When Victoria Pham, DO, walked into the orthopedics on-call room by accident in East Meadows, New York, she met the man who would propose to her in Tuscany less than a year later.
Dominic Maneen, DO, crisscrossed the U.S. for interviews only to land a spot in his hometown of Houston, where he met a chief resident who caught his eye and is now his soon-to-be spouse.
And although Tim Tsai, DO, a family medicine resident in Summit, New Jersey, recently ended a nine-month long-distance courtship, he is more empowered because of the experience. He advises residents to be mindful of what a relationship reveals about themselves.
What these three residents have in common is a willingness to make room in their hectic schedules for relationships, some that even blossomed into love. Find out what worked for these couples and learn how romance can be a priority in residency.
“Consistent self-evaluation is really important, whether you’re in a relationship or not,” Dr. Tsai says. “Take inventory and decide if this is something you really want. Understanding yourself is a skill and you have to keep practicing.”
A spark in a CT room
As a family medicine resident, Dr. Pham was surprised to get assistance from Kevin Kim, DO, a third-year orthopedics resident, who rushed to her side to help her lift a patient onto the bed in a CT room.
“That was one of the first times we really noticed each other,” she says. Months later, they reconnected at a happy hour and recalled the story of their accidental meeting and his unexpected assistance.
Due to the rigorous nature of their training, medical students and residents often put themselves and their studies and training first, Dr. Pham says. “This was the first time I put someone else’s needs before mine. In a relationship, you have to put the other person first and we did that. We fell in love very quickly.”
She said ‘yes’
On a vacation in Tuscany, Dr. Kim proposed to Dr. Pham. The couple returned to the States with a renewed focus on unity, partnership and their future.
“Relationships are hard work,” Dr. Pham says. “But just like with your career, with medicine, the more you put into it, the more you’re going to get out of it. And the better you’re going to get at it.”
Dr. Pham admits that she wasn’t looking for love when she met her future spouse, but timing doesn’t matter when it comes to real love.
Sometimes people try to postpone relationships until the end of medical school or residency or some other milestone. That’s a mistake, according to Dr. Pham.
“The process of finding and building a relationship doesn’t get easier just because you wait,” she says. “And you close yourself off to opportunities with that mindset. Be open to possibilities at all times.”
Her McDreamy, his Meredith
Aryanna Amini, MD, was a third-year chief resident in Houston at the time Dr. Maneen became a first-year resident at Memorial Family Medicine. She noticed that he was the person who spearheaded a card campaign for a sick colleague, making sure everyone signed and shared good wishes.
Dr. Amini, now a fellow in sports medicine in Fort Worth, Texas, says she knew immediately that Dr. Maneen was a caring individual. “I could also tell his patients really valued him and his input. He was able to connect with them easily.”
The couple, who tried to keep their relationship private, bonded over their mutual interest in sports medicine. They found comfort in how easy it was for them to understand each other’s individual goals and schedules.
“It helps that someone understands the struggles and time constraints,” Dr. Amini says. “And it’s great to have the same passion about caring for other people.”
Making room for love
Since graduation in June, Dr. Amini is three hours away from Dr. Maneen, but distance hasn’t stopped the couple—who plan to marry after their respective fellowships—from keeping their love alive.
While training and patients come first, the couple also makes their relationship a priority, Dr. Amini says.
“If you’re not fulfilling your own needs, then you’re not going to be able to be your best for yourself, your patients, or your relationship,” she says.
The couple schedules phone calls, FaceTime and weekends together as much as possible, and always searches for moments when they can align their busy calendars. “We are preaching to our patients the osteopathic way but I know if I don’t talk to her, I won’t be as fulfilled personally and I cannot give my best to my patients,” Dr. Maneen says.
Love is where you find it
Despite the many successes of dating and mating for many couples, not all relationships make it to the altar.
“Expectation and communication are key,” says Dr. Tsai, who says he has no regrets about ending his long-distance romance. “The relationship really allowed me to know more about myself and understand myself more.”
Dr. Tsai advises residents in the dating world to keep an open mind and look for compatibility and flexibility.
“You need someone who is understanding of your schedule and someone who matches your personality,” he says. “That’s paramount and it will make the conversation and connection flow.”
Both Dr. Pham and Dr. Kim, along with Drs. Maneen and Amini, have plans to tie the knot in the near future.
“Remember the happier you are, the happier your patients will be as well,” says Dr. Maneen.