The COVID pandemic has impacted different industries differently. My heart breaks for those whose jobs and businesses evaporated in 2020.
Since I am a physician committed to helping physicians thrive, I would like to share some data points around COVID’s financial impact on healthcare professionals. Then I would like to put on my hat as a student of doctors and their relationship with money, and offer a recommendation.
Medscape’s 2021 Physician Compensation Report deserves a full read. It includes the survey question, “When will you return to pre-COVID income levels?” About 40% said within a year, 40% said 2 to 3 years, 10% said 4 or more years and 10% said never.
Another Medscape Report entitled 'Death by 1000 Cuts': Medscape National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report 2021 also deserves a full read. The 42% rate of physician burnout during the COVID pandemic is about the same as the previous year. About 80% of struggling physicians say that their burnout predated COVID-19. When physicians were asked, “What would help most to reduce your burnout?” the most common response was, “Increased compensation to reduce financial stress.”
You can see the chicken-and-egg situation with finances as a unifying theme representing both the problem and the solution.
If you have ever faced financial stress you know that it can cast a dark shadow over your whole life. Consequences range from depression to divorce to distracted doctoring or even burnout and possible suicide.
Physicians as a group entered the COVID pandemic with baseline financial pain. Year after year, about 50% of surveyed physicians said that they were behind in retirement planning. The pandemic turned up the financial heat.
We physicians face a systems problem. Finances are intimately tied to the personal and professional rewards that attracted us to a career in medicine. Some physicians cut back to part time work because the value of being there for their family exceeds the earning loss. Yet, no where in our training did we learn how to optimize financial health.
Further, as a profession, we have largely been shielded from business downturns. What doctor ever imagined incomes going down? We lack the business tools and skills to respond to this unprecedented challenge.
How do other industries deal with business downturns? They pivot and reinvent themselves.
Today thriving physicians pivot. You can, too!
I recommend beginning with a thoughtful assessment of your financial health. Reach out to me if you would like me to send you a complimentary digital copy of one of my books—The Myth of the Rich Doctor or The 9 Money Mistakes Doctors Make. I’m not a financial advisor, but I have interviewed hundreds of doctors about their money stories and report on the trends I observed.
I also hold the contrarian view that every doctor needs a trusted financial advisor. Why? It’s the same reason we don’t treat ourselves or our loved ones. Emotions cloud judgment. Need the name of a good advisor? Contact me. For the past decade I’ve nurtured a community of financial advisors committed to serving the doctor who serve the community. There are great advisors out there who will put your interests first!
No matter where you are today, there is hope for a brighter tomorrow. There are options you may have never considered. There are problems that need solving, and huge opportunities for those physicians willing to see things differently and do things differently.