The path to becoming a successful emergency medicine physician is one that is meticulously planned and executed—build a strong undergraduate record, get into medical school, match in emergency medicine, and pass all the requirements to become a board-certified emergency physician. Even the clinical practice of emergency medicine involves a systematic, well-planned approach to solving problems. For example, all emergency physicians know the mantra “address the ABCs (airway, breathing, circulation) in every patient, every time.” Unfortunately, however, many physicians do not approach their financial lives with the same degree of meticulous planning and often lack a systematic approach to address the key areas of their finances.
A recent survey from Medscape asked emergency medicine physicians to gauge the state of their personal savings. Over one-third of emergency medicine physicians who are actively practicing stated that they have minimal to no savings, and fewer than 15% feel like their personal savings are more than adequate.1
Another Medscape survey found that almost 90% of emergency medicine physicians think that their income is either no better than many nonphysicians or that they have so much debt that they do not feel rich.2 Sadly, nearly half stated that they would not choose medicine as a career again.2
With statistics like these, it is no surprise that the clichés such as “doctors are lousy investors” and “doctors are terrible at managing their money” get tossed around so often.
This chapter addresses the key components of a comprehensive financial plan that every emergency medicine physician should implement. It also serves as a short guide to help the emergency physician address the major financial planning issues and implement a financial plan.
Much like addressing the ABCs when treating patients in the emergency department (ED), there are 3 critical areas of financial life that must be addressed: wealth protection, wealth enhancement, and wealth transfer (Figure 70-1).
- Wealth protection adheres to the principle “first do no harm.” Its goal is to protect current and future assets and to answer the following questions:
- What is my overall financial picture?
- How much liquidity do I need?
- What can I do to protect my future income stream?
- How do I protect my family if I die?
- Wealth enhancement refers to increasing future wealth via investment portfolio management and retirement planning. Specifically, the following questions must be answered:
- What is the proper mix of investments for my unique situation?
- How much risk can I take and need to take to achieve my long-term financial goals?
- How do I tax manage my investment portfolio?
- How much money do I need to retire?
- What retirement vehicles should I use to fund my retirement?
- Wealth transfer addresses issues related to transferring wealth during life and after death. It addresses such questions as
- What documents do I need to protect my family and my assets after I die?
- How do I minimize ...