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  • Writer's pictureShyam Murali

In the midst of chaos, be prepared (financial readiness for after residency) by Ben Wurst, DO, PGY-3

Updated: Mar 18, 2020

Dr. Wurst has a deep interest in all things finance, as it relates to being a physician in the real world. He has read extensively on the subject and shared what he learned with the rest of the EM residents at Mercy St. Vincent. Today, we are sharing some pearls that he put together for the graduating residents.


As we enter this new "phase" in our training I’d like to offer a reminder for being prepared financially. We are the frontline of medicine. We have a physically, mentally, and spiritually demanding position. It is imperative that we are prepared financially for ourselves and our families. For most of us, this is the first healthcare emergency/ pandemic we have seen but it will not be our last. We need to be protected and that means having INSURANCE and an EMERGENCY FUND.

Disclaimer: I am not a financial expert and my advice should not replace that of a financial advisor, CPA, or attorney

STEP 1: Emergency Fund

You NEED 3-6 months of expenses in readily available liquid assets. This is step 1; do not pass. I’m talking about the bare bones (rent/mortgage, food, gas, car payment, etc). Having money tied up in retirement or investments doesn’t count. This money should be in a high-yield savings account, checking, or cash. If your basement floods or your parents get sick, pull the money out of this fund and re-fill it over time. This step is the most important. Read more here.

STEP 2: Disability Insurance

As far as being a doctor goes, this is the most important insurance you can have after malpractice. GET IT NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY. You need more than what your group/job is offering. It is significantly cheaper as a resident and you will not need a “screening exam” if you do it now. Do not wait until June, DO THIS NOW. You can increase coverage easily in a few months when you’re making the big bucks. Read about it here. Barring any chronic issues, you’re looking for own-occupation insurance. This is expensive but if you ever need it you’ll be glad. I recommend one of the people on the White Coat Investor recommended list.

STEP 3: Life Insurance

TERM. TERM. TERM. DO NOT BUY WHOLE LIFE. If you’re married, getting married, or if you have children you want life insurance above and beyond what your employer offers. This is cheap stuff compared to disability. The idea here is that you insure until you have enough money to retire or you can “self insure." I haven’t purchased this yet but white coat investor does a great job explaining how. If you have a “financial advisor” be weary if they offer you anything other than TERM LIFE INSURANCE. Again, DO NOT BUY A WHOLE LIFE POLICY.

STEP 4: Umbrella Insurance

If you’ve made it this far you’re sitting pretty. The idea behind umbrella insurance is that it picks up where other policies leave off. Homeowners, boat, auto, and renters insurance can be skimpy in certain areas. For some of us it may make sense to have an umbrella policy. Personally, I haven’t even made it here yet but you should know about it.

Remember, during this time that it is our calling to take care of others but in order to do that we must first take care of ourselves. If you have any questions let me know.

Stack that chedda,

Ben Wurst

Self Appointed Chief of Financial Affairs

Dr. Wurst shared a few other valuable resources with us to keep learning about financial preparedness:

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