Residency Program Overviews for Medical Doctors

A medical residency is a graduate-level education program in which students begin training in a medical specialty. More akin to a job than school, residencies take place in hospitals, and residents receive a salary while they learn.

Essential Information

In order to become a physician or a surgeon, students must complete bachelor's degree and medical doctorate degree (M.D.) programs, an internship and a medical residency. Strong letters of recommendation and published research are recommended for admission to these latter programs, as are teamwork, leadership and critical thinking skills.

Programs aim to provide residents with the behavioral, clinical and critical-thinking skills necessary to provide quality patient care and react calmly under pressure. These 2- to 6-year programs also commonly train students to teach these skills to medical students and younger residents. Examples of program specializations are pediatrics, cardiology, emergency medicine, orthopedics.

Medical Residency Program

Coursework will vary widely according to a resident's chosen specialty and the resources available in the hospital. Here are some examples of courses you might see in an emergency medical residency program:

  • Pediatric emergency
  • Pediatric wards
  • Orthopedics
  • Anesthesia
  • Toxicology

Salary Information and Career Outlook

While a resident, students can expect to receive a salary of around $40,000, which increases every year for the duration of the residency, according to a survey administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges, The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( predicts that employment for physicians and surgeons will grow 14% between 2014 and 2024, faster than the national average. This is due in part to the expansion of health-related industries. Job opportunities will be most abundant in low-income areas. Physicians and surgeons made an annual median salary at or above $187,200 as of 2015.

Participants in medical residencies can gain professional-level understanding of their chosen specialty by shadowing mentors and gaining hands-on experience with actual patients. This is in addition to the skill and knowledge gained in their prerequisite M.D. programs.

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