Update on the Financial Wellbeing of Surgical Residents in New England

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Background: Poor personal financial health has been linked to key components of health including burnout, substance abuse, and worsening personal relationships. Understanding the state of resident financial health is key to improving their overall wellbeing.

Study design: A secondary analysis of a survey of New England general surgery resident was performed to understand their financial wellbeing. Questions from the National Financial Capability Study were used to compare to an age- and regionally matched cohort.

Results: Overall, 44% (250/570) of surveyed residents responded. Residents more frequently reported spending less than their income each year compared to the control cohort (54% vs 34% , p<0.01). However, 17% (39/234) of residents reported spending more than their income each year. Sixty five percent of residents (152/234), found it "not at all difficult" to pay monthly bills versus 17% (76/445) of the control cohort (p<0.01). However, 32% (75/234) of residents reported it was "Somewhat" or "Very" difficult to pay monthly bills. Residents more frequently reported they "certainly" or "probably" could "come up with" $2000 in a month compared to the control cohort (85% vs 62% p<0.01). But 16% (37/234) of residents reported they could not. In this survey, 21% (50/234) of residents reported having a personal life insurance policy, 25% (59/234) had disability insurance, 6% (15/234) had a will, and 27% (63/234) had >$300,000 worth of student loans.

Conclusions: Surgical residents have better financial wellbeing than an age- and regionally-matched cohort, but there is still a large proportion who suffer from financial difficulties.