Why Doctors Date Other Doctors


 
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By Liz Meszaros

Why do some doctors not only date other doctors, but go on to marry them as well?

Roughly 40% of physicians will marry another physician or healthcare professional, according to a survey of almost 5,000 physicians.

Are physicians just naturally drawn to each other? The answer, it seems, may be based more on practicality and convenience than on chemistry, pheromones, or anything even remotely romantic or sexy. Quite simply, relationships between doctors often begin because they work in close proximity and endure the same hardships. In other words, physicians are working in the trenches together during their long years of training and even afterwards. The bonds and friendship that are formed during this difficult period are strong and often—understandably—lead to romance.

Medical students, interns, and residents rarely have time to do much outside of medical school. Even after completing their many years of training, many doctors have little time for anything else but medicine and their careers. In medical school, for example, the rigors—and traumas—of the curriculum may be what throws doctors together. The long hours of training, long hours of studying, and complete lack of any extra time all contribute to a very narrow focus during these strenuous years. Who understands this better than a fellow physician-in-training?

Understandably, no one knows what a career in medicine entails and the hefty toll it exacts financially, physically, and emotionally better than a fellow physician. The psychological and emotional benefits of having a partner who understands the hardships and demands of a career in medicine can be inestimable.

“As a vocation, medicine is so overwhelming that there is little time to do anything else. As we go through medical school we live, learn, play, and love together, and it can be difficult for others outside the profession to understand us. So it stands to reason that we tend to group together,” said Clare Gerada, a general practitioner in London, and former chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, in an article exploring physician-physician relationship.

But, doctor-doctor relationships also involve challenges.

For starters, maintaining a good work-life balance as a couple can be difficult. The demands of being on-call after hours, on weekends, and during holidays can take a toll. And juggling the on-call demands of two physicians is even more challenging. Finding time to relax and even socialize together can be tough.

“My husband can be called at 2 am, which means you both have broken sleep. And arranging holidays around two rotas is hard, especially at Christmas and New Year and in the summer months,” Liz O’Riordan, consultant breast surgeon, Ipswich, Suffolk, England, explained.

And, while commonalities may be a strength in any relationship, they can also be a bane.

“And while many doctors have found comfort in their shared traits, being too similar has its disadvantages too. Physicians are used to being the ultimate deciders. But at home, married to another physician, that is not the case,”.

This may not always play out well in physician-physician relationships. While these alphas each understand how the other thinks, it can sometimes be difficult to let go of the reins. Who gets the final say? Who makes the decision when both parties are doctors, and therefore, accustomed to being the decision-makers?

In addition, the burdens of medical student-loan debt and physician burnout are two challenges physician-physician couples get a double dose of. While the shared understanding of these burdens may lead to empathy, these financial and emotional stressors can be challenging, especially when both people in the relationship have to face them.

Finally, if and when children are involved, the need to find work-life balance becomes even greater. Finding good child care to accommodate two busy physicians’ schedules will be nothing less than taxing.

According to Gerada, physicians “should spend as much money as they can buy to help, such as having a cleaner and a gardener,” in order to make the most of the time they do have to spend with children and partners.”

In the end, physician-physician relationships have a lot of ups and downs—just like any other relationship—and will take a lot of work, understanding, and, possibly, forgiveness. But, ultimately, the strengths, positives, and shared experiences that drew physicians into a relationship in the first place may form the basis for a strong and rewarding partnership.

 
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