7 orthopedic, spine surgeons' investment secrets


From artificial intelligence and physician therapy, to more conservative, old school investment opportunities, here is how seven orthopedic and spine surgeons are investing in 2024. 

Taizoon Baxamusa, MD. Orthopedic Hand & Upper Extremity Surgeon at Illinois Bone & Joint Institute  (Morton Grove): I think for me the key investment tip has been to invest in myself and my business. As a physician in private practice, we have invested in our group as a business including ancillaries such as our real estate, physician therapy, MRI and outpatient surgery centers, which have yielded the best return on investment. Of course, maximizing any retirement contributions is the first priority to plan for the future. I would say for an employed physician, maximizing all retirement contributions including any available employer matching as well as investing in a low-cost diversified exchange-traded funds and starting as early as possible to take advantage of the power of compounding interest.

Robert Bray Jr., MD. Founder of DISC Sports & Spine Center (Newport Beach, Calif.): I have emphasized my investment portfolio on blue-chip companies managed by a highly competent financial advisor group, which has netted a consistent gain. Real estate, when carefully thought out, can turn at the right points. Beyond that, I invested in myself for intellectual property, and the ASC model. When I began over 25 years ago, I could not get a bank loan or contract to start. Be cautious with management companies. Although, after learning from missteps in the past, I am extremely happy with our current private equity partner. It’s a large commitment of time and passion, but building your own or part of a larger, well-run network is personally and financially rewarding.  

Brian Gantwerker, MD. Neurosurgeon at the Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles: For 2024, artificial intelligence and the underlying chipmakers are the blue-chip stocks of the hour.  I would keep an eye on index funds as well, as these are always a safe bet for "set it and forget it" ease. Many people are going into real estate, which carries its own issues, and physicians should be aware of what their "net-net" will be after paying mortgage and a management company, and of course, onerous local regulations that could allow squatters to stay indefinitely.

Deepak Reddy, MD. Spine Surgeon at South Bend (La.) Orthopedics: I think there’s a lot of crazy ideas out there for how physicians should invest. Some might be fantastic, however, I think for most physicians, realizing that you are not a financial advisor, investment banker or real estate mogul is critical. Our primary role is in rendering healthcare and trying to moonlight is probably ill advised. Most of the time, when I talk to the younger physician,  I generally keep it simple: Shoot to save about 30% of your attending paycheck if not more. Invest conservatively in simple things like index funds and build organically slowly over time. Max out matched retirement benefits and tax beneficial IRAs and take advantage of things like 529 plans that might help with education later in life. Most of us as physicians are too busy clinically to be micromanaging our investments and structuring those investments to be “set and forget” long term is probably best for a lot of busy clinicians. 

Thomas Miller, MD. Professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (Roanoke): There are no shortcuts or quick and easy return. Use of a reliable investment resource, consistent contribution to an investment plan and patience above all else. Old rules, and they work. 

Christopher Yeung, MD. Spine Surgeon at Desert Institute for Spine Care (Phoenix): Invest in your staff. Wages are increasing across-the-board and you’ll need to pay competitive wages in order to keep key personnel that make the ASC run efficiently and smoothly. If you have happy and good employees, you create and maintain a positive working environment that your patients can sense.  Avoid high turnover with your staff. Familiarity with the scrub techs and nurses contribute to a more relaxed surgeon and efficient and enjoyable workdays, which also may impact safety and outcomes. Invest in any equipment that can increase safety and quality. Compromised outcomes at a facility can ruin the ASC’s reputation and also impact the surgeons reputation.

Christian Zimmerman, MD. Spinal Neurosurgeon at Saint Alphonsus Health System (Boise, Idaho):. Conservative, diverse investing in many sectors, concentrated focus on savings and real estate purchases with notable, prospective growth. The time value of money formula and its principles for investment were a constant mentor and guide. It may seem so unattractive to most, but in the long term, it works.

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