Why Do Doctors Marry Other Doctors? #illumedati 3


Hey everyone! It’s Medicine Mondays again… and most of these posts have been fixated on The Match recently. So I wanted to switch gears and ponder “Why Do Doctors Marry Other Doctors?”

doctors-marry-doctors-small

Stock Photo from Pexels

Of course this question is a generalization. Doctors don’t just marry other doctors. However, I would venture to say that a significant amount of doctors marry other doctors.


Why?

Well, let’s first re-examine the normal timeline to create a doctor:

General education through High School
Undergraduate Degree (Pre-Medical Requisites)
Medical Degree (4 years)
Residency (3+ years)

If you look at this timeline you’ll see that the path to becoming a doctor branches off from any other path early in your college career. So for the most part, you are looking at a path of 4+4+3 (at least). So at least 11+ years of your life is on “The Track“, assuming you don’t Fall Off. As a newly-minted attending in your early 30s – 11+ years of your life, or about 33% of it, has in some way, shape, or form been connected to medicine.

So that’s the first reason. It’s a simple numbers game. You are surrounded by others like you, in your choice of profession. This would probably hold true for many other careers. Biochemists are surrounded by other biochemists, lawyers by other lawyers, etc. However, for medicine, the path is so long that this effect compounds. 11+ years is a long time to meet, fall in love with, and marry someone.


It’s not just a numbers game though… what about love?

What is love? (Baby don’t hurt me)

You’re right! Of course love is important. For many it’s the single most important factor. All You Need Is Love. However, it is important for any and all relationships.

If we make the assumption that love is present for Doctors Marrying Doctors and Doctors Marrying Non-Doctors, then love isn’t a factor (for the purposes of this discussion).


I see. Well, even so, it’s still not just a numbers game right?

You’re right. It’s not.

However, relationships (and marriage) require a deep level of understanding of one another. I think that choosing to go into medicine is a very isolating endeavor. The Track is long, and not only is it long, it usually requires you to move at least a few times during the course of your training.

For some, you might have gone to undergrad at Big State, and then stayed for medical school, residency, and even your first job. However, I do not think that is the norm. I would venture to say that most practicing attendings, regardless of specialty, needed to move at least one time during the course of their training or early career.


No one understands.

You can try to explain to your non-medical friends about how you studied for 12 hours learning about goblet cells or the chromosome deletion related to Cri du Chat Syndrome, but they won’t understand. They also won’t understand why you can’t come hang out and watch the new movie that just came out. It’s just one night… right?

But it’s not just one night to you.

It’s the night before the big organic chemistry test, or pathology test, or USMLE, or board certification… or whatever. The studying never ends and the tests never end. Wait, you can’t come visit me for Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s/Birthday/Anniversary? Why not? Well, because I’m a medical student, or resident (or young attending) and I’m probably on call. What…?

So like every year you may or may not be able to see me on [insert special day here]?

Yup.

Hey, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want sympathy. I just want someone who understands.

I think this is the single biggest hurdle in a relationship with a doctor. The easiest way to get over this hurdle is to be in a relationship with someone who understands the day-to-day activities of a doctor, and how different it is from everyone else… which would be…  *DING* — another doctor. The second easiest way is to be in a relationship with someone who is in the field of medicine, and understands how the medical system works. For example, a nurse, NP, or PA, etc will all also have a much easier time understanding.


But I don’t want to marry someone in the medical field…What do I do?

Hey, I understand. I didn’t want to marry anyone in the medical field either. In fact, I had planned to stay single until after I finished residency and was an attending…

However, things don’t always happen as you plan them. I met my wife when we were second year med students, we did our clinical rotations apart as 3rd and 4th years… and then we did our residencies about 5 hours apart for another 4 years. We didn’t live in the same city until fellowship… after we were already married.

Obviously, my situation is not the most common one. I’m just trying to illustrate two points. One is that despite not wanting to marry anyone in the medical field, I married another doctor. Two is that I had to move multiple times for my training. I think very few, if any long distance relationships would have worked aside from another doctor.


I’m a pre-med/med student/resident/attending. My boyfriend/girlfriend isn’t in the medical field, are we doomed?

Of course not. However, communication is paramount. Unfortunately, for your significant other, they will need to understand that there is already somebody else.

His/her name is medicine and medicine is a cruel mistress. 

Your significant other will have to share you with “medicine” all-the-time. This requires a very deep level of understanding on their part.

This non-medical significant other must understand that no matter what they do, they may not be the first priority.

They will need to understand that they are a priority to you, but that your priorities are not controlled by you.


TL;DR

Doctors marry other doctors because:

a) It’s a numbers game.
b) Need for a mutual understanding.

Of course, doctors also marry non-doctors. However, communication is paramount and there is already someone else. Medicine is a cruel mistress.

They will need to understand that they are a priority to you, but that your priorities are not controlled by you.

 

-Sensei

What do you think? Is my explanation too simplistic? Is there something deeper at work?

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to weigh in.

As always Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.

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About Sensei

A young attending physician trying to navigate the mine field that is life after medical school…


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