By Dr. James M. Dahle, WCI Founder
A few weeks ago, we asked you to nominate your favorite doctor who is educating colleagues and trainees on financial matters for The White Coat Investor Financial Educator of the Year Award. While the winner gets a nice certificate and CV entry for this, they also get a cool $1,000 check to blow on whatever they want.
The response was, once again, overwhelming this year. We had 15 doctors nominated by 56 nominators. The following doctors were recognized for the financial education they have been providing:
- Bikram Dhillon, MD
- Vivek Chaturvedi
- Chirag Shah, MD, MPH
- Ali Elsaied, DO
- Christopher Bunt, MD
- George Chou, DO
- Cyril Varghese, MD
- Eric Shirley, MD
- Haliru Muhammad Mahdi, MD
- Jacob Radford, MD
- John McNeil, MD
- Naomi Ambalu, DO
- Phillip Carullo, MD
- Nicholas Milano, MD
- Vassilios Tsafos, MD
Well done, everybody! We're impressed with what you are doing out there. Unfortunately, only one of you can win the award.
Congratulations to Dr. Cyril Varghese!
Our winner this year is Cyril Varghese, MD, a radiologist practicing in Orlando. He was nominated by 31 separate individuals (which made choosing the winner of the nominator prize, who gets a WCI online course, more difficult than determining the actual award winner!) The impressive thing about these nominations is that they came from all sorts of people: med school classmates, residency classmates, trainees, current colleagues, his sister, and even his spouse! Here is what Dr. Varghese has been doing, according to those who nominated him:
“While Cyril has always been a level-headed and consistent source of financial advice, the tragic events in his life of losing his father and taking over the finances of his family forced him at a very early age to really understand the importance of financial literacy and planning. Cyril has been our medical school class’ long time finance expert. His advice has always been ‘boring' but effective. Save, invest, and live a little. As fads came and went in the market, Cyril stayed as the voice of reason. There are no gimmicks and no easy ways out, and we have all turned to him as our go-to person for financial advice as we matured, had children, and plan for retirement.”
“Dr Varghese spent many of his lectures explaining to the residents many of the non-clinical sides of medical, mostly the financial aspects of medicine. There were many points regarding financial contracts, salary negotiation, and savings which were helpful to planning for life post-residency. He also pointed us to several resources which further clarified information presented during his lectures . . . He enjoys talking about finances in his spare time, divulging his personal strategies for managing his finances. He is very easy to talk to and has managed to make finances an interesting as well as a necessary conversation to have, especially as we are ending residency. He has helped many past residents transition from residency to attendinghood, teaching many aspects about finance that few others talk about.”
“Dr. Varghese went out of his way to introduce me to The White Coat Investor and familiarized me with concepts that were so foreign to me.”
“During my first week of residency, I received ‘White Coat Investor' in the mail! It was from Cyril . . .”
“Cyril is committed to sharing what he knows with his students, residents, colleagues, and friends.”
“He has a talent for simplifying complex financial concepts and making them accessible to all individuals, regardless of their level of financial literacy.”
“After graduating from medical school, Dr. Varghese and his wife, who is also a physician, made a concerted effort to ‘live like a resident' and extinguish their considerable medical school debt, which they were able to accomplish in three short years. His example has inspired many of us from his small groups to help get rid of our medical school debt. As an attending, Dr. Varghese took his knowledge and created a curriculum to help the residents he trains at his institution understand the importance in saving for retirement and eliminating debt. Not only does he train residents in financial education, but he continues to help and be available for friends/colleagues from medical school at any time to assist with their financial questions. Personally, I continued to call Dr. Varghese at all hours of the day with questions.”
“He even helped me pay for the Fire Your Financial Advisor Course because of the interest I took in personal finance.”
“He has invested (no pun intended!) so much of his time, thoughts, and energy into learning about the residents; educating us; and refining us in every way. I strive to be like Dr. Varghese one day.”
“He is a radiologist by profession, but I think a financial educator at heart . . . I overheard Cyril sensibly discussing stock investments at a party, and we later asked him if he would be willing to help us figure out options. He immediately agreed and actually came over that same night with laptop in hand, ready with a PowerPoint presentation that he gives to his new radiology residents every year. It was abundantly clear that he is passionate about the topic.”
“Dr. Varghese’s passion for financial education is contagious . . . He also does a great job at getting residents motivated to make changes for their future.”
“From the moment he was hired at our hospital, Dr. Varghese became an instant resident favorite, largely due to his passion for teaching. Along with providing excellent clinical education, Dr. V was even more passionate about educating us on all the financial aspects of our careers. In addition to his required clinical lectures, he took numerous extra lecture slots to teach us about job applications, contract details, salary negotiations, malpractice lawsuits and insurance, disability insurance, retirement savings, and other career/financial topics. This teaching wasn’t just confined to lecture hour, he has been a go-to person for me and my peers whenever we have questions about these topics and is always available to talk.”
“There is no topic too small or too large and no item too personal or too pervasive that Dr. Varghese cannot and will not take on. The most profound quality that Dr. Varghese possesses and why he is the Financial Educator of the Year is that he performs these dutiful services without a modicum of self-interest, gain, or desire. He derives true fulfillment by teaching fellow physicians what he knows and has learned in his experience and education for their betterment. His spirit of financial scholasticism burns bright in the minds and hearts of the physicians he has helped in his career, and it is my genuine wish that he is recognized for his efforts on our behalf.”
“It was 2012 when I got into residency. This was my first job ever! I had no concept of managing money. My dad had planned on teaching me after I came back from medical school, but he died six months before I graduated. So, when I received my first paycheck, I blew it on furniture and decorations for my apartment. I didn't even think twice. This happened for months until my brother intervened. We had a long talk on the phone, and Cyril broke down two paths where my life could go—a deeply-in-debt physician or a physician who has the skills to manage her money with ease . . . I started reading WCI and couldn't get enough of it . . . Because of Cyril's willingness to teach me about finances, I met my husband in Singles in Pursuit of Financial Independence FB group. We hit it off talking about finances.”
“I’ve known Dr. Cyril Varghese as a colleague in radiology residency training and our first attending positions in the same private practice. Furthermore, I see him from a different perspective as his spouse. From both vantage points, he has been purposeful, unwavering, and approachable in the way he teaches financial literacy to friends, colleagues, and residents. The boldest way that he showed the power of financial literacy was by quitting. When our independent private practice radiology group was set to be taken over by a private equity company, Cyril was the first to submit a resignation letter which then emboldened others to seek out new opportunities and not sell out patient care for the promise of stock shares. It was not an impromptu decision. Rather, it was freedom forged from years of diligent work and education in the personal finance realm. Financial literacy helps one to stick to one’s core values and not be easily persuaded by money.”
“What would start as text messages with links to the early days of the WCI blog would morph into group discussions about disability insurance, 401(k) options in residency, pros and cons of 529 plans, and so on. His depth and breadth of financial literacy has exponentially reached learners from California to New York. Many of our non-medical spouses now hold book clubs on personal finance due to him. He has continued these efforts with his own residents, creating a new generation of financially literate physicians.”
“He has even bought my children finance-based books to help them build a strong foundation of good financial values.”
“He was very knowledgeable and didn’t make us feel dumb when he responded to the basic questions we asked him.”
“Dr. Cyril’s most notable attribute is his unadulterated transmission of financial skills to his students, being completely dedicated to revealing uncommon truths and skills without any ulterior motives, and teaching skills that translate to long-term successes rather than transient, temporary, and more unstable financial ventures. Dr. Cyril communicates with complete transparency and sincerity, with the genuine desire to best secure and stabilize the lives of those who come to him, uniquely catering his advice to the specific situations of each person and the distinctly personal challenges and circumstances that they encounter. He provides as much information as possible, truths that may be either helpful or difficult to hear, and allows his students to make informed, balanced decisions with the most knowledge and insight into their situations.”
Congratulations to Dr. Varghese, and thank you from all of those whose lives you have impacted.
Our winning nomination this year came from Dr. Nikhil Goyal, also a radiologist. Congratulations! We'll be in touch to get you a free WCI online course of your choice. Here is the nomination:
“This letter is to nominate Dr. Cyril Varghese for the 2023 Financial Educator of the Year Award. I could not be happier to write on behalf of an accomplished and pleasant individual such as Cyril. He is a radiologist by training, and he began sharing his interests in personal finance with colleagues while he was in medical school. At a time when financial well-being was not even mentioned (let alone formally taught) in medical school curricula, Cyril shared his knowledge on the topic with any fellow students who were willing to listen, and he has only grown his passion for teaching this since then. Cyril demonstrates many qualities that make him an outstanding candidate for this award. He is knowledgeable, dedicated, and approachable. From the beginning, Cyril has made it a point to be well-versed in finance, particularly how it pertains to physicians. Through self-motivation, he followed blogs, read numerous books, and attended many seminars about financial well-being. (By this, I don’t mean he attended one 30-minute seminar and read one chapter of a book and claimed to be an expert—he actively studies the topic for four hours per week and has done so for over 10 years.)
He currently runs two sets of formal lectures aimed at this topic. One set of talks is ‘job-based' and discusses the details of RVUs, different models of radiology practices that currently exist, and also highlights details about malpractice insurance. A second set of talks discuss personal finance topics that every physician should know about: risk, disability insurance, life insurance, emergency fund creation, and how to budget and save. He also has informal discussions and answers questions his trainees have about their particular financial situations related to their lives and goals—all while maintaining an objective position. He has contributed more to his residents' knowledge about investing than all of his colleagues combined. I would like to add, he offers this free of charge and without bias, because he firmly believes this is how we can change the culture around talking about finance among physicians. I seriously wish I had someone like him in our program when I was a trainee, as I would greatly have benefitted from his teachings.
Finally, Cyril possesses a warm personality and strong ability to engage people. He is very approachable and, overall, a gentle person. A lot of our clinical colleagues tell me they particularly like it when Cyril is on call and they hear his voice on the phone. I can see why residents approach him about still-taboo topics such as money and job details. As a current associate program director for our residency program at my institution, I am considering having him come speak to our group. I give him my highest possible recommendation. His knowledge, professionalism, and dedication to this field make him an outstanding candidate for this award. I urge you to give this nomination serious consideration.”
Congratulations Dr. Goyal!
In our call-for-submissions post, we published slide presentations for you (or anybody) to use when educating your peers and trainees. These are lectures that many of you can give with little preparation. Each presentation is designed to last 50 minutes, leaving 10 minutes for a Q&A.
Just click on the links below, download the file, read through the slides to make sure you're familiar with the material, and look up anything you're not familiar with on the blog or elsewhere. Then, you're good to go. You can give it to two people or 1,000 people. You can send it out via email. You can give it over Zoom. You can post a link to it on your blog. You can modify the slides, but please do include the disclaimer slide unmodified in your presentation.
The slides presentations below were all updated as of April 2023.
- Financial literacy
- Student loan management for attendings
- Financial advisors
- The five insurance policies you need and two you don't
- Basics of retirement accounts
- The benefits of index funds
- Basics of estate planning
- Basics of asset protection
- Financial literacy
- Student loan management for residents
- Disability insurance
- Term life insurance
- Know your retirement accounts
- A written financial plan
- Contract evaluation
- Financial literacy
- Living frugally
- School/residency choice
- Specialty choice
- Student loan management
- Owning vs. renting during residency
- Financial steps as you leave medical school
What do you think? Do you know Dr. Varghese? How has he impacted your life? What are you planning to do this year to help your colleagues with their finances? Comment below!