COVID is tough on everyone. It will get worse if doctors default. Financial stress is the unspoken struggle on the healthcare horizon.

Our nation’s doctors are under tremendous stress. Stress at the hospital is obvious. Many are working long hours. There is a constant fear of COVID exposure. They may even take care of their friends and family in the hospital.

Financial Stress

Everyone else sees doctors driving nice cars and living in nice neighborhoods. But doctors are under financial stress.

Doctors understand stress at work. Disaster situations happen. There is preparation. There are algorithms. That doesn’t make it easy. But it is what we signed up for.

The financial challenges are new. They affect not only working-class families but also doctors.

Doctors have bills to pay.

Revenue Stalled at Hospitals

Hospitals are overrun with patients, but their revenue-generating functions have all but halted. Everything that can wait is waiting. There may not be funds available to pay essential staff.

Shifts get canceled. Pay cuts happen. Those working dread an email about compensation changes.

Outpatient medicine closed. The only mechanism to pay staff is revenue generated from doctors seeing patients.

There is a dichotomy. Some doctors are busy, and some have no patients. Some want to help but their skills are not in high demand during this crisis.

Funds are diminishing. Financial protection for doctors is minimal in the stimulus package.

There is no backup. There is no reserve fund. Taking on debt to survive the pandemic may not be possible.

Big hospital systems can survive temporarily with less revenue. Small hospitals were already struggling. Private practices are closing. Some doctors have no income at all.

But doctors must okay because they’re rich, after all.

Unpaid Shifts

Doctors want to help. We are willing to put ourselves in harm’s way for the greater good.

Doctors without a practice or patients are being asked to “volunteer” in the hospital. By volunteer, they don’t mean sign up for a paid shift. They mean come in and work for free.

Put yourself at risk. Practice a type of medicine where you lack training. And by the way, do it for free.

When other first responders work, they get hazard pay or at least their regular paycheck. Since doctors are rich, the perception goes, they can volunteer.

Unprotected Working Conditions

The lack of protective equipment is well- known. COVID deaths in healthcare workers are known. There is no debate. Treating COVID patients comes with significantly increased risk compared to normal work.

When hospital staff speaks out about their safety they are at risk of termination. Protecting yourself is disaster preparedness 101. Those rules do not seem to apply.

There are nightly sing-offs thanking healthcare workers. They cheer for the work done inside the walls of the hospital. Those cheers are appreciated.

Anxious Families of MDs

Families waiting at home also need cheers. The same families where finances are tight because of forced “volunteering.” The families that worry they may default on their mortgage. The families that worry their husband, wife, mom, or dad may get the virus at work.

Who will provide for them? Who will be there to tuck them in at night?

Doctors understand the virus. They understand pathophysiology. They understand high-risk groups. Their families may not understand. This time is more stressful for those with a loved one on the front lines.

The stresses of COVID19 on doctors extend outside the hospital. Stress in the hospital is lesser for some.

What happens when doctors defaults?

Doctors can default in their practice and they can default at home.

When revenue stops coming in payments stop going out. The first thing to go for private practice is the doctor’s salary. The owner gets paid last. Next go leases, utilities, and other monthly service contracts.

Tough decisions are made about the staff. When there is no revenue and no patients it is tough to continue paying a full staff. This means layoffs for receptionists, nurses, and others.

At home, doctors face the same pressures that every other family is facing. The bills still show up during the COVID crisis.

There are tough decisions about which bills to pay. Signing up for unemployment may be necessary. It is difficult to imagine a doctor at the unemployment office when there is such a great demand for their work. It is happening now.

Prepare for Financial Emergency

The COVID crisis will pass. Lessons will be learned. Life will not be the same. Medicine will not be the same.

Being a doctor is not as financially secure as we thought. Emergency preparation is necessary at every income level. Alternative sources of income are more important than ever. Or at least now more obvious than ever.

The MDpreneur strives to teach basic business principles, personal finance, and entrepreneurship. We are laser-focused on doctors and other high-income professionals. A doctor with an MBA started with website and email list. This is the knowledge that protects what you have.

Never let another crisis threaten your livelihood. Life will always give you lemons. We will teach you how to sell lemonade.

The support shown to doctors has been incredible. They will continue to need that support. They battle more than COVID. Their families battle more than COVID.

Let’s help protect our doctors from default.

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