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6 Stats from Medscape's Residents Earnings and Debt Report

By Anna Mueller, MS | 18 Oct 2021

No one goes into medicine for an easy ride, but sometimes the path to becoming a physician is much more complicated than expected — particularly in a pandemic year marked by economic uncertainty. Although specialist physicians take home a healthy salary, they first have to make it through their grueling residency years (while chiseling away at a mountain of debt).

To better understand this experience, Medscape surveyed more than 1,500 residents across 29 specialties. Here are a few of the highlights from the Medscape Residents Salary & Debt Report:

 

 

The average resident salary increased 3% from 2017, reaching $64,000 this year. However, there’s little difference from last year when the average hovered around $63,400.

 

And how do residents feel about those salaries? Not so great. In fact, only about 43% of all residents surveyed feel fairly compensated. And while 48% of first-year residents feel well-compensated, only 40% of third-year residents feel the same.

When asked why they’re dissatisfied, 87% said the compensation doesn’t reflect the number of hours worked, while 81% said it’s not comparable to other medical staff. 74% said it doesn’t reflect the skills required, and 42% said it doesn’t meet the current cost of living.

One resident surveyed explained that residents received no overtime or hazard pay, and the demands of the past year, in particular, have underscored the pay disparity.

 

 

Unsurprisingly, residents feel they should receive a substantial pay increase for their efforts. 28% say they’d like to see an increase between 11% and 25%, while 39% said they’d like to see a salary jump between 26% and 50%. Only 16% of residents believe they should receive a raise of 76% or more.

However, it’s worth noting that male residents are almost three times more likely than female residents to say they should earn a paycheck 76% to 100% more than their current salary.

 

 

And medical residents work hard for their money. 66% of residents spend more than 50 hours of their week at the hospital, and 22% spend more than 70 hours there — which is an increase of 16% from last year. This uptick is likely due to COVID-19 demands.

 

When choosing their specialty, most residents are influenced by earning potential. In fact, only 10% said their potential salary was not influential at all. Additionally, among those who’ve chosen family medicine or internal medicine, 47% say they plan to subspecialize.

 

 

Of course, given the amount of debt medical students graduate owing, the interest in higher-paying specialties isn’t shocking. The majority of residents finished school with more than $200,000 in student loans, while nearly one-fourth owed over $300,000.

And with education costs on the rise, we don’t anticipate medical school tuition dropping anytime soon.

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