It's that time of year again! It's time to give away a whole bunch of money and prizes! This is the third year we've run The White Coat Investor scholarship program and the biggest year ever. We see this as a way to “pay it forward” for the financial success The White Coat Investor, LLC has seen, a chance to boost financial literacy, particularly in our medical and dental schools, and a method of directly reducing the indebtedness of a talented few. While many wring their hands about the rapidly increasing debt burden professional students are dealing with, we're actually doing something about it!
This year we had 740 essays submitted, judged by 76 different judges, for the opportunity to win part of over $60,000 in cash and prizes.
I want to extend a special thank you to those who took the time to apply, those who took the time to judge, and especially those who opened their wallets to join us in supporting this worthy cause. In particular, I would like to thank the Platinum and Gold sponsors, without whom the scholarship amount would be much, much smaller.
Platinum Level Contributors ($5000 or more)
Larry Keller (Physician Financial Services) – Disability and Life Insurance
CommonBond – Student Loan Refinancing
Laurel Road – Student Loan Refinancing
Bob Bhayani (Dr Disability Quotes) -Disability and Life Insurances
Physician Home Loans at Fairway Mortgage – Doctor Mortgage Loans
The White Coat Investor, LLC
Gold Level Contributors ($700 or more)
ProAssurance – Professional Liability Insurance for Doctors
Jamie Fleischner (Set for Life Insurance) – Disability and Life Insurance
Lucidity Direct – Locum Tenens
Chris Duncan (JumboCDInvestments) – Investments
Mike Wagner (BBVA) – Doctor Mortgages
Jon Appino (Contract Diagnostics) – Contract Review/Negotiation
D.K. Unger (DI4MDS) – Disability and Life Insurance
W. Ben Utley (Physician Family Financial Advisors) – Financial Advising
Johanna Turner (Fox and Company Wealth Management) – Financial Advising
Rick Warren (Insuring Income) – Disability and Life Insurance
Stephanie Pearson (PearsonRavitz) – Disability and Life Insurance
Michael Relvas (MR Insurance) – Disability and Life Insurance
Jonathan Brozek (US Bank) – Doctor Mortgages
Sofi – Student Loan Refinancing
Daniel Wrenne (Wrenne Financial Planning) – Financial Advising
Chris Roberts (Regions Bank) – Doctor Mortgages
Chris Wimberly (The Disability Doc)– Disability and Life Insurance
locumstory.com – locum tenens resource
Congratulations to the Honorable Mentions!
This morning's post is bittersweet to our ten finalists. You see, up until they read this, they know they won something (because we asked for their pictures and told them they were a finalist), but they don't know what. So for the five who received an honorable mention, this announcement is probably a bit of a disappointment. For the other five, they now know they are “in the money,” so it's a pretty sweet morning as they rapidly scan down through the essays and don't see their name. I hope the honorable mention winners, as disappointed as they may be this morning, are consoled by their prize, which in some ways may be the most valuable part of the prize pack. While a few thousand dollars while in school is super useful, financial literacy obtained early in your career will be worth millions over the course of your life. Each of these honorable mention winners (as well the top 5) will receive their choice of a WCI online course. I hope most of them choose the Fire Your Financial Advisor course, but they are also welcome to choose the online version of the 2018 Physician Wellness and Financial Literacy Conference.
In this post, I've included an excerpt from places # 6-10 for your enjoyment and appreciation. There was actually a tie for 9th place, but since they receive the same prize we didn't bother with a tie breaker. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
# 9 Jen Mihalo
Jen is a medical student at The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine who wrote about being a non-traditional student and the financial sacrifice entailed by the decreased lifestyle spending (and saving) that occurs when one goes back to school.
What on earth I was thinking? Quitting my job to go back to medical school with a rambunctious toddler at home. Back to living off of loans, eating ramen noodles and peanut butter sandwiches. Farewell paid vacation and sick time. Sayonara retirement contribution match. It was hard enough the first time around without daycare and diapers consuming our already tight budget, how we are going to manage the next few years? Did I make the right decision? As if trying to balance coursework, clinical hours, research, and family time wasn’t overwhelming enough without this financial burden. Why would anyone choose to do something so crazy….
The financial hardships of attending medical school are real, especially with a family at home. But there are different types of investments. While I may have to postpone investing into a 401k and give up some of the luxuries I have gotten used to, I am investing in my future. And more than that, investing in a career that will enable me to improve overall health for so many other people….
So, what was I thinking? I guess the short answer is that I was thinking that I want to be a doctor,
and some choices are just worth it in the long run.
# 9 Jackson Kwok
Jackson is a medical student at The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He wrote a clever piece about a file of special projects and papers that he, like many of us, kept throughout his schooling years.
Every once in a while, though, my thirst for destruction would find itself stayed by something that caught my eye, something that I considered worthwhile enough to spare from immolation. They were projects that I was proud of, times where I felt that my work had really reflected what I was capable of, mile markers on the road of personal growth (though I think that eight-year old me might have had a more limited analysis). The earliest entry is pencil sketch: I recall the fourth grade art class where we did still life drawings…..
At its core, I saved these pieces over the years as a reminder of the context they were created in, a portrait of the “self” that I existed as in that instant. But I’m realizing that this is kind of cheating; my “self” is more than just myself (I spent a lot of time coming up with that) – it also includes the world around me, and how I participate with it. Every patient I will work with sees me for who I am in that moment, and I don’t get to pick and choose the interactions that are supposed to represent me. So my past work isn’t something to be stored away for reminiscence purposes. It should be in the forefront, constant reminders of how I’ve grown and how I can still
grow further; as a future doctor, and as a person.
That being said, I think I’ll still print this essay, for old times’ sake. I think I’ll put it in my orange paper folder. I think that it may very well be my last entry, and I think that’s OK.
# 8 Alanna M Dubrovsky
Alanna is a medical student at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine. She wrote a touching essay about what it is like to attend medical school with a chronic illness.
But one of the preventable injustices we face is the financial burden placed on us while we are
in the process of fighting with our bodies. My family has the misfortune of having two financially draining family members. My diagnosis [of Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis] was not surprising, as my older sister was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis five years prior. Despite growing up as “sick kids”, my sister and I remained determined to reach our goals. Unfortunately for us, our goals are academically and physically draining and involve mountains of debt: for me medical school, and for my sister veterinary school. Although my parents always encouraged us to not be limited by our illnesses, they knew far earlier than we did that pursuing these careers carried the risk of becoming disabled while carrying a large amount of debt…
When I was old enough to understand the complex nature of our health care system, I realized that our insurance plan was absolute gold for me, but that my health was a ticking time bomb. When the clock strikes 26 years old, I am on my own with my pre-existing conditions. Since this realization many years ago, I have had one thing on my mind: health insurance. While most undergraduate students were spacing out their classes for the best schedule, I was focused on entering medical school before age 22, ensuring stable insurance with a residency position at 26 years old. This required living by the advice of another PSC patient medical student by protecting my time, because the alternative, enduring sleep deprivation to cram nights before exams, is not an option with PSC when chronic fatigue weighs heavily despite 8 hours of sleep. On days when life feels particularly unfair, and I envy my classmates who perform the same tasks with 5 hours of sleep, I am reminded of the ways I am fortunate and the group of warriors I have cheering me on…
At this point in my life, there is little more I can do to improve my financial situation; but one thing I can do is continue to strive for excellence, focus on my work, and believe that it will pay off in many ways in the future. Scholarships like these can bring me closer to financial stability.
# 7 Benjamin Wang
Benjamin is a dental student at the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine who wrote a hilarious essay I think many of us can relate to. Well, at least those of us who have had more than one meal that consisted primarily of pilfered saltines.
By summer’s end, I saved $6,000, but that was only enough to afford New York City rent for one semester I soon realized. As I started to crunch numbers, I really started to panic. I needed to think of something major and something fast to save enough money to afford to live. Thankfully, I committed to one of the best business investments ever made for my dental school career: high-quality, shatter-resistant glass Tupperware.
There are twenty schools at Columbia University. Within these schools, there are a multitude of offices and departments, and collectively across all the schools there are over one thousand student organizations. Each day, there are hundreds of events organized across the university that seek to bring together the greatest minds in the world for intellectual communion and
scholarly discourse, providing lifeblood to the envisioned university. But a gospel truth is that though students, faculty, and staff come to Columbia from all walks of life, common to all of them is a propensity to eat, more or less, three times a day. And without free food as an enticement at many of these events, few people would attend. At these events, there is always leftover food because it would be too embarrassing for an Ivy League university to not have enough food to feed a Nobel Laureate who arrived half an hour late. Free food, everyday, multiple times a day, with plenty to spare. But the difficult part is finding out where and when.
My iCalendar become my gateway to sustenance, integral to my survival. It was the repository for all food events that I would hear about from mailing lists, bulletin boards, television displays, flyers, and through word of mouth. The work was never easy, but the rewards could be, and were in fact, so great. And in many ways, the hunt has trained me to hone many critical skills transferrable to my professional career. Acknowledging the high utility in having my Tupperware handy to take some extra so that I can afford to rest for a meal or five (depending on the size of Tupperware and availability of scrumptious morsels), I am sure to always be prepared. I also maintain strict organization documenting events and locations in planning my weekly agenda, and have pristine punctuality. Finally, I am dastardly vigilant in reading and responding to electronic communication; A half hour delay in responding to RSVP for a limited guest event often times is all the difference between gluttony and starvation.
Nevertheless, while free food is great, I don’t ever want to take for granted the value of the fellowship gained and the friendships I made gathered with strangers over a plate of leftovers. Food may briefly fill my belly, but sharing with people, making new friends, and helping others out is what will bring me perpetual happiness; and, unlike a fleeting slice of pizza, these are little things that will continuously pay themselves off. This is the real gift of hunter-gatherers. Happy hunting!
# 6 Ryan R. Horne
Ryan is a medical student at the University of Iowa Carver School of Medicine and a talented poet. He combined his two interests for his scholarship submission, only about 1/4 of which is reproduced here:
Despite my best efforts to the contrary, medical school has led to loans for me too. I may be a
relative newcomer to the professional-loan party, but I hope that you will accept my humble
contribution to the festivities: a poem with a metaphor about you, your loans, and your vision for
the future. In this poem, your loans are a miniature personal raincloud.
Cringing at Creating Looming Loan Clouds
Hey there friend. Do you have a half million dollars?
Then you’re taking out loans, you professional scholar!
Borrowed quarters stack up to be carried around
In a low looming cloud with thundering sounds.
It floats o’er your head like a giant balloon
That you’d like to drop-kick clear up to the moon.
Yes, loans can build up at a breathtaking pace
If blithely removed on your scholarly race.
Why some have a hurricane whirling about!
And it’s many long years ‘til they’ll pay the storm out.
Some stifle the tempest with tight-fisted budgets.
No ad or convenience store ever can budge it….
It’s tempting to make the whole thing about money,
When debts pile up and it stops being funny.
When owing a five- or a six-figure sum
You’ll wonder how much it’s OK to feel glum.
Keep your vision you hero! Stand strong and be brave!
It’s people, not profits you signed up to save.
Just limit your debts. There’s no need for excess.
Controlling your money means power with less.
Power to focus more! Be in the present!
Worry less about loan clouds and more about patients!
‘Stead of stewing ‘bout storms in your own little bubble
You’ll honest-to-goodness help people in trouble….
Is a gift
If it’s used not amiss.
Your umbrella from loan clouds,
It shields you in bliss.
You’ll succeed in your journey with vision like this.
You’ll clearly see also the side of the road
Where someone who’s worse off needs help with their load.
Good stewardship offers you something sublime,
You’ll be in position to help just in time.
I hope you enjoyed reading these excerpts as much as I did. What I love most about the WCI Scholarship program is getting a recharge on the idealism I lost somewhere during my internship year!
Starting tomorrow, we'll be running the entire essays of our top five, one per day, all week long until we get to # 1. Of course, by Thursday morning, there will be one person in the world that doesn't work at WCI who knows who the Grand Prize winner is. The rest of you will have to wait until Friday morning!