Standing by our husbands. Striving with our sisters. Walking with our Lord.
Being in a medical marriage brings with it a unique set of circumstances, which those outside of medicine cannot understand. But Side By Side does understand, and with chapters in over 90 communities across the world, women can connect, love and pray for each other, while encouraging one another in their personal relationships with Jesus Christ. Side By Side focuses on supporting, challenging and uplifting medical marriages to bring glory to Jesus, while positively impacting daily life and fostering deep relationships with each other, our husbands and our Lord. We are a CMDA ministry for women who are married to medical and dental students, residents, fellows, and staff physicians and dentists.
Side By Side began in 1988 in Rochester, Minnesota with six women meeting around a kitchen table. In 2003, with 150 women attending weekly, we felt the Lord leading us to share our model with others. The women of Side By Side come from different backgrounds, denominations, and are in varied stages of the medical life. Some members are physicians or dentists themselves. Each chapter ministers to the needs of its community. We invite you to join us on this journey, whether by visiting, joining, starting or praying for a local chapter of Side By Side.
Many women who come to Side By Side have never attended a Bible study before, while others may have been in Bible studies all their lives. The great thing is that it doesn't matter! We have found a common bond in the fact that we are all in a healthcare marriage and the journey is much more enjoyable when surrounded by companions. Side By Side has been a source of loving support, emotional bonding, prayer, delicious food and, of course, lots of laughter. It also assists women network in their new communities. But most important of all, through the ministry of Side By Side, the souls of many women, their children and their husbands have been won for Christ. It's an exciting place to be and we would love to have you join us!
by Robin Morgenthaler, Side By Side Founder
In 1987, my husband, Tim, decided to leave the Navy and continue his medical training at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. When I heard his decision for our future, a vision from God came into my mind. That vision was to start an international Bible study in this new place. After all, many people from all over the world came to Mayo Clinic for medical training and for physical healing--so wouldn’t that be the perfect place to tell them about Jesus?
Once we arrived in Rochester, it took me many months to act on that vision and to invite women to this international Bible study. My feelings of inadequacy, rejection, and a basic cowardice to try something this different slowed my progress to start. I tried joining the women’s Bible study at my church, but I did not fit in. The women were all quite nice, but one woman said to me, “You are a doctor’s wife--you don’t have any problems.” Hearing that statement convinced me that she did not understand me or my life at all.
I then decided it was my time to venture out (and get out of my comfort zone) and to act on the vision given to me by God. And so, one at a time, I asked five women--all wives of residents who were new to town--to join me for a Bible study in my home. All of them agreed to participate and so we began at my kitchen table learning more about God and loving one another.
A year later, this little group of 6 residents' wives had grown to 18. We were now occupying three homes to accommodate the increased number of women and the children they brought in tow. Six months after that, we moved to an even larger space in a welcoming church where we all could meet at the same time and share our childcare expenses. By the time my husband's training was over, 40 women were attending Side By Side each week.
Many women who came to Side By Side had never attended a Bible study before, while others may have been in Bible studies all their lives. Side By Side was a safe place to ask deep questions and all women were welcomed and loved. We found a common bond in the fact that we were all in a healthcare marriage, and provided encouragement, friendship, and support for one another.
Side By Side continued to grow and in 2001, a group of insightful women decided that we should be in every medical community across the country. Because simply, the model of building God's kingdom and walking alongside women in medical marriages just had to be shared. With this mission in mind, these faithful women began the process of writing down what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. We also diligently prayed for God to direct our steps.
In 2005, we connected with Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA) and became their ministry for women who were married to doctors and dentists. Being a part of a larger organization with a solid Christian medical focus and with many years of successful management has aided us greatly in our growth.
Today, in 2022, we are still seeing God’s hand growing the faith of women in Side By Side. He has blessed us with 90+ chapters of Side By Side. Many of our chapters have been started by women who moved to a new community without a Side By Side chapter. These women missed the vital connection with other medical wives so they raised their hands to learn how to lead a new chapter. We know that over 1,800 women in medical marriages are meeting regularly in chapters of Side By Side. Four of our Side By Side chapters are international, and support women in medical marriages in Japan, Africa and the West Indies. Side By Side also has a virtual chapter for women who live in communities without the presence of an actual chapter. We have women who connect on social media: Our Side By Side Facebook group has 2,900 members communicating and networking, and almost 400 connect with us on Instagram. Side By Side also sends a monthly encouraging devotional to 800 inboxes.
Our goals are as follows:
- To reach out to the wives of physicians and dentists in our medical community and share Christ.
- To challenge women to study and apply the Bible to their lives daily.
- To be a place of love, prayer and support.
- To build Christian community.
- To support and encourage strong medical marriages.
- To provide a safe atmosphere for children where biblical principles are modeled and taught
We strive to reach these goals by our commitment to be:
- Christ-Like – Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:5
- Controlled by the Holy Spirit – But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. John 16:13-14
- Committed to Scripture – Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105
- Communing in Prayer – And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep praying for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18
- Compassionate – A new command I give you; Love one another. As I have loved you, you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34-35
- Competent – In the same way, let your light shine before me, that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven. Matthew 5:16
- Courage – For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
- Culturally Relevant – I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 1 Corinthians 9:22
Frequently Asked Questions
A false perception exists that women married to doctors or dentists must surely have the "perfect life." It’s a common misconception we know is not true. Sometimes life as a medical wife can be very difficult and many women struggle with resentment, exhaustion, loneliness and isolation. It's not that these feelings don't occur in all marriages, but we do believe that medical marriages face unique circumstances which bring about those emotions..
That's where Side By Side steps in. We believe there is something special about the support medical wives can offer each other. There is a sense of understanding that exists in a Side By Side chapter that might not exist in even the most well-intentioned ministry. And with that understanding, we provide a welcome environment to everyone, regardless of their spiritual background to begin to know or to deepen their relationship with Jesus. Some of our members would never come to a Bible study, but they'll come to Side By Side. Why? Because at Side By Side they find women who understand what they are going through; they find instant help and companionship; they find friendship and a connection away from home.
But our main goal is to reach women for Christ. We believe God has given us a unique ministry platform and an opportunity to reach medical spouses for Christ. We seek to serve Him right where we are, within our sphere of influence; at Side By Side, that happens to be those in our medical community. We invite you to join us in reaching out to the medical wives in your community and loving them as Jesus does.
Our ministry is specifically designed for women who are in medical or dental marriages, at any time in their journey. We do not exclude women who are not in a medical marriage from attending; however, our ministry focus will not change. We are and will continue to be an outreach ministry to women in a medical or dental marriage. We acknowledge the growing, legitimate need for a ministry to men who are also in a medical or dental marriage. We believe they have a different set of needs and understand that CMDA would welcome a conversation with a Godly man who feels called to care for these men.
We want to help you establish this ministry established in your community. We will put you in touch with the Side By Side Regional Director for your area who will be there to guide you each step of the way. After receiving your signed Statement of Faith, and your start up fee we will provide you with the Side By Side Ministry Manual which outlines the how-to's of the ministry. We will connect you with our invite only Facebook Leadership Team group. In addition to that, we will provide prayer support, networking through our CMDA affiliation and monthly encouragement through our On the Side e-newsletter. Learn more about our resources.
Side By Side chapters should contain several core components: Bible study, prayer, and caring for one another. Aside from that, there is no “right” way for your chapter to look. Each chapter is unique as it meets the unique needs of its community; your chapter may have women who are older or younger in training or near retirement. Your chapter can meet year around, seasonally or during the school calendar year.
Remember, your chapter size will likely begin small. This ministry started with six women around a kitchen table. Minister to those attending and God will grow your chapter as He sees fit.
Our leaders are women just like you. We come from a vast variety of backgrounds and denominations. We are moms; we are professionals; we are students. There is no one type of leader. All you need is a heart for the Lord and a heart for women in our ministry. We do require all leaders to fill out an informational questionnaire and sign our Statement of Faith There is a small fee that can be paid online using this link http://give.cmda.org/sbs
Our Regional Directors will guide you and pray for you as you take steps to make your Side By Side chapter official. Then she will support you along the way.
Then we ask you to live out the ministry goals of Side By Side to the best of your ability, with God's help and with the accountability of your peers and support from a prayer partner. For more information about becoming a Side By Side leader, contact Side By Side.
We require a one-time charter fee of $50 to officially become a local chapter of Side By Side.
At the present time, we do not require annual dues. However, that may change in the future.
We do not want the cost to get in the way of forming a new chapter. Please contact us if this charter fee creates a problem for your chapter. Other costs you may consider in starting your chapter is the cost of childcare and books. We recommend having your members contribute to these costs by paying for their own childcare and books, but leaders will often supplement the costs.
We are here to serve you and help answer any questions you may have. We want to help you grow in every aspect of your life – personally, professionally and spiritually. We’re also available to help guide and direct you to CMDA’s various ministries and resources.
Northeast 1 (NY, MA, RI, VT, NH, ME, DE, MD, WV)
Northeast 2 (CT, VA, WV, PA, NJ)
South 1 (firstname.lastname@example.org) AL, GA, NC, SC, TX
South 2 (email@example.com) AR, FL, LA, MS, OK, TN
South 3 (TN, FL)
South 4 (TX)
Midwest 1 (Ml, OH)
Midwest 2 (MN, WI, IA)
Midwest 3 (IN, KS, MO, IL, ND, NE, KY, SD)
West (AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, NM, OR, UT, WA, WY)
International (Outside of United States)
Virtual (Side by Side Virtual)