Residency stipends are beginning to gain more popularity for specialties that organizations have difficulty recruiting. What exactly is a resident stipend? According to Merriam-Webster, a stipend is defined as, "a fixed sum of money paid periodically for services or to defray expenses." This is a great way for residents to earn money while they are in training, but there are some basics that you should know before signing.
Many organizations use a stipend that is unique to them.
This means that you cannot assume that each organization will offer the same pay, require the same time, or offer the stipends to the same specialties. Ask the physician recruiter from the organization for more information on their stipends so you can compare them to others. If you have specific questions on the stipend plan, make sure that you are reaching out to the appropriate party to ask your questions.
There is not negotiation within the stipend.
Unlike other physician contracts that you will encounter over your career, stipends are typically set by the organization and there is no room for negotiation. That means that the terms lined out in the contract are going to be as-is. Keep this in mind if you are comparing multiple options.
You will be considered an independent contractor.
Many resident stipends I have come across require you to fill out a 1099 tax form. The 1099 form is for those who are considered independent contractors to an organization and not an employee. This means that when it comes to tax time you will need to fill out the appropriate forms.
There are expectations put into place with stipends.
It's not just free money that an organization is handing out. The contract you sign to receive the stipend will lay out the rules and expectations for you accepting the stipend. This may require you to work for the organization for a specific amount of time or at a specific location. Make sure that you are clarifying the amount of time you will be working with this organization and the location(s) you will work at.
Stipends are legally binding contracts.
Skipping out on part or parts of the contract can land you in legal trouble. Make sure that you are carefully reviewing the plan and making sure that it aligns with your career goals. Many organizations have worked into the contract that if the physician does not fulfill the full contract that they will be responsible to pay back 100% of the stipend in a specific amount of time. If the payment is not received in that time, there will be interest charges added.
As a resident, you are responsible for deciding if the stipend is the right fit for you and your career goals. You should not enter lightly into the stipend if you do not feel comfortable with the terms or if you do not see yourself with that organization. This may require you to sit down and line out the next few years of your life after training, but it is better to do this now than to realize the stipend does not work for you after you've signed.
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