Life, Money, and Career Priorities for Physicians 

Life is not easy.   

Each one of us are on an adventure called “life” and, within that adventure, we need a map of priorities to lead us along the right path. While it is essential to remain flexible and open to where your path leads you, it is just as important for you to know your basic priorities so you can consistently keep your end goals in mind. According to Cory S. Faucett MD, co-author of Career and Life Planning Guidebook for Medical Residents, “priorities are the fundamental philosophy and rules under which you will live your life. If you have a mismatch between your goals and priorities, you will become unhappy.” There are three main categories discussed for which you should think through, and even write down, your priorities and goals. As you begin to think about the priorities in your life, focus on your priorities for your life overall, your family, and your career.  

Life’s a Journey 

It may seem very general to think about your life’s priorities and, in some ways, it is a large and overarching topic to contemplate. Throughout your life, what is it that you hope to accomplish for yourself and your family? Think about what you want your life to look like and determine what you need to do to achieve those goals. Avoid living a life that, one day, you will look back and regret all the things you did not get to do because you either did not plan enough or you allowed yourself to go through life not deeply considering your true priorities.  

As a physician, you will also want to prioritize your money and your time in a way that will be most beneficial to you throughout your entire life. Avoid making unnecessary purchases that do not add true value to your life and approach your finances while thinking of your future as well as the future of your family. In addition, before you accept your first job opportunity, you may want to consider what priorities you have for things like your hobbies or how you spend your time. For example, you probably should not choose a job in Florida if your family lives in Oho and you value your children spending valuable time with their grandparents.  

Family First 

Many physicians are quick and ready to claim their family is their top priority in their life. However, when you take a closer look at their lives it may become obvious that their families are not a priority at all. Cory S. Faucett MD, shares, “it is easy to say you will put your family first, but it is hard to do. That is why you must establish your priorities and examine each goal and commitment to see if it fits within your priorities before obligating yourself to it.” When we first start a new career it is easy to before a “yes” person and agree to anything that is requested of us. However, even if you are new to the team, you are an equal contributing medical professional that deserves to take a step back and reexamine your priorities before you mindlessly agree to additional obligations. You can’t claim that going to all of your son’s football games is a priority if you routinely miss them due to accepting optional and additional duties at work. 

Dream Job 

Don’t let the promise of a big paycheck and a high salary lead you to taking a job that may not be a good fit with your life and family priorities. Think about each job opportunity from a whole-picture view. Where is the job located and will this location require you to move or commute? If so, does this possible commute fit within your defined priorities? Does the big move align with your dreams to have your children grow up close to their extended family? Think about the required hours and additional commitments at this new job. Will you be expected to regularly stay later or longer than you are comfortable with? With every decision you make in regard to your job, take time to pause and consider your priorities. Remember, your priorities are what make you happy. To sacrifice your priorities would mean to sacrifice your happiness. You launched into a medical career to create a beautiful life for you and your family, and you deserve to prioritize what makes you feel fulfilled and happy.  


Todd Skertich is managing partner, Arlington Healthcare and founder, Adventures in Medicine and Physician Career PlanningHe is the author of The Art of Physician Negotiation and can be reached on LinkedIn at