6 things to know about physician net worth, debt

Physicians generally seem to be smart with their money, allocating it between paying down debts, spending, investing and saving, according to Medscape's "Physician Debt & Net Worth Report 2016."

The Medscape survey, which included responses from 19,183 physicians across 26 specialties, gives a full financial picture of the professionals in the medical field, including estimated net worth, debt, and even if they feel competitive about income or appearance of wealth.  

Here are six top findings from on the survey on physician net worth, debt and wealth.

1. Physcians' net worth correlates with compensation levels.

Both orthopedists and cardiologists were among the top three specialties by compensation, earning $443,000 and $410,000 respectively, and appeared among the top three specialties with the highest estimated net worth. Pediatricians and family medicine physicians were among the bottom three earners with compensation of $204,000 and $207,000 respectively, and also among the bottom three specialties with the lowest net worth, according to Medscape.

2. Among all physicians, net worth improves over time. Physicians under age 28 overwhelmingly reported net worth under $500,000 (94 percent). However, in the age 40-44 bracket, this proportion is down to 42 percent, and by the age 65-69 bracket, only 11 percent reported net worth of less than $500,000.

3. Female physicians had a much lower net worth than male physicians, likely because they earn 24 percent less than their male peers. Almost one half of men reported net worth of more than $1 million, while only a third of women could say the same. Though men were slightly more likely to have more debt, the two genders came up roughly equal when it came to debt and expenses.

4. Some specialties have considerably higher student loans debt, including emergency medicine and family medicine. In both specialties, one in three physicians are still paying off school loans. Gastroenterologists and rheumatologists were the least likely to be paying off loans, with 16 percent of physicians in both specialties still paying loans. While some of this disparity can be explained by compensation, it is not known why some specialties fare better than others in paying off school debt, according to Medscape.

5. Nearly three-quarters of physicians have not experienced a significant financial loss in the past year. However, the most common recent financial losses among physicians include losses in bad investments or the stock market (12 percent) and losses due to practice issues (10 percent). The top specialties that experienced financial losses due to practice issues were nephrologists, plastic surgeons, uroglogists and ophthalmologists.

6. Most physicians claim to not feel competitive about earnings or appearance of wealth. The least competitive specialties include nephrology (9 percent) and infectious disease, neurology and pediatrics (10 percent). The most competitive specialties tended to be hospital-based. These include radiology (18 percent), critical care (17 percent), anesthesiology, emergency medicine, orthopedics, plastic surgery, cardiology and urology (16 percent). Medscape notes that women are less likely to feel competitive about wealth.   


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