Registrars and Funding Your Fellowship | March 7, 2016
Medicine is an exciting and rewarding career with the training required to get you to specialist level a long, rigorous and expensive journey. If you’re a graduating Doctor working in the public system for your internship year postgraduate residency, then the time is coming for you to choose which specialty training program/s you would like to apply for, and eventually achieve a fellowship of that specialist medical college, should you choose to do so. This period of prevocational training not only allows you to gain broad clinical experience to prepare yourself for a future of medical specialist training, but it also gives you the necessary time to prepare your finances and develop a plan for funding your future fellowship year. With extensive experience in the financial timeline of medical professionals, our advisors have provided some tips and ideas for coping with the financial implications of specialist training and a fellowship year.
Above is an example timeline of a Graduating Doctor moving through vocational training to become a specialist. You can see that a registrar on a Specialist program could be earning anywhere between $140,000 and $200,000 over the duration of the program, while income levels drop by at least 50% in the following Fellowship period. With the costs associated with a specialist program and a fellowship year funded out of pocket and often taking a considerable financial toll on new doctors, we quizzed CFB’s senior financial advisors for some tips to help smooth the financial transition back into study.
On average, what is the cost of undertaking a specialist program and medical fellowship?
Graham Campbell: “The cost of undertaking a specialist training program is roughly between $10,000 and $15,000 per year, depending on the specialty.” Unlike your undergraduate studies, your specialist training program studies are funded out of pocket, and aren’t funded by Government support (HECS). Although you will be earning an income as a registrar, it is an extra expense on top of regular living expenses that you will need to consider ahead of time.
Tapel Cafer: “A medical fellowship year can see anywhere from a 50% to 100% drop in income. With many doctors heading to the UK to undertake their fellowship, the cost of living increases substantially and we often see significant financial strain.”
What are the options available to a registrar to fund their fellowship?
Graham: “Firstly, understanding early the financial implications of a fellowship year means they can make savings as they go through both their pre-vocational training and while they are working as a registrar. Second, there is the option to draw equity from property investments or take out a personal loan.”
Tapel: “There is the option to tap into the equity of their house if they have one, or take out a personal loan, utilise credits cards, or more effectively, be smart and plan early for your fellowship years; make savings while you have a steady income”
“What is one piece of advice you would give to a registrar who is looking to undertake a fellowship year/s?”
Tapel: “Once you get accepted onto the registrar program, start a savings plan purely to fund your fellowship.”
Graham: “Seek advice on your financial position and the best structure to draw on funds to help with cash flow to top up the drop in your income. Make sure your personal insurance cover is set up comprehensively before departing overseas on your fellowship to give you that peave of mind and financial security.”
What about any general comments for registrars undertaking a fellowship?
Tapel: Whilst you are undertaking your fellowship, enjoy your new surrounds especially if you have saved for it in advance!
Graham: Before heading off, seek advice on your taxation position and seek advice about how to structure yourself in your new employment arrangements on your return.
If you are looking at moving into private practice on your return, you should obtain advice on how to structure yourself financially and start setting these structures up. Build a good relationship with an accountant and a financial planner who know this space and can assist you in getting it right, because if it is wrong, it may cost you thousands of dollars down the track.”
This article is for general information purposes only. It has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should, before acting on the advice, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances.
Why not follow, like or link in with us on social media?
You can find all the latest news and posts from Complete Financial Balance, ask us a question, send us your comments and more by following the links below.