It’s Valentine’s Day. And you haven’t got yourself a date. Most likely you are bogged down by the heavy workload and tight schedule that you simply just don’t have the time for this special occasion.

A day filled with affection, chocolates and maybe, candlelight dinner. Love is in the air, indeed. While 14 February is supposedly a day where couples spend quality time together—yet, somewhere out there, some healthcare professionals, who are constantly tied up with back-to-back schedule and long working hours, may find it difficult to find time for dating. Are you going through the same ‘ordeal’? This #ValentinesDaySpecial, we take a look at the ‘roadblocks’ that are getting in the way—keeping a HCP from getting a date.

Maintaining a work-life balance—is it just a myth?

The long working hours endured by HCPs have always been an issue—and it’s getting worse in recent years. A majority of HCPs in Malaysia and Singapore work an average of 40 to 50 hours a week, with 9% of doctors and 1.98% of pharmacists working over 80 hours weekly.

With nursing shortage currently on the rise as, nurses in Malaysia have to take on larger workload with the ratio of one nurse to 354 patients. This has significantly increased their working time, as well. Ultimately, they end up being too busy (and tired) for anything outside work—and would rather use any free time to just rest.

However, are extensive workload and long working hours the only reasons? Let’s break it down.

Work-life balance is important, as they provide some time for one’s personal (private) life. However, for HCPs with demanding careers, maintaining a work-life balance can be challenging.

Not only long hours, tightly packed and unpredictable schedules have also made it difficult for HCPs to balance their life and work. This is especially true for doctors who must treat medical emergencies that are regardless of the usual nine-to-five work week.

General surgeon, MD Robert Sewell of Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital, echoes that maybe a successful life and marriage requires balance. “This should have been obvious,” he says, “but as a surgeon, it was an extremely difficult lesson to learn—largely because of the nature of what we do.”

Adding on to that, HCPs are committed to their responsibilities and constantly putting their patients first, just as they have pledged to the Hippocratic Oath.

According to MD Kavita Shah Arora, an assistant professor of reproductive biology and bioethics at Case Western Reserve University and gynaecologist at Metro Health Medical centre, “having your heart and soul wrapped up in your patients can really strain a relationship.

As HCPs invest a lot of their passion, devotion and even emotions into their work—there is often little left for outside pursuits, e.g. for putting effort into relationships at the end of the day.

  ●  Infographic: Survey results of HCP working hours in Malaysia and Singapore
  ●  The doctor-doctor relationship
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HCP’s ‘perceived status’ can be intimidating

Although those who are in the medical field are highly respected, often a time, their status still may be perceived as ‘intimidating’ towards their would-be partners—even though it was not meant to be.

In medical schools, medical practitioners are trained to be decision makers, usually in life-or-death situations. As such, practitioners tend to have certain strong personality types; and often face difficulties disregarding their “intellectual authoritarian persona” outside of their work place.

Due to their natural desire for intellectual stimulation, their criteria for a potential date may be too high or strict. As such, a large segment of their potential dating partners may have been ruled out.

Associate Professor Dr Anasuya commented that mental health professionals may give off an intimidating vibe towards their partner.
Associate Professor Dr Anasuya commented that mental health professionals may give off an intimidating vibe towards their partner.

Expressing her professional views on this issue, Associate Professor Dr Anasuya Jegathevi Jegathesan, the Academic Head of the Masters in Counselling programme for HELP University, shares that dating a mental health professional may be difficult “due to the intimidation of the fact that they are quite difficult to lie to.”

Being lied to once in a while is not impossible, “however, the longer the relationship is, the more we start to see (the truth),” comments Dr Anasuya. It is not because mental health counsellors are able to read one’s mind. It is only because they have the ability to “understand and unravel people’s patterns from their behaviour.”

“Lying in a relationship, there are times when you do it unconsciously, and there are times you do it consciously. It just depends on what happens,” Dr Anasuya shares from her experiences. This may be seen as intimidating for some; especially those who have no idea of the know-how in dating a mental health counsellor.

Understanding the lingo; breaking down the barriers

Dating someone within the same job field seems to give rise to less conversational barriers. “For a person who’s in medicine; when you’re seeing someone who comes from the same field—you have that shared language and experience,” notes Dr Arora. However, it can be said otherwise towards people of different careers.

Language-wise, medical jargons could very much present as an obstacle. It can be difficult for people outside the medical field to understand the medical abbreviations or complex jargons used. As doctors practically live the medical life 16 hours a day, it can be sometimes difficult and frustrating for them to have to constantly explain the terminology in layman’s terms.

The topic of conversation is also a serious source of problem, making it worse when their jobs tend to be confidential and highly technical. On the other hand, HCPs will face difficulties in relating career challenges and office politics in a non-health related career.

Challenging, but not impossible: Though taking the first step to date is important, knowing where to start is equally important, as well. Photo credit: Campus Drift
Challenging, but not impossible: Though taking the first step to date is important, knowing where to start is equally important, as well. Photo credit: Campus Drift

Communication between two HCP partners can be tricky, at times. Taking two doctors as a couple for instance—we understand that they tend to have a stronger personality due to their training days. As such, inevitable clashes of who gets to be the decision maker may subsequently occur.

For cases of a couple of two different healthcare professionals—such as between a doctor and a nurse—their roles and contributions are viewed differently. Their views are neither wrong nor right—just different. And, there may be a need to understand each other from the partner’s point of view.

After all is said and done

Getting a date may seem highly challenging for a HCP if one is to only consider all the problems above. Good news is, it is not entirely impossible. Though taking the first step is important, knowing where to start is equally important, as well.

Starting from within oneself is always a better way to understand a problem—before attempting to resolve it. Seeking for the first person to date is not difficult too, as dating experts are around to provide the needed help.

So, all hope is not lost, and there are other ways that can be utilised to solve your dating woes. In our next article, we’ll take a look at some of the ‘potential’ solutions you may wish to explore—because dating shouldn’t be that difficult, after all. And you, too, deserve a Valentine’s Special. Make sure to check it out! MIMS

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