Thanks to emotionally (and sexually) charged television dramas like ER, Gray’s Anatomy and House, it’s not difficult to picture how love can strike within hospital walls. The hours are long, and the work can push you to the brink of humanity. Case in point, one particular (and anonymous!) manager here at Sunnybrook, who deals with more life and death situations than e-mails some days. As we sat in her office chatting about the nuances of office romance, she told me about a recent relationship she had had with a physician. Admittedly, after a 14-hour shift, neither one of them had energy left to hit the dating circuit. Plus, finding a fish in the same pond means everyone gets the jig.
Eighteen years ago, emergency physician Dr. Michael Schull met his future wife, radiologist Dr. Josee Sarrazin, while attending to a particularly horrific trauma patient. “I was a resident on the trauma team, and Josee was a radiology fellow,” recalls Dr. Schull. “It was a severe trauma and we needed a bedside ultrasound. She came in and I noticed her, and made a point of visiting radiology quite frequently after that!”
“The way he got me was by pronouncing my name correctly, “ Josee laughs. So he almost had her at bonjour!
I only had to ask around for a minute to find out there are many other couples within the 10,000 other employees here at Sunnybrook. And the situation is the same at hospitals across the country. Sex and relationship columnist Josey Vogels isn’t surprised. “Comments from people in the same profession or field indicate that there is a shorthand there,” she told me over the phone. “You understand each other’s world. Even some of the emotional stuff, you just don’t have to explain things.”
Drs. Schull and Sarrazin agree. “When you’re working hard, you’ve got the four walls of the hospital so you tend to find people within that domain. And they often understand what your life is like, and what your work’s like.”
That said, no matter what your profession, Vogels insists that you have to work hard to keep things real. That means taking time for conversations other than work (and kids, and bills, and other general mood killers!) Don’t overlook the big impact of small gestures. And realize the perfect Valentine’s Day gift is more about the time, and not the money, you spend.
Drs. Schull and Sarrazin made a conscious decision to live close to the hospital, knowing their busy schedules would only be further stressed by a long commute. “Practically, we drive to work together most days, our kids go to school nearby so we can drop them off,” says Dr. Schull. “And even though we don’t have lunch together very often, I’ll pop by to say hello or bring by coffee.”
In other words, they still care and make an effort. And anyone who is married or otherwise committed will tell you, that’s real romance. Happy Valentine’s Day!