9 Post-residency Mistakes

Learn these common errors now to know what to avoid in your early career

By Vicki Gerson | Feature Articles | Spring 2011


“I wouldn’t put off taking the boards,” says Schlozman. “It’s not worth the risk. The boards are a huge investment, and new doctors don’t want to have to pay that money twice.”
Says Potter, “I encourage all my residents to sit for their boards at the first opportunity because the knowledge is fresh in their mind. Residents shouldn’t think they won’t work as hard after they get a job and will study later. That can be a mistake.”

Planning a post-residency vacation?

Bring your books with you and plan to study two hours a day.

Yes, even while on vacation.

Mistake 9: Ignoring money managing guidelines
A key mistake Hutton indicates many residents make is not knowing how to manage their money. “Once many residents get that first paycheck, they’re going to buy a new car, new house or buy all the things they couldn’t afford before,” she says. “Don’t do it.”

Instead, new doctors need to think about spending their money on malpractice insurance, disability and life insurance, and school loans. Those are all big-ticket items.

“Many doctors live beyond their means because they don’t have a business education. All they know is medicine,” she says. Consequently, Hutton strongly recommends each resident start looking for a financial advisor who has experience working with young physicians.

Many physicians are getting their first job in their late 20’s or early 30’s, which means they are 10 years behind many people who already have retirement accounts and college funds for their children. Think about the future. “A good rule of thumb I’ve learned from my financial advisor,” Hutton says, “is don’t spend more than 40 percent of your paycheck for items like food, car payments, clothes, entertainment, vacations and nursery school for your children. The 60 percent is for long-term benefits such as a home, insurance, retirement account and an educational savings plan.”

Check out the demographics of the area and find out what it costs to buy a house and what the taxes are. Schlozman wants graduating residents to realize they need to be sure they can afford to live where they’re going to work. “Now more than ever, there’s uncertainty as to what future salaries will be,” he says. “This is a risk right now as we go through this transition in medicine.”

Vicki Gerson has been writing medical articles for more than two decades. She lives in Northbrook, Ill.


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