To compare resident and intern salaries with current regional living wages as a quantitative estimate of financial strain.
152 residency programs and 141 internship programs listed with the Veterinary Internship and Residency Matching Program for the 2021–2022 training year.
Data were collected for program annual salary and location. Regional living wage for each location was determined with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Living Wage Calculator, and annual salary was compared with living wage to estimate income surplus before and after taxes. Results for programs in academia and private practice were compared. Spearman correlation was used to determine whether program annual salary was significantly associated with regional living wage.
Mean ± SD income surplus before taxes was $7,786 ± 9,426 for clinical residency programs, $16,672 ± 5,105 for laboratory animal programs, and $5,829 ± 8,119 for internships. Academic residencies and internships offered salaries significantly lower than those offered in private practice, and income surpluses before and after taxes were significantly lower for academic programs than for private practice programs. There were weak and moderate, respectively, correlations between program annual salary and regional living wage for residency (r = 0.369) and internship (r = 0.570) programs.
Postgraduate training prolongs financial instability, and annual salaries generally do not meet the minimum income standard of a living wage. Financial stress has implications for mental health and diversity, and these findings invite deeper consideration of current remuneration practices for veterinary residents and interns.