Doctors often top the list of highest-paid professionals in the nation. But when it comes to resident doctors, the story is much different. During residency, interns log countless hours -- sometimes 24 at a crack -- yet earn very little in the way of cash, especially compared to their licensed counterparts. To ease the blow, most residency programs offer additional benefits that can offset the relatively low wages.
As of May 2011, doctors earned an average $184,650 a year, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Because certain facilities pay lower salaries for their physicians, median wage is often used to predict earnings. Half of all doctors earned at least $187,199 a year. Neither figure, however, accounts for the stipends of resident doctors, which are much, much less than that of practicing physicians.
A survey conducted by the Association of American Medical Colleges found that pay is often based on the year of residency. For the academic year of 2012 to 2013, a first-year resident averages $50,274 a year, while second-year residents earn an average of $52,222 a year. In the third year of residency, an intern can expect to earn $54,373 a year, and the earnings continue to increase each year until the eighth, when a resident doctor could earn upward of $65,565 a year — over $100,000 less than a licensed physician.
As with almost any medical career, practice setting affects earnings, and a resident doctor is no exception. For example, a first-year resident earns $49,149 a year at a state hospital and $48,263 a year at a municipal hospital, on average. At a church hospital, earnings are a little better, averaging $50,196 a year during the first year of residency, while those at medical schools average $48,496 a year.
In addition to a stipend, many residents are awarded benefits — some of which are monetary. In your first year of residency, it isn’t uncommon to be given a housing stipend. At Stanford School of Medicine, you can expect $3,000 to cover housing costs. The same is true at the University of California, San Diego. You may also be given an education stipend, as well as one to cover the cost of transportation -- such as gas, mileage or parking -- and food, namely for meals eaten while on call. On top of these perks, most programs cover the cost of health care and life insurance, as well as vacation and sick time of their residents.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Physicians and Surgeons
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook – Physicians and Surgeons
- AAMC Survey of Resident/Fellow Stipends and Benefits
- Stanford School of Medicine: Frequently Asked Questions – General Surgery Training Program
- UC San Diego School of Medicine: Department of Surgery – General Surgery Residency – Salary & Benefits
- Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images
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