Doctored Money Blog

Physician financial literacy: Is anyone (besides us) doing anything about it?

Lack of Impartial Education

As most of our readers know, DOCTORED MONEY has a two-pronged mission of providing 1) free, un-biased financial education for medical professionals and 2) advocacy and awareness with a goal of promoting an embedded financial education curriculum within medical training. We also have a 3rd prong related to cheesy jokes, but the official language for that prong is currently under development.

There is certainly research which illustrates the problem of physician financial (il)-literacy. Physician morale and job satisfaction has likely worsened with the rapid rise in medical education costs.

Even for physicians with the time and interest for self-study, there is a lack of high-quality, non-commercial, impartial financial education resources. Thus, there is a need for curated, evidence-based, factual and unbiased material. But there is only so much that a handful of (very hard-working!) volunteers here at DOCTORED MONEY can do, and only so many people we can reach. This is a national issue, and we feel that effective solutions will require some component of institutional buy-in from medical schools, residency training programs, AAMC, ACGME, professional societies, etc.


Is There ANY Good News?

What’s the current state of affairs? Is any financial education happening, anywhere, that’s not limited to an occasional ad-hoc lecture or noon-conference? In fact, there is. It’s limited, but we were heartened to learn that there are indeed institutions which have begun to offer such education. Typically, this has occurred at institutions where there are highly motivated and capable individuals who were available to spearhead such efforts. Those people are rare. But also, there needed to be institutions who were receptive and willing to provide institutional support and infrastructure. Also rare. And as any student of probabilities knows, the chance of both rare and rare happening together is, well, much more rare. In any case, we’d like to highlight two people+institutions where this has occurred.



Yuval Bar-Or, PhD is a professor in the Johns Hopkins business school who comes from a family of physicians and has turned his attention to medical financial education. He has founded the Institute for Financial Literacy in Medical Households (which we assume was his second choice for a name after learning that DOCTORED MONEY was taken) and has developed a free education course consisting of online videos and text resources for physicians which cover an impressive range of relevant topics. This content has also been compiled in book format. Beginning this October, Dr. Bar-Or's personal finance and investing basics courses will be offered to Johns Hopkins medical faculty through the School of Medicine’s Office of Faculty Development. There is a second effort underway to have staff physicians attend specialty-specific financial literacy sessions financed using tuition remission (i.e. paid for by the university), which will in turn subsidize the attendance of residents and fellows.



Jason Mizell, MD is a surgeon on the faculty at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences who has been teaching a highly-regarded and well-attended Business of Medicine course, covering both personal finance and practice management topics. The course is an elective offered to 4th year medical students, and it appears the majority of students sign up. Which is impressive given how busy medical students can be, and how valuable their free-time is and the appeal of competing electives. Although, it’s not surprising, given how much we know students and young MDs crave financial education and instruction!


Baby Steps

There are certainly additional examples of institutions which provide some small amount of financial literacy education. For example, New York Presbyterian Hospital (the hospital affiliated with both the Cornell and Columbia programs, and the second largest GME system in the country) provides a short financial education lecture to all incoming housestaff as part of orientation, which has received consistently high praise from the attendees. [Ask us how we know!]


Examples We Missed?

But overall it seems as if individual medical schools and residency programs are on their own to request, find, vet, or create education opportunities. For residents, our experience has been that this is dependent on the interest and motivation of the chief residents, which varies markedly from year to year and from program to program. Often, invitations are extended to financial planners who sell products, or have other conflicts which are either not disclosed or not understood by trainees (nor faculty). This is not the way to implement physician financial education. Ideally, there would be systematic education made available by the institution to all students, residents, and interested faculty.

What has your experience been? Are you satisfied with the financial education provided by your medical school, residency, or fellowship? Do you have examples of institutions such as the ones described above, which are attempting to provide financial education at an institutional level? Have you asked your administration to provide financial education? If not, why not? Make some noise. We’d love to hear from you on this topic. Send us an email, or comment below!