The White Coat Think Tank

As a reckless child (and adult) I have had the pleasure of getting to know many doctors. Albeit often as a patient. You have a unique set of challenges that come with a high income and possibly high debt.

This blog post serves to be a thought provoking exercise for readers that fall into the category of high income and possibly high debt. I hope this helps you as a current or future doctor have a useful reflection on important ideas regarding your profession. Here are four questions to ask yourself:

1.) Should I work for a not-for-profit to get my loans forgiven?

This is a huge question for students getting ready to decide their destination after medical school. Do you take a pay cut and agree to work for a non-profit for a few years to get your loans forgiven or do you work for another hospital getting paid more? This is just something you will have to model out to see which will be most profitable (assuming you don't have altruistic reasons for choosing one over the other).

2.) Should I pay my student loan debt first or invest?

Many people like to answer this question based on interest rate. Some might say "well you can probably make 8-10% on average per year in the market so if your interest rate is less than that invest." It is not that simple. Other factors are important such as risk tolerance, other financial/personal goals, and market/political conditions. If you are going to use a rule of thumb based on interest rates: use 4% or less as the interest rate where you focus more on investing.

3.) How do I protect my income?

What is your greatest asset? Is it your house? Car? Actually it is your ability to earn income. You would be surprised at the likelihood of losing your income from an injury or sickness and how little your work benefits protect you. Consider having your own layer of protection to mitigate loss in this fashion.

4.) What else can I do?

Now that you have a comfortable amount of money saved and continue to earn a high wage that you will probably continue to receive even in poor economic conditions... maybe it's time to get more aggressive. You can diversify your investments by adding riskier investments to your portfolio. Real estate, limited partnerships, and derivative strategies in your investment account are all items that carry more risk but can lead to potential higher returns

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