Dating a doctor certainly sounds sexy, but dating a resident is a whole other beast. We’ve been collectively programmed to believe that dating a doctor is a wonderful experience, and it can be, but the reality is that it’s not all Grey’s Anatomy hearts and roses. Dating a doctor in residency means long shifts, stress and exhaustion, and it takes a strong relationship to weather this time in a young doctor’s career.
Like any relationship, dating a resident takes some work. It’s constant work, really. However, it can also be incredibly rewarding if your relationship can come out on the other side. If your relationship lasts through the residency then you will be stronger for it, though the demands of being with a doctor never really go away.
For the purposes of this article we will be looking at things you need to know when dating a doctor in residency, where one member of the relationship is not a medical professional. It’s a wholly different thing for two people in the medical field to date. There’s already an understanding there about the demands of the career and how relationships fall into place.
This article will focus on the main things that someone outside the medical profession should know about dating a resident and what they can expect.
Dating a Doctor in Residency: Need to Know
What is a Residency?
After medical school graduation, newly minted doctors go on to their residencies in order to obtain a medical license. A residency can last anywhere from one year to seven years depending on which specialty a resident chooses.
During this time, a resident works with an attending physician who serves as a mentor. The attending physician will often have several residents under their supervision so the challenge to perform well is always present. After all, everything about being a medical student and becoming a doctor is about competition with the rest of the people in your class.
With so much pressure to be the best resident in one’s class in order to obtain fellowships and key internships, everything about a resident’s life is filled with stress.
All Residents Are Not Alike
All residents enter their residencies with no specific focus, even though they might know which specialty they plan to choose later on. Choosing a high-performance specialty like surgery means more competition among residents and much more stress. On the other hand, choosing dermatology isn’t as demanding a specialty and so the resident will have a very different outlook.
It’s also possible for a resident to leave the hospital setting after a year to continue the residency in an urgent care facility, which means more regular hours.
It’s important not to lump all residents in the same boat. Also keep in mind that a first-year resident will have a different demands than a third-year surgical resident, and so it’s important to understand where a resident is in his training when starting out in a relationship while also being aware that when a specialty is selected this can put even the most established relationships to the test as demands start to change.
Doctors in residency are expected to work long shifts. Recent regulations prevent them from working more than 48 hours, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be sleeping at the hospital during their shifts. They might have a day off between shifts.
In short, you won’t see a lot of your significant other during residency because so much time is spent at the hospital. If you’re someone who wants to spend a lot of time with their
Incredible Amounts of Stress
Stress is part and parcel of being a doctor and the stress begins back in undergraduate studies as soon as the decision is made to pursue a career in medicine. Sometimes it starts before that. The amount of pressure students are under to make it to medical school is intense, and it never lets up until the residency is over and a doctor becomes an attending physician. That process can take a decade or more, which means relentless pressure to meet demands and pass all of the board exams to continue to the next level.
In addition to the demands of being a resident, there are also the emotional demands of working in the medical field. While the primary goal is always to save lives, tragedies do happen and the stress of losing patients can really take a toll on one’s psyche. This might cause a resident to shy away from her partner while she deals with the stress of losing people and that can wreak havoc on a relationship.
It’s important to keep in mind that stress will always be present when dating a resident and though it’s important to express your needs and desires for the relationship there is only so much a resident can do to meet you halfway. With that in mind, you might have to sacrifice your own needs for a while to keep the relationship strong.
Your Relationship Won’t Be Top Priority
It’s hard to imagine signing up for a relationship knowing that the relationship won’t be your partner’s top priority, but that’s what you’re getting when dating a doctor in residency. The best case scenario is that your partner will carve out time to keep the relationship going strong, but that’s not something that should be expected.
The fact is that work will always be a top priority, if not the top priority, when dating a resident. They have worked hard to reach this point in their careers, and they have to keep moving forward in order to achieve their goals.
In rare instances, there are people who find that doing their residency is a breeze and they embrace their relationships as a means to keep the stress levels down. If this is your partner, you’re in luck.
If you have been with your partner through medical school, then it’s very likely that you will be able to maintain a relationship through residency. After all, you already know some of the challenges and the pressure. However, getting to know someone during his residency and trying to build a new relationship during a residency is something entirely different and you need to be ready to take a backseat to the hospital when they call on a day off.
Residents might be competing with each other, but like members of the fire department or the military they form close bonds with each other thanks to the intensity of their day to day interactions. With that in mind, residents often do date each other simply because it’s easier to date someone who knows what you’re going through or who has the same schedule.
Sometimes it’s not even a relationship. It’s just sex, because some residents would rather avoid relationships entirely but still want the physical intimacy of sex without the attachment.
When you’re dating a resident, you will hear all about the other residents and after a while you might start to feel jealous of them. After all, they’re spending more time with your partner than you are. That doesn’t mean that your partner is cheating on you…but it can happen. Be sure to voice your concerns so that jealousy doesn’t destroy a relationship.
Great for Nontraditional, Busy Couples
Couples who successfully navigate a residency are usually ones where both partners are exceedingly busy. A resident and a lawyer, for example, make a great couple because they lawyer is busy trying to make partner at the law firm and will be as busy as the resident navigates residency.
Things are much tougher when one partner in the relationship doesn’t work or works a 40-hour per week job where he’s off at 5pm. That means there’s a lot of downtime spent without his significant other and that’s when relationships really suffer.
Nontraditional couples that don’t mind seeing each other on the weekends, or who are long distance, are well-versed in the challenges that come with separation throughout the week and they make the most of the time they do have together while mixing in phone calls, Facetime and even a little phone sex to keep things spicy.
Being creative while being busy is a great way to keep the relationship going.
Ways to Make the Most of Dating a Doctor in Residency
Getting away from the hospital during a 48-hour shift is next to impossible. Residency doctors may have strange hours leading to them requiring to do night shift dating.
Even if a resident could sneak away for a quick meal there’s always the possibility of being called back on a moment’s notice. Given that the resident who answers the call first is usually the one to get the case, residents are always eager to be nearby. That means that you need to be creative when it comes to making time to see your partner at work. Cafeteria “dates” and surprise visits are great ways to do just that.
Have a Date in the Cafeteria
One solution to finding a way to spend time with your resident partner is to have a date in the hospital’s cafeteria. Sure, the food won’t be gourmet, but the location is perfect, and the price is right. And you might be surprised to find that many hospitals have really worked to step up their food game.
Since a resident will be at the hospital for 36 to 48 straight hours, that means there will be plenty of chances for breakfast, lunch and dinner. After having to deal with the stress of the job, having some time with you will be appreciated. In fact, a cafeteria date is more about your company than anything else. Even if the resident is exhausted, sitting together in a booth in companionable silence could make the best date ever.
Popping in for a surprise visit will always be a welcome diversion during one of those long shifts. Though time to visit could be cut short, understanding that showing up at the hospital to say hello is much better than going 48 hours or more without physical contact.
At the end of the day it’s not impossible to date a doctor during residency and the benefits greatly outweigh the detriments. It takes a great deal of understanding and a bit of creativity to navigate those waters, and a relationship will come out strong in the end if you can make the journey through residency together.