medical resident smiling in a lab coat with arms crossed
Locums News July 21, 2016

Report: Medical Resident Salary Rates Increasing

Medscape has just released its 2016 Residents Salary & Debt Report, a survey of more than 1,800 currently enrolled U.S. medical residents across 25 specialties.

The survey is comprehensive, covering not only medical resident salary rates, but also the number of hours they typically work, the nature of their professional relationships, and their education quality.

Among the biggest takeaways are the facts that medical resident salary rates are continuing to increase — but perhaps not at the rate that residents would like. And the gap between male and female resident salary rates is tightening, though there still exists some disparity.

Key Findings: Medscape 2016 Medical Resident Salary & Debt Report

How much are medical residents earning in 2016? The survey puts the average medical resident salary at $56,500, a "slight increase" over the 2015 rate of $55,400.

What resident specialties have the highest compensation? For the second consecutive year, "critical care residents earned the top salary ($62,154) in 2016, over $8000 more than their colleagues in family medicine, who earned the least ($54,000)."

Also near the top of the list are cardiology, gastroenterology, and pulmonary medicine residents at approximately $61,000 per year. Oncology, plastic surgery, rheumatology, and urology residents rank next, at about $60,000.

Do resident salaries match up with physician salaries? Interestingly, although critical care residents are the highest paid in 2016, Medscape's 2016 Physician Compensation Report, released earlier in the year, places that specialize in the "middle of the pack" for standard doctor salaries.

Resources for Medical Residents and Fellows from Staff CareHow do U.S. resident salaries differ from region to region? There's quite a bit of regional variation in resident salaries across the United States, as the survey points out. For the past two years, medical residents in Northeast states outpaced other regions by a wide margin. But again, this differs from standard physician compensation to a remarkable degree, with the 2016 Physician Compensation Report finding that practicing doctors in the Northeast actually "ranked last in compensation" with "practicing doctors in the North Central region" earning the most.

How do salaries vary amongst different residency years "The average resident earned $52,700 in the first year of residency, with salaries increasing to a high of $63,000 by the sixth through eighth years," the report explains, pointing out that the largest increase happens between the third and fourth years?

How do resident salaries differ for males and females? Although female resident salaries aren't yet equal to that of their male counterparts, the gap between them is shortening, from $1,000 in 2015 to $600 this year. On average, male medical residents earn $56,700, with females earning $56,100.

How fair do male and female residents find their resident salary rates? "There was a difference in both male and female residents' perceptions of fairness in their compensation from one year to the next. In our 2015 report, 60% of male residents and 65% of female residents felt fairly compensated. In 2016, only 52% of men and 55% of women said they felt the same."

Among the complaints offered about medical resident salary rates:

  • "We work 80 hours per week, which comes out to about $15 per hour."
  • "We're better trained than NPs and PAs, yet we make half their salaries."
  • "Residents are used as the slave labor force in academic medicine."
  • "People in other professions with comparable education and experience earn significantly more."
  • "With loan payments, rent, and other expenses, I live from paycheck to paycheck."

Legitimate as these comments are, medical residents can be reassured by the likelihood that their pay will increase dramatically when they enter into their post-residency careers. As Modern Healthcare recently reported, physician salaries continue to rise in general, with 18 of 23 surveyed specialties "received percentage pay increases greater the rise in consumer prices."

And as the Medscape 2016 Physician Compensation Report points out, the average physician salary rate ranges from $204,000 all the way up to $367,000 — more than double and even as much as quadruple the average medical resident salary rates.



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