Relationships with Physicians: How Work Stress Impacts Physician Relationships
Individuals who enter the medical field are required to work extensive hours, invest significant money on their education, and can experience multiple relocations through the different levels of training. The demands of a career in medicine may create work- to-family conflict that could lead to physicians and their partners seeking services for mental health concerns or relationship dissatisfaction. Experiences of burnout in the physician population may be exacerbated due to the fallout of COVID-19. Systemically trained therapists are well suited to understand how the high career demands of the medical field influence the support systems of physicians, as well as advocate for third order change in the larger societal systems that physicians are in to support the next generations of physicians. The purpose of this study is to highlight the unique experiences of those in physician relationships to understand how the work demands of a career in medicine impact their relationships. The present study includes data collected from survey responses of (n = 35) individual participants who are in a physician relationship lasting at least 6 months and included both medical and non- medical partners within physician relationships. Results revealed 5 themes and 17 subthemes, which highlight the unique experiences of those in physician relationships. The results of this study identify aspects of physician relationships that mental health clinicians can use to guide therapeutic work with these clients in couple’s therapy. Future research and clinical implications will be discussed.