Mixing marriage and medicine

By Kelly Wilson
Herald-Whig Staff Writer

When Dr. Korhan Raif has a rough day at work or gets a phone call about a patient at all hours of the night, he knows his wife will understand.

That’s because she’s a doctor, too.

“It does make it easier,” he said. “I have a lot of friends who don’t have physician spouses, and the spouse has a hard time understanding what we do, why we go to the hospital in the middle of the night.”

An internal medicine physician, Raif works at Quincy Medical Group’s branch clinic in Barry. His wife, Dr. Ayca Raif, is a pediatrician who works at QMG’s branch clinic in Pittsfield.

“If I was married to a nonphysician, that probably would never have worked,” Ayca Raif said.

The Raifs are among nine area couples in which the husband and wife are both physicians.

It’s not easy juggling their hectic work schedules, family responsibilities and other activities, especially for the couples with young children.

But somehow they make it work.

“You just have to prioritize,” said Dr. Carol Espejo, who is married to Dr. John DeGuzman. Both are Blessing Physician Services doctors specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Family time is a major priority.

“You try to do as much with your kids when they’re awake,” Espejo said. She and her husband have two children, ages 6 and 7.

“It’s getting to be a routine now,” DeGuzman said. When they get home from work, one of the two fixes dinner and the kids do their homework. Then it’s time for the children to practice music or sports, and later the family listens to a radio program together.

“So they know this is family time,” Espejo said.

They sometimes bring dictation and paperwork home. “But we try to it after the kids are sleeping,” Espejo said. “We are trying to block out Friday nights as special time. They like to watch movies, or we eat out.”

Dr. Pierre Raad, pediatrician at Blessing Physician Services, and Dr. Roula Tanios, a nephrologist at Blessing Physician Services, have three children — a 3-year-old and 2-year-old twins.

“It’s juggling every day,” Raad said. “You have to be organized. But it’s good. It’s fun. We’ll survive.”

With three young children and two full-time medical practices, Raad and Tanios say they have little, if any, time for relaxation. By the time they put the kids to bed at night, they’re exhausted.

“It’s not an easy life,” Tanios said. “But it’s a nice period of our life.”

Sometimes it’s tough when both doctors are on call, “but we try to work it out,” Tanios said.

“You do the best you can,” Espejo said of juggling responsibilities. “It takes teamwork.”

The Raifs agree, and say their two children, ages 12 and 10, are part of the team.

“If we’re both on call, we take them to the hospital with us. There’s a room there where they can watch TV,” Ayca Raif said. “They’re good kids. They entertain themselves.”

When the Raifs go out-of-town to medical conferences, they kids go, too. In fact, the kids go almost everywhere with their parents.

“We never do anything without them,” Korhan Raif said. The Raifs are involved in medical mission work, but they take turns so one parent is always home with the children.

The everyday juggling act is “not easy,” Korhan Raif said. “But you’ve got to do it. You’ve got to be flexible … and go with the flow.”

Ayca Raif emphasizes that when she and her husband are home together, they try not to talk about work.

Still, the Raifs say it’s nice that both are physicians because they can bounce ideas off of each other.

“We talk in general terms and will ask each other opinions,” Korhan Raif said.

He adds that being a husband-wife physician team helped them when they were searching for a place to practice.

“In small communities (like Barry and Pittsfield), if you have a physician and the spouse is not a physician, it’s hard to keep them long-term,” he said.
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