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Fulfilling fatherhood and a thriving medical practice: my story


I started having children towards the end of my medical school. By the time I became a resident, I already had two young boys. My wife was also a pathology resident at that time. We worked hard and were fortunate to have parents who helped us occasionally. However, we still missed out on a lot when my family relocated to Florida; my sons began their first years in school while I began working at my first medical practice. Before our move, we had our third child. As my wife and I continued to advance in our careers, we struggled to balance our professional ambition and family life. We often picked up the boys from sports practices late and missed games and recitals. We occasionally arrived home late, so my wife brilliantly pre-prepared meals in the morning using a slow cooker. We both wanted to build a meaningful career while prioritizing our family and owning a medical business to leave a legacy for our children.

I am sharing my story with you because my parents believed balancing a successful family life with a thriving business was challenging. I have been told that what you gain in one, you sacrifice in the other. There is a common belief that our professional and personal lives are interdependent and that by prioritizing one, we inevitably sacrifice the other. For instance, it’s believed that a person cannot excel at being a father if they are solely focused on being the most successful business person, and vice versa.

This scales analogy completely misses the point. We all have a unique drive and purpose that propels us forward. However, it’s important to remember that a single business venture or parenting experience does not define our lives. Instead, we are the sum of all our experiences and endeavors. It’s impossible to be everything to everyone, nor can we be in multiple places simultaneously. Therefore, being mindful of allocating our time and energy is valid. There will always be competing demands for our attention, such as raising children, maintaining relationships, pursuing hobbies, caring for aging parents, or simply relaxing. It’s essential to stay focused on your goals, but you must also consider the bigger picture of your life.

What’s essential differs from how much time or attention you’ll sacrifice in your business to have children. What’s important is what will make you happy. And from experience, what helps you fulfill your purpose will make you happy.

I was absent from time to time as a father. On the other hand, I ducked out of staff meetings early to catch the tail end of a soccer match as well. My kids have resented me and adored me. My medical practice has flourished and has floundered. Throughout, though, I have been fulfilled, and my drive remains. My boys have enjoyed their own success now despite my shortcomings.

My oldest son is a graduate of Harvard Law School and has served as a Navy JAG for the past eight years. My other three children are college graduates and currently have successful careers. I know their drive has been fueled by witnessing mine and my wife’s. Could have taken more time off to be with them (maybe I should have?), but that in and of itself would have been a sacrifice in their lives, exposed to less professional perseverance, motivation, and success.

Your success in your professional life can have a positive impact on your children’s lives. It can also inspire you to become a better leader, entrepreneur, and person. There’s nothing more motivating than the happiness of one’s children. If you allow it, improving your entrepreneurial skills can also help you become a better father and vice versa.

Achieving success is an intricate process that requires many factors to work together. It’s not just about having one specific skill or attribute, but rather, it’s about having the ability to navigate through the different challenges and opportunities that come your way. The most successful individuals understand that their lives are multifaceted and unpredictable, and they use that to their advantage by channeling their energy toward a single purpose. By embracing life’s chaos and uncertainty, they can stay focused on their goals and make the most out of every situation.

You have the potential to excel both as an entrepreneur and a father, as these two roles are interconnected. Although it may only sometimes appear perfect, you will only thoroughly understand the situation once you try. Instead of seeing it as a zero-sum choice, consider it an opportunity to explore something challenging but ultimately rewarding, such as a new business angle or project. When making choices, it is essential to consider what aligns with your values and goals. However, it’s equally important to understand your overall purpose and how your choices fit that bigger picture. Taking the time to assess the potential impact of your decisions on your children can help ensure that you are making choices that align with your values and contribute to your long-term success and fulfillment.

As I near the end of my career and prepare for retirement, I find myself taking stock of the choices I made along the way. Looking back, I feel a sense of pride at having successfully struck a balance between my fulfilling medical practice and my equally important role as a devoted family member. Both have enriched my life, and I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to positively impact both spheres while maintaining a sense of personal fulfillment and satisfaction.

Francisco M. Torres is an interventional physiatrist specializing in diagnosing and treating patients with spine-related pain syndromes. He is certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the American Board of Pain Medicine and can be reached at Florida Spine Institute and Wellness






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