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Don Osborne
Noodle Expert Member

October 04, 2021

Salaries for Medical Residents and New Doctors What’s the current average salaries for residency? According to Medscape, this number now stands at $55,300 -- of course, this is just the average. The actual-number is a bit lower if you are involved in primary care and higher if you are in a specialized field. Criteria for Residency Salaries The first, and most important, criteria for your residency salary is your profession. The 2014 report by Medscape lays all of this information out. The highest residency salary is for those in critical care which is $65,000. The lowest is family medicine which is $52,000. Bear in mind that those involved in family and internal medical care are the ones that populate the lower end of this salary chart. Secondly, residency salaries also vary on how long it has been since you received your medical degree. The average salary for an 8th year post-MD resident is $66,000. Thirdly, your location has much to do with how much you can expect to get paid. The Northwest and Northeast have the highest-paid residencies with $71,000 and $61,000 respectively. Of course, as a fourth criteria, you strength as a candidate affects your salary as well -- if you are a stronger candidate, you can expect to receive higher offers for your residency. Can My Salary Cover My Medical School Debt? 75% of all residents have some form of medical school debt and around 36% have over $200,000 to pay off. If we look at the numbers, debt does not change all that drastically during the course of residency -- and most residents can expect to have their debt from medical school still with them after completing residency. There are means to manage this if you are heavily indebted. Consider how much you need to pay first -- most debt programs only charge you a couple of hundred per month which is perfectly doable given the high salary you will assumingly be receiving after residency. Your debt can be partially or completely forgiven if you apply for employment in the military or through Peace Corps (to give one example). The AAMC provides a “fact card" with information on how to repay your debt and gives an example of how to go about doing it. Check it out. How Will My Salary Look Post-Residency It will go up tremendously, but it is highly dependent on what your field is. If you are a specialized doctor, post-residency salaries are in the hundreds of thousands. As a family doctor, an accurate estimate would be around $125,000. I suggest you check out this article here. Your post-residency salary will be much influenced by the same factors that determined your residency salary. Location, again, is important in this regard -- the Northwest still has the highest paying doctors on average, while the west coast (California area) the pay is relatively low compared to the rest of the US. It’s just matter of where the demand is. What Are Some Common Mistakes Made During and Post-Residency? “I will worry about my debt later" -- this is a big no-no. When choosing a residency, make sure it aligns with your payment plan. You need to estimate how much you’ll be making in the future so you don’t run into any trouble once you get out of your residency program. Accepting your first job offer -- you might feel excited that you made it this far (either to residency or after you finished it), but look around and don’t settle for the first offer that jumps that you. You need to weigh your options. Not owning up to your mistakes -- if you’re in a residency program, don’t be afraid to admit to your supervisor that you are unsure about something or that you need help. It is much better that you ask and learn from your mistakes than not know and have it cost you in the future (and given the medical profession, I do not say this lightly). Final Thoughts When considering your residency program, ask yourself: (1) Will this satisfy my future financial obligations and goals? (2) Could I be getting better pay working elsewhere? (3) Is the residency program I am thinking of truly what I want? -- Or, alternatively, can I see myself doing this professionally after I am done? These questions are not easy, but consider them while applying for your residency program.