and hangs out with women constantly… I trust him completely it can get totally annoying = grumpy wife.
  3. PA school administration has been very unorganized = constantly flexing schedule = super grumpy wife
  4. (WARNING maybe be TMI…just skip if you don’t want to read)… PA school scheduled my husband to do a female pelvic exam on Valentine’s day = VERY grumpy wife… I know it’s part of medicine but it still ticked me off.
  5. Rotation in the ER – requirements: work 17 shifts in 21 day…oh but wait one of those days you can’t work ‘cause we scheduled a mandatory class meeting and another day doesn’t really count cause you have to take an exam.  Now pick your schedule… oh but wait… you have a grading doctor you are required to work with for 5 of your 17 shifts… oh but wait… you’re not allowed to work with the same doctor more than 3 times in a row… so figure it out and oh by the way the doctors will switch shifts at random just cause they can… so figure it out… and tell your wife to deal = No she can’t plan anything cause you have NO CLUE what your schedule is EVER.  Okay… must laugh now… it’s only 3 weeks right?!?
Okay that’s probably enough ranting, those are just a few examples, hope you find these things as ridiculous and funny as I do.  Sometimes life is just weird and you have to deal.  It’s a struggle I have but nothing like being thrown in the deep in to learn how to swim.

Now on to the official article…

Since today is exactly 1 year away from graduation for Phil I thought a perfect time to reminisce the past two years.

The first lesson and probably the hardest lesson I’ve learned is you can’t buck up enough to get the attention you want.  There is no amount of complaining or crying or being angry that will get you the right attention you desire.  You have to pray and wait on the Lord to provide – not your husband to change.  I am so thankful I married a man who desires to please the Lord.  Who searches and strives to obey.
The first semester of PA school was by far the worst time of PA school and definitely the hardest on our marriage.  First off all, I don’t like change and let’s face it; PA school was a GIGANTIC change.  Phil was in school or at school studying about 18 hours a day.  He drove to and from about 2 hours, slept 4 and did it all over again just about 7 days a week.  He was exhausted and frustrated.  And I…well I was sort of coasting unhappily (to put it lightly).

White Coat Ceremony Celebration Dinner
The high we had been on from the shear excitement of getting into PA school to the White Coat ceremony and the first day of class was quickly smothered by the reality that PA school is HARD!    Phil was all consumed with studying and I needed other things to do. After a semester of being miserable I realized that I had to “find myself” again. Just me, what I wanted to do apart from Phil, apart from work, just me!  This is when I attended the Citizens Police Academy, then I did a 21 day cleanse.  Both of those things were to fill time but they were also about finding out what I enjoy again.

Police Training Gun Range
I did the whole course!

After the first year of horror was over Phil had a much needed month break.   In this time he did a lot of reflecting and prioritizing which is when the change in his perspective really began.  He realized that having his number one priority studying was hurting his relationship with God, with me, and with friends/classmates.  So when the next semester began he already had plans to make a concerted effort to be home in the evenings at the same time every night so we could eat dinner together and talk.  He slept more which I whole heartily believe helped him retain his studying and his semester was much more fruitful in both of our lives.

Year two has sort of flown by really.  We got into a routine and set to keep it.  We joined a church and got involved in a small group which I think has blessed us more than we know.  I finally realized the goodness of the Lord leading us to buy a house in Lewisville.  After two years of cursing the drive and wondering why we had made such a dumb purchase I realized that had we not. If we would have moved to Fort Worth we would have probably (inevitably) lost contact with our good friends in Dallas, not had a church that we love, and not joined in fellowship with other believers.

We still managed to have some fun!
Now rotations has started which means the third and final year of PA school has officially arrived and it is thrilling to see a little light at the end of the tunnel.  The constant state of schedule change is still hard for me to adjust to with a joyful spirit but this too shall pass…. as they say. For now I have joined a book club, made more efforts to spend time with friends, and try to just take one day at a time. And I believe Phil and I have a much stronger marriage now and will even more after PA school than we did before or could have had without this journey.  

As James 1 says, Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

Well that's it.  If you made it through thanks for reading!   


  1. YAY!! welcome to blogging. :) it looks adorable, i love reading your heart, you're a citizen police officer (?!??), a teachable wife, and i'm glad we're friends! :)

  2. Yup a Citizen Police! LOL. I can go on police ride alongs or patrol in the citizens patrol car or sit in a sky box and report parking lot incidence or volunteer to help out at the police station... but I don't.

    Thanks for reading! And I am glad we are friends too, you are a blessing to me!

  3. This article was wonderful! I love the way you said "You have to pray and wait on the Lord to provide - not your husband to change." I have been stuck in the mindset for Derry to change for way too long, and it is time for me to get out of it. You are an amazing woman of God. Thank you, THANK YOU, for being so honest in writing this in your blog! Blessings!

  4. In all the time that I've known you, you've always had a smile AND we got along! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Hey answer to prayer! My husband is in his second semester of pa school and I'm well not taking it well. I should even know better because I am an er nurse. But you are right. Nothing can prepare a couple.

    We fight constantly. I mean all the time. And we are one of those couples that is always roses and rainbows.

    Anyways it's good to be encouraged. I know this is where we are supposed to be but I'm struggling.

    Any advice?

  6. Absolutely I have tons of advice ;) I'm no pro though. I wrote this blog post after graduation and I hope that maybe you can find encouragement from it as well as maybe so advice. My contact info is on the side of my blog as well, feel free to email me.

    Here is the post:

  7. This article was so helpful for me to read! My boyfriend and I are talking about marriage before he starts PA school, so this was a good and realistic perspective for me to read and contemplate before we make any more decisions! I know that if this is what God has for us, He is going to help us make it through it!