You can be confident that the skills and knowledge you have acquired during medical school will be useful in your residency. This is where you will get the practical experience you need to improve your training as a physician.

Although you’ve probably been told how important your residency is, some questions may still be. We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions regarding medical residencies. Continue reading to learn more about this crucial phase of your medical training.


Your medical residency is an important step in becoming a board-certified attending physician. This is the moment you can put all you have learned into practice. The more you learn about the experience, the better you will be.

What is the length of a medical residency?

After completing the Doctor of Medicine (MD), graduates must complete postgraduate training, also known as residency. This can take three and seven years, depending on the focus area. Many residents choose to participate in medical fellowships and subfellowships following their residency training. This could increase the time spent in subspecialty areas by up to five years.

Does a medical residency need to be completed?

A medical residency is required for doctors who want to pursue a career in patient-care medicine. The technical definition of a medical residency is that you will earn your MD upon graduation from medical school. While some positions may not require residency experience for doctors, a most graduate will continue their residency training.

To obtain a US medical license, you must complete a postgraduate residency program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. You’ll be supervised and trained by a team of health professionals as a resident doctor. You’ll be able to effectively treat all patients regardless of your medical specialty by being exposed to specialized services, different patient cases and conducting cutting-edge research.

What does residency look like?

You will experience the biggest shift in your life when you move from medical school to residency. These new privileges are not easy. Ex-residents will tell you it can be difficult.

Although it is exhausting and sometimes fast-paced, the hands-on training speeds up the learning process. Although this training is called “postgraduate”, most medical residents are treated the same as any other physician.

The facility and the program will determine which hours residents work. Some regulations prevent residents from working more than 80 hours per week and 28-hour shifts for first-year residents.

Are medical residents paid?

Yes, medical residents receive compensation for their work. Many residents can be eligible for health insurance or paid time off. However, the exact amount they are paid will depend on many factors. The geographic location and the amount of experience a resident has in their field will affect earning potential.

The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) has published data on resident stipends. This will give you an idea of what to expect. According to the most recent survey, first-year residents were paid a median stipend in 2021 of $59 279. In the same period, fourth-year residents received a median stipend of $67,047.

How can you apply for residency programs?

Medical students start their residency matching process in their last year of medical school. During this last year, aspiring doctors choose the type of medicine they wish to practice.

The National Residency Matching Program’s Major Residency Match is the shorthand for “The Match”, which refers to a process used to place medical students in US residency programs. When applicants submit their applications to the Electronic Residency Applications Service (ERAS), it begins. After submitting applications, committees decide which applicants will be invited to interview for residency.

Both the applicants and residency programs create the rank-order list, which outlines their top choices after the interview phase has been completed. The computer algorithm then uses these rank-order lists to match applicants with programs. The Monday of Match Week is usually the third week in March. Students will find out if they have matched.

What happens after medical residency?

Your career goals will determine your steps to completing a successful residency. After completing the residency program, doctors are eligible for an unrestricted license. Most graduates concentrate on the preparation for the board certification exam after completing their residency program. This can be done in a hospital or outpatient setting or by continuing their education with a fellowship.

At this point, doctors most often choose to enter private practice or join a group practice. To further their skills in their subspecialty, some physicians opt to do a fellowship following their residency.


Knowing the length of a medical residency and all other details of this crucial postgraduate training makes it easier to plan for this milestone in becoming a doctor.

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