Radiology residents use about 15% of their average annual salary for educational expenses, according to a recent study conducted by radiologists from New Jersey Medical School in Newark, NJ.
Senior radiology residents who attended a week-long New Jersey Medical School board review course (held in March and May 2006) were given a questionnaire that asked them to document the number and source of financial support for review courses that they attended/planned to attend including the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) course in radiologic pathology, and information on the amount of additional financial allowances paid to them by their programs. The questionnaire also asked them to cite the funding source for the radiology board examinations. Of the 176 questionnaires given, 175 responded.
The AFIP course, including tuition, room and board, and travel equaled $3,441.52 of which 44% was paid for by the residents themselves, said Stephan R. Baker, MD, an author of the study. Residents attended on average, two review courses, costing $4,116 with residents paying 77% of the costs. The total board expenditures of $3,120, including fees and travel, are paid entirely by the residents, Dr. Baker said. Total out of pocket expenses for these activities was $7,515, which amounted to 15% of senior residents' average annual salary, he said.
"I've spent 27 years as a program director and I realized that residents have to pick up their own costs for a lot of things," said Dr. Baker. "There is a debt problem that needs to be addressed. There are many residents that are in debt from college and medical school. Maybe we should consider reducing the initial board exam payment and increasing it during recertification when they have a higher salary so that they don't have to endure such high costs as residents," he said.
"This was a cross sectional study which we will do for at least five years to see if anything changes over time," said Dr. Baker.
The full results of this study will be presented on Monday, May 7, 2007 during the American Roentgen Ray Society's annual meeting in Orlando, FL.