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Go Ahead, Marry A Doctor, Say Docs’ Spouses

April 3, 2013
Written by: , Filed in: Practice Management
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Scientific research now supports the classic advice of social-climbing mothers: Marry a doctor.

The research, published in the March issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, didn’t address the financial and social benefits of becoming the other half of a “Dr. and Mrs./Mr./Dr.” couple. Instead, it endeavored to measure marital happiness in general. A survey of physicians’ spouses, undertaken in August and September 2011, found that 55.4 percent described themselves as extremely satisfied with the relationship and an additional 31.4 percent said they were somewhat satisfied. Only 7.2 percent said they were somewhat dissatisfied, and just 2.1 percent proclaimed themselves extremely dissatisfied.

Knowing what they know now, said 80.9 percent, they’d again choose a physician as a spouse or partner.

The study found a single dominant factor associated with relationship satisfaction: time spent with the partner—specifically, time spent awake. Just sleeping together doesn’t count. Tait D. Shanafelt, MD, a hematologist-oncologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, is the study’s lead author. In a video accompanying the study, he elaborated:

Relative to those who were spending less than 20 minutes together each day, those spending more than 120 minutes each day were about eight times more likely to be satisfied and about 90 percent less likely to have seriously considered a divorce in the last 12 months.

Perhaps surprisingly, no other variable—hours worked, the physician’s specialty, the practice setting—made a major difference in how satisfying the spouse or partner found the relationship. “The only other characteristic that really persisted on the multivariate model, to a much lesser effect, was how frequently physicians were on overnight call,” Dr. Shanafelt said.

He summed up thus: “There’s not good evidence that physicians’ relationships are of any worse quality than other relationships in areas outside of medicine.”

Quite the romantic, isn’t he?

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