Married/Dating A Doctor In Training

Hello Aspiring Physicians,

Are you supposed to have a life outside of medicine? Absolutely!! It’s hard enough dating but it’s near impossible if you are pre-medical student or in medical school. And when you do start dating, how do you explain to your partner or significant other that they get maybe an hour or 2 hours of time with you. And some weeks they may never see you because it is exam week. The struggle is real for both sides. If you are dating, engaged, or married, this post is for them. The divorce rate for doctors is atrocious. That’s not to scare you and that does not mean you can’t have a healthy relationship or marriage but know that the training years are the worst on a relationship.

When I was in medical school, I was going through a divorce during my first year. I can’t blame this on medicine as there were other issues that led us down this road. After I got divorced, I just focused on medical school. I had tunnel vision. Nothing was going to get in my way and I definitely was not looking to start dating or in fact marrying anytime soon. But life has a funny way of letting you know that you are not in control. During my 2nd year of medical school, I ended up meeting my now husband. I feel like he should write this post because he has been through it with me from the beginning of my medical training. He can probably give you the honest truth what it is like being married to a doctor. We joke around a lot but he always reminds me that when we were dating in medical school, he would offer to come to the hospital for lunch or coffee or just to say hi, and every time we met, without fail, my pager would go off and I would have to leave. That probably should have been a warning sign for him not to marry me 🙂 Now, 12 years into marriage, raising 3 awesome kids and moving around to multiple states during training – he is still my rock. I could not have made it through medical school, residency or fellowship without his support, sacrifice, patience and understanding.

A couple things to remember as the partner/spouse/significant other:

You are not going to medical school and you do have another life that isn’t all about medical school, although it may seem like it

You will be making serious sacrifices and your partner needs to be appreciative

Be prepared to provide:

Emotional support – I can’t stress this enough. Medical school is taxing, there are long hours, little appreciation from others and a lot of self-doubt.

Flexibility – I would always tell my husband that my time is not my own. You always have to be somewhere or studying something. I felt so much freedom when I started practice because I regained that control of my own time. I am able to schedule clinic and surgery when I want and can take time off at any time. So not having control of your time during medical school can be frustrating because it is difficult to schedule dinners, vacations, etc.

Patience and understanding – Another biggie. I can’t stress this one enough. In medical school and throughout our career, our job is to take care of others. When we come home, sometimes we need downtime or alone time and it’s nothing against you but we see a lot during the day and need to decompress sometimes. It also depends on the rotations. Surgical rotations will be a little more demanding as far as time over other rotations.

As much as medical school or residency is difficult for us it is just as or even more difficult for your partner. It is important for your partner to have a life of their own because frankly there will be multiple times when you just can’t make it to hang out with friends and family. It is important for them to find a social and/or emotional support system. It is helpful to meet up with other partners/spouses so that they know that they’re not alone. And most important keep the communication open. This is true for any relationship but it’s really important that you both understand what the other person is going through. And remember, you might not think this will ever end but it will. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

You can survive medical school as a spouse/partner. We need you and want you to be in our life. You make us better at what we do.


Your Med Mentor


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