Aug 3, 2014

Medical School: A Four Year Journey Come Full Circle

August 3, 2010:  Josh and I landed in Newcastle, England. 

It's been 4 years to the day since the journey through medical school really began.  We were brand new newlyweds, only married for a month.  We boarded that plane in Los Angeles with 7 bags, no place to live in the UK, and NO IDEA what the next four years were going to look like.  We were excited.  We were nervous.  We were kids starting the adventure of a lifetime.
Leaving for England
We didn't know the kind of stress that four years of school would bring, the kind of hardships we would face.  Thank God, because we probably would have run for the hills if we had known.  But we also didn't know the kind of friendships we'd make, the life lessons we'd learn, and the amazing adventures we would have.  We found a place to live the next day, in Jesmond.  Our first "home" together on Grosvenor Road.
Our Flat on Grosvenor Road
And Josh received his white coat not too long after.  A day that marked his entrance into the medical field.  I felt the weight of what we were starting that day. I remember it vividly.  Sitting in that elegant room with all the brand new first year students.  The excitement was palpable but I felt a sense of heaviness too, this day was marking a day where life would change dramatically.  I didn't know what was coming, but I knew it was big.
White Coat Ceremony August 2010
Josh fought his way through Term 1.  He pushed and Term 1 pulled.  He had to learn to effectively study and I had to learn how to be an independent yet supportive wife.  It was a struggle but once we had made it through, I felt confident we could do this medical school thing.
Thanksgiving in Newcastle
Tyne River, Newcastle
Jesmond Dene
First Snow
Term 2, though challenging, was a breeze compared to Term 1.  Josh had the study thing down, I had friends.  We had some time to travel and enjoy Europe.  England felt like a real home.  Life was good.
Sightseeing in Dublin, Ireland

Best Friends

Year 2 took us to the island of Grenada.  A place that will forever hold a special spot in my heart. Terms 3, 4, and 5 were challenging.  But Josh was diligent.  He studied and studied and studied and the term of absent husband took on a new form.  But, he did amazing and I thrived in Grenada.  We thrived in Grenada.  I loved island life.  I loved the people. I loved the Limes kids that I worked with.  I knew that when we left, I would leave with an emptiness, a void that would be difficult to fill.
Going to Grenada Party

Magazine Beach
Sunset at Grand Anse Beach
Dancing at Prickly Bay
Off to Fish Friday
Mount Carmel Falls
Easter with the Limes Kids
Flag Football Champs
Summer 2012 was dedicated to studying for the USMLE Step 1 and waiting for a clinical placement from SGU.  It was agonizing, all of it.  But those 2 months eventually passed.  The Step 1 was conquered and we got our first choice of clinical spots in California.  But year 3 of school brought new challenges, ones that we weren't necessarily prepared for.  Clinical life was difficult on our marriage. Long hours spent in the hospital, the stress of performing well, and grieving the loss of our island life all helped to make the reality of life back in California a nightmare.
First Day of Third Year

And then we found out we were expecting.  And while that news of course brought with it joy, it also created fear and anxiety and brought our marriage to a tipping point.

Josh and I struggled through my pregnancy and the remainder of year 3 of school.  But Ryan Cathleen made her appearance at the tail end of 3rd year and she helped to fill the void in my heart that had been missing since leaving Grenada.

Fourth year began in August 2013 and residency applications were due in September.   Things were pretty much a whirl wind at this point. Life with looming residency apps due, a newborn, a struggling marriage, and 4th year rotations was almost too much to handle.  But by the grace of God, we somehow survived.  And by Christmas time, we were starting to feel some relief in stress and a change for the better in our relationship.  Just in time for our next big life hurdle.
Christmas Morning

March 2014 brought the end of 4th year electives and Match Day.  The Lord knew that Josh and I would need to be a united front to conquer that difficult time. Amazingly, we lived to talk about that terrible week.  The relief that followed after Match week is a feeling unlike any other.  Sometimes I still can't believe where we are when I consider how awful that week was.
The day Josh got his residency at UMass
In April, Josh received his diploma and in May we made the big move to Massachusetts for Josh's General Surgery residency at the University of Massachusetts.  We were nervous, but also excited for a fresh start in a new place.
Leaving on the 3,000+ mile trip to MA
Ryan's first flight to MA
UMass Campus

In June 2014, Josh walked across the stage in New York City and officially became an MD.  We celebrated his hard work and success over the course of his 4 years in school with his family.  And he and I celebrated our four year anniversary and four years of commitment and support for each other through the schooling process.  My thoughts on graduation can be read HERE.
Graduation Day

In July, Ryan turned one and Josh started his residency.

August 3, 2014: Josh is now a month into residency.  

Life sure looks a whole lot different than it did 4 years ago on August 3, 2010.  These past four years were nothing like I ever expected and yet everything I had ever dreamed they would be.  Life is just funny like that. I wonder where we will be in another four years?  And four more after that?  This life of ours is an adventure to say the least but it sure is amazing to take the time to look back and celebrate the successes, mourn the losses, learn from the mistakes, and ultimately, give all the glory to God for this amazing adventure of life that He has given us.


  1. Stephanie! I love your blog and your documentation of your life there in England and Grenada! I'm going to have to follow you guys! Do you know Blair and Ashley Willis? They were our first St. George's friends, and it sounds like you were on about the same schedule as them.

  2. What a full four years!!
    You section on Grenada is so so so true. I felt exactly the same way leaving...
    So happy that medical school ended with a happy ending for you and your family!! And residency, while it will suck, is just another adventure along the way! Love you!

  3. Hi Stephanie, I'm an aspiring med student. If I'm not too intrusive, what kind of GPA and MCAT score did your husband have to get into medical school?