Do Doctors Get Paid During Medical Residency?December 13, 2022
If you are working towards a career in medicine, you may wonder, “do doctors get paid during residency?” The answer is yes! Although salaries vary based on the year of residency and your specialty, medical residents are paid for their work.
According to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), there were over 144,000 active medical residents as of 2021, and the average salary for medical residents was $64,200.
Learning about what kind of salary to expect — and how to manage your student loan debt — can help you as you begin your residency and plan for the future.
What is a Medical Residency?
If you want to become a doctor, completing medical school is just the start of your training. After you graduate, you’ll embark on the next phase: medical residency.
A medical residency is a period of on-the-job training. During this time, you will work under the supervision of experienced physicians and gain practical experience in your chosen specialty.
Medical residents typically work long hours — often up to 80 hours per week — and are expected to deliver quality patient care. The length of the residency varies based on your specialization but generally ranges from two to five years.
Do Doctors Get Paid During Residency?
After graduating from medical school, you likely have substantial student loan debt and are worried about paying your bills. If you’re concerned about covering your living expenses during your residency, there is good news: medical residents are usually paid.
The residency stipend can help pay for your basic essentials. How much you earn depends on your location, the hospital or office you work for, and your specialty, but the average medical residency stipend is $64,200 per year.
However, the earlier you are in your training, the less you’ll make. According to Medscape, these are the average annual earnings by residency year:
What Other Benefits Do Medical Residents Receive?
While medical residents are still in training, they are working and usually eligible for employer-sponsored benefits like health insurance, vision and dental coverage, and life insurance. Some employers even offer financial counseling and time off for personal finance seminars for medical residents, and medical residents are also eligible for vacation and sick time.
How to Manage Student Loan Debt on a Resident’s Salary
At first glance, the average medical resident’s salary of $64,200 seems generous. To put it in perspective, consider that the national annual average wage for all occupations was $58,260 in 2021. With a salary of nearly $6,000 more, you might assume that a medical resident is quite comfortable.
However, that’s often not the case. Most medical school graduates leave school with substantial amounts of student loan debt. According to the AAMC, 71% of medical school students had education debt, and those students owed an average of $205,000.
With such a large balance, a medical resident’s salary is unlikely to cover your living expenses and monthly student loan payments. If that’s the case, consider the following options:
Enroll in an Alternative Payment Plan
If you have federal student loans, you can enroll in income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. IDR plans consider your discretionary income when calculating your payments, so you could qualify for a much lower payment than you have now.
Contact your lender to discuss your options if you have private student loans. Some lenders will allow you to make reduced payments or defer them entirely while you complete your residency.
State Repayment Assistance
In several states, medical residents can get help from state government agencies to repay their loans. Through state loan repayment assistance programs, the government will give you money to pay off some of your debt. In exchange, you must commit to working in high-need areas for a specific amount of time, such as two years.
For example, physicians in Vermont can receive up to $40,000 per year to repay their student loans if they work in a designated healthcare professional shortage area.
The AAMC maintains a database of repayment assistance programs offered throughout the country.
Student Loan Refinancing
If your payments are too high during your residency, another option is student loan refinancing. You can apply for a loan from a private lender for the amount of your total existing debt. Depending on your credit and income, you may be eligible for a lower rate and different repayment terms, and you might get a lower monthly payment.
Use the student loan refinance calculator to determine how refinancing impacts your monthly payments.
Do doctors get paid during residency? Now that you know that medical residents can earn a stipend and how much you can expect to make, you can plan for your training and education.
If you decide to refinance your student loans, you can use ELFI to get a quote online without affecting your credit score.*