Pro: They’ll get it when you cancel or your beeper goes off. When you nix plans because your patient’s family wants a group meeting or because a case unexpectedly went south, they’ll understand, because they’ve been in that tough spot.
Con: Between the two of you, it makes buying concert tickets or dinner reservations almost impossible, unless both of you happen to be off.
Pro: You have someone to study with or run questions by. Even study time can be quality time together.
Con: If you’re in the same med school classes, your lives will run together. Same classmates, same stresses, possibly even competition against each other in some way. And if you break up, there’s no escaping each other.
Pro: You won’t have to explain terms and medical conditions when you just want to vent about your day. Many of my friends dating others outside of medicine find the effort this requires precludes them from even trying.
Con: You may have to make an effort to talk about something outside of medicine, so it doesn’t encompass your life. A key to preventing burnout in medicine is having things in your life that are interesting to you outside of medicine (i.e. talking about politics or theater at the dinner table instead of quizzing each other on biochemistry or deciding who has the worst chief resident).
Pro: They get why you don’t want to have a baby that would be due during residency application season or why you’ll never be able to plan holidays until the call schedule comes out.
Con: Will you have a full time live in nanny or will one of you work part time/give up work entirely? Will one of you have a job where you don’t have to take call? Who will make it to the kids’ school plays at 12 pm or who will make it to the post office during open hours? Everything is possible - but you’ll have to decide how you’ll do it and what you’ll give up. Not easy conversations between two career oriented people who’ve sacrificed so much to get there.
Pro: You admire what they do, and respect it, and they feel the same way about what you do.
Con: As life gets (even!) busier with jobs and family, it will become progressively harder to put each other first or spend time together. I know you’ve seen some of the soap opera style consequences of that firsthand.
Pro: Eventually, you’ll have a great standard of living.
Con: Delayed gratification. For most, having two people in medicine means many years of living in transition as you move from city to city in various stages of training, many years of paying back student debt, and often having to put life on hold.
I’m a radiologist married to a surgeon, and couldn’t be happier with where we are in life now - so don’t take this to mean that two MD relationships aren’t advisable. Just recognize that there are many challenges along the way that are unique to these relationships, and it’ll take a strong foundation and a lot of sacrifice on both of your parts to build that life.
Nisha Mehta, M.D.
Dr. Nisha Mehta is a physician and writer with interests in physician wellness, medical education, and health policy. Follow her on Twitter @nishamehtamd or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nishamehtamd.