Med School & Financial Literacy
June 27, 2010 1:38 PM   Subscribe

I'm developing a comprehensive financial literacy program for medical school students. What are some key issues I should focus on and what are some effective ways to distribute information?

So far, topic ideas include:
- Budgeting (while in school)
- Understanding financial aid
- Loan forgiveness programs
- Debt Management
- Identity Theft Protection
- Credit Awareness

Methods of distribution:
- Monthly or quarterly luncheons w/guest speakers
-Monthly e-newsletters with financial tips
- Monthly column in school newspaper
- Website with scholarship/fellowship info

I will also hold one-on-one appointments with students and/or parents to discuss financial aid issues.

In the past, I have counseled high school students regarding financial aid, but med school is new territory and I just want to make sure I'm covering all of my bases.

Suggestions are greatly appreciated!  Thanks MeFi!
posted by chara to Work & Money (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Loan amortization tables.

Given that these are medical students they should be able to understand the math behind loan amortization tables. Given this information they can see how varying interest rates or payment amounts affect the outstanding balance of the loans that they have taken on.

The time value of money is a good topic as well. Opportunity costs are also good.
posted by dfriedman at 1:48 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

They are in their early-mid 20's now and many will still be in med school/fellowships/post-docs until their mid-30's. Then they may get decent money but will be managing offices, departments, etc. One recurring issue I've seen in similar students is that they go from relative poverty to relative wealth with no idea of how to transition. And no idea at all as to how to run a multi-employee office or manage a department. So some entry level information on adult financial planning? How to tell good financial advice from bad? Basic business management?
posted by beaning at 2:06 PM on June 27, 2010

Investment and Retirement 101. This would/could form part of the Budgeting module but it will make a tremendous difference to the people's later lives if they start saving sooner rather than later.

I don't think there is anything special about being a doctor that exempts them from the financial basics of 3 - 6 months savings, max out retirement account annually, learn to love mutual funds and start a home buying savings fund, in priority order.

Some of these won't apply in med school, I guess, but its information they need from their very first pay check.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:11 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

You left out insurance. One thing that's emphasized is disability insurance.

For those running practices, it wouldn't hurt to be exposed to "small business 101" and similar concepts.

There will be more information from financial planning-types as they finish residency (the teaching hospitals will typically offer them once or twice), but residents are busier than med students, so it's good to get them now.
posted by chengjih at 2:38 PM on June 27, 2010

basic book-keeping and accounting.
seriously, they will not admit it, but there are some who do not know who to balance a check book. mostly because no one has ever showed them how to do it.
posted by Flood at 3:15 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding insurance and retirement planning. In my experience as a banker/lender, doctors suck at handling money. They spend so much time learning to be a doc, but no time at all learning to deal with the financial windfall that comes with it. (Full disclosure, I'm married to a surgeon and he is no exception to this generalization.) They will get calls from financial planners all over the nation asking them to park money with them. They need a good financial planner that they trust and who can help them make decisions, both because they make a lot and because they are getting a late start on retirement savings. They also need a good insurance person, who will explain disability insurance and liability umbrellas because it is the best day of some people's lives when a doc rear ends them. So I'd talk about all this.
posted by supercapitalist at 3:30 PM on June 27, 2010

As the parent of a med student I love the idea but the distribution, ah, that's another story. They are so focused on learning the medical information that finances is pretty far from their mind. Newsletters and such will probably be ignored but sending it to the parents is another option. They don't have time to attend luncheons because they are either in class or at the clinic but dinner or something in the evening might catch their attention.

You might also try to do this during orientation or during their "second look" weekend because once school starts they are pretty tight on time.
posted by Flacka at 4:30 PM on June 27, 2010

When my partner reached the magical point of having 5 years experience as a programmer, our family income suddenly jumped by about $30,000/year. The transition was surprisingly challenging; we were amazed by how easy it was to spend the money, how many deferred things there were (like home maintenance, a more reliable car, savings) clamoring for attention. At the same time, there was a kind of emotional jolt about going from "middle-class but struggling" to "woo, we have a lot of money" that can be tricky (perhaps for liberals in particular).

When I talked about it with a friend who is a doctor, she said she had experienced something similar, complete with that sense of disorientation and incredulity at how easy it was to spend a much higher income and a kind of guilt at having so much, when her residency ended.

Oh, I see beaning said the same thing. But since I've already typed, I'll post. This is the first thing that jumped into my mind as something doctors would probably experience that might be different from the kind of financial planning info everybody generically needs.
posted by not that girl at 8:10 PM on June 27, 2010

As for method of distribution, all of the options you listed would be good, but I think it'd be useful if it were all organised around a central website, with the newsletter or column used to remind students that the website is there.

A website would be something students could refer back to or print out if they needed the specific details. If you started with just the core information, you could add in-depth specifics over a period of time. Then you'd just have to update/refresh it once a year or so.

You could do the regular luncheons with guest speakers, then put the information from the talk up on the website afterwards. And then maybe an FAQ and a list of resources they could go to for further information.
posted by harriet vane at 3:50 AM on June 28, 2010

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