5 Things Medical Students Should Know About Physician Compensation

Starting medical school is an amazing accomplishment that not every student can achieve. From rigorous entrance exams to sky-high student loan fees, the journey through medical school is fraught with hurdles. Of course, most people enter the medical field to help people, though the fact that it tends to pay well serves as extra encouragement. However, there are some things medical students should know regarding physician compensation before choosing a career path.

Student Loan Debt

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According to studies from the AMC, the average medical student will carry an estimated $200k in medical education loan debt upon graduation. Before choosing which medical field in which they want to specialize, it is important to calculate their potential earnings. For example, an anesthesiologist’s salary at the entry level averages around $250k per year. As their experience grows, this can go as high as $500k per year or higher. Not every field offers such high earnings which can make it difficult to settle student loan debt.


Location is Critical


Physician compensation varies widely depending on the specialty. However, the rates will vary more dramatically depending on the location of employment. Medical students should research which states, and cities offer the best remuneration ranges for their desired field of specialization. In general, the South offers the best rates for healthcare professionals of all levels.

Salary Minimums Have Increased


Over the past 15 years, the rates for most healthcare fields have remained steady. While this may sound promising on paper, the lack of increases meant that inflation often took a large bit out of physician’s paychecks. As of 2022 however, rate increases across the board have been recorded in the medical field. This is in part due to the recent pandemic, and the higher focus on patient health.

Hire Pay Means More Training

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Getting an education is never easy, especially in the medical field. However, the hard work will pay off in the form of useful skills that can help serve humanity. Medical students should be aware that some of the better-paying positions and specialties also come with stricter educational requirements. That means more time will need to be spent on a subspecialty-focused fellowship, longer residency, and intensive training.


Realizing Earning Potential is a Long Game


Many medical students assume that as soon as they graduate and land a job they will start receiving big paychecks. While seasoned physicians are able to bring in handsome paychecks, most first-year physician’s residents earn closer to $60k per year before taxes. Where the training year is completed and which institution they are acquainted with will play the biggest role in their initial earnings. For most, that means both third-year and sixth-year residents will have the same physician compensation regardless of the specialty.

Choosing Your Future Career Path Wisely


As a medical student, it is important to understand precisely what factors determine physician compensation. A chosen career path will determine long-term future earnings however student loans, training periods, and the location of one’s employment will also be defining factors.