Playing It S.A.F.E.

Like everyone else, it’s easy for people in healthcare training and practice to become complacent and pursue medicine for ulterior motives.   Unfortunately, this complex rarely announces its arrival with neon signs, preferring instead a silent, subtler approach that we notice only in hindsight, despite our best intentions.

How can we recognize the symptoms of misplaced motives and complacency before they are in full bloom?

Temple fourth-year Jeremy Korteweg shared this helpful acronym (S.A.F.E.) that can guide our thinking and prayer life in this critical area:

S – Security: This idea covers a lot of ground – job security (people are always sick!), finances (see ‘A’ below), status (finding your identity in doing something others value), and so on.  It can subtly stand-in for Jesus’ life and death for us if we’re not careful.

A – Affluence.  Sure, today’s medical students graduate with lots of debt, but being a physician is still one of the country’s top-paying professions and it’s easy to pursue medicine for all that money can buy, seen and unseen.

F – Family.  Most students begin training with a sincere passion to help others, and are willing to pay the cost, such as serving abroad on the mission field.  But things can get complicated when marriage enters the picture, and many have later admitted to ignoring God’s risky call in favor of a spouse who didn’t share that call.

E – Entertainment.  Affluent settings (like America) afford lots of opportunities for fun and entertainment.  There’s nothing wrong with it per se, but it can quickly become too important, or, your refuge from the ‘real world’ of medicine.

Obviously, you could add other items to this list, and the relationships between even these few factors is complex.  The value of the acronym is that it’s easy to remember and covers some major temptations today’s current, and future, healthcare workers are likely to face again and again.

How about you – in what particular area are you tempted to play it S.A.F.E.?    In my own life, I find myself living for “security”, and especially not dreaming or taking risks so that I don’t fail in the eyes of others.  How do you specifically see that showing up in your life?

In the next post, we’ll take a look at the antidote.



About Bryan Stoudt

On my personal website (, I help Christians follow Jesus in a noisy, broken world. I also have the privilege of helping Philadelphia's healthcare students and professionals do this as Area Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA). More information at On a personal note, I'm fortunate to be married to my wonderful wife, Sharon. Together, we have four fantastic children. In my spare time, I enjoy roasting coffee, running, reading and learning foreign languages.
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