* * Anonymous Doc: Tips for Dating Residents

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tips for Dating Residents

In the comments, someone asked for a post with tips for non-medical people to keep in mind when dating residents. I thought this was a fun idea. Hence:

TIPS FOR DATING RESIDENTS

1. Feed them. Residents work long hours. They are hungry. If they are working a late shift or overnight, you win huge points if you offer to bring them food. Even huger points if that food includes a cookie. Enormous points if you made that cookie yourself. Infinite points if you recognize that even though they tell you they can come down to meet you and grab the food at a certain time, something might come up, and they might be delayed. Maybe even for an hour. It is not their fault. They do not want to be leading a rapid response. They do not want to be performing CPR. They would rather be eating the food you have brought for them. They would rather be seeing you. Don't blame them. Don't make them feel bad. They are trying their best.

2. Listen to them. Residents have crazy things happen to them, often multiple crazy things on the same day. You may not actually care about what happened to Patient Smith. And you don't have to care about what happened to Patient Smith. But if your resident wants to talk about Patient Smith, and wants reassurance that he or she didn't accidentally kill Patient Smith, try and listen. If, on the other hand, your resident doesn't want to talk about Patient Smith, or Patient Anyone, don't push. Talk about your non-medical day. Non-medical things are interesting to residents, especially after a 27 hour shift talking only about medicine.

3. Learn some basic medicine. This is a hard one. I am sure that there are couples out there who don't know many details about the other person's job. People in law or finance or medicine or anything technical. I'm sure. I can't imagine how that works. Without someone having at least a basic understanding of what I do, I don't know where to start the conversation. If you are dating a resident, try and read some stuff about residency. Blogs might be the easiest place to start. (Hey, there are archives here!) Books are good too. Intern Blues is the first one that comes to mind. At least then you know what your resident is talking about, a little bit. Ask questions, sure, but starting with some base of knowledge makes things easier. It's not mandatory, of course. But it helps. Read relevant articles in the newspaper, perhaps. At least it's a start.

4. Tell your family not to ask for free medical advice, or, even worse, prescriptions. Your resident is not automatically your family's new free doctor. Your resident probably doesn't know enough to actually help, even if he or she wanted to -- and, most likely, he or she doesn't want to. In an emergency, sure. But that knee pain, or those warts -- tell them to see their actual doctor, and hold the questions. Your resident does not want to perform physical exams at Thanksgiving.

5. Recognize sleep deprivation for what it is, and not a larger sign of relationship trouble. Your resident is cranky? It probably isn't your fault. That's not an excuse, but understand that on the rare day off, maybe 13 hours of sleep is what your resident needs, even more than a delicious brunch that you even made a reservation for. Your resident is not trying to be difficult, or selfish, or lazy. Your resident is tired, and emotionally drained.

6. Indulge your resident's use of the pause button on the DVR when watching shows with medical elements. It is likely very frustrating for your resident to watch Grey's Anatomy or its television siblings. Your resident will likely stop the show multiple times and try and explain to you why the surgical resident would never be called in to consult on the child with the stomach virus. Your resident will grow frustrated as he or she sees the doctor touching infected blood with bare hands. Understand the frustration, and let your resident vent for fifteen seconds before continuing the show. Also understand if the last thing your resident wants to watch on a day off are shows about medicine. Good grief.

7. Let your resident shower before you approach. The hospital is nasty. Your resident wants to protect you. Don't make that difficult by complaining it's late, there are dinner plans, and there is no time to shower. There is always time to shower. Especially when covered in MRSA.

Other ideas in the comments?

36 comments:

  1. I'm dating a resident. Excellent advise. And especially for people who are not in medicine, they should CHILL OUT because the resident most likely will never be on time for scheduled events but that is not their fault. That is life as a resident. And life in medicine in general.

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  2. This is great!
    I think number 1 should be:
    Take Stock of Yourself - If you are a needy, co-dependant person, you probably shouldn't be dating a doctor. Applications are available to independent, confident people (who preferably have their own support system) only.

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  3. My dad always says, "medicine is a jealous mistress." He told my mother that when they started dating. They've been married for 25 years. Recognize that your resident will put medicine first, not always, but certainly at this point in their career. It sucks, but it is a fact

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  4. #8. Just don't date a resident.


    Sadly learned through experience. Although, had I not dated a resident (& followed tip #3), I would not have found this lovely blog!

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  5. Also true for veterinarians, especially #2, #5 and #7.

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  6. Things NOT to do. Show up at work unannounced to surprise your resident. While we'd love to see you, the moment you walk in will probably be the the entirely wrong moment. Just call ahead first to see if we are free, especially if you are bringing those cookies.

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  7. Good tips.... No if only I could point out to the resident in question that I would like to date him...

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  8. I'm in the HMO business and dating a super-busy resident has both good and bad points. One memorable thing was watching Grey's Anatomy while she sobs her heart out after a major character died.

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  9. Oh my, that was my idea! *Blushes* Great post, Anonymous Doc! I think it can be hard for us 8-to-5ers to really understand how busy a resident truly is. Until you spend time with one, you don't realize how much free time you have. It's very hard. You must accept that you will come second, but it's not your resident's fault. I'd have to give two pieces of advice to the residents though: Make sure you regularly express to your significant other how much you like them and how sorry you are that you can't spend more time with them--sometimes the words need to be said. Secondly, don't be afraid to educate the other person on residency. Anonymous Doc's advice for the non-medical person to familiarize themselves a bit is good, but you'll be the main point of information. And the more knowledge the other person has of your job and life and schedule, the more understanding they will be of the craziness.

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  10. i am dating a resident right now, it is very hard...i barely can see him, because his tight schedule, but i never want to give up, 'cause i love him so much...
    good luck to all people date with resident

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  11. Also, we residents live/plan our lives in 4 week blocks. I don't know if I'm free that Saturday 6 weeks from now for your best friend's wedding/ grandmother's birthday/ great trip to Cabo... I might be on call, I might be off, but I won't know until the next rotation's schedule comes out. Oh, and we typically get only 1 "golden" (both Sat & Sun) off a month - the others are 2 gray (one on, one off), and a black. Don't expect to see us on the black weekends.

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  12. I am dating a resident and in the past had avoided dating medical people, it is definitely extremely hard, but i couldn't let this one go even if his schedule sucks. It's rare to find such a wonderful person that you could potentially share your life with. I've decided to suck it up and use it as a chance to develop my own interests when he's working. What he doesn't need is a whiner, he needs support and I don't see giving up as an option.

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  13. Great advise! Thanks for the tips. Well I do agree to the first advise wherein it's really a great point if you are the one who made that certain food specially desserts. Just be yourself and everything will be fine.

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  14. Date? How could a resident date? When would this occur? And HOW would this occur? Moreover, these "tips" (written by a resident) are centered on making life easier for the resident. Notice that. And if you're even considering dating a resident, be prepared to live it every day. Your life WILL take a back seat. It just will.

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  15. You had created a very nice blog .Thanks for sharing this. A big help and very informative.

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  16. Hi, great comments overall. I'm here seeking advice since I recently went on a date with a resident doctor, just to add to the complexity, we live in different states (we met while on a plane almost a year ago!). We had dinner, then spent several hours just walking/talking, I felt it went well, but we never discussed a relationship. As we said goodnight, I mentioned if we could do it again soon - she just replied that we should stay in touch and to let her know when I'm back in town.

    I sent her a small bouquet of flower and thanked her for the evening (told her I'd like to see her again). She replied that she really enjoyed the evening and that I should let her know when I'm in town.

    Due to changes at work, I'm not likely to travel for business to this state for a while. Thus, I don't know whether her response means she's not into dating at the moment, maybe she's dating someone else (?) - it seems vague/open-ended. She never mentioned anything about calling or talking on the phone. I've made my interest in her very clear (though I haven't asked her to be in a relationship), and I keep thinking that this should be enough and that I should leave the next steps to her.

    Any thoughts/advice? Thank you all!!

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  21. Hi,

    I could really use some advice on the following:

    I have been dating a 4th year resident for a few months now. I nthe beginning it was awesome and then when I started to question the relationship- he fell back for a while- expressing to me that I was stressing the relationship too much. So this time around I am trying to be more understanding especially since he has a big test this month and his Boards in June. He has been studying like crazy and I must admit that I miss him and am frustrated to say the least. I understand the constant studying but wish he would give me a date or a few hours a week. He has told me that his career is very important and does not like to feel like his relationship is a chore but how do others cope- I am in school, work ful ltime and have a chidl as well. I can understand busy but I am also a female that would like a bit of time. I over analyze and know that I am taking it his absense personal- wndering if there is another of if he doesnt care -yet he will answer my texts and even reached out to me during the holidays. Please help, how do I cope, what can I do if anything- Help and thanks in advance

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  27. I am fortunate enough not have met my boyfriend of after his residency, however it is still tough. He's an anethesiologist currently studying for his boards and we rarely see each other and when we do he's got his study material in hand . I know he loves me and manages to proactively make time for me (albeit not as much as I'd like) it's difficult maintaining this relationship. We actually broke up a year ago because I felt as if I wasn't his #1 priority but realized passing his boards both written and oral is #1 and I am second (for now at least). But we love each other and that's what matter most. So here I am playing second fiddle to the boards, yet again.

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  28. I think your advice is very helpful and makes a lot of sense. I've been dating a resident for a while now, and we're in a particular rough patch because he's applying for fellowships right now. Although it's true that you have to take the back seat to medicine, I think there should be a little something in here about the fact that the resident needs to put in a small amount of effort. Just a phone call or an "I miss you" once and a while. My doc goes radio silent and doesn't keep me in the loop. I work in a hospital as well, in the Quality dept., so I get how crazy it is, but even the smallest gestures make a difference. It's very important to residents that the person dating them understand their life, but they tend to disregard how hard it can be for the person on the other end.

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  29. Great article, and thanks to all for sharing advice and their personal experiences. I just started dating a resident about a month ago and am finding that many of the above posts are true and relevant. She tries to make time for the relationship and even went so far as to find the time to make a few meals. The thing I find most difficult is balancing the passion of a new relationship with the patience needed to maintain it. There is an old saying 'absence makes the heart grow fonder'. I find that saying very applicable in this situation and also frustrating. I am an independent person and like to have time to myself so hopefully this will work out. I do have a question for those in a relationship that survived residency, boards and all. Do you see your partner more often?

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    Replies
    1. I'm right with you on this one. My first date with my 4th year Resident was at the beginning of May of this year. I must have gotten lucky (with her schedule) because 2 weeks later she was free to hang out with me for an entire weekend and we did just that. Third date was set up for early June but had to be rescheduled and then our schedules did not match. It's been radio silence since then. My original "rules" of dating suggested that I was being blown off. In the case of a 4th year, in June, I'm playing second fiddle to the Medical Boards. My sister, a 4th year and the matchmaker of this entire thing, made it clear that she (my sister) was not to be bothered under any circumstances. I logically applied this to my 4th year as well. I realized that the best thing to do is - STAY AWAY and not be a distraction. It is an absolutely valid excuse as their entire life's work up until this point will be validated on this single day with a shot of redemption exactly one year later if they fail.

      I had to do something so I sent her a book she wanted to read in the mail with "For your study breaks" written on the inside cover after we couldn't meet up in early June. We tentatively setup for after boards. For my part, its been reading some of these blogs and educating myself about what to expect (basically nothing) and understand the daily cadence of these folks that has helped me. I'm 32 and a pretty confident man with a solid career yet I still needed a little bit of reassurance because I didn't want to lose out on such a great girl. The way I see it...one more week! (Boards are on the 24th and I think many of us that have posted on this site are very well aware of this, lol)

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  30. I am dating a resident and it is very very hard for me... and I come from a family of physicians and work in the field myself (we met at work)... so I know his hours and I pick up call so I can at least see him at work... but it's STILL really really really hard. I miss him. A lot. We text daily, talk sporadically and see each other maaaybe 3-4 times per month... depending on the month, his rotation and his crappy call schedule... I swear my life revolves around his (and mine) call schedules! But the few hours we have together make it all worthwhile for sure.

    I would also add to the column that it helps when you know other people who are dating a resident/physician with a schedule incompatible with dating. Most of my friends are either married or dating another resident, we all work together and etc, etc, so we vent to each other and somehow it makes us feel better for the few mins we discuss it.

    If this relationship doesn't work, I will think long and hard if I want to date another resident for any service... except maybe derm or opthalmology... lol

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