Residency Interview Travel – Family Edition

One of the decisions that I struggled with during interview season was whether or not to bring my family with me on my interviews. My daughter was 18 mos old when I was doing my interview travel which, as parents know, is an unpredictable age. She has always been a pretty calm, happy, easy-to-please kiddo, but you never know what strange places and strange environments will do. She came on some of my interview trips and not others, and she came to one interview dinner with me.

So, without further ado, I present to you the things that I learned about interview travel with kids:

Note: For ease of phrasing, I am assuming that we are talking about a spouse +/- kids. I am referring to the spouse as male because mine is male, and the whole he/she, his/her thing gets cumbersome after a while. 

Having companions on your trip makes it a lot more fun

If your spouse is traveling with you, bringing the kid(s) along can make what would otherwise be a long “business trip” into a fun family outing. Your spouse can drive so you can rest up before and after the actual interview, which is always a plus. My husband came with me (and drove) on all of the interview trips that were within driving distance. If I had to fly, I went solo. I really liked that, for the ones where he came along, he was able to explore the area a little bit while I was at the interview. If the interview included a tour of the town (a big plus for me), then after the interview I could show him some of the areas that seemed interesting. It was also just nice having someone to talk to on those long drives.

Two heads are better than one

Chances are, you married your spouse for many reasons, but hopefully, one of those reasons is that you trust your spouse’s judgment. When you are making decisions that will affect both of you, it’s nice to have someone to lend you a second perspective. It helps to have someone who isn’t as invested in whether they like the program to point out if the neighborhoods where you could afford to live would be questionable, for example.

It’s his (or her) life, too

The residency search is usually focused on the person who will be doing the actual residency, but it’s important not to forget that – duh! – your spouse is also going to be stuck with wherever you end up. Sometimes that means moving with you, other times it means being separated from each other because your spouse can’t move with you. Either of those can have a huge impact on your spouse. You are going to be spending almost all of your waking hours at work, and you are going to meet people and make friends at work. But what about your spouse? Where will he make friends? Are there jobs available in his field? Does he have easy access to his hobbies? Are there any other big deal-breakers for him?

Kids are distracting

I love my daughter, and as I said, she is generally very easygoing. That being said, the one interview dinner that I brought her to was… well… let’s just say I only did it once. I tried it out with a “low-stakes” dinner at a program that I wasn’t terribly interested in. She was climbing all over me the entire time, bored, fussing, stir crazy. It made it really hard to actually learn much about the program, or to show anything about myself except how I deal with a toddler with a bunch of pent-up energy from spending too much time in the car.

Traveling messes kids up in ways you wouldn’t think of

Some kids don’t sleep well in a strange bed. Others are so tightly wound after a whole day in the car that they are bouncing off the walls and won’t sleep at night. Another one gets carsick, and another who was potty trained starts having accidents. Traveling is weird for kids, and puts them under stress in weird ways. You never really know how they are going to react, and sometimes it isn’t worth the gamble.

The bottom line

I brought my husband and daughter on every interview that we drove to, and I’m glad that they came with me. I appreciated hearing his perspective, and I liked that I didn’t have to spend as much time away from my kiddo as I would have had to otherwise. After that first experience with the interview dinner, though, they stayed in the hotel and ordered pizza for the dinners. Having a small child at the interview dinner was too much of a distraction, and I wouldn’t repeat that part of it.

 

So, what do you think? Did you bring your kids on your interviews? Leave them at home? How did it go?

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