Why Doctors Need To Care About Money—And So Should You

doctors need to care about money“I’m not in it for the money!”

That is a common statement that I used to hear in medical school. Those who say it are truly lost souls who make that blanket statement mistakenly attacking his peers. You’d be better off saying that to your college roommate who went into investment banking making $200,000 a year while you’re still eating microwave ramen.  Frankly, I could probably count on one hand the number of people I knew in school and training who were blatantly in it for the money. Half of my peers probably wished they had gone into a career for the money before sinking a decade of their lives into it.

Why Doctors Need To Care About Money

Money pays the bills, your rent, your debt, and your kids’ educations. It would be a shame to spend a decade of your youth busting your ass to obtain the prestige of a doctor yet still not having enough money to put your kid through college. Retirement certainly sounds pretty good by the time you’re in your seventies still trying to do an appendectomy.  Ironically, according to the late Thomas Stanley, wealth doesn’t even necessarily correlate with education. That doesn’t mean that education SHOULDN’T correlate with wealth. It’s up to you to make it happen.

Life isn’t fair either. How much you earn as a physician is often dictated by insurance companies. If you join a hospital system or a healthcare practice, your revenue will be siphoned off by the administration and your employer. Being more knowledgeable in finance will help you get a reasonable compensation package. Know how you bring in money, and how you’re paid. It all starts with a financial education.

One of the problems I’ve seen with doctors and money is that it’s taboo to discuss the two together, especially in a university setting. Why should we care how much it takes to cure someone? The interesting aspect of healthcare for most of us is the science. In contrast, the tech, financial, and corporate industry has not qualms about including cold hard cash in discussions: Series A, Series B funding, IPOs, options, going short.  On occasion we hear about a few bad eggs in healthcare who swindled millions from Medicare (and make our industry look pathetic), but this occurs much more frequently in finance with little repercussion to its industry.

Just remember, you can build wealth in healthcare and STILL be an ethical, caring, physician.

All Doctors Are Capable Of Learning About Money

We don’t all need to be financial advisors in our spare time or become as knowledgeable as Bill Bernstein in finance, but it really is not that difficult building a basic comprehension of financial vocabulary. You also want to be knowledgeable enough to say “no” to your cousin’s pitch for universal life insurance he sells through his firm.

Remember that you spent weeks studying for USMLE Step 1. You probably didn’t even like studying that. Imagine spending an hour of your week reading on finance. You don’t have to like that either. Even after 6 months, you’ll likely be more well-versed than the majority of your healthcare peers.

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