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Residents Are More Satisfied With Their Pay Than Before — But Still Have One Major Complaint

Residents are some of the most overworked physicians in the game, but they feel their compensation doesn’t always reflect the number of hours they work.

That’s one of the primary findings of Medscape’s Residents Salary & Debt Report 2019. For this year’s research, some 2,200 residents across more than 30 specialties revealed their earnings, the number of hours they work and what their relationships with fellow healthcare professionals are like.

RELATED: Survey: These are the Highest-Paid Specialities for NPs and PAs

Notably, 51 percent of residents in their sixth through eighth years feel “fairly compensated” — up from 35 percent in 2018. Also, more than half of first-year residents feel fairly compensated for the second year in a row. Fourth year residents have the highest satisfaction rate at 53 percent. Overall, 47 percent of residents feel fairly compensated.

Of those who do not, 86 percent say the reason why is their compensation “doesn’t reflect the number of hours worked.” More than three-fourths, 76 percent, say their pay is “not comparable to other medical staff,” such as PAs and nurses. Some 69 percent say their compensation doesn’t reflect their skill level, and 44 percent say it’s below the cost of living. About one-fifth take issue with their benefits.

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So how much more money do residents want? About 35 percent of respondents say they should make between 26-50 percent more. Last year’s respondents gave roughly the same answer.

Other noteworthy findings from the survey include:

  • The average salary for a resident is $61,200, which has grown 3 percent over the past two years.
  • The highest-paying specialties are: medical genetics, allergy/immunology, and infectious diseases. The lowest are: emergency and family medicine.
  • Male residents earn more on average than females, but it’s a small difference. The gap grows as physicians gain more experience.
  • More than 90 percent of residents say earning potential influences their specialty choice.
  • Some 22 percent of residents spend between 51-60 hours a week seeing patients. About 19 percent say they spend more than 70.
  • More than one-quarter (26 percent) of respondents spend more than 70 hours a week at their hospital.
  • About 53 percent of residents spend 1-5 nights on call a month. More than one-quarter, 27 percent, spend 6-10.
  • About 80 percent of residents are satisfied with how attending physicians treat them, and 89 percent feel the relationship is “very good/good.”
  • Some 83 percent of residents say their relationship with nurses and PAs is “very good/good.” About 15 percent call it “fair” and 2 percent “poor/very poor.”

Last updated on 10/9/19.

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