According to a recent survey, roughly 40% of physicians will marry another doctor or health professionals. Why do so many doctors marry others in the medical profession?
Today, many couples delay marriages until their late twenties or early thirties. The time in your life when you are seeking a long-term partner can coincide with the time you are in medical school and training.
Given the all-consuming nature of medical school and residency, doctors’ social circles usually revolve around medicine. As a vocation, doctor jobs are extremely time-consuming and overwhelming. There’s often very little time for much else – especially socialising. This often leads to the coupling of health care professionals and physician families.
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we take a look at what is it about medicine that makes doctors more inclined to have relationships with each other…
During residency, working long hours with the same people can create a romantic flame. When young doctors are spending 60-80 hours a week together, proximity and shared experiences encourage them to create friendships that can lead to love. The long hours of working and studying make it easier to socialise with others who are in the same circumstances.
Although in most specialities, doctors are rostered to work shifts, often they must stay until the work is done. They can’t throw their scalpel into the air at 4.59pm and run out the door mid-surgery. This means you can’t always rely on them to be home in time for dinner, or to attend your kid’s every footy match.
Compared to other professions, research suggests doctors have less energy left to give at the end of the working day. Being with someone who understands this can significantly reduce strain in your relationship.
There are very few professions outside of healthcare that could understand the psychological and emotional pressure that comes with a doctor’s job. It would be difficult to explain frustrations and cases faced in your day without using medical terms. It can be even more frustrating if you’re speaking to someone who doesn’t understand the medical language, and you feel like you are constantly explaining medical jargon.
Doctor couples generally succeed due to an increased understanding of each other’s problems and maintaining open communication. Some doctors report enjoying the company of those who share their perspective and passion for medicine. Whilst it can be very tempting to share stories and frustration of the day to day of doctor life, it’s also important to make time to take holidays together and switch off from ‘talking shop’.
It can be difficult to explain why as a surgical registrar you would rather spend your night in the on-call room for first dibs on scrubbing in to an exciting middle-of-the-night surgery than sleep at home in bed with your non-doctor partner.
Devotion to your career, coupled with the continual study, exams and always looking towards the next thing can put a strain on a relationship. Being with someone who understands the importance of meeting additional goals after medical school can help you focus and meet those goals.
Without sounding like Grey’s Anatomy’s biggest fans (we are), the relationship can also be a great learning tool. You can learn from each other, study together, and laugh and cry at the realities of being in a doctor job. Hey, writing your vows to your attending on a Post-It note may even make you Chicago’s next greatest neurosurgeon.
Whilst your doctor partner will understand the passion for medicine – and your desire to care for others above all else – they will also be more likely to understand the stress, guilt, sleep deprivation, grief and fear of a career in medicine.
Having a supportive and understanding spouse can reduce stress and improve well-being amongst physicians. As well as the day-to-day trials and tribulations of doctor jobs, physicians also have other unique struggles, such as dealing with their student loan debt and facing burnout.
Doctors face burnout which can lead to emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and a lost sense of personal accomplishment. The American Medical Association found that having a spouse or partner who works as a non-physician health care professional increases the odds of burnout by 23%. In a non-doctor relationship, these things can negatively affect your spouse. Whereas, having a doctor partner, can substantially increase understanding and reduce stress, ultimately increasing your wellbeing.
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