What is medical Residency?
Medical residency is the training period for most medical, as well as dental, podiatric, and clinical psychology programs. It starts just after med school. It is the period during which a young doctor is given hands-on experience, in a particular specialty of the medical field. The student goes on to specialize in the field to become an attending physician. In the US, the MD seniors will mostly apply for residency in the third year via the Federation of state medical board (FSMB) to enroll for the national residency matching program NRMP. The MD seniors will mostly apply after clearing step 1 of the USMLE exam. They would also need to then clear the Step 2 CK before entering becoming eligible for the match. Step 2 CS has been discontinued since 2020.
How long is medical residency?
In the US, the shortest residency is 3 years in fields like Internal medicine, pediatrics, and family medicine. The longest is about 7 years in fields like neurosurgery, and some specialized programs in general surgery. Most residency training however lasts from 4 to 5 years. Some residency training programs are split into two parts e.g. in medicine, cardiology, and gastroenterology require 3-year Internal medicine before entering 2-3 years of specialization in either cardiology or gastroenterology. Similarly in surgery, programs like pediatric and some vascular surgery programs require you to complete 4 years in general surgery before entering the fields. Some other programs like ophthalmology and radiology may require a transitional year in general surgery as well.
Mostly it will depend on the program that is on offer, as well as the institution which advertises the training slots.
You can check out the data on the National residency matching program (NRMP) website yourself and conduct a self-analysis of all the fields on offer and how long each and every residency takes on average. The main data can also be studied in this PDF here.
Do you get paid during a medical residency?
Yes, you do get paid during residency but the pay is nothing to brag about. Most residency programs generally pay between 35k to 75k with the ones paying 75k being very rare. On average you will get around 60k at university programs while standalone hospitals generally offer around 45 to 48k. Mostly you will be paid around 56k in the first year, 58k in the second year, 60k in the third year, and 62k in the fourth year, 64 k in the fifth year, and so on.
Which is harder, med school or residency?
In my opinion, residency is much harder as compared to med school. In med school, you are just sitting in your classes or shadowing your residents around. You learn to absorb, retain and connect a lot of information and knowledge. But it is truly in residency that you have to implement your knowledge and that too quite quickly. Residency is also a lot harder as you come into contact with patients on a case-by-case basis. You also come into contact with other healthcare professionals and seniors. It becomes a fine line to walk in order to be on the good books of everyone, the attendings, the staff, and the patients. You also have to face difficult and grueling hours at the hospital and the work never seems to stop. So based on all of this I would say that residency is much much harder as compared to med school.
What was your medical residency like?
I am currently in residency and it is quite hard. The experience is different in various fields, however. In dermatology, for e.g. it may be quite chill and relaxed while in surgery it is always gonna be hectic. So it depends on the field of study you plan to go into.
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