Background: We examined three research questions: How do residents' debts and savings compare to the general public? How do surgical residents' financial choices compare to other residents? How may institutions help residents' personal financial decisions? Methods: The Survey of Consumer Finances was modified and piloted tested to elicit financial information. The instrument was completed by 612 residents at 8 programs. Results: Only 60% of residents budgeted expenses, and 25% and 10% maintained cash balances <$611 and unpaid credit card balances >$10,000, respectively. Compared with controls, residents held greater median ratios of debt to household income (2.46 vs. 1.06, P <0.0001), fewer assets to income (0.64 vs. 2.28, P <0.0001), less net wealth to income -1.43 vs. 0.90, P <0.0001), and lower retirement savings balance to household income (0.01 vs. 0.12, P <0.0001). Surgery residents were the least financially conservative group. Mean annual resident contributions to retirement accounts were $1532 higher at institutions with versus without retirement plans (P <0.01). Conclusions: Resident debts are higher and savings lower than the general public. This behavior is most common among surgery residents. Residents save more for retirement when they are eligible for tax-deferred retirement plans. Graduate medical programs should instruct residents on financial management.
- Personal finances
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