Medical students are typically full of hope, ambition, and vigor that will drive them to reach great heights within their respective fields. However, despite the desire to ease human suffering, there is also a desire to be fairly compensated. Navigating physician contracts and physician compensation is almost as complicated as gaining access to the medical field itself. With that in mind, these four tips will help medical students avoid some common mistakes when navigating the complex field of physician compensation.
Money is Not The Only Form of Compensation
Most physicians are paid a salary, but some work on an hourly basis. You may be wondering exactly how much do doctors make an hour, and the answer may surprise you. On average, a physician in the United States will earn between $76 and $125 an hour based on location and specialty. That being said, there is more to a compensation package than cold hard cash. Some packages will enable physicians to be first in line to access new medical research or procedures. Others may provide unique advancement opportunities.
Gross Pay and Take Home Pay Are Different
When looking at the gross amount on a contract or employment offer, it is easy to get excited about the high amount. However, it is important to keep in mind that gross pay and how much you take home are not the same. The gross pay is before taxes and other expenses. Your take-home pay will be 20%-30% less. As a medical student, it is important to keep this in mind when weighing the value of an offer right out of medical school.
Resident Salaries Are Generally Low
Completing medical school is a costly endeavor. Many students will end up with $200k or more in student loans by the time they graduate. Customarily, a first-year medical resident can expect to earn between $55k and $65k per year. While this may sound like a considerable sum, the bulk of their pay will be spent on insurance, student loans, and other basic expenses. Proper financial planning and savvy negotiation can ensure fair compensation even right out of medical school.
Self-Employed Physicians Earn More Than Contract Physicians
The city, specialty, and experience of a physician play a critical role in how much they can earn in their respective fields. Being employed by a big hospital offers a steady source of income, and also is a great way to grow a pension for retirement. However, medical students should know that self-employed physicians tend to earn more than those who work under a hospital or clinic contract. Self-employed doctors tend to earn as much as $70k more than their salaried counterparts.
Bonuses Are More Important Than You Think
The base salary for a working physician will allow them the freedom to plan their finances for the year. While this is a great starting point, other forms of remuneration are what sweeten the pot. As mentioned above, learning opportunities are just one perk that comes with the job, but the bonuses are what seal the deal for most service providers. The bonus that comes with signing a new physician contract can help offset the cost of student loans, rider transfers, relocation, and much more.
Secure Your Future As A Medical Student
There are quite a few points that can be confusing when it comes to physician compensation. Looking at the whole contract, bonuses, and extras that may be included is a great way for students to evaluate offers and make sound decisions for their future.