Systematic review of personal finance training for physicians and a proposed curriculum

Joel Akachukwu Igu, S. Zakaria, Yuval D. Bar-Or

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Many physicians complete medical school and graduate medical education (GME) burdened by high debt and financial illiteracy. This places them at increased risk for ill-informed financial decisions, which can result in increased stress and anxiety and a lower quality of life. Furthermore, financial concerns impact physicians' specialty selections and may partly explain the scarcity of primary care practitioners. In response, medical wellness programmes have increasingly sought to offer personal finance education, but there is little guidance on optimal curricula. Our objective is to systematically review the existing literature examining physician financial literacy curricula and to recommend a standardised personal finance curriculum. METHODS: This review used the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses 2020 checklist to report the results of literature searches in PubMed, ERIC, MedEdPortal, EBSCO, JSTOR and Google Scholar. Three researchers used predetermined inclusion and exclusion criteria to select articles, including a focus on financial concepts applicable in the USA. Selected articles published between 2000 and 2022 were assessed using the BEME strength of findings tool, and further assessed using modified Côté-Turgeon and Kirkpatrick model qualitative analyses tools. FINDINGS: 49 articles met all inclusion criteria. Ten specifically described personal finance literacy curricula for medical students or GME trainees, with varied criteria for selecting instructors, topics and outcomes. All studies reported that audiences were ill prepared for making financial decisions but strongly desired financial literacy education. Qualitative analysis revealed Strength of Findings summary scores ranging from 2 to 4, while applicable Kirkpatrick Model scores were all 3 or greater. Based on these findings, a 14-module personal finance curriculum is proposed by the researchers, along with learning objectives. INTERPRETATION: Although medical students and GME trainees value financial literacy, few publications report the impact of actual curricula. These efforts vary in depth, breadth and measured impact. Future research should focus on development of valid testing instruments specifically for physicians, content standardisation, selection of credible instructors and delivery formats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e064733
JournalBMJ open
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 26 2022


  • EDUCATION & TRAINING (see Medical Education & Training)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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