A Letter from Our Founders

Panacea founders

Thanks for checking out Panacea Financial and reading about our story. My name is Dr. Ned Palmer and together with Dr. Michael Jerkins founded Panacea Financial due to frustrations from engaging with traditional banks during our medical training. After residency, we had a combined $700,000+ in medical school debt, and along the way experienced life events that forced us to search for loans where we met road block, after road block. Like many of you, we have become experts on medical trainee debt not because we wanted to, but because we had to in order to chart the best path to financial health. 


As a second-year resident, I made a mistake. Like so many, I was suffering under the weight of credit card debt, student loan debt, poor income, and little to no time to dedicate towards fixing these problems. In an attempt to improve my financial life, I searched for solutions. 

At the time, I held over $340,000 in public student loan debt with an interest rate of 7.2%. I had a credit score of 812, and was making $54,000 annually. My student loans were, and are, my largest source of debt so I sought solutions via refinance or delayed repayments. I did not make a mistake in looking for improved financial health, I made the mistake of trying to fit myself into a model that was not designed for me. In engaging with traditional banks and lenders, I was met repeatedly by high interest rates (including one banker who actually told me with a straight face to refinance my loans for a higher interest rate), co-signer requirements, restrictive maximum refinance amounts, or flat out rejections. It felt demeaning to be given ultimate responsibility for my patient’s lives in the hospital, while being told to ask my parents to cosign my loan. 

I shared my frustrations with one of my residency classmates, Dr. Michael Jerkins, and he described a very similar situation: his family had a car accident, and was faced with a significant repair bill. As a 31-year-old physician with a wife, two kids, and a home, he had gone looking for a personal loan to cover the costs, and was told he would need a mandatory co-signer for a loan with sky-high interest rates. We were both senior-level Med-Peds residents, but the banks did not care about the work it took to get there. All they wanted to know is: do you fit into their box of what an ideal customer should look like.

Sitting on Michael’s living room floor that night, we had the same dawning realization: we were not unique. Shirking cultural norms in medicine, we started talking openly to medical students, residents and even attendings. Across the board, we heard the same stories: rejections, unfair interest rates, mandatory co-signers, and an unwillingness to deal with customers outside of their nine-to-five hours. Simply put, there was no recognition of the hard work and perseverance it takes for doctors to get through training and the future we have as high-income earners. 

The idea for Panacea Financial was born out of a badly unmet need: for doctors and doctors-in-training to have a financial company designed specifically for them, and built by a team that understands them. 

While still residents, we tried to see this become a reality. We failed. On our off days, we went to traditional banks and tried to convince them of the unique financial situations doctors find themselves in. Going back to the same banks that had previously denied us as customers and expecting them to understand the need we were trying to serve was wishful thinking. 

After years of struggling to find the right partner, Michael reached out to long-time friend and college-roommate, Tyler Stafford, who had spent more than a decade in the banking sector. Immediately, Tyler recognized the struggles of doctors and doctors-in-training and how traditional banks were incorrectly assessing their value as customers. He committed shortly thereafter, leaving his job to take over the position as CEO of Panacea Financial.

The next step was to bring on the right banking partner to provide us the platform to execute our vision. With Tyler’s knowledge of the banking industry, we came to Primis because they had the ability to think outside the box, shared our interest in addressing unmet needs for those ignored by traditional banks, and as a publicly traded bank with several billion dollars in assets, they could provide the highest levels of support to facilitate our vision. We knew we’d found the right partner when Primis CEO, Dennis Zember, began the meeting by describing his own frustrations with the banking industry’s unfair treatment of non-traditional borrowers like doctors and doctors-in-training.

We officially launched November 1, 2020 and our initial products are targeted to meet the needs of those who need them most: medical students, residents and attendings who need simple, straightforward access to funding now.

As a consumer, I made a mistake: I attempted to engage with traditional banks. It led to shame, frustration, and an increase in my financial stress. Panacea Financial was founded to prevent that same experience for any other doctor or doctor-in-training. That’s why you’ll see features that specifically address the nuances of medicine in all of our products.

  • We have 24-hour a day customer service because we work doctor’s hours, not banker’s hours.
  • We do not require a co-signer.
  • We use a credit model that emphasizes your career choice, because we believe you’re so much more than a credit score.
  • We have no maximum loan amount for student loans because we know that medical school is the most expensive professional school. 

We are here to improve your financial wellbeing with products designed for you, services tailored to you, and support when you need it. 

Thank you for your interest in Panacea Financial, please feel free to reach out to us at any time.

 

Ned Palmer, MD, MPH

ned@panaceafinancial.com

Michael Jerkins, MD, M.Ed.

michael@panaceafinancial.com

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