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While every relationship goes through a few trying times, the transition of having a partner who is going to medical school is a unique challenge. After all, there are so many aspects of the endeavor to be considered. 

There’s studying for the MCAT, where will he or she apply, how your life will change based on a new location or even simply because of the change in the budget.  A lot could happen due to a possible difference in income.

It is a wonderful, exciting time to be in a partnership with someone determined to embark on such a prestigious profession, but it is also important that you enter into this commitment with your eyes open to many of the potential challenges as well. Going to medical school may mean many of your personal goals, wants, and desires take a back seat for a few years.

Preparing to Apply

Medical school comes with a hefty amount of pressure even from the very beginning. When determining where to apply one must factor in GPA and MCAT scores, plus a multitude of other factors, including clinical and research records. If planning on going to medical school, one of the first hurdles he or she will overcome is to prepare for the MCAT and pass it, hopefully with flying colors.

The MCAT is an exceptionally challenging exam, which requires a great deal of effort and preparation. It’s not uncommon counselors suggest students begin prepping for the MCAT at least 6 months ahead of the testing date.

The Princeton Review, for example, states the average student who performs well on the MCAT on the first attempt has logged somewhere between 200-300 hours of study time for this test alone.

This could mean partnering up to help out on study sessions. On the other hand, it could mean being understanding of the time and commitment involved while going to medical school.

Applying to Medical Schools

The score your partner receives on the MCAT will weigh in with his or her GPA and several other factors. Location is something you should discuss together; depending on the level of the relationship this may be a joint decision. There will be countless 12-16 hour days for your partner while going to medical school. Your partner will spend numerous nights on call or not be able to even leave the hospital. Can you handle it? 

Enduring the Journey

Having a “team-based” attitude where you acknowledge your partner’s success as part of the team may be helpful in managing your relationship during this time. Try to keep an eye on the big picture and remind yourself how much you admire your partner’s dedication.

Some ways to help you and your partner feel more connected when you’re spending fewer hours together include:


The medical student cannot always answer personal calls. However, your partner will appreciate it when you steal a moment to reply or make a quick text. You can do it on a bathroom break, while riding in the elevator or at any other tiny free moment. It’s quality that counts, not quantity. The woes of going to medical school, yeah… I know.  

Facetime or Skype

On nights or days when your partner can’t pull themselves away from everything med school related, perhaps a Facetime or Skype call will make you feel more connected. This is also a critical piece of the puzzle for those enduring a long-distance relationship and going to medical school. Hang in there!  

Handwritten Notes

A post-it left on the mirror or in his briefcase or other creative spots is a super quick way to instantly bring a smile to your partner’s face. Imagine finding it just when you needed assurance.  Yep, that was a sign.  Don’t give up.   

Scheduling time together

Not everyone can say they’re going to medical school. Different stages of medical school require different things. Be sure to pay attention to these schedule changes and take full advantage of opportune moments.

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