Let’s start with the ugly truth. You’ve probably caught wind that people behind your back are saying that although you may be good at medicine, you're terrible in business.
- You have a “God Complex”
- You give advice but don’t take it
- You live beyond your means
- Your poor bedside manners make you a bad leader
- You’re “too good” to think about money
Pretty tough medicine (pardon the pun). And yet, somehow you were able to get through medical school, start a practice or become a surgeon, amass a base of patients, create a life outside of your job, maintain your CME licensing credits, and answer annoying questions from every single person you meet who discovers you’re a doctor. Moreover, you’ve somehow managed to navigate changes in a healthcare system that no one understands, including the people responsible for creating the system. You manage people, hospital politics, patients, their loved ones and your own family and their needs.
Being a physician is the ultimate balancing act. If this doesn’t qualify you as a strong leader and capable manager, we’re not sure what does.
The real ugly truth is that you toil away within a system where the odds are increasingly stacked against you. While the national average of physician salaries ranges between $135,000 and $290,000 depending upon your chosen field, the average debt load for students graduating medical school is approximately $190,000. How many entrepreneurs start with this kind of debt load and zero customers and still become successful? Now add the fact that you’ve entered the most competitive field in the world that is constantly under attack from regulators and its own customers.
Let’s keep going for a moment. You’re also required to carry insurance that would choke a horse, and if you make that inevitable mistake, it can cause actual human suffering. Not stressful in the least. And that entrepreneur who thinks they’re better at business – they had a 10-year head-start. Oh yeah, and now that everyone has access to the Internet, every single person you meet thinks they know more than you do.
So let’s dispense with the nonsensical notion that doctors are bad businesspeople and talk about real life scenarios. This generation of physicians will make less than previous generations and they will enter the workforce with more debt than any other profession. The controversy swirling around the healthcare system in the United States will only complicate matters further and present new challenges to maintaining a profitable practice.
Making smart business decisions and finding ways to invest in personnel and technology is more a part of practicing medicine than it ever has been. Doctors are held to almost unreasonable standards in this regard; not because they are “too good” to think about it or “hard-wired” differently. Rather it’s because they simply lack the time required to make sound decisions every step of the way.
One of the positive developments in marketplace lending is the recognition that physicians possess an unparalleled work ethic and they are great at earning money. This understanding has led to the rise of specialty lenders who craft debt consolidation plans tailored specifically to physicians. These “doctor loans” are now highly competitive, which has only made the terms and conditions better over time. It’s a fast-growing field that offers some guidance and relief so doctors can save time and money in the long run.
Consolidating outstanding debt and bringing on fresh capital at reasonable rates allows physicians to invest in personnel and infrastructure so they can chart a more manageable debt repayment plan. There are even lenders who work directly with insurance reimbursement programs to create a seamless repayment plan that involves little to no effort from the physician.
This is all good news. Now for the bad news. Creating a strong strategic financial plan won’t do anything to stop your family members from describing their aches and pains at family gatherings. And WebMD will still make everyone else think they know more than you do. Sorry. There’s simply no app for that yet.