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3 “R”s For the Wife of a 4th Year Medical Student

Your spouse is in his fourth year of med school? Awesome! Enjoy this time! 

Enjoy? How can this word and medical school even be in close proximity with one another?

I don’t mean this in a sarcastic ” because it only gets harder” kinda tone. Not at all. I say it with the most genuine heart. Enjoy his fourth year in med. school.. really.

I won’t elaborate too much on the ins and outs of a fourth year medical student, but I will say this: fourth year is often attributed as the promise land of med. school.  It is a time flowing with opportunities to

  1. rest
  2. reconnect
  3. reorient. 



Oh, how foreign this word sounds on our lips, but how beneficial it really is during this time. Fourth year is structured in such a way, where the words “residency” and “vacation” will often come up during your dinner conversations. Quite a contrast to those 80 hour work weeks during third year. Whether or not you guys vacation physically somewhere, I encourage you and your spouse to take advantage of this opportunity to rest. Physically, you can rest in many ways. Some people love going on hikes as a family, or explore a new country. Others like myself, delight in the exhilarating activity of sleep. If your husband is not use to physical rest, this  could be a great opportunity to help him understand a concept that probably has been dormant in his mind for sometime.


Reconnecting is something that will be constant throughout not only your husband’s medical journey but just in general throughout marriage. In this case though, fourth year quite generously blesses a couple with many days, weeks, and months to be able to reconnect with one another. For the past three years you were probably talking over mounds of books and papers, catching snippets of how your husband is really doing emotionally and spiritually. Your husband probably feels the same way about you. Enjoy your husband. Enjoy your times together. Carve out some time and put away the distractions. Don’t just talk, but have a conversation. Don’t just look at your husband, but try to see his heart and admire him. Instead of merely listening to what he is saying, pray that the Lord would open your ears to really hear what he needs. Allow your spouse to do the same for you.  Reconnect spiritually as well. Share prayer request, share how you are individually doing spiritually, and pray for one another.



The next few years in residency will indeed present a whole new level of challenges. Although being flexible is going to be one of your finest tools to get by during this season, residency may require your family to live differently from how you have been previously living throughout med. school. There will most likely be parts of your life logistically wise that would be beneficial to talk about so your family is on the same page.

Some examples include:

  1. Priorities & expectations
  2. Financial expectations
  3. Goals as a family

Discussions like the ones above will most likely be revisited and change throughout the years, but having the first initial discussion prior to your husband starting residency is super helpful in preparing  you and your family to make the transition. It is definitely better to be able to discuss these important matters with him while you have his undivided attention and fully caught up with his Zs.  We have had a handful of times where Dr. J and I had to hash out certain logistical matters with him half asleep still in his scrubs :p


Of course there is much more to be said about 4th year of medical school, but I hope the 3 “Rs” above could be of some use and encouragement for a wife looking for ways to enjoy her husband’s 4th year and help her family ease into the transition of residency.


With love and still trying to practice the 3 “Rs” myself,



Find out here 3 things I learned from being married to a resident

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