New Lifestyle Report Finds Residents Ready to Use Telehealth

Neil Chesanow


July 28, 2015

In This Article

Emotional Aspects of Resident Life

When residents were asked in our 2015 report to rank which statements most accurately reflected the emotional aspects of resident life, a clear majority (85%) agreed that they were developing the necessary clinical skills to practice their specialty. The second-largest group (80%) had a good idea about what they wanted to do after completing their residency.

More than half (58%) of residents expressed concern about medical school debt. This is understandable. Some 68% of residents carry a considerable amount of medical school debt (exclusive of any other debt): $50,000 or more. Well over one third (37%) have over $200,000 in debt, and over one fifth (22%) have $100,000-$200,000.

More than half of residents (58%) fear failure or making a serious mistake, despite the confidence expressed by a majority of residents in response to an earlier question about developing the clinical skills required for their specialties. This goes with the territory. "Developing skills" is not the same as "achieving mastery." Even a talented doctor may make a mistake, and an adverse event may occur irrespective of the quality of patient care.

Only 2% of respondents in our 2015 report strongly agreed that they had a difficult time dealing with patient death or treating a terminally ill patient. But a much higher percentage—16%—admitted having some problem with it. In fact, quite a few practicing physicians confess to having a tough time walling off their emotions when certain patients slip away despite their best efforts. In "Doctor, Crying Will Not Be Tolerated on the Premises," Medscape readers shared their own experiences as residents when they dared to get upset in public over a patient's death that was particularly hard to bear.

Doubts About Becoming a Good Doctor?

Even though a majority of residents expressed confidence that they are learning the skills needed for their specialties, over two thirds (68%) reported that they had occasional doubts about becoming a good doctor, nearly 10% have these doubts almost constantly, and for 3%, these doubts are ever-present.

Male residents, in most cases, were slightly more confident than their female colleagues about becoming a good doctor, with 67% of men sometimes having doubts vs 71% of women, 7% of men having doubts almost all the time vs 11% of women, and 2% of men having chronic doubts vs 3% of women.

The greatest variation was in residents who were completely confident about becoming a good doctor. Twenty-four percent of male respondents and 15% of female respondents told us they never had doubts.

First Post-Residency Salary: A Trigger to Overspend?

In 2015, the average resident salary was a modest $55,400, according to part 1 of Medscape's Resident's Salary & Debt Report, roughly equivalent to what a lawyer fresh out of law school earns at a small law firm.[1]

Even primary care residents, among the least well-paid doctors, can look forward to earning $195,000, the average for practicing primary care physicians in Medscape's 2015 Physician Compensation Report.

That's a considerable bump in salary once residency is completed. For residents in higher-paying specialties, their first post-residency salaries may be several times that sum. Anticipating that day, are residents yearning to cut loose and overspend?

The majority of 2015 respondents (65%), perhaps remembering their heavy debt load, responded no. While nearly 20% did indicate that they plan to overspend, they may include the fortunate 22% of residents who have no debt, according to part 1 of our 2015 report.


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