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3 Steps to Financial Freedom for Burned Out Physicians


The burden of a stressful job and complicated finances causes many people to reconsider their career choice. These three steps can help you fix your finances and clear your mind.

This article is taken from an episode of the Freedom Formula for Physicians podcast. Click here to listen!

Imagine this, picture this.

You’re stuck. You’re grinding through your day. One patient after another. You’re feeling numb, calloused to the world around you. You feel focused, but you’re losing your edge.

But, that’s not all…

You’re wondering what the heck has happened since medical school when you were so excited, so engaged, so optimistic. The assembly line still keeps on running. It seems so monotonous. Another patient and another patient and another patient. You are late, they are late; five minutes here, five minutes there.

The day drags on. You’re feeling tired, listless.

You wonder, “Is this really the life I want? Can I keep going on like this? Should I stay in medicine?”

If you are struggling, thinking about money and finances may be the furthest thing from your mind.

If anything, you may just wish to enjoy life for once! Take some time off and get away from this head chatter. Just turn everything off.

Let me explain.

What if you could have that financial freedom you always desired?

What if you could have the time freedom you always desired?

There are three basic financial principles that I believe could get you there in a hurry.

First, I want you to take stock of your financial situation and focus on your debts.

How much are your liabilities? How much do you have in student loans? Car loans? A mortgage?

How much do you have in the bank?

How much do you have in your investments?

Could you pay off some of your loans without tremendous tax consequences?

If that isn’t possible, consider getting rid of your debts as absolutely soon as possible! If your student loan interest rates are high, look at refinancing through a company like SoFi, DRB, or LinkCapital.

Also, hold off on buying a new car for as long as possible. Keep your obligations to a minimum.

Look to pay for your next car in cash—whether only $1,000 or $2,000 or $10,000.

Only buy it if you can buy it in cash. That’s right. Only buy it IF you can buy it in cash!

If your mortgage is dragging you down, think about downsizing your home and downsizing your mortgage.

I know. This is hard. These are some tough choices and tough decisions. Downsizing my house—are you kidding me?

You can do it. I promise you. Find where you can cut and simplify life, lower your expenses to give you freedom.

Just think about this question… how would life be if you didn’t have any debts?

How would it feel to be in that position?

Could you see yourself being debt free?

Could it working for you?

Make sure to check out The Freedom Formula for Physicians for more details on how to become debt free and live a liberated lifestyle.

Second, find a way to secure time freedom.

What I mean by this is that once you have reduced and/or eliminated your debts, now you can have the freedom to make some career choices.

Here are three specific ideas for you:

1. Consider reducing your hours at your current gig. Could you reduce from full-time to 0.75 or even to half-time?

Take the next couple of years to relax more and not push as hard. Spend more time with your family while still earning a decent wage.

Maybe you’re not saving as much in your 401(k) or 403(b). Heck, maybe you’re not saving anything at all.

But you have your health and you have your time. You know you could operate like this for decades to come.

2. Start freelancing doing locums and travel some. Rather than have someone else set your schedule, why not find a schedule that can work for you?

In today’s world, we all see the massive physician shortages. So many places are looking for physicians in their ER or primary care positions, plus almost any other specialty!

Imagine working a few months and then taking a few months off. You work super hard for a short period of time, but then you have time to find yourself, to spend with your family, doing the things you love.

Wouldn’t that feel amazing? Could you imagine how liberating that would feel?

Check out or other similar websites.

3. Consider starting your own practice. This may sound a little crazy at first glance! You may think, “Don’t I need a whole bunch of money to do that?” Amazingly, the answer is no!

My good friend, Pamela Wible, MD, at opened my eyes to how cheap and easy it can be to open your own practice.

Dr. Wible started her own practice after struggling with a bit of her own burnout, moving from place to place, yearning for that ideal practice, getting back to her medical school roots. She realized she had to make her own practice because that was the only way to have it be ideal!

She found her ideal community, held town hall meetings, and created raving fans—basically crowd sourcing her practice. She had people’s buy-in before she got started!

She runs an extremely lean, small office that is extremely profitable.

On top of all of that, she has the time freedom to decide how much and how hard she wants to work. If she wants to take on my patients, she can. If she wants to deal with insurance companies (or not), she can.

And besides all of those awesome benefits, the best tax deduction is to own your own practice! You can write off your cell phone or car. You can set up your own retirement plan. There are dozens and dozens of possible write-offs!

By the way, the same things applies to locum tenens freelancing as well when you are getting paid as an independent contractor. The tax deductions rock!

Third, consider how to financially (and otherwise) minimize and simplify your life.

In our society, there’s so much demand and pressure to keep up with the Joneses.

We see our friends and colleagues with a new, shiny Tesla or BMW or Mercedes or Escalade and we want to live that kind of lifestyle.

Having big beautiful homes, dining at fancy steak houses and going to expensive productions. It’s all fine and it’s all fun!

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy these things as much as the next person.

However, we often leave with full stomachs, empty wallets, and perhaps, an empty heart.

I’ve been reading through The Millionaire Mind by Thomas Stanley and there’s so much great information in there in how millionaires think.

The thought-provoking book left me thinking, what if we simplified our lives?

What if we cut out some of the extras and slowed down?

What if we had our kids in only one activity rather than four or five?

What if we switched out dining out and a movie for card games and dinner at home?

What if we re-soled our shoes rather than buy new ones?

What if we cut the cable to our TV and spent more time reading, connecting, and talking?

Not only could we slash our expenses, but maybe we could enjoy life more and enjoy the people we are with more.

My good friend and speaking coach, Dave VanHoose, told me that I can’t have any cable until my wife and I have over a million in the bank!

Not a bad rule to live by!

Let’s simplify, simplify, simplify.

Take time to smell the roses, breathe some fresh air, and come back to our passions, our drives.

Final Thoughts

You are an amazing person. You’ve sacrificed so much for your community, your patients.

If you are feeling burned out, take some time to reflect on how you can change

Consider one of these strategies that we’ve mentioned and reclaim your financial freedom, your time freedom.

We believe in you. We know the impact you can make.

Take one step at a time, one day at a time.

Here’s a hug, from my heart to yours.

Dave Denniston, Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), is an author and authority for physicians providing a voice and an advocate for all of the financial issues that doctors deal with. He is the author of 5 Steps to Get out of Debt for Physicians, The Insurance Guide for Doctors, The Tax Reduction Prescription, and his new book, The Freedom Formula for Physicians.

He’s glad to answer any questions about finances for physicians and burnout.

You can check out his latest podcast at

You can also contact him at (800) 548-1820, at, or visit his website at to get a copy of The Freedom Formula for Physicians.

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