The Hidden Costs of Financial Stress in Med School

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financial stress in medical school

Are money worries affecting your overall wellness? 

Stressing out over how to pay rent and credit card bills, afford residency applications, and still make ends meet can have a huge impact on your health.

And it’s especially rough when you’re a medical student, still years away from earning an income. A 2008 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that approximately 50% of medical students experience burnout, suggesting this isn’t just a few isolated cases.

Any form of stress can take a toll on your health, and your rigorous medical training schedule is one example. But stress-related to financial issues can be especially toxic to your body and mind.

How money worries affect your physical and mental health 

As a doctor-in-training, you already know how prolonged exposure to cortisol can result in harmful, long-lasting physical ailments. Chronic stress brought on by worrying about money can bring on a slew of physical health problems including weight gain or loss, migraines, sleep problems, ulcers and digestive issues, greater rates of heart disease, and even a lower life expectancy.

The Mayo Clinic found in 2016 that medical students are more susceptible to alcohol abuse than students in non-medical programs, so the risks associated with self-medication are serious as well.

Moreover, doctors list finances as the second leading cause of depression in their profession. And studies show that people who stress over debt have higher rates of depression and anxiety than those who are debt-free. 

Unhealthy behaviors and addiction

Financial stress can also cause you to take on unhealthy behaviors, from overeating to gambling, to excessive smoking, to alcohol and drug misuse.

Many of these behaviors are not only unhealthy to your body and brain; they can also cost a lot of money—and potentially your career.  

Relationship break-downs

Stressing out about money can have a significant impact on your energy levels, mood and temperament—and create conflict in your relationships. 

Being preoccupied with money worries makes it hard to focus on anything, even things that you find enjoyable. 

Money is often cited as the most common issue couples argue about. Left unchecked, financial stress can wear away at the foundations of even the strongest relationships.

4 ways to start reducing the stress today

There is no magic formula to tackling financial stress. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. 

Begin improving your financial, physical and mental health simultaneously—and relatively quickly—with these four tips:

  1. Educate yourself about debt and interest: Higher interest rates make your debt burden heavier to carry. So educate yourself about how interest accumulates over time, and research where you may find financing options at lower rates. Increase your financial literacy to ensure you’re getting the best rates possible.
  1. Refinance toxic debt like credit cards and payday loans: Refinancing existing debt through something like a personal loan, allows you to combine all of your debt into one monthly payment. This is often a great option, as refinancing typically leads to lower and fixed interest rates.
  1. Talk to a certified financial planner who specializes in helping physicians: Obtain a free consultation with an expert who understands the ins-and-outs of the medical profession will be able to provide custom advice at all stages of your career. They can also create a wealth plan that takes your medical school debt into account, and follow you through having your own practice, all the way to retirement.
  1. Try meditation: Meditation for doctors-in-training has been shown to reduce burnout and stress, while increasing resiliency. Find a meditation app you can use regularly, allowing you to quickly recenter, recharge, and refocus–no matter how busy or stressed out you are.

We’re here to help

We know how overwhelming it is to be in your situation. Why? Because as practicing physicians, we’ve been where you are. Panacea Financial was created to help medical students just like you access affordable financing at fair rates. 

While traditional banks focus on credit scores and current income, we think your medical achievements are more representative of your financial maturity. Just because you may be in debt now, doesn’t mean you will be forever. Which is why managing your financial situation now is so critical. 

To learn more about how Panacea can help you through med school, residency, and beyond, check out this article. 

If you’re ready to apply for an affordable and accessible personal loan through Panacea Financial, you can do so here in as little as eight minutes. 

Wherever you are on your professional journey, we’re here to help. 

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