Profiles in Happiness: Which Physicians Enjoy Life Most?

Carol Peckham

Disclosures

March 22, 2012

In This Article

How Do Physicians Gauge the State of Their Personal Finances?

As of December 2011, a Gallup poll reported that 52.5% of Americans considered themselves to be thriving, 43.7% were struggling, and 3.7% were suffering.[5] Our Medscape survey indicates that many physicians also perceive themselves as having financial difficulties. Over 38.8% of the physicians in active practice who responded said that they had no or minimal savings for their age and stage. Only 12.8% of these physicians believe their savings to be more than adequate. Such responses could reflect the more difficult economic climate for the younger generation of physicians. Of note, well over 80% of physicians in our survey who are semi- or completely retired believe that they have adequate or more than adequate savings for their stage in life, but they comprise only 15% of all who responded.

When looking by groups at the percentage of physicians having no savings and unmanageable debt, it was not surprising to find more generalists in the top 5 (family physicians 8.6%, general surgeons 7.4%, pediatricians 7.1%, and intensivists 6.8%). The specialty with the most physicians who reported unmanageable debt, however, was plastic surgery at 9.3% (see Table 1).

Table 1. Physicians and Financial Status

Specialty Have more
than
adequate
savings,
manageable
or no debt
Have
adequate
savings,
manageable
or no debt
Have
minimal
savings,
manageable
or no debt
Have no
savings and
unmanageable
debt
Anesthesiology 15.1% 51.0% 23.3% 3.8%
Cardiology 16.8% 48.0% 24.3% 4.7%
Critical Care 12.5% 42.7% 32.8% 6.8%
Dermatology 17.5% 49.4% 20.5% 4.3%
Diabetes & Endocrinology 12.6% 45.9% 28.5% 6.3%
Emergency Medicine 13.6% 49.2% 25.9% 6.3%
Family Medicine 10.3% 43.5% 32.3% 8.6%
Gastroenterology 18.1% 46.9% 26.0% 3.8%
General Surgery 13.6% 44.9% 27.7% 7.4%
HIV/ID 14.6% 49.4% 23.8% 3.3%
Internal Medicine 12.5% 42.3% 32.9% 6.3%
Nephrology 12.9% 50.5% 24.3% 4.7%
Neurology 12.0% 45.2% 29.8% 5.9%
Ob/Gyn & Women's Health 15.2% 46.0% 27.3% 6.4%
Oncology 15.7% 51.5% 21.5% 3.9%
Ophthalmology 17.5% 48.7% 22.1% 5.5%
Orthopaedics 20.8% 46.0% 19.9% 6.1%
Other (please specify) 12.6% 47.1% 27.7% 6.5%
Pathology 19.1% 48.1% 21.1% 5.3%
Pediatrics 11.9% 47.2% 28.3% 7.1%
Plastic Surgery 11.4% 40.9% 32.0% 9.3%
Psychiatry & Mental Health 13.3% 45.4% 29.6% 4.5%
Pulmonary Medicine 15.5% 50.3% 24.4% 2.4%
Radiology 21.0% 50.3% 16.6% 4.4%
Rheumatology 15.0% 49.1% 24.8% 3.3%
Urology 19.1% 50.1% 20.0% 5.5%

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