How to Maintain a Relationship in PA School

Posh Wellness, PA School • October 3, 2023

This article is totally different from what you have seen so far, as Michelle talks about maintaining a relationship in PA school.

Michelle and Dave, a PA (Physician Assistant) school admissions expert and a surgeon, respectively, reflecting on the challenges and triumphs of maintaining their relationship through years of rigorous medical training.

Interviewed by their nine-year-old daughter, Mia, the couple dives into their journey beginning from 2001, detailing how they navigated through different phases of their educational and professional pursuits in various locations while sustaining their connection.

How to Maintain a Relationship in PA School

Maintaining a strong and healthy relationship while pursuing demanding careers in the medical field can be a significant challenge. In this article, we’ll share our experiences and insights as a couple who successfully navigated the complexities of medical training, specifically medical school and physician assistant (PA) school. Our journey includes long-distance dating, transitions, and the key lessons we learned along the way.

Meeting and Starting Our Journey

Our story began in 2001 when we met in Boston, Massachusetts. At that time, Michelle was preparing to start her medical education, and Dave was about to embark on his journey through medical school. This initial meeting set the stage for our enduring relationship.

The Long Haul: How Long Have We Been Together?

We tied the knot in 2006, marking the official start of our married life together. This means we’ve been together for over two decades now, with our relationship surviving the rigors of medical training and the challenges that came our way.

Years of Medical Training: A Long Road Ahead

Our respective medical training paths were extensive. Dave spent a total of 12 years in medical school, residency, and fellowship. On the other hand, Michelle graduated from PA school in 2005 after starting in 2003, a typical two-year program.

Managing a long-distance relationship is never easy, especially when you both have demanding academic commitments. Michelle’s PA school was at Yale, while Dave pursued his medical degree at Albany Medical College in Albany, New York. During that period, we were a few hours apart, and we made an effort to commute back and forth on weekends. These weekends were often spent studying and getting to know each other’s classmates, as we were both fully immersed in our education.

Overcoming the Distance

Our ability to maintain a strong connection during this time was rooted in trust and faith in each other. We understood the importance of individual growth and development while staying committed to our relationship. Trust, open communication, and setting realistic expectations were key components of successfully navigating the challenges of a long-distance relationship.

Transitioning Together

After Michelle graduated from PA school, she moved to New Haven, Connecticut, where Dave was still in medical school. This transition allowed them to live closer and ease the strain of the long-distance relationship. However, it was during this period that we faced one of our most significant challenges.

Challenges We Faced

One of the major challenges in our relationship was deciding on career moves and locations. The transition from Miami to Houston, where Dave pursued his Fellowship, was a pivotal moment. It was a decision that didn’t necessarily align with Michelle’s career goals and expectations. This created tension and required open, honest communication and a willingness to seek professional help to work through our differences.

Financial Struggles

Another challenge we encountered was financial strain. Medical training can be financially demanding, and we had to navigate the complexities of managing expenses while pursuing our educational goals. It was a continuous learning experience in budgeting and making the most of our limited resources.

The Importance of Trust and Communication

Throughout our journey, the two most critical elements that kept our relationship strong were trust and communication. Trust was the foundation upon which we built our relationship, and it was crucial to trust each other’s commitment to our respective careers and the relationship itself. Communicating openly, honestly, and frequently about our thoughts, feelings, and concerns was instrumental in resolving conflicts and fostering understanding.

Our Advice for Couples in Similar Situations

If you’re a couple facing the challenges of maintaining a relationship during medical training or any demanding career path, here are some valuable pieces of advice:

  1. Trust Each Other: Trust is the cornerstone of any successful relationship. Have faith in your partner’s commitment and dedication to both their career and the relationship.
  2. Open and Honest Communication: Learn to communicate openly and honestly about your thoughts, feelings, and concerns. Don’t keep things bottled up, as unresolved issues can fester and harm your relationship.
  3. Set Realistic Expectations: Understand the demands of your respective careers and create realistic expectations for each other. Be flexible and adaptable as situations change.
  4. Seek Professional Help: If you’re facing significant challenges or disagreements, don’t hesitate to seek the assistance of a relationship counselor or therapist. Professional guidance can provide valuable insights and strategies for working through difficult situations.
  5. Budget Wisely: Managing finances during demanding educational phases can be tough. Create a budget, prioritize your expenses, and save where you can. Financial stability can alleviate stress in your relationship.
  6. Prioritize Self-Care: Don’t forget to take care of yourselves individually. Pursue your passions, hobbies, and personal growth. A strong sense of self will contribute to a stronger relationship.
  7. Embrace Change: Be open to change and new experiences. Your careers may take unexpected turns, but embracing these changes together can strengthen your bond.

In conclusion, maintaining a relationship during medical training or any demanding career path is challenging but entirely possible with trust, open communication, and a commitment to each other. Our journey, filled with ups and downs, taught us invaluable lessons about resilience, compromise, and the enduring power of love. We hope our experiences and advice will help other couples facing similar challenges build and maintain strong, lasting relationships.

Also read: A Day in the Life of an Oncology Physician Assistant

About me:

I’m Michele Neskey, aka The Posh PA. Welcome to my YouTube channel! My mission is to provide personalized guidance, education, and motivation to build confidence and promote wellness for aspiring physician assistants and beyond.   

Having been a PA for 17+ years and helped hundreds of students gain acceptance into PA school,  I understand the admissions process. I know what they are looking for, and I can help you tailor every component to make you shine, giving you the BEST chance of getting accepted to a program.  But it doesn’t end there. I create personalized plans for PA students and practicing PAs including test-taking strategy for the PANCE, contract negotiations, and tools to overcome and prevent provider burnout. 

My goal is to get you into a physician assistant (PA) school & survive the rigorous program, help you prevent burnout as a practicing PA, and help you take care of yourself so you can be the best version of YOU for your patients, family, and most importantly YOU!