Monday, March 5, 2012

An Intern Must Make More Than A Student, Right?

In my last post I wrote about the differences between those who graduate form medical school and those who graduate with other advanced degrees. Think law and business school grads. That is where we get these rules, because everyone who graduates and lands a job feels as though they have arrived. But alas, the medical profession is the exception to the rule.

In the real world you graduate, get a job, and your career starts. In our world, we keep training and our income shifts from student loans to paid training, but the numbers don't change that much.

I went to our medical school website to see what the current tuition/personal allowances were for the academic year 2011-2012. These numbers are probably fairly close to your personal allowances too, regardless of where you trained.

This budget information is provided to assist you in estimating your monthly budget and managing your available financial resources (e.g., employment earnings, financial aid, and assistance from your family members) for the 2011-2012 academic year. You should refer to the base expense budget given below when estimating your expenses. The average monthly living allowances listed below were derived from the 2011-2012 Cost of Attendance figures developed by the Office of Student Financial Services. Your expenses may vary from the "average" cost of attendance for your class. Consequently, you should calculate your monthly expenses based upon your anticipated expenses for the 10-month academic year. These monthly estimates should be derived to ensure you have enough funds to complete the year.

Student Service Fee                                      512
Health Insurance                                           2,700
Disability Insurance                                     50
Books & Supplies                                         3,398
Room & Board (rent, utilities, food)
     On Campus                                              13,090
     Off Campus                                              16,490
     With Parents                                             2,100
     On Campus                                              1,104
     Off Campus/With Parents                        3,092
Auto Insurance/Registration                        1,650
Personal Expenses                                      3,650
Loan Fees                                                     1,177
     On Campus                                             27,331
     Off Campus                                             32,719
     With Parents                                           18,329

These numbers need to be broken down into manageable numbers for purposes of comparison. The information from the school says that these figures are intended to cover a 10-month academic year, not the entire 12 months of the calendar. Easy math: divide the total by 10 to get the monthly amount you have to work with.

It may seem silly to compare a medical student budget to a real doctors budget (ha, ha, ha), but I am telling you now you may have had it good in medical school! And that is no joke.

Depending on whether you lived on campus, off campus, or with your parents makes a difference - until you move out and are living on your own. And really, how many people did you know who lived with their parents? That is assuming your got into medical school in the same town that your parents lived, and they would LET you live there. Not very likely. So from this point forward I am going to make comparisons based on the living off campus total, since that is what you will be doing. Welcome to the real world.

$3,272 dollars a month sounds great... even now that sounds like a nice sum to work with. I know you didn't actually get all this money to divide out because the school took everything that was theirs first. This is GROSS dollars. (For the record we didn't receive anything close to this. Six years ago, our figures were closer to the living with parents numbers). 

So what are the interns at our program making this year gross? $45,990 annually or  $3,832.50 monthly. But here is the catch. Not only is that gross (pre-tax & withholding), it is also misleading due to one BIG factor. Our program doesn't pay semi-monthly, they pay every two weeks.

Why should that matter? Well because if you are paid, say on the 1st and 15th of every month, you will have exactly the same amount of money to budget each month. If you are paid every two weeks, there are two months of the year (which we celebrate around here) approximately 6 months apart in which you will get paid 3 times. Yippee!

Before you get too excited, it isn't really good news. What it means is that the other 10 months of the year (and I would argue they matter most) you get paid less. It works like this. You take your gross divided by the number of pay periods. If you get paid every two weeks, there are 26 pay periods. If you get paid twice a month there are 24. The same amount divided by 24 will always be larger than if it is divided by 26. It is math, there is nothing I can do about it.

The reality is the gross paycheck of an intern at our program is $1,768 per pay period. Because 10 months only have two pay periods the real amount of gross dollars you will be working from would be $3,537/month.

It still seems like a nice sum to work with, but because you have gone from borrower status to earner status you are also expected to pay taxes. I am sorry to be the bearer of such bad news. When it is all said and done you may even have less money to budget as an intern than you did as a student.

Next: Taxes and Net Income, the Real Numbers Story

1 comment:

  1. Yep. Yup. Yes. Don't even make enough to buy a pot to piss in. It's awful. Eventually, the tide will change, but I'm sure it can't come fast enough for you! *sigh*


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