The Real Reason Why Doctors Are Successful (And It Has Nothing To Do With Smarts)

Many people outside of medicine see the Forbes headliner that “doctors are in the top 1% of income-earners” and assume they must be rolling in it. But the REAL sacrifices it took to get there don’t ever cross their minds.

They don’t see that it meant spending their 20s and 30s in school and training to become educated, skilled, and compassionate — and while doing so, missing kids’ games, Christmas, and family weddings. They also don’t see the ludicrous interest rates on six-figure student loans. They also don’t see how you don’t have a dime in your retirement savings even a decade after college.

Likewise, they don’t see YOU and the sacrifices you made as a spouse. Instead, you are casted as a “trophy wife” and “entitled gold-diggers,” which is not you. It’s unfair.

But I see you. And I know the truth. I know how much you are a part of your success.

I know that your DrSpouse hit the jackpot — not because they got into medical school — but because they married you.

In the book The Millionaire Mind by Thomas J. Stanley, many self-made millionaires polled attributed choosing the right spouse as the source of their success. And they named these traits: supportive, resourceful, responsible, loving.

I will go through all of these traits YOU possess:

  1. Supportive
  2. Resourceful
  3. Responsible
  4. Loving


Doctors are the kinds of people who leave their families so they can take care of other families. Who is doing their laundry? Picking up the kids? Paying the bills?

Oh yes, that’s you!

It takes an incredible amount of devotion carrying the load at home such as:

  • Shoveling the driveway
  • Cutting the grass
  • Taking the kids to church and activities
  • Packing and moving

If it weren’t for you caring for all of that, they wouldn’t be able to do what they have to get done for work.


Every family has problems that need solutions. Because you’re often left alone to figure out solutions to your family’s problems while your DrSpouse is busy, you have to be very resourceful.

For instance:

You find the very rare bank willing to refinance your student loans despite your family’s incredibly disproportionate debt to income ratio

Every time you move, you determine what neighborhood to move into that’s safe and has good home resale value

You figure out what’s making that noise in your car

You answer your kids’ teachers’ emails and attend your kids’ school conferences

You watch YouTube to learn to clean the lint built up inside your dryer that’s causing your clothes to take forever to dry


With an attending income, society will expect you to buy doctor houses, drive doctor cars, and take nice vacations. With a huge raise that comes after medical training, it’s incredibly tempting to do so. In fact, in some circles if you don’t upgrade your lifestyle, people begin to wonder if you’re even successful.

But you realize your family has six figures of medical school debt and late retirement savings, and that if you don’t handle that for your family, you won’t have a strong financial foundation. So you don’t increase your spending (at least much) for a few years after training so you have plenty of cash left to throw at student loans and retirement.

It takes a very responsible person to dare go against society’s expectation for you to YOLO. But you do it and build financial stability for your family from which your family’s dreams can come true.


It’s sad but true that your DrSpouse is particularly at high risk for burnout as a doctor. That’s the feeling of being angry, frustrated, and helpless with their workplace.

Maybe they’re being sued for malpractice. Or their employer is forcing them to do procedures they don’t like. Or they’re being buried in administrative duties and paperwork.

Whatever they’re facing at work, for many doctors, these problems feel huge and inescapable when they spend all day at the hospital.

But you listen, support, and don’t judge them for what they’re going through. And you remind them to get help when they need it. That kind of love reminds them that these problems aren’t the end-all of life and that their professional identity doesn’t define their core being or their identity.

Let’s Review

  1. Supportive — you handle everything so they can focus on being the best doctor
  2. Resourceful — you solve problems that arise
  3. Responsible — you don’t YOLO your money and plan to get out of debt and build long-term growth
  4. Loving — when they are at risk of burnout, you remind them of the bigger picture outside of work

In Summary

Anybody who has ever been successful knows the spouse is just as important to their success as they are to themselves. So if people turn to your DrSpouse and wonder, “How on earth can they accomplish all of this??”

To find out the answer, people need to turn to you. The answer is — they could do it because of you. Your DrSpouse is a great doctor because of all that you do.

I’m a hugger. I’m hugging and supporting you, friend.

To your strong medical family,

Your Turn

What has been the hardest for you during the medical journey?