Medical Doctors and Debt- What’s the Proper Treatment?

Medical Doctors and Debt- What’s the Proper Treatment?

Despite the common perception of wealth for medical doctors, their financial trajectories can be fraught with risk early in their careers. After many years of schooling and the debt that education requires, a doctor transitions to earning around $60,000 annually for 3 or more years while they continue their training through a residency and maybe chief years or fellowship(s).

Often this coincides debt with major life decisions, such as buying a home or starting a family, which can add quickly to their expenses. Carrying all that debt in parallel with major life decisions can be cumbersome to navigate.

What is the best strategy for mitigating the high cost of that debt? The answer may surprise you – charge it to a credit card.

Seemingly counterintuitive, running up a balance on a credit card and leveraging a balance transfer can be the best choice for physicians. Here’s why:

A balance transfer is a way to move debt from one card to another for 0% APR over a set period. During your low-earning years in residency, you will accumulate quite a bit of debt at what seem like brutal interest rates. But, towards the end of residency, you can do a balance transfer, making minimum payments towards the transferred amount without interest until your higher income as an attending physician kicks in. Just months into your new role, you can make sizable payments on this debt until it is eliminated.

The advantage of a balance transfer is that while credit card interest rates are initially worse, personal loans can also carry high rates without the opportunity to freeze the interest on the principal. Predatory interest expenses that compound, are often how the worst financial impacts originate, making balance transfers a solid option for physicians carrying significant debt.

Alternative strategies do exist. For example, personal physician loans from lenders such as Panacea and SunTrust are a great option if the credit-and-balance-transfer strategy is not for you.

Axias prides itself on developing an array of financial tools and expertise for its many physicians to use as they develop their careers. Join us to take advantage of these opportunities!

*Not to be relied upon as financial advice; please consult a qualified professional regarding your individual circumstances. HTK does not offer private lending advice.

For more guidance on physician loans and debt, visit us at

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