10 Highest Paid Residency | Best Specialties

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Many medical students want to know how long medical residency lasts. What exactly is a medical resident?

Before we go into explaining that, this article will discuss the highest paid residency programs and the best specialties for medical students. Stay with us.

What is a Medical Residency?

A medical residency is an in-depth training program that takes place in a hospital or clinic and provides in-depth training in a specific medical specialty.

Residency programs typically last three years.

Doctors-in-training learns laboratory work, medical procedures, patient care, quality control, and mental and physical self-care, as well as “disclosure of adverse events”—the delivery of bad news. 

Because the first year of residency, also known as PGY-1 (post-graduate year one), is considered an internship, first-year residents are referred to as “interns.”

Interns become “residents” after PGY-2 as they focus more on their specialties.

Doctors who advance to subspecialties after completing residency are referred to as “fellows,” as their training is referred to as a fellowship.

To be accepted into a fellowship, doctors must go through the application, interview, and matching process once more.

Residency is challenging and demanding, and residents work long hours putting their classroom and clinical knowledge into practice. 

In this post, we will look at the highest-paying residency programs as well as the best subspecialties.

Read:10 Highest Paid Pediatric Specialties In The World | 2021

Do residents make a lot of money?

In comparison to other professions with comparable or even lower levels of training, resident pay appears to be very low.

This is because resident graduate medical education (GME) funding is primarily provided by Medicare, but salaries are set by teaching hospitals. And there’s little incentive to raise pay. 

According to the most recent Medscape Residents Salary and Income report, the average resident’s salary are just over $57,200.

Why do residents get paid so little?

Resident doctors are most likely paid so little because Medicare funds a large portion of residency program funding, and Medicare funds (for training residents) have been frozen since 1997.

Other microeconomic factors come into play as well. While resident doctors are paid, the work they do is always overseen by an attending physician.

During their first post-graduate year, interns do not even have a license to practice medicine (PGY-1). Residents do not generate revenue on their own because they lack the ability to bill for services that are not provided by the attending. 

Residents, as ridiculous as it may appear, are both an investment and an expense, but they are not rainmakers. The care they provide has just as much clout in that the residents are trained as it does in that the patient is cared for.

Even if funds were unfrozen, there are fewer residency slots available than there are current medical graduates. An increase in funding would almost certainly result in more residency slots, not better pay.

How much do residents make? 

According to Medscape’s Residents Salary and Debt Report 2021, the average medical resident earns $64,000 per year, a 1% increase from the $63,400 they earned in 2020. 

Salary increases with years of experience, as expected. Salaries in the sixth through eight years of postdoctoral training average $70,300, which is significantly higher than the $57,500 paid in the first year of residency. 

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Is residency harder than medical school?

They’re both difficult but in different ways. However, residency is likely to be more difficult.

Med school is difficult because it requires the rapid assimilation of massive amounts of information, with the need to be able to regurgitate that information either on tests or at the drop of a hat on a clinical rotation when an attending starts asking pimp questions on rounds.

All of this, plus extreme sleep deprivation and the constant awareness that your own personal level of skill and competency is frequently all that stands between patients and death, is what residency entails.

How to choose a residency program.

During interviews with internship and residency program directors, medical students can determine which training site best fits their personality and goals by asking the right questions.

When choosing a residency program consider the following:

1. Always consider the faculty’s calibre.

Are they challenging and supportive enough to allow you to spread your wings and develop your own practice style before graduating?

2. Don’t be misled by “perks”

Perks like convenient call times, free parking, and discounted housing. “In the long run, perks don’t matter; what matters is the experience,”

3. Take into account the location.

Is the program located in an area where you want to live? Would you like to work in that area after you graduate? Is there any option for recreation during downtime?

4. Speak with predecessor residents

Speak with a resident from each year of the program if possible to get a sense of what lies ahead.

Also, look into what program the graduates are doing and make sure their careers align with yours.

5. Don’t pretend to have opinions you don’t normally have

During the interview, do not pretend to have attitudes or opinions that you do not truly hold. “If you match into a program based on characteristics you don’t have, it can cause a lot of unnecessary problems.

6. Inquire about the program’s strengths and weaknesses

They are present in all programs, and understanding what they are can help you make an informed decision.

7. Take advantage of the opportunity to speak with nursing staff during your visit.

They will be your coworkers for many years, so it is critical to gain their perspective on residents.

8. Don’t consider it a pass or fail experience

And, when training begins, don’t consider it a “pass/fail” experience. This is one of the last times in your career that you will have aca

demic support as a student, a reason to try new things, and help if you fail.”

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What comes after residency? 

First, he or she throws a huge party to commemorate the completion of the training phase of his or her career.

However, a few may choose to pursue a fellowship (an additional 2–3 years) to gain additional specialized training. While this may result in a slightly higher salary, most doctors complete their training with residency.

A medical doctor will typically take a “board” examination specific to his or her field in the final months or shortly after residency.

Internists, for example, take the Board of Internal Medicine examination. OB/GYNs must pass the Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG) examination, among other things. 

This may vary depending on the country. Passing these exams qualifies the doctor for employment as a specialist in their field.

After residency, one can decide to stay in academia, which provides more prestige and a slightly lower workload but requires teaching, publishing, and politics.

More vacation time, including conference and academic days. Lower pay is frequently the trade-off.

The other option is to go into private practice. This can be a solo, small to a large single-specialty group, a multi-specialty group as an employee with or without partnership potential, or hospital employment.

Last but not least, travel is required, but so is the opportunity to learn about different practices/lifestyles, etc.

If they are fortunate, some people will spend their entire career with a single group. Others may take a little longer to find the right fit. 

This is similar to graduating from college, but it is delayed by seven to ten years or more.

What are the 10 highest paying residencies? List and review each medical residency program, their work, and their pay.

Here is a list of the 10 highest-paid residency programs in 2021.

1 Emergency Medicine Residency

Emergency medicine is one of the highest-paid residency programs. It is a medical specialty that focuses on recognizing, evaluating, and caring for patients who are critically ill or wounded.

It is a high-pressure, fast-paced, and diversified specialty that necessitates a comprehensive basis of medical knowledge as well as a wide range of clinical and technical abilities.

Pre-hospital care and the acute care components of the other specialties are prioritized. Emergency physicians treat people of all ages for a wide range of illnesses with various degrees of severity.

Clinical topics such as catastrophe medicine and large crowds are also included in emergency medical courses. 

A minimum of three years of postgraduate education in one of three forms is required for training (PGY 1-3, PGY 2-4 with separate internship, PGY 1-4). 

Following completion of an emergency medicine residency training program, subspecialty/fellowship training is offered in sports medicine, pediatric emergency medicine, EMS-prehospital, disaster medicine, medical toxicology, emergency ultrasound/imaging, palliative care, and critical care.

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2 Anesthesiology Residency

Anesthesiology is a branch of medicine that specializes in the care of patients who are made unconscious or insensitive to pain and stress during surgical, obstetric, and other medical operations.

This includes preoperative examination and treatment of these patients in specialist care for:

  • pain management
  • cardiac resuscitation
  • respiratory care issues, and
  • management of critically ill and/or injured patients in special care units. 

A minimum of four years of graduate medical study is required for training. Three years of clinical anesthetic training are required. One year of training must be spent on the clinical base year, which should offer the resident 12 months of extensive clinical instruction in medical specialties, with a maximum of one month including anesthetic administration.

Typically, the clinical base year is the first year of graduate medical school. 

Following completion of an anesthesiology resident training program, subspecialty/fellowship training is available in anesthesiology critical care medicine, pain management, and pediatric anesthesiology.

3 Medical Physicist Residency

The Radiation Oncology Physics Residency Program is one of the highest-paid residency programs. It is aimed at persons with an MS or Ph.D. who want to learn about clinical radiation oncology physics in preparation for a clinical career.

It offers clinical training in radiation oncology physics, preparing graduates for board certification and a career in radiation oncology. 

This Residency Program training includes the physics resident participating fully in the clinical routine while being supervised by experienced radiation oncology physicists.

Dosimetry, treatment planning, brachytherapy, radiation safety, multi-modality imaging, radiography and MR image guiding, particle therapy, specific procedures, and quality assurance are all covered in depth.

This residency provided training. The program prepares graduates for certification in the therapeutic medical physics specialty.

Graduates will also get enough clinical training, which should qualify them for employment as radiation oncology physicists.

4 Family Medicine Residency

Family medicine doctors are educated to prevent, diagnose, and treat a wide range of illnesses in people of all ages.

It is a precise field that integrates a unique combination of biological, behavioral, and social sciences, despite its vast scope and practice. Family medicine is concerned with ongoing care within the framework of the family.

Family doctors use a wide variety of cognitive and procedural abilities and, when required, collaborate with other experts to coordinate treatment.

They are trained in surgery, psychiatry, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, and geriatrics, among other specialties. 

Following completion of a family medicine residency training program, subspecialty/fellowship study in geriatric medicine and sports medicine is offered.

A minimum of three years of postgraduate education in an authorized training program is required for certification.

5 Internal Medicine Residency

Internal medicine is a broad-based specialty that encompasses the major organ systems of the body.

A general internist is a physician who treats adolescents, adults, and the elderly in both the office and the hospital, addressing both common and complicated problems.

Internists are experienced diagnosticians who diagnose and treat a wide range of acute and chronic diseases, as well as promote health and disease prevention.

They are also taught the fundamentals of basic care, which include illness prevention, wellness, substance misuse, mental health, and the effective treatment of common disorders of the eyes, ears, skin, nervous system, and reproductive organs. 

A minimum of three years of postgraduate education in an approved internal medicine residency training program is required. 

Training in a Subspecialty/Fellowship Following completion of an internal medicine residency training program, subspecialty/fellowship training is available in a variety of disciplines.

Cardiology, endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism, gastroenterology, hematology, infectious diseases, medical oncology, nephrology, pulmonary illness, and rheumatology are all certifiable subspecialties.

Qualification certifications in adolescent medicine, clinical cardiac electrophysiology, clinical and laboratory immunology, critical care medicine, geriatric medicine, and sports medicine can be earned.

6 Neurosurgery 

Neurosurgery is one of the highest-paid residency programs.

It is a medical specialty that specializes in the surgical and nonsurgical management, prevention, diagnosis, evaluation, treatment, critical care, and rehabilitation of disorders affecting the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems, as well as their supporting structures and vascular supply, as well as the surgical and nonsurgical management of pain.

As a result, neurosurgery includes the modern treatment of disorders of the brain, meninges, skull, and their blood supply, including the extra cranial, carotid, and vertebral arteries; pituitary gland disorders; spinal cord, meninges, and spine disorders; cranial and spinal nerve disorders throughout their distributions; and autonomic nervous system disorders. 

A minimum of six years of postgraduate study is required, including at least one year in a program recognized for the development of core clinical skills, as well as at least six months of structured educational experience in surgery other than neurosurgery.

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7. Invasive cardiology 

Cardiologists treat patients in the latter stages of heart failure and those in need of heart transplants.

They use blood flow, blood pressure, and other health markers to measure heart function and cardiovascular health. They use invasive techniques to detect and treat heart and peripheral vascular diseases.

Invasive cardiologists use catheterization and angioplasty procedures to detect if there is a blockage in blood arteries in the heart. 

Interventional cardiologists must undergo an additional year of training after completing a general internal medicine residency and a cardiovascular disease fellowship; this training is often completed immediately following a cardiovascular disease fellowship. 

They will spend an extra seven to eight years of training after graduating from medical school to specialize in invasive cardiology. They will also need to finish an internal medicine certification if they wish to become board-certified as a cardiologist.

8. Orthopedic surgery 

Orthopaedic Surgery is one of the highest-paid residency programs. It is a medical and surgical specialty that focuses on the research and prevention of musculoskeletal illnesses, disorders, and injuries, as well as their treatment by medicinal, surgical, and physical means. 

A minimum of 5 years of postgraduate education is required for training. 

Following completion of an orthopedic surgery residency program, subspecialty/fellowship training is available in adult reconstructive orthopedics, foot and ankle orthopedics, hand surgery, musculoskeletal oncology, orthopedic sports medicine, orthopedic spine surgery, orthopedic trauma, and pediatric orthopedics. 

9 Urology

The urologist is a doctor who diagnoses and treats urinary system problems. Patients who require treatment for bladder, urethra, ureters, kidneys, or adrenal gland problems are often referred to a urologist.

Female urology is concerned with the female reproductive systems and urinary tract diseases.

The urologist diagnoses and treats problems with the epididymis, penis, prostate, seminal vesicles, and testes in males.

To become a urologist, you must first get a four-year medical degree, followed by four years of specialized medical school study.

Urologist education, like those of other disciplines of medicine, is comprehensive.

It takes a total of 13 years of study and education, with board certification taking an additional two to five years. 

10 Dermatology

Dermatology is one of the highest-paid residency programs.

It is a broad field that includes illnesses and diseases of the skin, mucous membranes, hair, and nails, as well as a variety of sexually transmitted diseases. Acne, warts, various inflammatory dermatomes, skin malignancies, autoimmune disorders, occupational dermatomes, and contact dermatitis are just a few of the ailments that dermatologists treat.

The treatment includes everything from conducting a wide range of surgical treatments (such as excisions, sclerotherapy, laser surgery, liposuction, hair transplants, and tissue augmentation therapies) to caring for normal skin, preventing skin illnesses, and malignancies, and treating photoaging skin.

 A minimum of four years of postgraduate education is required for training. A broad-based clinical year of training in an approved institution must be completed before entering a three-year dermatology residency program.

Four-year training curriculum must include a broad-based clinical experience in the first year, as well as three years of dermatological study in the second through fourth years.

Dermatopathology subspecialty/fellowship training is offered after finishing a dermatological residency training program; this specific qualification certification can be achieved after being certified in dermatology, pathology, or both and completing a year of training in dermatopathology.

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Residents are compensated according to their postgraduate year, not their specialty.

As a trainee, the longer the residency or extended fellowship, the more they are paid. If they work for the same company, a third-year medicine resident and a third-year neurosurgery resident get the same pay. They may have varied educational stipends, which can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. 

Every resident at a particular hospital gets paid the same amount, with the only difference being their current year of training. This also applies to accredited fellows.

FAQs on highest paid residency programs

Which residency programs pay the most?

According to ziprecruiter.com, Emergency Medicine Residency, Anesthesiology Residency, Medical Physicist Residency, Family Medicine Residency, Internal Medicine Residency, with an average annual salary of $69,500.

 What is the most competitive residency program?

Orthopedic Surgery 
Neurological Surgery 
Plastic Surgery 
Radiation Oncology 

Why do residents get paid so little?

Resident doctors are most likely paid “so little” in the United States since Medicare supports a major portion of residency program financing, and Medicare payments (for training residents) have been stagnant since 1997. Other microeconomic issues come into play as well. 

What is the longest residency program? 

The period of residence is mostly determined by the subject of study chosen by the graduate. Medical disciplines such as family medicine and internal medicine frequently need three years, whereas surgery typically requires at least five years, with neurological surgery being the longest at seven years.

What is the easiest residency?

Family medicine, psychiatry, and pediatrics are the most accessible. Psychiatry is the simplest to navigate, followed by Family Medicine and PM&R. However, it is dependent on one’s personality.



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