spouse grad school

Spouse Not On Board With PA School

So you want to go back to school, but your significant other is not on board. Before you dump them to chase the PA-C career, let’s first take a moment to process this. 

Spouse not on board with pa school? Oof, that’s a tough one. Before throwing in the towel or finding a new boo, below is my thought process and what I would do if faced with this situation.

𝐑𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐨𝐧

Why isn’t your spouse on board? What is their primary concern regarding you pursuing higher education? Is it financial? Lack of support? Demands of the program and what it will mean for them? Find out so that together, you two can begin addressing those concerns. It could be that they aren’t opposed to you going back to school; perhaps it’s just a matter of timing.

Example: Sarah and Jim have three kids ages 5y, 3y, and 9m. They don’t have much family around, and financially, they do okay but can’t afford more debt. If Sarah is accepted into pa school this cycle, Jim will be left to care for the children alone while she is in class or studying. His income alone won’t be enough to cover all of their expenses, including the increase in childcare. Sarah is ready to apply now, but Jim thinks it would be more feasible to wait a few more years until the kids are in grade school (less spent in daycare) and more stable financially. 

𝗖𝗹𝗮𝗿𝗶𝘁𝘆

Are they clear on your reason for wanting to pursue this career? If not, how can you help them to understand it? This could be great practice for your personal statement 🤷🏾‍♀️ It’s possible that once they know how important this is to you and what the plan is upon graduation, they’ll be more open to the idea of such a daunting 2+ year task.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Example: It’s been two years since Jim and Sarah last spoke about pa school. When she brings up the subject again, Jim seems surprised as he thought it was a passing thought. Now that the kids are older and finances have improved, Sarah is serious about becoming a physician assistant. Jim can’t understand why. Things are going so well, and they have a very good routine, so Jim is confused as to why Sarah would want to make such a drastic but temporary life change for their family. He needs clarity before moving forward.

Painting a picture

When attempting to persuade a loved one, it can be helpful to develop a few ideas of how to make it work. In the example of Jim and Sarah, once a conversation about why and clarity has occurred, Sarah can present Jim with a few suggestions about childcare/support, finances, and any other concerns that Jim may have brought up regarding Sarah’s career change. Doing this shows that Sarah has heard Jim’s concerns and takes them seriously. 

Bigger issues

If the above points have been addressed and there is still push back, is there possibly a marriage issue and not a pa school issue? 👀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Example: Karen + Sam have had communication troubles in their marriage for over a year now. For months, Karen urges Sam to see a marriage counselor, but Sam shows no interest claiming he does not have time for counseling. Today Sam mentions he is planning to submit his CASPA next cycle, which leaves a 3m pregnant Karen furious. Sam doesn’t understand why she is angry.

If so, consider taking time to address that first. Marital stress is just one more stressor that no one wants to deal with, ESPECIALLY on top of an academically rigorous program like pa school 😒⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Remember

You aren’t the only one enrolling in the program. Your spouse/significant other is right there with you. Sleeping alone in bed while you study. Taking on the brunt of domestic and parenting duties while you’re in class. Working extra hours to make up for the lost income. All sacrifices to help your dreams come true. Fill them in on the details every step of the way (read love in pa school), and be sure to express appreciation.

In short,

Building and maintaining the relationship took a lot of work, don’t let school get in the way of that 🙃 𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐠𝐫𝐚𝐦 AIN’T 𝐠𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 NOWHERE; 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐡𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐟𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭!

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