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Do Doctors Get Paid During Residency?

Do Doctors Get Paid During Residency?
Rebecca Safier
Rebecca SafierUpdated August 8, 2023
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Given the long hours and hard work of residency, you may be wondering, “Do residents get paid?” The answer is yes, doctors get paid during residency. The salary will be lower than what you can expect after finishing your residency, but it should still cover your living expenses. Read on for a closer look at what medical residency is and how much doctors get paid during residency. 

What Is a Medical Residency?

A medical residency is a period of work and training following graduation from medical school. It’s a graduate medical education program (GME) for doctors-in-training and is required for those that wish to practice independently in the U.S. As a medical resident, you’ll work alongside senior doctors in a clinic, hospital, or other medical setting to provide care to patients. You may be in residency for somewhere between three and seven years, depending on your specialty. After completing your residency, you’ll be qualified to practice medicine independently without the supervision of senior physicians. 

The Truth About Resident and Doctor Pay

Once you become a full-time doctor, your salary could be well over $200,000, depending on your specialty. According to a 2022 survey by Medscape, plastic surgeons had some of the highest average salaries, at $576,000 per year. Doctors who practiced family medicine and pediatrics made about half that, at $255,000 and $244,000, respectively. But before you can start earning six figures, you’ll make much less as a resident. According to Medscape, the average salary for medical residents in 2022 was $64,200.  Expect to make less in your first year and earn a few thousand dollars more per year each subsequent year. Medscape found, for instance, that residents typically earn around $58,700 in their first year, $63,500 in year three, and $68,800 in years six through eight. 

What Other Benefits Do Medical Residents Get?

Since medical residents are working for hospitals and clinics, they are typically eligible for employer benefits. These include health, vision, dental, and life insurance. Residents also may qualify for vacations and sick days. Depending on the employer, medical residents may have access to additional benefits, such as financial counseling or time off for training and seminars. 

How to Manage Student Debt During Medical Training

While the answer to, “Do doctors get paid during residency?” is yes, the salary may not go very far if you owe student loans. According to the AAMC, the average student loan debt for doctors who borrowed is $200,000. Assuming a 7% interest rate, those loans would require a monthly payment of about $2,322 on a standard 10-year repayment plan.On a resident salary of around $60,000, it may be impossible to make full payments on your student loans in addition to paying for living expenses. Fortunately, you have options for reducing or deferring your payments. If you owe federal student loans, for instance, you’re eligible for mandatory forbearance while in residency. Mandatory forbearance postpones your payments, but your student loans might continue to accrue interest during this time. If you’d prefer to keep interest costs down, consider an income-driven repayment plan, which will cap your payments at 10%, 15%, or 20% of your discretionary income while extending your repayment terms to 20 or 25 years. Your private student loan options will vary by lender, but some lenders let you defer payments while you’re in medical residency. Reach out to your lender about reducing or pausing payments if you can’t afford to keep up with them. 

Financial Options During Residency

Another option for managing your student loans during residency is refinancing them. Some refinancing providers offer competitive rates and the option to pay only $100 per month while you’re in residency. You’ll need good credit (or a creditworthy cosigner) to access the best rates. Refinancing also lets you choose new repayment terms, often up to 20 years, and combine multiple loans into one for a single monthly payment. Be careful about refinancing federal student loans, though, as doing so turns them into private student loans. Private student loans are not eligible for federal forgiveness programs or repayment plans, so proceed with caution. Besides refinancing, other options worth exploring are medical school loan forgiveness programs and repayment assistance programs. Working in public service or a high-need community may make you eligible for partial or full forgiveness of your student loan debt. 

Understanding Medical Residency Loans

While you may have borrowed student loans to pay for medical school, your costs didn’t end at graduation. You may need additional money as you’re moving into the residency period of your training. Some lenders offer medical residency loans that you can use to cover the costs that go into finding a residency position. For instance, you could borrow a medical residency loan to pay for travel to and from interviews, transportation, or relocation to a different state. The rates and terms of these loans during residency will vary by lender, so compare your options carefully to find a loan with affordable costs of borrowing. Find out if payments will be due right away or if you can postpone them while you’re completing your residency. 

The Takeaway

While residents do get paid, the salary is pretty low compared to what you probably had to pay for medical school and what you will make as an attending physician.Since your resident salary may not be enough to cover student loan payments, explore options for deferment, forbearance, and income-driven repayment. If you owe private student loans, look into refinancing for better rates and a reduced monthly payment. Find out more about how Lantern can help you refinance student loans from leading lenders.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do residents get paid during medical residency?
How much do doctors get paid during residency?
What are the options for financing during medical residency?
What are medical residency loans?
How long do doctors have to stay in residency?
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About the Author

Rebecca Safier

Rebecca Safier

Rebecca Safier has nearly a decade of experience writing about personal finance. Formerly a senior writer with LendingTree and Student Loan Hero, she specializes in student loans, financial aid, and personal loans. She is certified as a student loan counselor with the National Association of Certified Credit Counselors (NACCC).
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