Purpose: Physicians and their spouses experience challenges to their relationships, some of which are shared with the general population and others of which are unique to the field of medicine. Trainees and junior faculty members remain curious about how they will balance their careers alongside marriage and family obligations. This study explores the challenges and strengths of dual- and single-physician relationships.
Method: In 2009, using appreciative inquiry as a theoretical framework, the authors conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with 25 individuals: 12 women and 13 men; 10 from dual-physician and 15 from single-physician relationships. A phenomenological analytic approach was used to arrive at the final themes.
Results: Four themes emerged during the interviews: “We rely on mutual support in our relationships,” “We recognize the important roles of each family member,” “We have shared values,” and “We acknowledge the benefit of being a physician to our relationships.”
Conclusions: These findings illustrate that physicians identify strategies to navigate the difficult aspects of their lives. Learn ing from others’ best practices can assist in managing personal relationships and work–life balance. These data can also be useful when counseling physicians on successful relationship strategies. As systems are developed that improve wellness and focus on role models for work–life balance, it will be important for this topic to be integrated into formal curricula across the continuum of medical education.