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The New England Journal of MedicineAll’s Fair in Love and Work

Navigating Personal and Professional Boundaries in Medical Training

In this heartfelt piece, Dr. Tessa Adžemović explores the intricate balance between personal life and medical training through her experiences and those of her colleagues. This article offers insights into how relationships can influence professional growth and patient care, reflecting on both the challenges and enrichments that personal interactions bring to medical practice.

Key Points:

  • Dr. Adžemović details her journey through medical residency, initially influenced by a significant personal relationship that paralleled her professional beginnings, highlighting the intense emotional and practical challenges faced by medical trainees.
  • The process of “couples matching” in residency programs is examined, revealing both the compromises and decisions that medical students often have to make concerning their relationships and career paths.
  • The narrative discusses the personal sacrifices and adaptations residents make, such as adopting pets and focusing intensely on work, as coping mechanisms for personal hardships.
  • Dr. Adžemović describes her avoidance of dating during the early months of residency, emphasizing a commitment to her medical career over personal relationships at that time.
  • The article critiques the systemic expectations placed on female physicians regarding family and personal life, pointing out the double standards compared to their male counterparts.
  • Patient interactions in various medical settings are used as a lens to discuss broader themes of love and connection, showing how personal stories of patients enrich the professional experiences of medical practitioners.
  • A reflection on the role of work in one’s life is presented, questioning societal norms and personal fulfillment through career dedication.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic is mentioned as a transformative period for Dr. Adžemović, altering her interaction with work, solitude, and her understanding of personal connections.

“In a hospital full of modern medicine, where ECMO circuits run and mechanical ventilators hum, my greatest joy came not in using my stethoscope to listen to my patients’ hearts, but in listening to the stories of their hearts.”
– Dr. Tessa Adžemović

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