Finishing medical school is a big deal, but don't let your exuberance blind you to the reality of what is coming up next.
The primary thing that you need to establish in your mind is that medical school isn't like other degree programs, or advanced degrees for that matter. Law school graduates, MBA's, etc start working at competitive wages right after graduation. Seemingly overnight, they go from being mired in student debt and Ramen noodles, to having an income that is significantly larger than the one they previously had. That is not us. Yes, we went to school longer. Yes, they will hand out a diploma that says "Doctor". But what no one told you is that you aren't really done. You are almost done. Undergraduate degree was just the beginning. Medical school is the middle. Residency is the end (or at least when you finish it will be, unless your DrH wants to do a fellowship - then fellowship is the end).
For all intents and purposes internship/residency is more schooling without tuition payments and no access to student loans. When you actually graduate from that program in 3-7 years, depending on your desired specialty, THEN you will be done. That is the graduation certificate that officially says it is now over, welcome to your career.
I remember the first few conversations I had with people we meet in our new city now that DrH was officially a "doctor". They were awkward. I am sure they couldn't figure out why I was driving an old beat up car and my kids were wearing clothes from the thrift store, and my purse wasn't a brand they recognized. I had fears of people looking up my address and taking a Sunday drive hoping to get a glimpse of the "doctors" house only to be disappointed when they found a 35 year old bi-level ranch with a sinking driveway and peeling paint.
They would ask innocently what kind of doctor my husband was. Maybe he was the kind of doctor that doesn't make any money like my science teacher in high school who had a PhD. I would tell them that DrH was a intern and that we would be here for six years while he finishes his training in neurosurgery. Out of curiosity they would ask what that was, and I would explain it was a surgical speciality of the spine, nervous system, and brain. That would always get them. I married a brain surgeon. Yes, I did and here I am.
They would find clever ways to ask about how much money he made: "So does he get paid during his internship"? Without actually giving them the exact amount of money our family now earned instead of borrowed, I would tell them that he makes about the same as a school teacher in our particular state but works much longer. Everyone knows that teachers are underpaid, but compared to an intern/resident - we have them beat, hands down.
The funny thing is the women I had these initial conversations with are now real friends. They get it! Or maybe I just did a really good job explaining it.
Residency is still school/training and if you can approach it with that mindset you won't be disappointed.
Up Next: An Intern Must Make More Than A Medical Student, Right?