Dr. Hevil Shah, who works in pediatrics and neonatology, and Dr. Ashita Gehlot, an OB/GYN, are a dream team. “She delivers the baby, I have to take care of the baby,” Hevil says. They’re married, already working their dream jobs in Texas, and at only 37, they have already paid off their medical school loans. Here’s how they make all of that work, and their advice to other married physician couples.
Going into medicine
Both of Ashita’s parents are physicians. Growing up, she loved seeing the interactions between patients and doctors. This influenced her decision to become an OB/GYN, which she saw as the perfect merge between patient relationships, complexity, and women’s health.
Meanwhile, Hevil’s family is full of business owners, but he decided to take a different path. When Hevil was young, he volunteered at different hospitals and took premed classes, which helped him realize what we wanted to do with his life. He said the strength he sees in kids, and their parents’ willingness to cooperate, makes his job really fulfilling.
Both doctors grew up in Georgia, and they met during their medical school interview. They were competitors at that point, but after they both got into the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Georgia, they reconnected when Ashita sat in front of Hevil during orientation. The two became friends, and in their second year of medical school, things clicked and led to marriage.
Working locum tenens
After finishing her residency, Ashita spent a year and a half working locum tenens in Troy, Ohio, and San Antonio, Texas, before accepting a full-time position. For Ashita, the switch to traveling for locum tenens came naturally.
“As a kid, my parents traveled a lot. I moved so much and got exposed to so many different cultural things. I think that’s part of the reason I can literally talk to a rock,” Ashita says. She explains that working as a locums required her to be adaptable, but that she liked that challenge. She also liked learning more about different methods of practicing and seeing how different hospitals worked.
Ashita is now focusing on developing her practice in Fort Worth, but she’s planning on doing more locum tenens to help address the OB/GYN shortage.
“In the next four to five years, there’s going to be a shortage of eight to ten thousand OB/GYNs in our country,” said Ashita. “Women are losing out on this basic critical care that they need, so I think working locums allows me to really give back to the community.”
Finding their dream jobs
Marriage is often about compromise, but Hevil and Ashita feel that married physician couples shouldn’t compromise to the point that one person isn’t as happy as the other.
“There’s a number of places that we interviewed at that it would be a great job for Ashita but the job for me just wasn’t as stimulating and vice versa,” says Hevil.
“Both physicians need to have stimulation, they need to feel that they’re supported at their places of work, and feel that they’re connecting with their partners at work. All of those things will absolutely affect the day to day lives of you, your partner, your children, and your relationship with other people,” Ashita says.
It took some time, but Ashita and Hevil each found their perfect jobs. Ashita is working at a private practice at Fort Worth OB/GYN, and she operates out of Texas Health Southwest Fort Worth. Hevil works as part of the Pediatrix Medical Group of Fort Worth. He’s part of a group of neonatologists who cover just about all the Fort Worth hospital NICUs.
Paying off student loans
It’s difficult to pay off any medical student loans, but it’s especially hard for married physician couples. But with the help of Ashita’s income from just 18 months of locum tenens, they were able to save up enough to pay them off. In November, they wrote a few huge checks and now they’re debt-free.
“If you still live like residents even after you’ve got your nice job for a few years, then hit the loans hard, it’s going to be smooth sailing. Then you can do what you want to do,” says Hevil.
Spending time together
As great as Hevil and Ashita’s jobs are, they’re still new doctors. Married physician couples work long hours, experience a lot of stress and pressure, and worry about their patients whether they’re at the hospital or at home. So, Hevil and Ashita try to relax together as much as possible.
Hevil explains that eating dinner together is a great way for them to unwind. It lets them talk about whatever is on their mind, whether that’s work, politics, or each other. Outside of dinner, they love exploring whatever city they’re in. They enjoy going to things like fairs, food trucks, and pop-up shops. They also travel at least a few times a year. They find wherever has cheap plane tickets, and then give themselves a good week to fully explore the city. Hevil says travel is a good way to take a break and reduce burnout.
Supporting each other
Hevil and Ashita also know that just because their jobs are serious, it doesn’t mean they have to be. Ashita explains that Hevil’s work as a critical care physician can be emotionally draining. She says the easiest thing to do is to distract him with something as simple as a funny YouTube video, his favorite food, or even just a quick walk. They’re self-proclaimed goofballs, so just being able to make each other laugh keeps both of their stress levels down.
Ashita says that the first year of working was hard, because she felt like she wasn’t good enough to take care of anybody. “Having a supportive husband or supportive partner who will do something like make you a pizza on the night where you’re extra tired… It’s the best.”
Are you married to another physician? What are your tips for supporting each other at home and in your careers? Share your advice in the comments below.