For as long as you’ve been with your DrSpouse, has anyone said to you, “It must be nice”?
If so, do you ever feel like some of them say it sarcastically? 😢
It’s been said that way to me before.
People have a rosy concept of what medicine is like thanks to media glorifying doctors in super nice houses with horse stables and elevators.
I think the reality of medical marriages would surprise most people.
I wrote this article for those outside medicine about some of the realities medical families have to face. tbh, it was very awkward to write because I blog mostly for medical families, not for people outside medicine. And I was afraid to sound whiny.
But a voice kept telling me:
“Just be honest and tell it like it is!”
So that’s what I did.
I hope it doesn’t offend anyone. I’m not trying to participate in the “misery olympics.” Raising a family is hard no matter who you are. And some poor wife out there always has it worse…
But I hope that my post from a real doc wife would satisfy some people’s need for drama and their curiosities. (And don’t base your understanding on those reality shows with doc wives, they’re not real! 🤣)
Without further ado, here are non-rosy realities of being in a medical marriage we want you to know.
15 Non-Rosy Realities We Want You To Know About Being Married To A Doctor
1. We’re not uber rich
We will be rich after training is over, but not as rich as Forbes’ “Highest Paying Job” article alludes us to be.
Our real money situation is we are behind one decade in retirement savings and have a lot to catch up.
The vast majority of us eventually do manage to save enough for retirement. But don’t confuse us with the uber rich who can buy all they want.
Medical families who think they can live like the uber rich actually are broke.
2. Our student loans are uber high
Not only are we not uber rich, our student loans are uber high.
We have six figure student loans with high interest between 6-8% 😮
To visualize what that means, despite paying $3000 a month on a $300,000 student loan debt, we will still see our principal rise to $312,000 at the end of the year.
Our student loan interest is an avalanche waiting to bury us. And if we’re doing it right, we need to spend at least 3-5 years aggressively paying it off, sometimes longer than that.
3. We have to protect our family time
Our DrSpouses work a lot and we try to connect as much as possible with them. That’s why we have to be protective of our family time.
Sometimes it means turning down many fun time with friends 😫
We wish we didn’t have to choose. But there’s just not enough time in a day for all the relationships we have in our lives.
4. Our vacations to medical conferences aren’t as nice as they seem on Instagram
The trips we take while accompanying our DrSpouses to medical conferences aren’t as luxurious as it seems.
Yeah, the pics in our social media feeds look great.
The reality is our DrSpouses are gone most of the day. And if we’re bringing our kids along, it’s just solo parenting — but in a different location.
But hey, free hotel! 🙌🏻
5. We sometimes have to do long-distance marriages
It’s very likely we will have a long-distance marriage at least once in the medical journey since medical schools and residency programs require out-of-town auditions and rotations that lasts weeks to months.
Even those who are done with training take locum positions and work away from home for weeks or months at a time.
FaceTime is the best invention ever, though.
6. Resident salary is modest and non-negotiable
The average salary of a resident is $59,300, according to Medscape in 2018. This salary is set by Medicare for all U.S. programs. It’s non-negotiable, and it doesn’t vary due to specialty.
7. Our Dr Spouses work lots of hours
It’s not uncommon for our DrSpouses to work 80+ hours a week during residency and fellowship. These also happen to be hours most people don’t tend to work such as weekends, nights and holidays.
In some specialties, the hours get a little better after training. But in some specialties, particularly surgical ones, they aren’t.
8. Our Dr Spouses are likely to be sued at least once
A physician is 80% likely to get sued at least once in their careers.
It’s basically not a matter of if, but when 😫
Having to go through lawsuits puts enormous strain on not only our DrSpouses’ career but also our marriages.
9. Our Dr Spouses can’t and don’t write us Rx’s
Our DrSpouses don’t treat us or write us prescriptions. Not only is it illegal in most cases, it’s not safe. It’s hard to objectively treat family.
We see our doctors and schedule when there are appointment openings just like everybody else.
10. Our doctor bills are high like everybody’s
Healthcare insurance is expensive for everybody, including for us. Doesn’t matter that our DrSpouses provide medical care to others. That’s how our system works.
There is no such thing as “professional courtesy” if we’re seen by friends who are also doctors.
We pay the same just like everybody.
11. We are unfairly mistaken for gold diggers
Some people inaccurately and unfairly call us gold diggers.
The reality is while our DrSpouses are taking care of other families, we have to take care of ours. Managing our work and families requires an enormous amount of sacrifice, resourcefulness, and hard work.
We didn’t seek a life of idleness and ease. If anything, we are GOAL diggers.
12. The Match is unpredictable and a binding contract
Similar to how military families have to report to their station of duty, medical families also have a similar contract:
It’s called the Match.
The Match determines where our DrSpouses have to train for residency and fellowship. It’s based on a mathematical algorithm that’s out of our control. Once matched, they are obligated by medical board laws to “report” wherever the Match tells them to move.
No take backsies. They can’t “un-match.”
The location where our DrSpouse matches can be any program where our DrSpouses interviewed and ranked.
Oh, and no relocation assistance is provided.
13. Doctors are at record high risk for suicide
It’s the most sad fact of all but suicide is a major problem for doctors. Every year, over 400+ doctors commit suicide.
That’s among the highest of any profession.
A visualization of this number is that it’s the equivalent of a entire graduating class of medical students of an average state university.
As doc wives, we are closest to them and act as their first defense by watching for signs of burnout as it usually spirals first within the walls of our homes.
14. Our Dr Spouses work holidays, weekends, and nights because they have to
Just as anyone may need to go to the hospital on any day, so our DrSpouses also have to work some weekends, nights, and major holidays.
This is NOT because our DrSpouses didn’t ask off well enough in advance.
Try explaining that to our in-laws when we don’t come home for Christmas 🤣
15. We watch our careers fall unnaturally backwards
By moving with our DrSpouses due to the Match, we become unemployed or have to get re-boarded or re-licensed if we’re teachers, lawyers, vets, etc.
We also care and provide stability to the family to allow our DrSpouses to work irregular and long hours they need to succeed. Try finding a daycare that is open some weekends, nights and holidays 😫
For all these reasons, we often watch our careers fall unnaturally backwards
Being a wife is hard. But being a wife in a medical marriage has unique challenges.
Those are the biggest non-rosy realities of a medical marriage. By explaining them, I hope we can understand one another better and create stronger communities.
To strong medical families,
Doc wives — what is the worst part of being married to a doctor for you?
For every body else — which of these was news to you? Which do you relate to the most in your own life?