How Much Does a Medical Fellow Make? (Including Salaries)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published August 9, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Doctors go through many years of training before starting their full-time medical careers. Some doctors complete a fellowship training after their residency to learn more about a sub-specialty. A fellowship can provide hands-on experience and allow a level of salary throughout its term. In this article, we define medical fellowships, discuss variations in fellowship salaries and provide steps for how to get into these programs.

Related: Fellowship vs. Internship: Definitions and Key Differences

What is a medical fellowship?

A medical fellowship is a period of apprenticeship training within a medical specialty that provides personal training and expertise in a sub-specialty. It can occur after a doctor finishes their residency program, but before they start a full-time position. Potential doctors, known as fellows during this period, work alongside a specialist within a hospital or specialist medical facility receiving hands-on training. Their position varies depending on their study focus and subspecialty within their program. Often, fellows receive heavy responsibility right away and extra work hours compared to tenured doctors. Physicians may ask fellows to perform many tasks, including:

  • Diagnosing various medical conditions, some of which may be complex and challenging

  • Treating these conditions, including tracking the patient's successes and struggles

  • Coordinating work schedules with other fellows, nurses and doctors within the facility

  • Handling many hands-on care methods, such as preparing and administering medications

The American Medical Association (AMA) reports around 5,100 fellowship programs, with around 68 specialties within these programs. They also report around 11,767 fellowship positions throughout the nation. Acceptance into these competitive programs may require specific steps focused on preparing you for this role's unique challenges. You may also apply to multiple fellowship programs to expand your search range.

Related: Fellow vs. Resident: Definitions and Differences

How much does a fellow make?

The current national average salary for medical fellowships is $48,639 per year. This salary information includes data from multiple cities with fellowship positions and national salary average data. People interested in fellowships may also consider related career paths. For the most up-to-date Indeed salaries, please click on the links below:

  • Interns: Medical interns work directly with doctors and handle many labor-oriented tasks. They average $34,586 per year.

  • Nursing assistant: Nursing assistants handle hands-on task and assist nurses in their day-to-day duties. They average $37,701 per year.

  • Researcher: Medical researchers investigate new treatment techniques and care options. They average $67,001 per year.

These career paths may work as a fellowship alternative for people interested in these fields. They may provide more specific job roles and amenities that help medical professionals transition to a new career.

Related: What Is a Doctor? Guide to What Doctors Do, Where They Work and Average Salaries

What states pay the most for a fellowship job?

Fellowships may vary by state, with many paying well-above the national average. Medical career salaries may vary based on subspecialties, city location and additional state funding. For the most up-to-date Indeed salaries, please click on the links below:

  1. South Carolina: $78,446

  2. Hawaii: $72,211

  3. Tennessee: $66,301

  4. Alabama: $64,696

  5. North Carolina: $61,033

  6. Nevada: $58,262

  7. Wisconsin: $57,996

  8. Maryland: $57,364

Related: 11 Pros and Cons of Being a Graduate Assistant

How can a fellow make more money?

Fellows may make more money by following a few simple steps:

  • Get extra training: Extra training in your subspecialty may help you make more money in your job. You can use specialized certifications and licensing to show a higher expertise level than others in your field.

  • Find a job related to your subspecialty: Before earning a fellowship, you may develop more experience in a related position. This may include internship positions or hands-on jobs connected to your subspecialty.

  • Publish peer-reviewed articles: Publishing peer-reviewed papers may show potential employers your deeper professional knowledge. It may also make you a recognized expert in your field and potentially increase your pay.

  • Relocate to higher-paying areas: Identifying higher-paying states and relocating may earn you more money in a fellowship. Even moving to a different city may provide higher pay by getting a fellowship with a better-funded facility.

How do you get into a fellowship program?

Applying for a fellowship program can involve many steps, including:

1. Decide on your focus

Before preparing your fellowship applications, consider possible subspecialties of focus. For example, if you just finished a residency in cardiology, you may think about fellowships in transplant cardiology, congenital heart disease or advanced cardiology imaging. Talk with fellows and residents within your subspecialty to learn more about their experiences. Doing so could give you more information regarding a position and may improve your decision-making process. You can also read various blogs written by working fellows within your field to get a deeper career understanding.

2. Request faculty letters within your subspecialty

After deciding on a potential subspecialty, you may find someone within that field willing to give you a hands-on rotation in their care facility. For example, ask a transplant surgeon if you can shadow them during their work period. They can then write a letter rating your experience and skills within the field. Recommendation letters may help you find a fellowship position by showcasing your skills during challenging treatment processes.

3. Work on research projects

Some potential fellows may take a year off to work on research projects before applying for fellowship programs. These projects may include participation in clinical studies or self-directed research. The potential fellow may compile this collected information for report or book publication. Research projects can allow you to explore and develop expertise within your subspecialty and provide extended qualifications in your applications to fellowship programs.

4. Get hands-on experience in your field

You may also choose to work as a hospitalist or chief medical resident for a year before applying for fellowships. This can add depth to your resume and give you more hands-on experience within your specialty. This may also be a good choice if you're still trying to decide on a subspecialty of focus, as more experience can help lead you in one direction.

5. Write your application

Begin assembling your fellowship application when you feel comfortable with your choice of subspecialty. Collecting the relevant application information may take time, as it can take multiple steps, including:

  1. Researching whether your subspecialty uses the Electronic Residency Application Service

  2. Collecting recommendation letters from your professors, attending physicians or senior physicians, aiming for at least four

  3. Writing your personal statement, highlighting your experience, achievements and interests within your field

  4. Creating your application, following the guidelines developed by each program

When writing your application, you may include your relevant work experience, education, academic projects, peer-reviewed publications and clinical research. You may also integrate current projects and work experiences. Closely review your application to ensure its accuracy. During your interview, you may field questions regarding each application section.

6. Apply to multiple programs

After finishing your application, you may ask other fellows or friends to review it for you. They can spot potential errors, including typos or misspellings in the document. You may then apply to multiple programs, identifying those that focus on your specialty. Fellowships expect that candidates are applying to multiple programs and may be flexible in scheduling interviews.

7. Complete each fellowship interview

As your applications get reviewed by each program, they may contact you and schedule interviews. They may invite multiple individuals to each interview and ask in-depth questions regarding your experience. Your application may get discussed, and you may receive questions about each component. During these interviews, you may:

  • Stay engaged by getting good rest and preparing before the interview.

  • Practice your responses before the interview occurs.

  • Talk about yourself, including your five-year plan and your medical experience.

Staying calm and rationally answering each question may show interviewers your communication skills and resolution. You can interact with each individual during this process, including asking relevant questions. Remember to thank your interviewers for the opportunity.

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