Physician Income and Career Outlook

Plan for your financial future as a doctor

Projecting a Payment Plan

Estimating your income after residency will help you project a repayment plan. This knowledge can help give you confidence when facing stress over the cost of your education.

Visit the the MedLoans® Organizer and Calculator (MLOC)(students-residents.aamc.org) from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) to see what loan repayment might look like on a family physician’s salary.

Some employers offer new physicians loan repayment assistance as a hiring benefit. Additionally, there are some primary care-focused loan forgiveness programs  that medical students should be aware of, especially if planning to become a family physician.

Income as a Physician

A career in medicine allows physicians to achieve their professional and personal goals. It allows them to improve the health and lives of patients, conduct important research, and perhaps, own a practice. While medical school is expensive training, compensation for physicians allows them to lead a secure financial life.

Family physicians and other specialists make enough money to pay off student loans and have the lifestyle they want. According to the national health care research firm Merritt Hawkins, in 2016-17, average annual income for family physicians was more than $231,000(www.merritthawkins.com). Additionally, starting bonuses for all physicians averages more than $30,000(www.merritthawkins.com). Despite these attractive salaries and bonuses, being knowledgeable about the money you owe and learning to manage your debt early in your career will keep you financially secure your entire career.

While physicians do receive a salary as a resident, it is much less than what you’ll earn once you complete training. On average, residents in most specialties earn between $50,000 and $70,000 annually(www.medscape.com). New medical school graduates must be prepared to make decisions about their personal finances almost immediately after graduation. For example, postponing loan payments, paying for relocation costs, and navigating life insurance and mortgages are all financial considerations residents will face.

Making It Work

Financial Considerations in Specialty Choice

Income is influenced by a variety of factors in medicine, including services offered by the physician, quality measurements, payment reform, practice setting, and hours worked. One benefit of training in family medicine is the amount of control this background provides when it comes to obtaining your desired income level and career flexibility.

Family physicians can offer their patients a variety of innovative and valuable services and care options, and they have the opportunity to change their practice over time, as necessary to meet the needs of their patient populations. With more than 20 areas of fellowship training available to family physicians, it’s possible to advance or focus your career in many directions at any point.

According to Merritt Hawkins, family medicine has been the most recruited specialty for more than 10 years(www.merritthawkins.com). The broad scope of clinical skills a family physician attains can be applied in many settings and practice types.

Projecting a Payment Plan

Estimating your income after residency will help you project a repayment plan. This knowledge can help give you confidence when facing stress over the cost of your education.

Visit the the MedLoans® Organizer and Calculator (MLOC)(students-residents.aamc.org) from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) to see what loan repayment might look like on a family physician’s salary.

Some employers offer new physicians loan repayment assistance as a hiring benefit. Additionally, there are some primary care-focused loan forgiveness programs  that medical students should be aware of, especially if planning to become a family physician.