What HOAA Means to Me: Alena

We are so excited to share another “What HOAA Means to Me” testimony, this time from our former president, Alena! I love hearing from former members because they give such a great perspective! Enjoy Alena’s thoughts on what HOAA meant to her…

IMG_0041Here we are 6 months out of residency, in the “real world” making the big bucks we always dreamed of!  Haha!  Turns out I do miss a few things about residency and HOAA is one of them.  I was asked to write what HOAA means to me.  By the length of my response, you can tell it means a lot to me!

Here are my top 7 reasons why I love HOAA!!

1. Can you relate?

Oh how I miss having people who get it!  My husband unexpectedly didn’t come home the other night.  When I realized this at 7 a.m. I texted him.  No response. I sent another text at 7:30a.m.  No response.  I thought “I’ll call the clinic at 8 if I still haven’t heard from him.” and sat down to eat breakfast.  I was telling a couple of my new friends about this and they looked shocked.  It was then that I realized residency had changed me in a way most people would never understand.

2. Automatic social life.

You just show up to do fun things with great people that you want to be around.  It was so easy to get out of the house and meet people.

3. I fit.

You have a pool of like-minded people experiencing similar challenges.  Everyone feels poor and is looking forward to the day that we don’t.  Everyone has similar goals (survive residency) and similar lifestyles (date night=eating with your spouse in a dirty call room and chatting in between pager buzzes…same scenario for Valentine’s day, holidays, weekends, etc.).

4. Who doesn’t like free stuff?!

Babysitting, educational seminars, social outings, food, admission to fun venues.  Enough said!

5. Making friends in HOAA was so easy.

HOAA is a great pool of fascinating, intelligent, unique, and trustworthy people all helping each other survive one of the greatest challenges.  In the real world a social pool like this is difficult to come by!

6. Sense of accomplishment

I was a career woman who turned stay at home mom due to my husband’s career and I was in a bit of an identity crisis.  It seems once people hear “stay at home mom” the questions dwindle.  People seldom asked about my interests or my background which was my entire identity before marriage and kids.  Being involved in the leadership of HOAA as an officer was such a blessing during my transition.  It gave me a new identity to embrace while I grew to love my new life as a stay at home mom.  I enjoyed the behind the scenes business—organizing, leading, fundraising, budgeting, and planning.  It was fun and added a new element to my day to day routine.  It was a great opportunity to get to know some of our awesome members on a different level.  I also enjoyed giving back to the organization who gave me so much!

7. Lifelong friendships

I have HOAA friends who will be in my life forever.  There is nothing that bonds people better than challenges!  You always can commiserate and support each other.  They see you—not a “rich doctor’s wife who has the life” …just you.  They are incredible and unique friends.    They will always understand the joys and challenges of being a physician’s spouse.  Treasure your HOAA friends.   They are precious gifts!

While the real world isn’t perfect, it IS better than residency!  Hold on to hope!!  You will survive…and even miss it (…a little…at least some parts)!  The real world is yet another challenging and exciting adventure to experience with your spouse.  And if you are lucky, you might even see them a bit more!  Take care of our incredible organization so future residents’ spouses will have this great form of support for years to come. I wish you all the very best!

God bless!  Alena Brautigam

Spouse of Josh Brautigam, Family Medicine 2013

HOAA President 2012-2013