How can a resident or fellow get a training stipend? Is it possible to get a $2000 a month training stipend from your new employer?
Resident Training Stipend
A training stipend is not the salary you receive during your residency or fellowship. A stipend is additional money paid by an employer that plans to employ you after you finish training. Let’s talk about how to get it, where to find it, and how much it should be.
Identify Potential Employers while Training
You must identify someone you want to work with after training early in the process. Nearly everyone completes the training at the end of June, some at the end of July. If you’re going to wait to find a new position, say six months before you finish training—let’s say you started in January looking for a job— you are not going to find one in a month or two, most likely. If you want a stipend throughout training, meaning at least for the last two years of residency and into fellowship, if you’re moving that way, you must start your job search very early.
Most people wait too long to start the job search, thinking, why would an employer want to commit to me this early in the process? However, it would be best if you felt that some employers only need a physician after some time due to growth, planning, and strategy. They may say, all right, we don’t need one now. We will need one in two or three years, and therefore we’re happy to lock in an employment relationship with somebody in training because they will come out at the perfect time for our business. That’s how you need to think about it.
Finding a Job that Provide Stipends
So, where do you identify jobs that provide stipends? No one is going to advertise that they offer a stipend. What you will need to do is determine where you want to live. You will have to reach out to those practices in your specialty on your own. Some people are hesitant to do this, but I think it’s the best way to find a job.
To give an example, let’s say you’re a dermatologist and want to live in San Diego. You would Google all of the dermatology clinics in San Diego, get your resume together, get a cover letter, find whomever the contact person is, and contact them directly and say, “I’m in training now. I’m interested in moving to the area when I finish my training. Are you interested in entering a relationship before the end of my training?”
So, that’s one way of doing it—just the blood force direct approach when reaching out to practices in an area. You could also establish a relationship with a physician recruiter. The recruiter does all the work for you essentially. You do not have to pay them. Kind of how physician recruiting works. Think of them as a broker.
They’re trying to match people coming out of training with practices looking for a new physician, and the employer is the one that pays the fee of the physician recruiter. The physician should never have to pay any amount. I know a few that will try to charge residents, but it’s a waste of money. As far as the fee goes, generally, it’s a percentage of the first year’s compensation, and then the physician would have to stay with that employer for some time.
For instance, if you start a job and leave after three months, the physician recruiter will generally get little money. It has to be at least a semi-long-term relationship for them to get anything. So, that’s the second way of finding positions, through a physician recruiter.
Internet Job Postings
The internet provides opportunities for people looking for jobs. But people posting jobs on the internet is different from the way to go if you want to find an organization offering a medical stipend because people who advertise are usually for immediate needs. And as I said before, to find a job looking for something down the road is to reach out to them. Asking colleagues, so attendings. People have been out a while. Sometimes they have relationships you might be interested in regarding openings and practices, hospitals, or whatever.
Average Amount for Medical Stipends
That’s another opportunity. Let’s say you identify a place, and they’re like, yes, we’re interested in establishing a relationship. How do you ask for a medical stipend, and what do you need to ask for? A medical stipend would work because the employer would pay you monthly until you’ve completed training. So, if you signed a contract three years before you finished training, you would have 36 months of a stipend that the employer would pay you monthly.
How much is the average amount?
Anywhere between one to $2,000 per month would be an average amount of a medical stipend. Closer to the thousand, not 2000, although I’ve seen both. The employer would pay that to you every month. They would probably withhold taxes from it because you would be an employee and receive a W2 at the end of the year. That’s how most places do it. Most businesses do not do it as 1099, where they wouldn’t take taxes out.
So, you would get a monthly stipend, and you could do whatever you wanted. And in the contract you’ve signed before assisting you, there would be some rigorous language about repayment obligations.
Meaning you could not accept a medical stipend and then not start at that job without having to repay the money. There will be language that says if you do not start and complete a certain amount of time with the organization, you will have to pay back the entire stipend or a prorated amount. That’s how a repayment obligation is for a bonus, and I would consider medical compensation a bonus.
Resident Stipend Forgiveness
Let’s say you received a thousand per month for two years. So, you have $24,000 outstanding, and maybe your contract was three years long. They’d say every year you completed with the practice or the hospital; they would forgive one-third of that amount. So, after one year, 8,000. After another year, 8,000. And after the last year, you’d have the full 24,000 forgiven.
Ideally, you’d have monthly forgiveness because if you left in the middle of the year, you’d lose out on that entire year if it was the annual forgiveness. But if you have monthly forgiveness and leave in the middle of the year, you’d have six out of 12 months forgiven instead of zero, if that makes sense.
You’ll not get a medical stipend unless you ask for it. And most employers are open to it, assuming you sign a contract with some strict language. You make little money in residency or fellowship. So, an additional thousand to $2,000 a month can make a difference in a resident or fellow’s life, especially the ones with families. For those completing training with kids and a wife, it’s tough because you simply are not making much money in your time. And I guess the requirements are just insane for the money that you’re making.
So, that’s a little primer on medical stipends for residents and fellows.
You’re going to have to be proactive. You’ll have to identify jobs willing to establish a relationship with you well in advance of your coming out of training, and they will have to agree to provide you with the stipend. If you present it to them as “this would assist me in my training, I’m willing to sign in a language that says I’ll have to repay the amount to you if I leave before a certain amount of time.”
Most employers are at least open to discussing a medical stipend.