Intern Year: We Survived and Thrived

By Briana Wessell

When asked to reflect on intern year, I wasn’t quite sure what to say because it has gone by so fast. Briana doesn’t have something to say? Ha! Those who know me personally are probably laughing out loud!

My husband began his neurosurgery residency in July 2014 and as of July 2015 he is a PGY2. One down, six more to go! Wait. Who am I kidding? It is more like one down, seven more to go since he will likely be doing some sort of fellowship for a year post-residency. We will survive and better yet, we will thrive!

Heading into residency both those in the medical world and “civilians” would gasp and say “Good luck” (with apprehension in their voice) or “You know you’ll never see him, right?” My favorite came after I answered the infamous “What does your husband do?” question: “Oh wow! Why do you work, you are married to a doctor?” Naturally, I went into residency anxiously. Of course I did my best to hide it because I have always been the type of person who puts forth a stiff upper lip and an “it’s ok- I can handle it!” attitude, but truth be told, I was really nervous. I was a newlywed who was already scared about what residency would do to her marriage. That is not how you want to feel heading into the first year of your married life.

Was it difficult? Absolutely. Did I miss my husband? Heck yes- a lot! Did I have a meltdown… or five? I sure did. Did he miss our first married holidays? Yes he did- all of them. But, you know what else happened this year? I made new friends, I spent some quality time with my family, I advanced in my career, we bought our first house, I embraced “me time,” I experimented in the kitchen, we adopted a dog, we went on an anniversary vacation and so much more. Life didn’t stop. My world didn’t end.

And my marriage? Stronger every day. Why? We are in this together. My husband appreciates everything I do so that he can focus on being the best resident he can be and he knows that this is a team effort. We have had our share of arguments and I have gotten upset because there are times that I feel like “I do everything!” and I am just exhausted. I cannot imagine that there is a single spouse in the medical world or not who hasn’t had that thought run through their mind at least once. Women are multitaskers and we can do it!

This is our reality. We will likely handle more of the “running the household” kinds of duties in addition to our careers and/or parenting. I have found that my husband enjoys helping around the house (when he is conscious) and he tells me not to waste my time doing his laundry. However, if I didn’t do his laundry he wouldn’t have any underwear or socks to wear about 90 percent of the time. I don’t mind doing those things because I am helping him.

If I could offer any advice to those starting residency, it is ok to think about what life could be like after residency, but do your best to live and enjoy the now. As Kim Blackham, licensed marriage and family therapist and fellow medical spouse, has encouraged: live in #ItIsGoodNow not #ItGetsBetter. Because the reality is #ItGetsDifferent and “better” is what you make it. It is all about perspective.

It is good now! I am married to the best man I know and he loves me. It doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

Briana Wessell

Briana Wessell is a marketing and communications professional for a top hospital in Baltimore. She is married to a PGY2 neurosurgery resident. They currently reside in Howard County, Maryland with their fur baby, Blondie. You can follow her experiences on her personal blog at and on the blog’s Facebook page.

Other Posts from Briana:

Next Chapter: PGY1 Neurosurgery

Residency Survival: Lessons Learned

7 thoughts on “Intern Year: We Survived and Thrived

  1. Congrats on finishing Intern Year!! Thanks for the great post and the perspective!! Love the #itgetsdifferent and better is about perspective!! Great way to reminde not to wish this time away!!

    • Thank you, Emily! It is hard to not want to wish the “tough” parts away, but if we do that, we miss out on the good parts! Trust me, it is a daily challenge to adjust mt perspective… especially the weeks when my husband is working 4am-10pm and I haven’t said more than “Hi” & ” love you, bye” to him. But, we can do it!

  2. Nancy george says:

    Yes, women are multitaskers. Women are also doctors. Your post completely assumes that doctors are men. Get over yourself.

    • Blog posts are personal – it’s almost the definition of a blog (and, apparently, the comments which are posted to them.) I don’t believe that Briana’s post makes the assumption that all doctors are male – merely that the doctor SHE is married to happens to be male. Her post is an uplifting story about one family’s experience with intern year. We would LOVE to publish something similar by the family of a woman doctor and invite you to write it, Nancy. You can reach me directly at

    • Yes, and please remember that not all doctors’ spouses are women. My son is a new veterinarian married this summer to a new resident. So far he’s had the bulk of the household duties while looking for a job. Together, they will figure it out.

  3. What a wonderful perspective! As a family man (married, dad of two strapping lads) planning on going into Neurosurgery residency in 2017, I am encouraged by your words and the beautiful way your family has framed this experience, while being forthright about the challenges. Thank you! #itsgoodnow

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