Dollars and cents

What residents are getting paid in 2018

Annual Medscape report reveals which specialties get paid the most and least, and how residents feel about their earnings.

The average medical resident is earning $59,300 annually, according to Medscape’s 2018 Residents Salary and Debt Report, an increase from $57,200 in 2017.

Allergy & immunology, rheumatology and specialized surgery trainees are paid the most, with salaries ranging from $66,100 to $68,000 on average, while public health & preventive medicine, family medicine and emergency medicine trainees earn the least, receiving annual pay of $55,500-$56,800.

As expected, salaries increase with years of experience, and those in highly specialized programs have often been in training for many years. Salaries in the sixth through eighth years of postdoctoral training average $64,300, considerably more than the $55,200 received in the first year of residency.

Medscape surveyed more than 1,900 trainees in 29-plus specialties to create the report.

Here are more highlights:

    • Male and female residents earn similar salaries, though male residents earn slightly higher salaries at $59,600 vs. female residents’ $58,700. The earnings gap among physicians is significantly higher. In primary care, for example, men earn 18% more than women, and male specialists earn 36% more.
    • More than half of first-year residents feel fairly compensated. By years six to eight, only 35% of residents feel adequately compensated.
    • Over 40% of residents surveyed say future compensation will be highly influential on their ultimate choice of specialty.
    • That being said, 40% of respondents in primary care specialties said they planned to pursue primary care, while 46% intend to subspecialize and 14% will specialize but haven’t chosen a specialty yet.
    • Almost a quarter of residents surveyed had over $300,000 in medical school debt, while the same amount have no debt. Another 24% of residents have between $200,001-$300,000 in debt.
    • Thirty-seven percent of respondents spend more than 60 hours per week seeing patients.
    • More than 80% of respondents say they’re satisfied with attending physicians’ treatment of residents.

Interested in learning more about managing your finances as a resident or new physician? Read the following articles in The DO:

6 smart ways to manage your student loans during residency

Budgeting after your first doctor paycheck

Is a physician mortgage right for you?

Controlling the urge to splurge: Car-buying strategies for new DOs

Why your FICO credit score matters so much


  1. This is pretty misleading. Surgical sub-specialty residents and fellows make more than primary care residents on average because they spend more years in training and residents get paid more based on the year of training. With almost no exception everyone in the same post graduate level gets paid the exact same salary within the same hospital. The other factor includes the fact that primary care physicians can be trained at rural hospitals which have a lower cost-of-living and therefore their salaries are adjusted to be slightly lower than those in bigger cities. Metropolitan areas train all types of physicians. I suggest the author be more careful before publishing such statements. Please forgive typos from first post

  2. Having to service large loans probably influences choice of specialty. And, how many of those without significant debt are in that fortunate position because they are FMGs? This means that they have taken advantage of their own country’s educational system and once here effectively earn more than their US educated colleagues because they have little or no debt to service. FMGs should have to pay for their GME. This would remove the burden from Medicare and create a more level playing field.

  3. Our Residency pays graduated salary of $45,000 to $47,000 for Family Medicine Residents. The midlevels make at least twice what we do, for essentially the same work, however we work a lot more hours and have a lot more education…what’s wrong with this picture?

  4. How can there be a gender income gap in medicine? 3rd parties pay the same for a given service, right? Are the figures corrected for hours worked, and the males simply put in more hours? Are the female docs less likely to be aggressive in contract negotiations? Perhaps I am just old and out of touch, but I thought medicine of all professions would be egalitarian.

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