On Valentine’s Day, a look at love, marriage and medicine

Most doctors are married or in committed relationships, and most say they are happy with their relationships. Healthcare organizations can do more to promote work-life balance, some say.

Doctors spend long hours at work, so it probably makes sense that many physicians are married to doctors or other members of the healthcare field.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, here’s a snapshot of marriage in the healthcare field.

In Medscape’s 2022 Physician Lifestyle and Happiness Report, nearly half (44%) of all doctors who were surveyed said they are married to someone in the healthcare field. Nearly one in five doctors (18%) said they were married to another physician, while 25% said they were married to someone who isn’t a physician but is working in healthcare.

Most doctors (83%) are married or living with a partner, Medscape’s survey found. The report said 85% of male physicians are married, while 70% of female doctors are married.

Most doctors in Medscape’s survey indicated they were happy with their spouses, with 82% describing their marriages as very good or good, while 4% said their marriages were poor or very poor.

Medscape also ranked the physicians who were happiest with their marriage. Again, most doctors said they were happy, but there were varying levels of marital bliss among different specialties.

Doctors focused on the ear, nose and throat and immunologists tied for the top in happiest marriages, with 91% saying they had good marriages. Those in dermatology and rheumatology were just behind (tied at 90%).

Those in emergency medicine (79%), critical care (76%) and plastic surgery (75%) were lowest among the specialties, although the vast majority said they were happy in their marriages.

Doctors have had no shortage of stress in the pandemic, and women physicians have endured bigger career setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Women doctors have been more likely to assume childcare responsibilities, scale back their hours, or work from home, according to a study published on Jama Network Open in November. Advocates have urged healthcare organizations to help women doctors find ways to resume practicing if they have had to take a break or reduce hours during the pandemic.

The study’s authors urged healthcare organizations to promote stronger work-life balances, including encouraging male and female doctors to take family leave.

The pandemic has taken a steep toll on nurses. In a recent survey, most nurses say their mental health has suffered, with roughly 4 in 10 (39%) saying they are placing their job above everything else, including families and friends. About 71% of registered nurses are married, according to a 2018 survey.

Undoubtedly, many in healthcare need more than love this Valentine’s Day. They could use all the support they can get, inside and outside the workplace.