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Doctors Reflect on a Tough Year and Financial Wake-up Call

New survey finds renewed focus on personal finance and student debt, despite feeling burnt out from COVID-19 NEW YORK, NY...

Published May 18, 2021

New survey finds renewed focus on personal finance and student debt, despite feeling burnt out from COVID-19

NEW YORK, NY — May 18, 2021 — According to a new survey by Laurel Road, KeyBank’s digital bank, and The White Coat Investor, an online community for doctors, the pandemic has been a financial wake-up call for doctors, as two-fifths (39%) said practicing throughout 2020 and COVID-19 made them realize that they are not as financially prepared as they should be in their profession, with a striking half (48%) of women noting this compared to one-third (33%) of men.

The survey of 750 U.S. physicians and dentists looked to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the financial practices, goals and investments of doctors – a community that graduates with an average debt of $200,000.[1] The results highlight the toll this past year has had on this community, with nearly a quarter (23%) saying that throughout 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, they seriously considered leaving their profession altogether due to stress or burnout; this sentiment was higher for women (38%) than men (18%).

Preparing for a positive year ahead, two-thirds (66%) of doctors plan to be more financially focused in 2021 to benefit their career and personal financial security compared to 2020, with 74% of women making this plan versus 60% of men. Those looking to build this financial security can utilize Laurel Road for Doctors, a new suite of financial and banking products tailored specifically to physicians and dentists to help them manage student debt and meet their financial goals.

“Findings from this survey further brought to light the challenges doctors and dentists face beyond the pandemic. We know that at this time, they’re even more conscientious of their spending and financial habits,” said Alyssa Schaefer, Chief Experience Officer at Laurel Road. “Our goal at Laurel Road is to help with the big and small decisions surrounding financials by providing flexible access to products that fit easily into doctors’ lives.”

Doctors are Playing the Long Game for Financial Success

Over half (54%) of doctors spent more time on personal finances in 2020 compared to the previous year, with 63% of women noting this compared to only 48% of men. Additionally, almost three-quarters (74%) of doctors believe there’s a direct correlation between proactive short-term financial behaviors and long-term financial success. Many plan to engage in a number of financial activities this year, with the top five including:

  • Reorganizing their finances overall — 41%
  • Speaking to a financial planner — 34%
  • Reassessing student loans — 31%
  • Refinancing my mortgage — 17%
  • Opening a 529 plan — 14%

Physicians and dentists aged 25 to 40 are out-pacing older generations in some of these financial activities, with this age group leading the charge on reorganizing their finances overall (44% vs. 30% of 41-56-year-olds), reassessing student loans (36% vs. 18% of 41-56-year-olds), and opening a 529 plan (17% vs. 6% of 41-56-year-olds).

“Financial education is critical to doctors and most doctors want to be more financially prepared.  White Coat Investor was founded to help doctors and other high earners have the resources and partners required to be able to manage their financial lives. It takes time, but you can do it, and we can help,” said Jim Dahle, Founder of The White Coat Investor.

Financial Literacy is a Priority for Doctors Planning for the Future

Looking ahead, the majority of doctors plan to grow their financial knowledge. When asked to rate their current financial literacy in managing their personal or practice finances on a scale of 0 to 10 (0 being the lowest), only 4% rated themselves a 10. By contrast, when asked to do the same for their future financial literacy, half (50%) of respondents rated their desired level to be at a 10.

Doctors Aren’t Waiting on Investing

Many doctors noted that investments were of particular interest during the pandemic, with nearly one-third (31%) investing more because of 2020 and COVID-19, and the same number (31%) investing more because of the market downturn. Men focused on this more than women, with 23% noting they invested more compared to only 14% of women.

These physicians and dentists aren’t afraid to take a chance with their investments either, as 33% said they plan to invest in riskier investments this year in hopes of achieving a higher return.

Laurel Road for Doctors’ new Financial Insights platform is designed to help grow doctor’s financial literacy, with peer-comparison data tools, customized plans for financial goals, and personal finance content based on career stage, specialty, and location.



Laurel Road and The White Coat Investor surveyed 750 physicians and dentists across the United States from February 25, 2021 to March 8, 2021 using an email invitation and online survey. The results were compiled by OnePoll, a corporate member of the AAPOR and adheres to the AAPOR Code of Professional Ethics and Practice.

About Laurel Road

Laurel Road is a digital bank and brand of KeyBank that provides tailored offerings to support the financial wellbeing of healthcare and business professionals. Laurel Road’s banking and lending solutions, including Laurel Road CheckingSM, Laurel Road High Yield Saving® Account, Laurel Road Student Loan Cashback® Card, Student Loan Refinancing, Mortgages, Personal Loans and more, provide our members with a simplified, personalized experience that helps them better navigate their financial journey and achieve life’s goals. Additionally, Laurel Road has reimagined banking and financial management for physician and dentists through Laurel Road for Doctors, a tailored digital experience made up of banking, insights and exclusive benefits to provide the financial help and peace of mind they need through each career stage. Since 2013, Laurel Road has helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $7 billion in federal and private school loans. For more information, visit https://www.laurelroad.com. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association. All products offered by KeyBank N.A. Member FDIC. NMLS # 399797. Equal Housing Lender. © 2021 KeyCorp® All Rights Reserved. Laurel Road is a federally registered service mark of KeyCorp.


About The White Coat Investor

The White Coat Investor is the most widely-read, physician-specific, personal finance and investing website in the world. Founded by practicing physician Jim Dahle, the White Coat Investor helps those who wear a white coat and other high-income professionalism get a “fair shake” on Wall Street by providing invaluable financial resources including a blog, monthly investing and real estate newsletters, a 12-week Financial Bootcamp email course to jumpstart financial literacy, two podcasts, YouTube videos, three best selling books, online courses, a live conference, a forum, a Facebook group, social media feeds, a scholarship, and a high-quality student loan advice service. Additionally, the White Coat Investor connects its readers to the “good guys” in the financial services industry that offer good advice and services at a fair price. Visit www.whitecoatinvestor.com to learn more. 


Media Contacts:

KWT Global for Laurel Road


[email protected]


[1] AAMC report “Physician Education Debt and the Cost to Attend Medical School” released in October 2020: https://store.aamc.org/downloadable/download/sample/sample_id/368/

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