COVID-19 pandemic has been a physician financial wakeup call

A survey found that the pandemic boosted physician burnout and woke many up to their financial precarity.

Physicians are feeling the burn from the COVID-19 pandemic, but they’re coming away with a renewed focus on their personal finances and student debt.

According to a news release, a survey from Laurel Road and The White Coat Investor found that 39 percent of doctors and dentists realized while practicing through 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic made them realize they’re not as financially prepared as they should be for their profession. This is more pronounced among women, with 48 percent reporting a lack of financial preparedness, compared to 33 percent of men.

About a quarter of respondents, 23 percent, said they seriously considered leaving the profession altogether throughout 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic due to stress or burnout. Again, this was more pronounced among women, with 38 percent, than men, 18 percent, the release says.

The survey was conducted among 750 U.S. physicians and dentists. It looked to understand what impact the pandemic had on the financial practices, goals, and investments of doctors, according to the release.

“Findings from this survey further brought to light the challenges doctors and dentists face beyond the pandemic,” Alyssa Schaefer, chief experience officer at Laurel Road, says in the release. “We know that at this time, they’re even more conscientious of their spending and financial habits.”

In 2020, more than 54 percent of respondents spent more time on personal finances than the year prior. Furthermore 74 percent of doctors believe there’s a direct correlation between proactive short-term financial behaviors and long-term financial success, the release says.

Looking ahead, 66 percent of doctors plan to be more focused financially in 2021 compared to the prior year. This sentiment was more prevalent among women, 74 percent, than men, 60 percent. Some of the actions the respondents say they will engage in are:

  • Reorganizing their finances overall — 41 percent
  • Speaking to a financial planner — 34 percent
  • Reassessing student loans — 31 percent