Your money. Your voice. Your wellness.


I was a third-year gastroenterology fellow when I realized that something had to change. I was on a one-way trip to burnout.

Dr. Latifat Alli-Akintade, a gastroenterologist with Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento (Calif.) Medical Center, and CEO, MoneyFitMD

Dr. Latifat Alli-Akintade

I went through medical school with the sole goal of becoming an excellent physician. Like many physicians, I was six figures deep in student loan debt by the end of training. I remember clearly being told, “You are going to be physicians. Money won’t be a problem.” In fact, in 2021, money remains a taboo topic in medicine, and most of medical education remains void of the fundamentals of money management.

Although I was surrounded by some of the most brilliant minds in medicine, burnout was spreading like a wave. Physicians are becoming increasingly broken, burned out by a system through which we have vowed to care for our patients: For better or for worse. We are required to attend lectures about burnout, yet nothing about money or finances. We can all agree that talking about resilience and burnout during odd hours of the morning are ironic measures that by themselves have done nothing to help us through the crisis that exists.

I noticed that there seemed to be a difference between physicians who had their finances in order and those who didn’t. This eventually made sense as I became more aware of the data that now exists. Healthy financial practices can lead to financial independence, which may in turn decrease burnout-associated stressors.1 This is what we need.

My observation about the difference in satisfaction between physicians led me to decide to explore that path for myself. My hypothesis? Empowering myself financially is an anti-burnout tool that will improve my satisfaction, longevity in medicine, and my well-being. I traded my financial illiteracy for empowerment and I am now on a mission to help physicians become financially empowered. This is an important step toward preventing and recovering from burnout. The surprising part is that it is not difficult. You need to be committed. Our math literacy is already higher than needed. When we physicians are financially independent, we will have the ability to practice medicine in a way that is healthy. In a world where physician suicide, burnout, and dissatisfaction continue to rise, there is an urgent call to financial action. This is a critical key that will help us change the future of medicine.

In this article, I am going to share four myths that are preventing physicians from truly managing their finances.

1. I love medicine. I have no plans of leaving: I love gastroenterology. The ability to use our critical internal medicine skills as well as intervene procedurally is truly a privilege. As a gastroenterologist with a focus on inflammatory bowel diseases, I have the honor of walking patients through seasons of life and making decisions that truly impact their lives. It is an honor. I also believe that good money management allows physicians to become even better physicians. The platforms of medicine continue to change. According to Physician Advocacy Institute, about 70% of physicians report being employed.2 As physicians graduate from training, joining large hospitals, physician autonomy in the practice of medicine is affected. To ensure that we continue to practice medicine at the fullest extent of our oath, it is essential that our finances allow us the ability and capacity to fulfill that oath. Furthermore, the pandemic has shown that physician income is not pandemic-proof. Having a healthy emergency fund and diversifying our income sources is critical as we move forward.

2. I have a financial adviser or planner. They will figure it out for me: Financial advisers and planners are hired professionals with varied levels of training and expertise. A great financial adviser can be an important part of your team. A team that is led by you, the CEO, because no one will care about your finances as much as you do. Investing the time to learn the basics can pay dividends. When I started my financial education journey, I was completely illiterate. I knew I wanted to have money but didn’t know how. One of the first things in my financial competency journey was to hire a financial adviser. Unfortunately, as I learned more about money, I realized that my investments favored him more than they did me. Coincidentally, we had similar starting balances in a different self-management investment account. At the end of our time together, our self-managed funds fared better than his actively picked funds. As humans, we assume that actively picking investments and stocks would be better than passive investments. Based on experience and data, investing in boring, diverse funds such as index funds averagely do better than actively managed funds. Is it wrong then to hire an adviser? No, but you are still the CEO of you-incorporated. Choosing to completely delegate to someone else, avoiding the basic education that would allow you to better screen for effectiveness and competence, may in fact be negligence. After empowering themselves financially, some physicians who have gone through my money curriculum have chosen to keep their advisers; others chose to self-manage. The key is giving yourself the gift of choice: Choosing to have an adviser because you want to rather than because you thought you had no choice.

3. Money management looks complicated. This is one of the most common statements I get for why physicians avoid their own money management. I remember the complex biochemical pathways we learned in medical school. Those were hard and complicated. We chose to stay the course because we believed that, with repetition and simplifying, it would eventually become less difficult. Why then is it any different with money? A physician shared a discussion she once had with a banker. She was told, “Doctors are bad with money.” When did we become the stereotype for being bad with money? If we can learn channelopathies and memorize mechanisms and save lives, we can do money. We have to start somewhere. We may not get it the first time. However, as physicians, we are the more persistent people and are excellent examples of what happens when you commit to learning something new. After coaching hundreds of physicians regarding money management, I have concluded that physicians are not bad with money. We simply may not be committed to learning it. Once we commit, the rest becomes history.

4. I don’t have time. For practicing gastroenterologists dealing with post-lockdown influx of patients, the days can be long. As a gastroenterologist who is also a parent, I know firsthand how time can be tight. When we had two children, we were busy. We thought we were at our capacity on time with two children. Then we had a third. Suddenly, life with two children looked easier than with three. As humans, we have the capacity to create. Things take exactly how much time we commit to them. If I give myself a month to write an article, I will write it in a month. If I give myself 2 weeks, I will be done in 2 weeks. The key is to remember that we all have 24 hours. David Frankel is the author of “The Freedom Formula: How to Succeed in Business Without Sacrificing Your Family, Health, or Life.”3 He analyzed a poll of business owners. He showed that they were wasting an average of 21.8 hours per week. Many times, we talk about our to-do list. We don’t talk enough about our “to don’t list.” This refers to the list of things we need to stop doing so that we can spend time on things that give or add value to our lives. Starting with as little as 30 minutes per day or per week dedicated to learning and/or managing our finances, the result will compound.

As the platform of medicine continues to evolve, it is important for astute gastroenterologists to be part of these conversations. When we are confident in our finances, they become a vehicle that gives strength to the power of our voice. We are less likely to overwork and more likely to find joy and meaning within and outside medicine.

If we want to care for our patients at a high level and keep our oath to do no harm, we have to remember that includes doing no harm to self as well.

Money management tools and empowering ourselves financially should be an essential component of our training; until then, the onus is on you to learn, so that you can be well.

Your voice matters. Your wellness matters. Your time matters. Your money matters.

Dr. Alli-Akintade is a gastroenterologist with Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento (Calif.) Medical Center. She is the CEO of MoneyFitMD, a financial empowerment coaching platform for female physicians. She is also the host of The MoneyFitMD podcast.


1. Royce TJ et al. Pract Radiat Oncol. Jul-Aug 2019;9(4):231-8.

2. Physician Advocacy Institute. “COVID-19’s Impact on Acquisitions of Physician Practices and Physician Employment 2019-2020.” 2021 Jun.

3. Finkel D. “New Study Shows You’re Wasting 21.8 hours a Week.” 2018 Mar 1.

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