April 12, 2018

Financial Pearls for New Attendings

By Michael Ruzek, DO

Completing your training and getting ready to start your career as an attending can be a very dynamic time in your life. Below are a few pointers to keep in mind that may help:

  • Understand that there may be a gap of a few months between when you receive your last paycheck as a resident and your first paycheck as an attending
  • Know the difference in compensation models before you start working as a new attending, i.e. W-2 vs 1099
  • This may be a good time to find at trusted accountant and financial advisor that colleagues have used and recommend.
  • It may be more advantageous for you to purchase disability insurance/life insurance prior to completing your residency.  You are usually able to get better terms if you purchase your policy before beginning your new job as an attending.
  • Look into what retirement savings plans your new employer offers.  It is often advantageous to maximize those retirement savings plans early on. You will not miss money that you never had!  Sometimes, employers offer contributions or matching towards retirement savings plans.  
  • If you are not eligible for tuition repayment programs, it may be advantageous to refinance. Personally, I was able to refinance some of my loans, which were at 6.8% to 5%. Considering the amount of money you may owe, this may be a significant saving.
  • Keep in mind that you may face some significant costs during your transition. These costs may include: State Medical License, State and Federal DEA License, Hospital Staff Dues, EM Boards Registration and Testing Fees, ACEP/Society Dues, Moving Expenses, New Home/Apartment, Educational Loan Repayment, Initial Payments for Life and Disability Policies

As hard as it may be, now that you are about to make real salary, this may be a good time to try to pay down debt as opposed to taking on new debt. As one of my mentors use to say, “If you maintain the same lifestyle you lived during residency for a few years after your training, you will be able to pay down debt and be on stable financial ground.”

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