How Should A Doctor Learn About Personal Finance?

By Jimmy Turner, MD
The Physician Philosopher

It is the time of year when freshly minted interns are about to be made, and graduating residents are about to become brand new attending physicians.  So, I thought it might be helpful to outline how I created and then maintained my personal finance knowledge base during those times of transition.  Specifically, this post is aimed at answering, “How Should A Doctor Learn About Personal Finance and Money?”

My hope is that after you read this post, you will be prepared to create and then maintain an adequate knowledge of money and personal finance.  There is some up-front work to be done, but once that is accomplished you’ll be able to maintain your knowledge base with only a minimal amount of work.

This blog aims to help doctors to become financially independent so that you can practice medicine because you want to and not because you have to because of being dependent on a paycheck.  I hope this post helps those who are starting their personal finance journey (or maintaining it!) to get started off on the right foot.

The Process – Doctors Learning About Personal Finance

There are many ways for doctors to learn about personal finance and money.  Let’s spend some time describing what I think will work for you (because it has worked for me).

Like titrating a drug in the operating room, our goal is to get to first get to a steady state and then to maintain that steady state until we no longer need it.  We must first upload some basic financial knowledge before we can maintain what we know.

Getting to Steady State

The first step – getting to a steady state – usually happens through a knowledge bolus up front.

There are a few different ways this can happen:

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Sometimes, I prefer to read the books on my kindle.  Other times, I prefer to listen to the books through audible. It depends on when and where I’ll be able to get the time in to get the reading/listening done.

For many, listening might be easier.  Books can be listened to while you are doing some other necessary task like washing dishes, driving to/from work, or exercising. In fact, I am currently working on getting an audible version of The Physician Philosopher’s Guide to Personal Finance produced for this exact reason.  I want to make it accessible to busy physicians!

Below, you’ll find the primers that I recommend to you to get caught up to speed as quickly as possible.  In doing so, you’ll notice that I take into account the limited time you might have as a new intern or new attending physician.

Maintaining Your Knowledge

Once you have an adequate knowledge base, it is not enough to stop there. Doctors must continue to learn about personal finance and money.

You might maintain by continuing to consume more books on personal finance.  However, this takes a considerable amount of time, and – depending on your interest level in the subject – you may not be interested in contributing that time.

So, for the maintenance phase, I typically recommend one personal finance book per year.  Or, in lieu of that, you should consider subscribing to a physician finance specific blog (you can subscribe to The Physician Philosopher Blog here) or podcast that you intend to learn from each week.

Unlike a book, which takes hours, blog posts might take you 5 minutes to read.  A podcast, while longer, can be listened to more readily while doing other things as mentioned above.

With all of that laid out, here are my recommendations for the various times of transition as noted below.

How Should A Doctor Learn About Money?

First, you should know that I didn’t create my personal finance knowledge base until I was a graduating resident. No one around me was pushing me to learn this stuff – which explains why I am starting a personal finance curriculum for the medical students at Wake Forest.  Despite a delayed start, we will be okay.  However, I don’t want that to happen to you.

Second, I know that you have a very limited amount of time!  Your first job is to learn your craft.  Become a great doctor.  If you cannot learn about personal finance while doing that, please do not put the cart before the horse.  Focus on your training.

With that out of the way, here are my recommendations for creating and maintaining your personal finance knowledge base as an intern.  Remember, the books that I list below can be read or listened to depending on your time constraints. 

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Reaching Steady State

If you can only find fifteen to thirty minutes to read one thing, then I recommend to you the free PDF called “If you can: How Millennials Can Get Rich Slowly“.  It is written by Dr. Bill Bernstein, a retired neurologist turned financial advisor.  In this small pamphlet, Bernstein walks you through the five most important financial hurdles and how to deal with each.  He even recommends additional reading at the end of each hurdle.

For those who find Bernstein’s primer interesting, or who are looking for a book on the subject, I’d recommend any of the following books to get you started.  All of the books listed below should take you less than 5 hours to read, which is important given the nature of being a busy intern!

The Maintenance Stage

After consuming one or two of the books mentioned above, your job now is to simply maintain your knowledge base.

At this point, everyone tends to take a different focus.  So, I’ve separated my recommendations below based on your needs.  In each section, you’ll find a mixture of blogs and podcasts.  I’ve broken them down into one I view as the four most important categories for physician finance (investing, behavioral finance, financial independence, and student loan debt).

In order to make specific recommendations that are not overwhelming, the list below is not all inclusive.  If you feel that there are other resources you prefer over the ones I have mentioned below, please leave a comment at the end of the post to let us know who you prefer for your maintenance of personal finance knowledge and why!

Recommended Maintenance Blogs

I started to list specific physician finance blogs that I recommend when I first wrote this post.  Then, I realized that there are just too many good blogs out there to count.

In fact, last time I checked, there are over 80 finance blogs written by/for doctors.  So, I recommend you check out the list of blogs out there and pick a few to follow that suit your interests and the writing style you most enjoy.

Here is an (almost) comprehensive list of physician finance bloggers by White Coat Investor.   There are over 60-70 blogs mentioned there. In it, you’ll surely find something that you would enjoy and that fits your interests.

Maintenance Podcasts

Another resource worth mentioning here includes financial podcasts.  They are a sure fire way to maintain your knowledge after doctors learn about money.

So that I avoid offending anyone, I’m only going to mention the podcasts that are specifically geared towards personal finance.  There are other podcasts I listen to regularly, but their focus is not specifically on personal finance.

The Financial Residency podcast, which is operated by Ryan Inman – a fee-only financial advisor who is married to a physician.  The focus here tends to be pretty well-rounded.  As the name suggests, Ryan is trying to fill in some of the financial literacy gap that exists in residency training. And, if you are looking for an ultra-short physician focused financial podcast, Ryan also has The Physician Finance Minute podcast.

Here is my interview with Ryan on the Financial Residency podcast.

The White Coat Investor isn’t just a blog.  He also features the WCI podcast. It comes out once each week, and is a solid source of information for maintaining your financial knowledge.

The White Coat Investor Interviews The Physician Philosopher

If you are a woman physician looking for personal finance talks specific to you, Dr. Carrie Reynolds has a segment on her Hippocratic Hustle podcast called Friends Talk Finance where she and Wealthy Mom MD (aka Dr. Bonnie Koo) discuss personal finance.  Here is the episode where Dr. Koo announced the transition to Wealthy Mom MD as an example.

Outside of the physician specific world, there is one other podcast that I listen to semi-regularly called Choose FI.  This podcast is hosted by Brad and Jonathan.  It is a podcast focused on financial independence.  While not specifically geared towards doctors, it is high-yield and good to help you keep the right money perspective.

Take Home: How Should Doctors Learn About Personal Finance?

Investing in SyndicationsHopefully, this post answered how doctors should learn about money.  I also hope that you found some resources you were not familiar with before you read it.

At the very minimum, I hope you found it helpful how I maintain my knowledge base after I learned about money in the first place.  It takes a lot less time than you think.

Remember, financial independence is one of the few tools that can truly prevent and treat the burnout that runs rampant in our profession.  Knowledge is power in this space.  I encourage you to make the most of the resources that are out there so that you can continue to practice medicine because you want to, and not because you have to.

How did you learn about and maintain your knowledge about personal finance?  How do you think others doctors should learn about personal finance?  Are there resources you use that I left out?  Leave a comment below.



  1. Chris

    Great article Jimmy! Nice little refresher too, not only for those newly coming in residents.

    I see the Deacs reference. You still in the Winston area?

    We live in Clemmons.


    • ThePhysicianPhilosopher

      I’m not too far from you at all. Less than ten minutes from you. What line of work are you in?

  2. Chris

    Pharmacist at NH in Winston. Float between MPH and FMC.

    • ThePhysicianPhilosopher

      Got it. I used to moonlight at MPH as a resident. I’m an attending at Baptist now (started my third year this month).

  3. Brent Lacey

    Great perspective! I love the analogy of titrating a medicine to steady state. There’s definitely an “activation energy” to the financial literacy process. When I’m coaching someone, I usually have the greatest amount of work in the first few sessions. It’s always so gratifying to see them hit “steady state,” like a light bulb suddenly goes on. Keep up the great work!

    • ThePhysicianPhilosopher

      Thanks, man.

      Once we are at steady state, it certainly doesn’t take as much to keep going. Getting there can be a steep climb, but fortunately personal finance doesn’t have to be complicated. So, we can make that steep climb pretty short.

      Jimmy / TPP


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