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There are many reasons why doctors, dentists, veterinarians and other healthcare professionals such as PAs, NPs and nurses should aim for financial independence.

Getting into a safety zone where your basic financial needs are met even if you had to suddenly stop working can be a real game changer, giving you the financial freedom to decide to stay or go. If you are a medical professional, here are the top three reasons why you will want to prioritize reaching financial security as quickly as you reasonably can:
  1. Reduce stress and burnout: The demands of the medical profession can be overwhelming and stressful. When we eliminate debt and establish savings and investments such that we no longer have to worry about finances, this can help us to reduce some of this stress by allowing the freedom to make choices based on our interests and priorities rather than financial necessity. Achieving financial freedom can keep us from feeling trapped in an overscheduled or overwhelming work situation, can give us more negotiating power, and can help to prevent burnout. Being in a financial safety zone can lead to a more fulfilling career where you can focus on the meaning of your work rather than how you’re going to pay your bills.
  2. The option to shorten your working career: Achieving financial independence can give us the option for a shorter working career, but having that freedom can be a game changer, allowing us the option to refocus and redefine work that feels meaningful to us.  We do this line of work because we are caregivers; we want to care for others; it’s what we do. Doing work that feels meaningful matters to us. When doctors and other healthcare workers have enough savings and investments to cover their day to day expenses, they have the financial freedom to choose to work fewer hours or retire earlier than they otherwise would, or to work because they want to. Having this choice in and of itself can provide a sense of freedom that allows us to renew our commitment to working in a way that is sustainable, and meaningful to each of us. This can help doctors avoid burnout and ultimately enjoy a longer career, or it can lead to extra retirement years without financial burden.  When you’re in a financial safety zone, these choices are up to you. The ball is in your court.
  3. Increase autonomy and control: Financial freedom can provide greater autonomy and control to us as  physicians and other clinicians over the course of our career and life. It allows us to make decisions based on our own personal interests and passions rather than financial need. Having more control over our career can lead to greater job satisfaction, better patient care, a better work-life balance, and more freedom to pursue non-medical interests.

In conclusion, aiming for financial security early in our careers can provide many benefits to doctors and other medical professionals.  Some of those benefits include reduced stress and burnout, the option for a shorter working career or part time work, and greater autonomy and control over their lives both inside and outside of work. It can open doors to career choices that are focused on meaning and purpose as defined by the individual, which can be life changing for the physician / medical professional, as well as for their family members. Getting into a financial safety zone, as defined by what amount is needed to cover your basic needs, should be a top priority as a burnout prevention strategy that can lead to greater fulfillment and happiness in your life.

Are you financially independent? If so, how did you get there, and how has it impacted your life and career?

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Jen Barna MD

Board-certified practicing radiologist, founder and CEO of DocWorking, and host of top ranked DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast

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