As a part of a feature we're calling "Early Career Spotlight", we recently asked several early career physicians what wisdom they had for their peers when it comes to financial wellness. Here's what Elizabeth M. had to say:
"Finances… personally I groan a little just thinking about money management, budgets, insurance, and long-term planning. I know they’re important - but because most medical schools and residencies don’t teach new physicians anything about financial wellness, and because of the strange income ladder we sign onto (make no money until you’re 30+, then start making a very good income compared to most people, but have six figures in debt, etc) it can be a real challenge to understand what to do. When you add in life milestones like getting married, moving across the country, buying a home, having children, helping family financially… it gets even more complicated.
Looking back, I wish I had known during medical school and residency what I could have done to better minimize my debt and avoid overpaying in interest, and to better prepare myself for the financial realities of my 30s. I wish someone had told me what to ask for from potential employers in terms of insurance coverage, and what to do in terms of retirement contribution from the first moment I started my new job as an attending. I was lucky enough to find a financial planner whose wife is a pediatrician (she graduated just a year or so after I did) and who totally understands the intricacies of physicians’ compensation and insurance options. Without that I’d have been lost. But it took me 2-3 years after finishing my training to do so (and has a significant cost associated), and I could have benefited even more if I had started real financial planning prior to even finishing school.
The AAP understands that finances are a major source of stress and anxiety for physicians, especially early in their careers. The financial wellness resources put together by the Academy are a fantastic primer on the basics of finances – useful for anyone at any stage of their career, but I particularly encourage residents and early career physicians to use them (and even medical students!). There is more to come on financial wellness related to life milestones (home buying, having children, etc) which will further deepen the reach of the resources and allow AAP members to think about detailed financial planning as they move through various stages of their career. I’m grateful that the AAP is thinking about physician wellness in general – and solid finances are a huge part of that!"