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Need advice on working with spouse!

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Hey guys,

I was wondering if anyone has any advice on working with one's spouse. My husband is an RN, about to join my ER where I've been a PA for a few years.  He has prior ER experience and will do great. We're in our early 30s, been married a few years now. I'm a little anxious about it only because it's uncharted territory for us.

[side note, another position isn't an option right now, and he's already accepted and excited about it before anyone jumps in and says "just don't"... ;) ]


Thanks for any insight!

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No experience here, but I will say make sure HR/whomever knows about it.  You may not technically be his superior as far as chain of command goes, but all it takes is one cranky coworker to start stirring up trouble.  Just make sure the proper people know just in case, to cover your bases.

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My wife and I had about a 2 second discussion about her working as a RN in one of the EDs I work at.


It took about 2 seconds for us to realize the risk just wasn't worth it.  My marriage is the most important thing in my life, and I won't jeopardize it for anything.  


What's hubby going to do if you get into a heated disagreement with a male physician?  What are you going to do if a group of women nurses get their feelings hurt so start sabotaging your husband??  Workplace politics is a very, very real thing.  

And no, it's not too late to change your mind.  


Good luck on whatever you decide.  

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I met my wife "at work" as she was an RN student and I was a PA student in a hospital nursery ward in Oman (as in the Middle East). We had a great friendship and work relationship that ended in marriage a year later (never dated while we were working together). On this side of marriage, I think it would be complicated and I would not want to do it. Here is one reason why.  Sometimes I get frustrated at work (any hasn't?).  I am able but bury that frustration and treat my staff with professional respect.  I think there would be a temptation for married people to let their hair down and vent more of their frustration at one another than they would at a "stranger" staff, which would deteriorate the workplace.


At this same hospital in Oman, we had an American physician (FP but also general surgeon) who's wife was an RN and would fill in at the clinic and in the OR.  He would get upset, while he would never say a harsh word to anyone else, he would blast his wife with rage in front of all of us. We would cringe.  She was soft spoken but I can imagine a wife who was not oppressed like her giving it right back.  Not healthy for a workplace where couples are fighting.


We all are familiar with the MD with a wife as the office manager. That is always a mess.


So, while in some ways I would love to work with my wife, other times I think it would not be a healthy environment if we were under stress.  It is best to leave your stress at work and come home to peace and calm.  But if you can handle that emotion of frustration better than I can, maybe it would not be a problem for you.

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I also met my wife at work; she is an ED tech in our department.  It's never really been much of an issue for us.  Since we have young kids, we make sure to work different shifts from each other; somebody is always home to watch them.  Perhaps you can work out a schedule that limits the amount of time you physically work together.

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We have several interdepartmental spouses. ED physician + nurse, PA + nurse, nurse + rad tech, EMT + medic. It's never been an issue. Just keep it strictly professional while at work. It's only a big deal if you make it a big deal. Honestly I would not be able to tell these folks are married just by seeing their intractions while at work

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There are metaphysical potential problems with this as well - mostly just something that you two are just going to have to work out, but still worth thinking about.


When you're giving orders to your husband, there will likely be friction there.  "I need an EKG in 12, please" or "Orthostatics on the teenager in 23," would in most cases be completely innocuous orders that would be followed without issue.  Your husband will need to be able to take orders from his wife without letting any seeds of discontentment take root.  Not all couples can do that.  My wife and I had trouble with it at one time, and we do not now.  (Yes, it was a pride issue on my part, admittedly.) 


There are a host of landmines as mentioned above so I won't go into those. 


Setting things up so you work with each other as infrequently as possible will reduce the chances that landmines will be stepped on. 


But it sounds like a good opportunity for him and of course you love your job, so go into it with eyes wide open and be quick to address any seeds of issues that you see starting. 


Good luck.

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