Sheila and Michael Drnec would strike you as a couple deeply in love. Nestled in comfy chairs in the Student Education Center, they laugh together often, talk about the things they love to do together, and share their excitement for the day when Michael, a software developer, can use his expertise to set up electronic systems for Sheila’s practice.
If you ask them about the impact of medical school on a marriage, though, they’ll both give you wry, knowing looks. “It’s the worst part of your life and the worst part of your marriage,” says Sheila, a fourth-year student in the College of Osteopathic Medicine.
That reinforces the value of Significant Others’ Support (SOS), a campus organization that helps students’ significant others better understand the worlds of health care and medical education. SOS also provides a support system and connections to DMU and the community.
“We’re like a lifeline to our spouses. We’re there when they need something to do or need help,” says Michael, this year’s SOS president. “It’s nice [for new students] to hear from someone who’s gone through medical school that, yes, you will make it.”
In addition to general meetings – during which the DMU Pediatrics Club offers babysitting services – SOS offers volunteer and social activities and several popular affinity groups, including a book club, men’s club, knitting club and cooking club. Significant others recently fed approximately 150 DMU students before their first anatomy exam in an SOS-sponsored “feed the student night,” held in the SEC Commons. The potluck extravaganza inspired an SOS cookbook Michael is now working on. “We have about 25 recipes collected already,” he says.
Another SOS benefit: It helps ease the guilt of medical students who often feel they’re neglecting their loved ones. “He can have his poker nights [with the SOS men’s club], and I can study. It’s reassurance that I’ve not completely abandoned him,” Sheila says. “Medical students have to be very selfish. SOS brings their spouses into our world.”