An assessment of residents' and fellows' personal finance literacy: an unmet medical education need.

TitleAn assessment of residents' and fellows' personal finance literacy: an unmet medical education need.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsAhmad FA, White AJ, Hiller KM, Amini R, Jeffe DB
JournalInt J Med Educ
Date Published2017 May 29
ISSN Number2042-6372

Objectives: This study aimed to assess residents' and fellows' knowledge of finance principles that may affect their personal financial health.

Methods: A cross-sectional, anonymous, web-based survey was administered to a convenience sample of residents and fellows at two academic medical centers.  Respondents answered 20 questions on personal finance and 28 questions about their own financial planning, attitudes, and debt. Questions regarding satisfaction with one's financial condition and investment-risk tolerance used a 10-point Likert scale (1=lowest, 10=highest).  Of 2,010 trainees, 422 (21%) responded (median age 30 years; interquartile range, 28-33).

Results: The mean quiz score was 52.0% (SD = 19.1). Of 299 (71%) respondents with student loan debt, 144 (48%) owed over $200,000.  Many respondents had other debt, including 86 (21%) with credit card debt. Of 262 respondents with retirement savings, 142 (52%) had saved less than $25,000. Respondents' mean satisfaction with their current personal financial condition was 4.8 (SD = 2.5) and investment-risk tolerance was 5.3 (SD = 2.3). Indebted trainees reported lower satisfaction than trainees without debt (4.4 vs. 6.2, F (1,419) = 41.57, p < .001).   Knowledge was moderately correlated with investment-risk tolerance (r=0.41, p < .001), and weakly correlated with satisfaction with financial status (r=0.23, p < .001).

Conclusions: Residents and fellows had low financial literacy and investment-risk tolerance, high debt, and deficits in their financial preparedness.  Adding personal financial education to the medical education curriculum would benefit trainees.  Providing education in areas such as budgeting, estate planning, investment strategies, and retirement planning early in training can offer significant long-term benefits.

Alternate JournalInt J Med Educ
PubMed ID28557777
Faculty Reference: 
Richard Amini, MD