The world of medicine is like a bubble. A lot of people THINK they know what goes on there, but unless you're down in the trenches it's unlikely you do. So here is my semi-anonymous blog, here to tell you what really goes on in the life of a medical resident.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Medical Spouses, Revisited

I was reading with interest the blog postings over at Edwin Leap's place regarding the wives of doctors. It's a topic that is of interest to me, seeing as how I don't really understand how anyone would knowingly choose to marry a doctor. I have sung the praises of my own medical spouse here before. What was more interesting to me was the fact that Dr. Leap didn't know any husbands of physicians to include in his interviews. Interesting. I can only infer from that fact that Dr. Leap is considerably older than I am, since the year that I graduated from medical school over 50% of my graduating class was female. And of that class, everyone who matched to emergency medicine was female. 

But I digress. I just figured I'd give Dr. Leap a hand from the other side of the fence. On behalf of my husband, here is what sucks about being married to a doctor (some specific to emergency medicine, some not):
  • Clerkship and residency. Nothing about this part DOESN'T suck. You watch your spouse work themselves into the ground, miserable and sleep deprived and can only hope to God that things will get better. Sometimes they don't. (see: surgeons)
  • You marry their debt, too.
  • The not-so-subtle insinuations that you're a kept man if you're married to a doctor
  • The assumption that you're rich because your wife is a doctor
  • Having to socialize with other doctors
  • It's a job that's hard to leave at the door when they get home
  • Often unpredictable work hours... just because their shift ends at 8pm, doesn't mean you'll necessarily see them home before 11pm. And you're expected to take that in stride.
  • Your career often takes a backseat to their career, whether you like it or not.
  • The possibility of bringing home more than they bargained for-- Norovirus, influenza, hepatitis... all real risks. 
  • The assumption that because she is a doctor, your wife is a pompous know-it-all.
  • Childbearing delayed for longer than biologically ideal
  • Holidays rarely being celebrated on the actual day, causing issues with extended family.
  • You don't have to worry about nurses preying on your spouse (as mentioned by Dr. Leap) since the majority of nurses are still female. Then again... 
What doesn't suck about being married to a doctor?
  • Good income, once the debt is paid off.
  • Wearing scrubs to work means less laundry
  • For most specialties, your spouse is employable pretty much anywhere-- nice flexibility.
  • In the case of emergency medicine, you will have a spouse whom you actually see and can spend time with.
  • I'm cute. :-)
In all seriousness, I wouldn't have married me. My husband is a glutton for punishment. 


Blogger AZReam said...

I'd marry one, if mthey'd buy something ;)

10:40 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

One may not have to worry about nurses, but what about other physicians? I knew an anesthesiologist colleague of mine, who ran off with a cardiologist, leaving her orthopedic surgeon husband behind with three kids.

10:40 AM

Anonymous Abel Pharmboy said...

I married a doc (in academic medicine) and couldn't be happier - and we aren't wealthy. What's tough is to watch her and her other women physician colleagues get treated inequitably by a patriarchal structure that gives them lower wages and penalizes them for having a family. My wife is the smartest and kindest person I know and I hope that by supporting her, I also help her care better for her patients (and as you say of yourself, it doesn't hurt that she's beautiful too.).

1:23 PM

Blogger MedStudentGod (MSG) said...

Echo that - but for my wife.

3:49 PM

Blogger Mindy E said...

We are going through the med skewl process now and what a chore! I amhoping somday this will be over

8:36 PM

Blogger Jen said...

I'm the [female] spouse of a [female] doctor. I'm a nurse by profession. I must say that in my graduating class, 2 of the 54 women were lesbian and none of the 6 men were. So, there's a small risk of your being "preyed" upon by the nursing staff. That said, the working relationships in some hospitals don't necessarily foster wanting to spend ANY time with your colleagues outside of work, much less marry one of them...

2:18 PM

Blogger Jen said...

oops, I meant "none of the 6 men were gay" (that I knew of anyways)

2:19 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:55 AM

Blogger anonymous said...

I'm a male and I married my wife whom is a general surgeon.

Initially I agreed to stay at home and raise the children if we had any. We married and within 3 years we had to boys.

I love my wife and boys but honestly I'm not sure how much longer I can hang in there. My wife works 12 hours 7 days a week for two weeks at a time w/ one weekend off a month. I literally do not see her until after 7:30 at night, If we are lucky.

Weekends she rounds which takes all day as well....and I don't mean 9 to 5 I mean 9 to 9. Then amazeingly it's Monday morning again and it starts all over. I don't know when I will ever get to moweing the grass or fixing anything around the house. I litearlly can't take my eyes off of my 10 month old and 3 year old. Children at this age have to be monitored constantly or they will hurt themselves.

I keep thinking it will get better when they get older but hoestly it will probably get worse.
I totally feel abondened and have expressed this to her but even w/ the wonderful financial stronghold we have we can't find decent help.

I just need 1 day a week for someone to be here so that I may address work that needs to be done.
We just can't make it happen.

I'm completeley stressed out and I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's not there.

Oh well.

My advice to anyone thinking of marrying a surgeon would be to hold off on that idea until you actually see what there career will demand which you won't fully appreciate until they begin working and you can get a good idea of how much they will actually work.

Oh by the way they are on call twice a month for 7 days at a time so enjoy the phone calls that come in at 2:00 am then again at 3:00 am and maybe even again at 4:00 am not to mention when she actually has to go in in the middle of the night and operate.

When my boys ask me where mommy is I just tell them she is helping people at work, she's a Dr.

I know, I know.....I should just grow up and deal w/ it.

Thnaks for letting me share.

6:47 AM

Anonymous Todd said...

Mention to Dr. Leap you found a spouse who is male! I've been with my wife since high school and left a real good job in San Diego to keep her from dropping out of medical school. She didn't like the distance and place where she was attending school stunk for jobs in technology. When she graduated I followed her to Texas for residency then to Minnesota for fellowship. We finally settled down in Wisconsin which is where we both grew up and originally where I left because it lacked work in my field of study. To this day I haven't been able to secure a job and all my friends and family no longer speak with me. I think they're bitter about the fact my wife is a doctor because they never acted same since. Either way they're no where to be found then to make matters worse I spend Christmas alone because my wife's step father and I don't get along and I'm not allowed in his house. The guy is a real jerk and hasn't respected me since first time I met him. My wife sleeps all the time and only talks about her job. I'm constantly alone and absolutely hate attending their functions. All they talk about is medicine and are very disrespectful to my face. I'm extremely depressed and think its much worse when table is reversed and its the woman who is doctor as in my situation. You see everyone comes to expect men to be the earners but when its the wife who has more education and out earns you everyone treats you like dirt and think you're mooching. Whenever I apply for work people discriminate against me because of my wife's occupation. They act like I don't need the job because we're practically rich due to her career. What a joke doctors make no where near what they should and everyone assumes they're rich. I know people who make more their first year on the railroad in a union then an Ophthalmologist makes after three years in private practice! Also her employer and all the programs she participated in for school did absolutely nothing to help me with displacement or finding work!! That is so wrong considering how much I've sacrificed! This is a serious problem which goes unrecognized and appreciated each and every day. I'm ready to end my life from the depression I can't take it anymore! There is no communicating to her when she comes home. She is like a total zombie and only thinks about her job. Then on the weekends she's healthy enough to constantly run off with her family knowing I've been patiently waiting years for love. Total slap in the face!

11:31 PM

Blogger Tx Doc said...

Anon 0647 - it is tough. I am a male GS, second marriage - first blew up PGY3 - and my wife told me on first encounter that "I do not date doctors"...her Dad and Older Brother were PEDS and GS, respectively - so, 27 years, two girls and 3 gkids later we are still at it.
Moved four times - plus two military hitches that included a deployment - and it has not been easy.
She made it clear that I had tasks to do and time to spend with her and later kids - and we did and we made it. Whether solo or in small group - done both - I made my priorities clear to my staff and co-workers, held to it - one cancelled vacation only, and a lot of neat things done. Now she is a traveling fool - Red Hat cruises, time with grandkids, both our mothers here in town,small town America, three blocks from office.

You simply must keep dates, schedule time for outside interests...I got drug to some things I Never would have considered attending - and had a blast, am involved in school district stuff, church...and it made me a better clinician and person.

Do not let "The Doctor" rule the roost but instead set the rules, abide by them, create Couple time, and you, your spouse and the kids will be better for it.

5:04 PM

Blogger harry said...

I think what stinks is that when they go on call you end up being on call too. You are expected to wait up for them and be supportive even if you have your own job and career. You get just as much sleep as they do but you don't get the same reaction or sympathy as they do. Since you are a man you are told to suck it up but you need your rest too.

11:53 PM

Blogger Mary said...

This was a good read & very helpful. I am a recruiter for EM docs and it is very important for us to not only take care of our physicians but their families as well. I know a little something about the tolls the job can have on a family having been a military spouse (thankfully now retired). The support and camaraderie is essential! Can you think of anything that you or your spouse would change in their current position? As a recruiter I am always looking for feedback to keep our EM physicians and their families happy.

11:50 AM


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