What Is The Key To A Lasting Medical Relationship?

I’ve been married - to medicine - for quite some time now.

From a very young age, I knew right away that I wanted to work in the healthcare/medical field. Many sacrifices have been made for this commitment…my youth, sleep, and ever growing debt (to name a few). These challenges alone were a lot to handle. And then I met my partner, in whom I saw a similar commitment to medicine as my own and a level of sacrifices that made mine seem so trivial.

Let me tell you a little about me and him. I’m a nurse currently pursuing an education as a Nurse Practitioner. My partner is currently a Physician in his final year of residency. It’s been a long journey and not an easy one (as I'm sure many in medical relationships can relate to).

The first year started off great, we were both in the same city and our schedules were manageable. But in the near future, my partner would be moving 2 1/2 hours away to begin his Residency. So as to not compromise my own graduation date, I stayed at my university and spent the next couple of years splitting my time between the two places.

You heard me right, I drove approximately 5 hours or more every week for about 2 years. It was hard; the winters weren’t especially kind, but it was a sacrifice. My partner is originally from California, and stayed in Iowa after medical school to be with me, so sacrifices were made from both of us. And that's what lasting medical relationships need after all - willingness to make sacrifices for the other.

After I graduated from my university, I moved to the same city as my partner and started a part time position as a nurse. We’ve been together for 4 1/2 years (going on 5) and the number one question I get after I introduce my partner to anyone is, “How do you two find the time to see each other?” This question catches me off guard every time, since I feel my partner and I spend so much time together. I’ve learned a lot from my marriage to medicine and commitment to my partner.

How to create a lasting medical relationship

It's all about the sacrifices you make for each other, to make the relationship work. Your committment to both your career and your relationship will be tested. Prioritization and understanding are key to a successful education, career, and relationship. My partner and I both understand that school/residency are one of our top priorities besides each other and family. It sounds weird to say that sometimes we prioritize our schooling/responsibilities before spending time with each other, but that’s when understanding comes into play. We both understand that schoolwork or any responsibilities towards our career are not optional, they’re required.

These mutual sacrifices are required for each of us to achieve our goals, and to build a great life together. Looking back, there have only been less than a handful of times where I’ve felt lonely, wishing it could be different. It didn’t take me long to understand that my partner is away from me by choice but because he MUST be at the hospital or he has to dive into his books and study for the next upcoming test.

It's the little things

To make up for lost quality time spent with one another, my partner and I make up for it in other ways. When my partner is on call for the hospital, he appreciates it when I come along with him for calls and admissions and I don’t mind because he’ll usually buy me a coffee from the café, and I can catch up on my studying or Netflix. And even though my partner hates being in the hospital when he’s off, he’ll always come to work with me and hangout in the breakroom or in the nurse’s station. He keeps busy by studying or doing chief resident administration things. Sometimes I wonder if it seems like we’re clingy to others outside of our relationship, but that’s just what works for us. It works and we love it. It takes efforts from both of us, tons of understanding, and support. After more than 4 years now, it doesn’t seem too hard; it’s amazing, and I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

My partner is pretty humble and prefers functional scrubs over fashionable ones. Luckily, Medelita’s scrubs are both  and I just upgraded his scrub collection with a batch of Medelita scrubs embroidered with his name and title, “Dr.”.

Little things like this are a reminder of what we are both working towards, and makes the journey a little easier.

It may seem impossible to have a relationship while pursuing a career in medicine, but if you find the right partner, I promise you it’s possible. There may be some fights along the way, and you’ll be pushed to extremes, but if you have enough understanding, prioritization, and support it’ll all be worth it.