"How do you combine work and family life?" is a question that has much relevance for busy professionals and their families. For physicians especially the dilemma of combining both is particularly acute. As a group committed to caring for others, how do physicians decide that their own and their families' needs are also important, and how do they find the time and energy to tend to those needs? The author closely followed a group of practicing physicians and their families for more than five years in an effort to understand the above questions. During this process of listening, talking, and observing, issues of "specialness," "work," "time," and "caring" were repeatedly mentioned by those professionals and families he followed. He found that the way medical families dealt with these specific notions helped determine the outcome of their struggle with the career/family dilemma.