Doctoritis

Doctoritis is a preventable condition characterized by the superfluous spending by physicians or other healthcare practitioners that have gone through rigorous and time-consuming training.  It is unclear how many providers are affected by the condition but we do know that those affected have numerous ailments ranging from the increase in stress, poor decision-making capabilities, destructive habits, and a number of other symptoms as described below.

Signs and Symptoms

Most patients with doctoritis are physically asymptomatic.  Signs and symptoms include:

  • Heavy use of credit cards and spending beyond income
  • Lack of a cash flow plan or budget
  • Purchasing or leasing luxury vehicles in the first 3 years of their careers
  • The desire to live in the most expensive neighborhoods
  • Taking advice from financial planners or insurance agents without understanding what is being sold to them
  • Telling yourself that student loans can wait since the interest on the loans are low
  • Refusing to take advice from wise counsel including that of your mate
  • Wanting to take the highest paying job without understanding the work or future revenue implications
  • Making large investments in ventures beyond the scope of their practice or knowledge
  • Having a sense that you can accomplish or attain anything that you desire

Etiology

Unclear, but certainly under-appreciated by the profession

Pathophysiology

Healthcare providers and particularly physicians go through years of rigorous training.  Many physicians can recall going 36 hours with no sleep while on their ICU rotations. (I know that does not happen anymore)  When providers have finally completed their residency it is easy to feel as though they need a big reward for having being tortured for so long.  An increasing number of providers have also accumulated over $150,000 in student loan debt and cannot conceive when this debt will be paid off.  This often leads to a numbing feeling that then turns into an aura of apathy that can be contagious.  Other providers feeling the same pinch may validate habits that contribute to doctoritis.  Those without healthy personal finance habits and a strong will easily fall into the trap of overspending and fail to have a plan for success.

Frequency

Personal research leads me to believe that some form of doctoritis occurs more frequently than not.  Many business professionals including accountants, financial planners, and attorneys secretly admit that physicians are notoriously not astute businessmen or women. Research is needed to fully quantify the frequency of the condition.

Prognosis/Treatment

The prognosis for doctoritis is good. Once recognized, healthcare providers can quickly remedy the condition by first having an awareness of the signs and symptoms of the process and obtaining the necessary tools to overcome it.  As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  We have all told ourselves at one point…if I only knew then what I know now.

The best first step is to seek professional help in the areas of greatest weakness.  If it is negotiating for a new job position then ask a trusted friend or review the best practice steps here.  If a debt reduction plan is needed, then hiring a coach and getting advice from experienced professionals is key.

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