annual physician compensation survey. As usual, anesthesiologists did very well, coming in fourth overall in income. But the more important question is the net worth of physicians. After all, one can make a million dollars a year and still have a zero or negative net worth if they're a profligate spender. For those who are still unfamiliar with basic financial terms, net worth is total assets (house, car, investments, bank accounts) minus total liabilities (mortgage, car payments, school loans, credit card debt).
Never fear, Medscape has a follow up poll asking precisely this question. As to be expected, the more money one makes, the higher the net worth one will attain. In this case, anesthesiologists come in fifth among all physicians, with an average net worth of $2.68 million. The doctors with the highest net worth are the orthopedists. Not surprising since they also make the most money. The lowest net worth belong to family physicians.
The net worth also changes with age. Over 90% of physicians less than 28 years old had net worth of less than $500,000. By age 50, about 55% of doctors have a net worth of over $1 million. And when they reach 65 years old, 49% reported net worth of over $2 million. So be patient all you poor medical students and residents. Your time will come.
What are the major expenses experienced by doctors? Over two thirds have a mortgage to pay. This is followed by car loans, with about one third, and student loans, also about one third. Despite all these expenses, 61% of doctors claim they live within their means with little debt. Only 11% say they live beyond their ability to pay for things like credit card debts.
Most physicians claim to have sharp financial acumen. More than three quarters say they have suffered no significant financial losses in the last year. Eleven percent claim that practice issues had caused them to lose net worth. Just six percent say that they lost money in the stock market in the past twelve months.
When broken down by specialty, anesthesiologists seem to be the doctors who are most likely to play with stocks. Forty percent of anesthesiologists say they lost money in the market, the highest among all physicians. Most other doctors average in the 20's to 30's percentage losing money in stocks. Anesthesiologists are also one of the most likely to make bad choices in real estate and and other investments that cost them money. Overall, anesthesiologists seem to be bad investors, with only 42% reporting not making any financial mistakes in the last year, the absolute lowest number among all the specialties reporting. The endocrinologists seem to be the brightest, with 67% claiming they didn't make any business missteps.
The takeaway message here is that physicians still do well financially. Most of us are smart enough to realize that we need to save more than we spend and build up a nice fat retirement nest egg. And we have the means to do it more than other people. Anesthesiologists should be careful reading all those financial websites while sitting in the OR reading their iPhones. Seems like this leads to worse financial performance. The old adage about investing for the long term may have gotten lost among too many of our anesthesia colleagues.