|Six reasons to talk with physicians about student loan debt|
By Joy Sorensen Navarre, Financial Advisor, Foster Klima & Company, Inc.
Doctors are knowledge-driven people; therefore, the best way to reach them regarding financial matters is to inform and educate them. Unfortunately, many health care systems fail to educate physicians and advanced practice providers about their top personal financial concern: student loan debt.
As a financial advisor, I discovered the emotional impact of this information gap when a physician dissolved into tears in my office. She told me that a hefty $2,500 monthly student loan payment would force her and her spouse to postpone their dreams of buying a home and starting a family. Imagine her relief when she learned about free federal loan repayment and forgiveness programs available to ease the burden. Over time I discovered she was not alone. Many medical professionals carry substantial educational loan debt and lack the knowledge about programs to help with managing their debt.
To solve the problem, I reached out to leaders in hospitals and universities. Today, an exciting campaign to raise awareness about student debt relief for medical professionals is underway across the country. It’s being led by physician recruitment professionals, hospital executives, physicians, pharmacists and financial advisors.
Here are six reasons you should talk about student debt relief for medical professionals with the administrators and physicians at your organization.
Reason 1: Most physicians and advanced pracatice providers graduate with a staggering amount of educational debt.
Reason 2: Student loan repayment options abound, yet many physicians, hospitals and recruiters are unaware or make incorrect decisions.
A recent text from a medical resident demonstrates the information gap. He wrote, “Does loan forgiveness apply to residents or just to students? I’m not aware of too many loan forgiveness programs once you’re in residency.” The answer is: Yes, many programs do apply to residents. The vast majority of debt relief applies to borrowers during the repayment period.
Reason 3: Physician distress has been associated with harmful effects on patient care.
Through the awareness campaign, medical professionals overcome feelings of isolation and hopelessness when it comes to managing their large student loan debt. Learning about loan repayment resources helps physicians take control. The spouse of a New York University medical resident confided, “After talking to you, I don’t feel despair about our student loans.”
Reason 4: Physicians with higher levels of student debt pursuing primary care may need repayment support.
One hospital provides a student loan repayment lecture to all new medical residents during orientation. The hospital partners with financial advisors who provide free consultations to help the residents determine their best loan repayment option. With resources for loan forgiveness or income-driven repayment plans, medical residents may feel open to choosing primary care careers. See studentaid.ed.gov for more information.
Reason 5: Controversy makes headlines more often than common sense.
Reason 6: Physicians are slow to act regarding their personal student loans without adequate preparation or confirmation of a hypothesis.
Some physicians wish to validate that their loan repayment plan is solid; they wish to test and confirm. Other physicians find the topic to be confusing and troublesome. In my experience, when physicians feel informed to take action during residency and fellowships, they save themselves and their families substantial dollar amounts.
Keep the conversation going!
Choosing the best plan depends on individual circumstances and future career plans. One size does not fit all. A borrower may wish to use the links in this article to fully understand their options and may also wish to talk with a tax or financial advisor for more information.
Advisors from Foster Klima & Company, Inc. are available to discuss student loan forgiveness and repayment strategies. They give presentations at hospitals and conferences across the country. Look for them at the Public Service Loan Forgiveness booth at the 2014 ASPR Annual Conference.