After completing med school, aspiring doctors have to complete a residency in a specialisation of their choice. Residency involves working in a hospital or clinic under the supervision of attending doctors, gaining actual work experience in the field. Residency helps new doctors gain hands-on experience, from diagnosing to intubating patients, which allows them to apply for a medical license. Once residents earn their license, they can practice medicine independently, without supervision.
After many years of your medical education, you might be wondering when it will all pay off, so you can start repaying loans. You might have even wondered, do doctors get paid during residency? If so, how much do doctors get paid during residency? The short answer is that doctors do get paid. The long answer involves considering other factors, such as job location, specialization and years of experience, among others. In this article, we delve into the factors that affect how much doctors are paid during residency.
How Much Money Do Doctors Make During Residency?
As resident doctors work at entry-level, their salaries are obviously lower than that of more experienced doctors. The starting salary of a resident doctor starts at approximately USD 53,000 per year, and increases by about USD 2000 – USD 3000 every year. The average salary for a resident is around USD 63,000.
What Factors Affect Salaries of Resident Doctors?
How much you get paid during residency depends on multiple factors, such as the training you received, if the hospital you’re working with has generated enough revenue for the year, if the hospital is in a high-rent area, etc.
On average, hospitals in the Northeast of the country pay the highest, followed by hospitals in the West, followed by hospitals in the Midwest, and last of all, hospitals in the South. Although resident salaries are not determined by the state or region, they’re determined by the individual residency program. You can find salary information on each residency program’s website and compare them before applying.
Most residencies pay the same across specialties, unless there’s a specific agreement between a resident and the hospital, which would affect the amount. So you would basically get paid the same amount irrespective of whether you choose a residency in neurosurgery or family medicine.
But if your specialty has many years of training, then your salary as a resident doctor would be higher than those specialties with fewer years for training. Here are some residency specialties and how long the training for each one lasts:
- Neurosurgery – 7 years
- Plastic Surgery – 6 years
- Orthopedic Surgery – 5 years
- General Surgery – 5 years
- Otolaryngology – 5 years
- ENT – 5 years
- Radiation Oncology – 4 years plus PGY-1 transition year
- Diagnostic Radiology – 4 years plus PGY-1 transition year
- Obstetrics/Gynecology – 4 years
- Pathology – 4 years
- Psychiatry – 4 years
- Emergency Medicine – 3-4 years
- Physical Medicine – 3-4 years
- Anesthesiology – 3 years plus PGY-1 transition year
- Dermatology – 3 years plus PGY-1 transition year
- Neurology – 3 years plus PGY-1 transition year
- Ophthalmology – 3 years plus PGY-1 transition year
- Internal Medicine – 3 years
- Family Medicine – 3 years
- Pediatrics – 3 years
Resident Salaries Are Low
Considering the fact that resident doctors spend as much time working as attending doctors, which is around 60 hours per week, and perform all the same duties as doctors, residents are paid quite poorly.
One of the reasons for the low salary of resident doctors is Medicare, which funds the graduate medical education (GME). Medicare was introduced in 1965 to provide funding for residency programs across the country. Over time, this funding was capped by Congress. Although salaries do increase every year, they do not match up with inflation costs. Some hospitals may raise funds through other sources, like fundraising and donations, so they may be able to spare more money for residents’ salaries than hospitals that solely rely on Medicare. Check each hospital’s funding sources before applying.
However, it’s not all bad. Average resident salaries have increased by about USD 8000 between 2015 and 2020. While that’s not an ideal amount, it’s still moving in the right direction. The increase in demand for doctors is expected to speed up the growth of the average salary for residents.