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Faith & Wives Med. Spouse Medical Spouse Corner

How He (Almost) Quit Residency

Yep, the title pretty much says it all.

Obviously Dr. J is still going through his residency program, but we lingered in this “almost quitting” limbo for a good couple of months during his intern (first) year. I won’t sugar coat it, I was definitely not that chill, supportive, ” I’ll stand by your decision” kind of wife every husband wishes he’d have during major career or life changes. Of course I sincerely wanted to be, but him wanting to quit literally came out of no where. No previous conversations. No signs of great frustrations. He didn’t even seem unhappy. We were just laying in bed one night when he made his announcement.

You may wonder, What is the big deal? People make career changes ALL the time.  If something doesn’t work out, you simply switch gears and try something new. Truthfully, I agree. It really isn’t a big deal. I for one have changed jobs/career interests multiple times. However, the medical tract, especially one’s journey in becoming a physician appears to be pretty “set” once a student has his or her mind set on it.

Rough break down:  Four (sometimes three) years of undergraduate study, four years of medical school, three to five years of residency depending on program ,totals out to be at least eleven years of schooling and training before one can actually practice medicine. This is not counting post bac. programs or fellowships programs if the individual decides to specialize.

If my husband decides not to do a fellowship, then finishing his residency program would be the last stretch of his journey before he can start practicing on his own. He was essentially almost at the finish line. It didn’t make sense to me why he would want to quit after all the years of hard work. Couldn’t it have dawned on him a little earlier?  I know my husband is not an impulsive man, so he must have been thinking about this possibility for some time. So I cringe as I type this following confession: Although outwardly I stayed calm and admitted that I’d support him in whatever he chooses, inwardly, I was brewing the thought that he was out of his mind! He was totally wasting everything..the endless nights of studying, countless clinical trainings, mountains of exams,  all going to waste in my perspective. What would he do? He hadn’t really explored any other career options since he decided on the medical route. Even if he had already decided on an alternative, it would be back to square one, with more school, more years of training, more internships to apply to. I was taking him possibly quitting a lot harder than he was, and it boiled down to my dislike towards uncertainty and lack of control.

I was ignorant of my heart issues until a few weeks later, when my husband looked across the dinner table and asked two questions.

” Carrie, would you still respect me even if I don’t pursue medicine anymore?”

” Even if I end up making the wrong decision, I don’t believe God wastes anything…would you still follow me as we trust God to straighten things out?”

It would have been easier if he called me out on my heart issues and demanded respect,  but his two gentle questions revealed to me that he felt just as lost as I did. What he needed wasn’t for me to figure things out for him . He had already started weighing different options. What he really needed to know was that his wife respected him and is willing to follow an imperfect man who is set on following a perfect God. 

He was right, God really does not waste anything. From the world’s perspective, yes, quitting residency would look like a great loss, but in reality, God used med. school and my husband’s journey in medicine to grow him into the man he is today. He grew in perseverance, diligence, discipline, and time management. It was in med. school that my husband developed greater affections for Christ .It was in med. school that God grew in him a greater desire to minister to the poor, and the underserved. It was also in med school that his heart grew for missions, both domestically and abroad.

However, what if, and this could sound a bit far-fetched, but what if, God allowed Dr. J to go through all of this in order to  teach a young wife a lesson on His sovereignty and faithfulness. In the eyes of our culture, love is someone giving us exactly what we want. I firmly do believe God is the giver of all good gifts, but what if in this case, the most loving things He did for Dr. J and I was to show us:

  1. We can depend on Him when our circumstances appear to be out of our understanding and control.
  2. “The heart of man plans his ways, but the Lord establishes his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9
  3. It is really okay, if my husband quits residency. The Lord does not waste anything. The Lord will re-direct. The important matter is our heart attitudes as we continue our journey on this side of eternity. As C.T Studd puts it,  “Only one life,’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last. ” ( Read full poem HERE)

For those who are curious why Dr. J was planning on quitting residency here is why:

Turns out he had a really really hard rotation in a department he didn’t enjoy at all.  On top of that, he was also getting yelled at by a supervisor pretty often. He usually doesn’t share much about his work life with me, so I didn’t notice initially.  However, he dreaded going to work and the hours for that rotation were extremely long. Those grueling months combined with being newly married, not being able to come home often, and missing out on community made him question if it was all worth it.

My husband ended up not quitting residency.  With much counsel from older people and countless prayers showered upon us by family and friends, he decided to give residency another chance and persevere. We praise God because He has since renewed  Dr. J’s passion for medicine. He now comes home after each rotation saying he wants to specialize in literally everything…. at this rate my husband will be in training for the next 20+ years! :p

In all seriousness, we both came out of this incident gripping Dr J’s medical career a lot looser. Being a doctor doesn’t define my husband. It is currently the lot that God has blessed him with to be a good steward of.  A day may come when he will have to give this up. If and when that day comes, I pray to trust the Lord to work out the unknown and respect my husband as he leads our family in new directions.

Who could have known that the limbo stage of “almost quitting” residency could be such fertile soil for the Lord to plant His truths?


So humbled & With Love,


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