As we have slowly moved through this medical training, I have found that making friends has become increasingly complicated.  While preparing this post I have been reflecting on my friendship efforts over the last two PGY years.  Below I have listed how residency has complicated finding friends and what approaches have had success.  

Why friends are hard to find during residency.
Time with DrH–  DrH/Daddy is coming home! Finally! Quality family time is important, which I then hesitate to interrupt in order to nurture a new friendship.
– Mothering–  I stay home with our two cute kids.  Their needs are the priority for my schedule.  My adults interactions are often limited to parents of my children’s friends.
Conflicting call schedules with co-resident families–  Should be easy to be awesome friends with a co-resident family.  But in actuality their DrH is home opposite of your husband.
Friends with other couples–  Invited as a couple or family for a visit but they insist on rescheduling until DrH can attend. 
Unpredictable schedule– I claim the ‘univerise’ is working against my social plans.  Every time ….well at least most of the time… when I plan to have people over or meet up with new friends, that is when DrH’s has a long case and can’t make it home.  If only doctors could predict all delays and emergent cases!
Finding people to understand our sacrifice for the DrH’s training–  This topic could be a blog post by itself.  I have had abrasive conversations with people that misunderstand or have no empathy towards how difficult and lonely this crazy path is. 
How I have found friends during residency. 
– Keep trying–   Set small goals to keep your confidence.  Find new and simple ways to include others (costco trips, lunch  date, or phone converstions)
Be seen at events –  I attend all or most of my local resident support group, DrH’s program parties/events, children’s play group, and church meetings.  Consistency shows you are interested and reliable.  This is not an easy thing, I just had to commit to the idea. 
Coordinate schedules  –  Calling the other co-residents wife and combing through the schedules to plan evenings together.  Midnight grocery shopping, phone calls after kids are asleep, dinners togethers while both DrH’s are working all have built a friendship.
Finding mothers with similar aged children –  Huge common interests, one friendship began from going to the same city park and striking a conversation with a local mother. 
Participate in the community– Helps you feel involved in the community.  Find a service project or volunteer opportunity to help you learn to appreciate your new residency location. 
Find a friend that can understand the unpredictable DrH schedule –  Yes, both lists have this one.  Cannot stress enough what a make or breaker this can be for a friendship.  This type of friend understands and is also flexible with the ever-changing schedule.
Melanie Gorman, wrote this helpful list for the Huffington Post, entitled “Five tips for creating new adult friends.”  

Here are five tips for creating new adult friendships:
  1. Like attracts like. If you want to find other people who are looking for friends, you have to be open to meeting them. Practice striking up conversations with people you know but are not close with.  Talk about things you have in common, like your kids, and then move the conversation to a more personal place and talk about yourself. Ask questions to discover what you have in common and see if there’s a mutual need/interest in forming a friendship. You don’t want to be a reporter and only ask questions. Take the risk to reveal things about yourself; after all, real intimacy is a give and take.
  2. You’re most likely to find friends in social settings that are interesting to you. While you may enjoy working the booth at your kid’s soccer game, it’s not the same as going to an event where people are discussing issues you love. Try to find local ideas, and if you don’t find one you like, consider creating your own. You might be surprised to find out how many people are interested in the same book you’re reading or your favorite hobby.
  3. You get out of life what you put into it, and friendships are no different. Once you find people you are interested in, try reaching out a few times. People can be shy, distracted and may mistake your overture as simple kindness. Also, you never know when someone’s having a bad day. By reaching out a second or third time, you may find they’re more interested in connecting and that they appreciate your efforts to get to know them.
  4. Consider alternative resources like Facebook and Twitter. I know this may sound a little counterintuitive because we’re talking about face-to-face friendships, but social sites are excellent places to practice. I’ve met several people on Twitter with whom I’d be tied at the hip if we lived in the same city. As it is, we’ll settle for being virtual soul sisters. 
  5. Revive friendships that may have been placed on the back burner. Scroll through your e-mail, Facebook or even your high school yearbook to find people you’ve lost touch with. With the invention of social media, most of us have found our long-lost sixth-grade buddies by now. Once you connect, take the extra step to invite them out for coffee/lunch. You can also host a play date and invite their kids to come along. Often kids can act as the easy topic of conversation to help you connect and explore rekindling your friendship
See her full post ” Adult Friendship 101: Tips for Making New Friends After 35″ at

Number three has inspired me to keep trying!  To often I have explained to DrH that inviting a person twice without any acceptance or return invite means they are not interested.  Melanie Gorman’s article simply reminds me of human nature and the need to try again.  I suggest we forget the times a friendship hasn’t worked or has had a slow start and that we find ways to build a support group with new friends. 

Cheers to new friends that help us survive residency:)


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