Do residents make a salary?

Hello again!
The following question is very basic, but my husband and I are trying to figure out how long we will be without my salary should this whole “med school” idea come to fruition. I told my husband that it’s probably a given that I won’t work in med school, so that’s four years of belt-tightening. However, how about once I’m a resident? Can you share with me what the average salary is for a resident?
Also, if I wanted to go into academia, such as be a professor in a med school, what kind of residency would I go for? Are these professorships hard to get?
As always, thanks so much for the honest replies. Sincerely, Siobhan

Residents are employees of the programs they work for and as such, make a salary, get benefits, accrue vacation and sick leave (though to be honest you don’t see people taking sick leave except under dire circumstances). To find out about the wide variety of residencies available, and the salaries of different programs, look here. Average salary for a first year resident is upper 30s.

Thanks so much for your reply. I’ve bookmarked the link you provided so that I can read through it without rushing. My husband, too, is quite interested in all of this stuff, and is getting more and more involved as I begin the process of registering for my pre-med reqs, so this information will be good to share with him, as well.
As always, thanks to all for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I don’t think that there could be a harder decision for me to make than whether or not to move forward in this process, so I thank you all for your wisdom, and good wishes…it makes me feel not quite so blind or naieve! Sincerely, Siobhan

In re: academia. The residencies to get to become a professor are more likely to:

1. be in large teaching hospitals affiliated with universities

2. include some research time in them

3. place lots of people in fellowships afterwards.

There are of course exceptions to these rules as with most rules.

Med school professors are a mixed lot. There are actually thousands of “professors” of Harvard Medical School, for instance. These folks are really doctors who have a medical school affiliation but make their money by being doctors, not by being teachers. (At most schools, their teaching duties are not reimbursed at all, or only a little bit, unless they are doing a huge amount of teaching or holding an administrative position.) Additionally, there are folks who are really professors in a given academic area and are rewarded for publishing rather than for being clinical docs. Even here, most of them are making their salary on “soft money”–that is, the money brought in by their research grants that paid for the research they’re publishing. (They may get some startup support from the university and/or a base salary in some cases, and/or some money for space/equipment/clerical etc, but my understanding is that this baseline support doesn’t add up to much over the long run. You’ve got to bring in grants.)

My understanding is that it is only a very few people–more in the basic sciences than in clinical medicine–who are actually paid professors, paid by the university and not by grants.

I also know that I’m not doing justice to the financial and career-planning complexities of serving as a med school faculty member, as I’m just trying to take one step at a time these days; but, you may want to talk to some real med school faculty about this if it’s a goal of yours. In direct answer to your question, the answer is: depends on the professorship. If you’re talking about an affiliation with a medical school, no that’s not hard to get. If you’re talking about a professorship where you get paid to be a researcher by a university, that’s more difficult.

best regards


IF you are talking about getting paid to do research then you must show an interest in research from the beginning. The beginning being medical school. Year 1 & 2 are reserved for the sciences so there isn’t much of a need for it there but in between year 3 & 4 some schools will allow you to take a year off and do some research somewhere. We’ve had a number of students do this with the ultimate goal of one day working in research and teaching.
I’m not a med student nor a PhD candidate. I’m the program administrator who has to administer the grant for the the PI’s (MD or PhD). We’ve had some students spend the year and realize they do not want anything to do with research, other who want research more than anything and the rest are happy for the experience but that’s it.
Not sure how much this helped but take it for what it’s worth.