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May 10, 2019

Dual-Physician Households: Strategies for the 21st Century

Author Affiliations
  • 1Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut
  • 2Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor
  • 3Geriatrics Research Education and Clinical Center (GRECC), Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System, Ann Arbor, Michigan
JAMA. 2019;321(22):2161-2162. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.4413

Over the past 2 decades, the proportion of female medical school enrollees has steadily increased; in 2017, for the first time, the majority of first-year medical students were women.1 With this changing demographic, dual-physician households are also on the rise; a survey conducted in 2009 showed that nearly half of all physicians are married to physicians.2 Dual-physician couples are more likely to marry and less likely to divorce than nonphysician couples,3 perhaps because of older age at the time of marriage, higher education levels, the socioeconomic status of both individuals, and the value that physician couples place on companionship. Despite these advantages, dual-physician couples face unique career and family experiences. In this Viewpoint, we outline the challenges faced by early-career dual-physician couples and potential strategies for addressing them.

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    1 Comment for this article
    Dual-Physician Households and Physician Distribution
    Kevin Kelly, MD | Weill Cornell Medicine
    Drs. Ferrante and Mody rightly call attention to the difficulties faced by dual-physician couples, but the increase in the number of such couples is likely to contribute to another problem, the maldistribution of physicians. Rural areas in the US are already medically underserved relative to more urban areas. When a physician's spouse is also a physician (or other professional), the couple are far more likely to find desirable employment possibilities for both parties in urban than in rural areas, so this trend will likely exacerbate the concentration of physicians in urban areas.