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 become doctors and practice medicine independently, without supervision.

After many years of your medical education and rough tuitions, 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.

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What Is a Medical Residency?

Medical residency is a critical phase in any physician’s career. This period of advanced training provides them with the necessary knowledge and skills to practice medicine independently. During this time, medical school graduates work under the guidance of experienced attending physicians, who mentor, supervise, and support them.

The medical residency program provides physicians with hands-on experience in their chosen medical specialty. This clinical experience is critical in enhancing their decision-making skills and clinical judgment and preparing them for the challenges of practicing medicine independently. During their residency, physicians are exposed to a wide range of medical conditions and learn how to diagnose, treat, and manage various illnesses.

Residency programs typically last three to seven years, depending on the specialty. The duration is determined by the specialty’s complexity and the level of proficiency required to practice independently. For instance, a residency program in family medicine may last three years, while a residency program in neurosurgery may take up to seven years to complete.

What are the duties of a resident doctor?

A resident doctor’s duties involve many responsibilities that aim to enhance clinical skills, medical knowledge, and professional capabilities.

Here’s an overview of the typical duties:

Resident doctors provide direct patient care under the supervision of attending physicians. They conduct physical examinations, diagnose illnesses, develop treatment plans, and provide ongoing management for patients admitted to hospitals or seen in outpatient clinics.

Residents participate in medical rounds, during which they discuss patient cases, review diagnostic tests and treatment plans, and receive feedback from attending physicians and other healthcare team members. This is an opportunity for residents to enhance their clinical reasoning and decision-making skills.

Depending on their specialty, resident doctors may perform various medical procedures, such as suturing wounds, inserting intravenous lines, performing biopsies, assisting in surgeries, and managing ventilators in critical care settings. Under supervision, they gradually gain proficiency in these procedures.

Some residents are also responsible for maintaining accurate and comprehensive medical records for their patients. This includes documenting patient histories, physical examinations, diagnostic test results, treatment plans, and progress notes in electronic health record systems.

How Much Do Medical Residents Get Paid?

Over nine years, from 2015 to 2023, the average medical resident’s earnings have demonstrated a consistent upward trajectory, reflecting a gradual but steady increase in income. 

Beginning at $55,400 in 2015, the average medical resident’s earnings climbed steadily yearly, reaching $67,400 by 2023

Here’s a list of how much medical residents get paid ( year-by-year): 

2015 – $55,400

2016 – $56,500

2017 – $57,200

2018 – $59,300

2019 – $61,200

2020 – $63,400

2021 – $64,000

2022 – $64,200

2023 – $67,400

It is important to note that the estimates may vary based on several factors, including the location of the hospital or clinic, the Medical Resident’s specialty, and the years of experience they have

That said, residents who train longer earn approximately 21% more on average than those who are newer residents. This gap was 17% in the previous year’s report.

Average Salary, by Year of Residency:

Year 1- $61K

Year 2 – $63K

Year 3 – $65K

Year 4 – $70K

Year 5 – $71K

Years 6-8 – $74K

What Factors Affect Salaries of Resident Doctors?

One of the most critical factors is geographic location. Different locations may have different living costs and physician demands, impacting salary levels. 

Another factor that influences the salaries of resident doctors is the prestige of the residency program. Prestige can indicate the quality of education and training offered, which can lead to higher salaries for residents. 

The demand for physicians in a particular specialty is also a significant factor. Specialties with high demand may offer higher salaries to attract and retain qualified physicians. Additionally, whether the residency program is affiliated with a university or healthcare system can also impact salary levels. 

Finally, negotiated contracts and union representation can significantly determine salary levels for resident doctors. These factors can help ensure that resident doctors are fairly compensated for their work and can help to protect their rights and interests.

Resident Salaries Across Medical Specialties

Medical residents’ salaries can vary significantly depending on their chosen specialty. Generally, specialties with longer residency programs tend to offer higher salaries. For example, surgical specialties often pay more than primary care specialties. 

Here’s a list of resident salaries across medical specialties:

Allergy & Immunology- $69,500

Hematology – $69,500

Plastic Surgery/Aesthetic Medicine – $69,500

Rheumatology – $69,500 

Surgery Specialized – $69,500

Cardiology – $68,600

Critical Care – $66,500

Diabetes – $66,500

Endocrinology – $66,500

HIV/Infectious Diseases – $66,500

Gastroenterology – $66,500

Oncology – $66,500

Pathology – $66,500 

Pulmonary Medicine – $66,500

Orthopedic Surgery – $64,800

Otolaryngology – $64,600

Radiology – $64,600 

Neurology – $64,600

Urology – $64,600

Orthopedics – $64,600

Psychiatry – $61,500

Ob/Gyn & Women’s Health – $61,500

Emergency Medicine – $61,500

Ophthalmology – $61,500

Public Health & Preventive Medicine – $61,500

Surgery General – $61,500

Internal Medicine – $61,500

Family Medicine – $58,500


Medical residency offers essential training for physicians to become competent in their chosen specialties. While salaries for residents may not be as high as those of fully licensed physicians, the experience gained during residency is invaluable for future medical practice.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What are the highest-paid residencies?

Specialties such as Hematology, Rheumatology, and Surgery Specialized tend to offer some of the highest salaries for residents.

How much is the pay increase from the first to last year of residency?

The pay increase from the first to the last year of residency can vary but generally ranges from around 20% to 40%, depending on the specialty and institution.

Can residents take on additional work for extra income?

Some residency programs allow residents to take on moonlighting or additional clinical work for extra income, but this must typically be approved by the program director and comply with work-hour regulations.

How much tax do medical residents pay?

Tax rates for medical residents vary based on their total income, deductions, and filing status. Generally, residents can expect to pay federal income tax, state income tax (if applicable), and payroll taxes such as Social Security and Medicare. 

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