Career Information for a Completion of a Medical Residency Program

Sep 29, 2019

A medical residency refers to postgraduate training program doctors must complete after graduating from an accredited medical school degree program. Medical residencies afford the opportunity for M.D. graduates to gain clinical experience with patients, work with more experienced doctors, and specialize in a medical field. There are many fields that a doctor could specialize in through residency, but some of these include pediatrics, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry or anesthesiology.

Essential Information

After completing medical school, physicians must complete between 3-7 years of postgraduate training, called a residency. Students in medical residency programs, commonly called residents, gain experience in clinical settings under the supervision of experienced physicians. During medical residency programs, residents are paid while they learn to treat patients in healthcare settings, expanding on the knowledge they have gained during a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or similar degree program.

During residency, physicians gain additional experience in one of many specialties, such as psychiatry, general surgery or anesthesiology. Some conventional medicine programs include a 1-year internship contained within the medical residency program, while other physicians must complete separate clerkships in a chosen specialty, which can expand the residency by another year. Median salary for a resident graduating a program and passing the licensure exam depends on the chosen speciality.

Required Education Medical School and 3-7 years of residency
Other Requirements Pass licensure exam
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 14% (Faster than average)*
Average Annual Salary (2018) Surgeon: $255,110, Psychiatrist: $220,380, Pediatrician: $183,240, OB/GYN: $238,320, Anesthesiologist: $258,100*

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Information for Program Graduates

Residents who graduate become full-fledged doctors after passing their licensing exams. During a residency, students have a choice of several medical options they can pursue as a career. Below are some of the common career choices.

Career Options


Surgeons perform procedures on patients in order to correct a wide range of medical difficulties from heart defects to skin diseases. They use scalpels, sutures and even lasers to work on their patients. Many surgeons specialize in a certain type of surgery, such as neurosurgery, orthopedics or plastic surgery, while others prefer to work as general surgeons. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted that as of May 2018, surgeons earned an average salary of $255,110.


Psychiatrists are physicians who focus on mental health disorders and their treatments. Unlike psychologists, psychiatrists are legally able to prescribe medication. Psychiatrists may further specialize in such areas as child psychiatry, neuropsychiatry or other specific mental health issues. According to the BLS in 2018, psychiatrists earned an average annual salary of $220,380.


Pediatricians provide care to children from their infant years through young adulthood. They primarily treat and diagnose general illness, but must also address minor injuries or provide immunizations. The BLS noted that pediatricians' average annual wage was $183,240 as of May 2018.

OB/GYN (Obstetrician/Gynecologist)

Obstetricians and gynecologists, commonly referred to as OB/GYNs, treat women's health issues. These specialists provide general medical care to females and deal with pregnancy and reproductive issues, breast cancer treatment or hormonal and pelvic abnormalities. Most OB/GYNs also specialize in childbirth and treatment throughout a woman's pregnancy. As of May 2018, these professionals received an average annual salary of $238,320, according to the BLS.


Anesthesiologists administer anesthesia to surgery patients and others, such as burn victims for whom pain management is a critical issue. They examine patient histories, determine which medications to administer and monitor patients' vital signs during and after surgery. These professionals are among the most highly-trained physicians and they must complete a 1-year internship prior to their medical residencies. According to the BLS, the average salary for these doctors was $267,020 as of May 2018.

A medical residency is typically 3-7 years when a recent graduate of medical school is paid to see and treat patients under the supervision of more experienced doctors. They may have the chance to try different types of medicine, and specialize in one field based on their interests. Following a residency they must pass a licensing exam in order to become a practicing doctor.

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