American Journal of Surgery, 189(2), 2005, 134-139
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? The Survey of Consumer Finances was modified and piloted tested to elicit financial information. The instrument was completed by 612 residents at 8 programs. 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, fewer assets to income, less net wealth to income, and lower retirement savings balance to household income. 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. Graduate medical programs should instruct residents on financial management.