Radiologists rank low among physicians with happiest marriages

Radiologists are one of the physician specialties least happy with their marriage, according to a new survey of more than 15,000 doctors, released Jan. 8.

About 51% of imaging professionals stated they are happy with marriage, tying radiology for third last on the list with several other specialties. Psychiatry (48%) and critical care (45%) rounded out the bottom of the list. On the other side, nephrology and physical medicine/rehab reported the highest percentage of satisfaction with their spouses, both at 61%.

Overall, 85% of doctors described their marriages as “good” or “very good,” according to the online survey of about 30 specialties, conducted by Medscape between June and September.

Psychiatrist Michael Myers—who counsels physicians on their marriages—believes it’s all about how much work doctors put into their union, rather than what field they chose in medical school. Too often, radiologists and other providers think they can work harder to make more money and “fix” the problem, or are too embarrassed to seek help, he told Medscape.

“You have to be careful about concluding that, if you are in a branch of medicine that gives more time for personal and family life, you will automatically have a happier marriage. It’s more about how high of a priority you make personal and family life,” Myers said.

The finding was part of a wide-ranging survey of physicians’ after-work habits across the U.S. that included about 450 radiologists, gauging everything from automobile preference to pot and alcohol use.

About 51% of radiologists said they are happy outside of work, placing the specialty around the middle of the pack. Rheumatology and general surgery said they were most happy, both at 60%, while critical care and neurology tied as least happy at 44%.

Poll conductors also separated the results into three generations—millennials (ages 25-39), Generation X (40-54), and baby boomers (55-73). Consistent with previous surveys, none of the three generations listed radiology as one of their top-five specialties. Interestingly, critical care—the least happy specialty, according to the survey—was No. 1 for Generation X, while neurology (second least happy) was No. 2 for millennials. Dermatology (31%) and gastroenterology were the top targets for millennials and boomers, respectively, the survey found.

“Medical school graduates today gravitate toward higher paying specialties, often due to high debt loads rather than any particular calling for the specialty, and toward those specialties with a controllable lifestyle, such as fixed scheduling for quality of life,” Travis Singleton, executive vice president for physician recruitment firm Merritt Hawkins, told Medscape.

Marriage numbers also tracked similarly among age groups with 49%-56% of all generations describing their partnership as “very good,” 30%-34% calling it “good,” 11%-12% fair, and 0%-1% “very poor.”

You can read the findings of the “Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide” report here, and check out coverage of the 2019 report from Radiology Business here.