What to Expect from Medical Residency

Medical residents meet with their team lead in between working with patients

Residency is a time of great transition for medical students. It can be both exciting and overwhelming at the same time. It’s a time for learning, growth, and hard work. Many medical students find the transition intimidating, but with the right preparation and understanding of what to expect, it will be rewarding.

In this blog post, we’ll walk current and prospective medical students through the residency experience, including what to expect and how to get the most from your experience.

What does it mean to be a medical resident?

After four years of medical school, fresh MDs or DOs embark on the next step in the journey to becoming a physician: to train in a specialty that will inspire them for the rest of their careers.

The process of getting into a residency program is both competitive and exciting. Through the National Residency Match Program, fourth-year med students apply to multiple residency programs in their preferred specialty. Students then wait until mid-March when Match Day reveals if and where they have been selected to participate in a residency program.

Residency is designed to give medical students practical experience in their chosen field by providing hands-on clinical training. During residency, you will learn how to diagnose and treat patients in a real-world setting, as well as gain the skills necessary to practice medicine under the supervision of experienced mentors. You’ll learn to think critically, work in teams, manage time effectively, and much more.

How does residency work? How long does it last?

Residency typically lasts for three to seven years and is divided into different stages. During the first year of residency, known as “internship,” you will learn basic clinical skills with direct supervision from attending physicians. As you progress through your residency, you will spend more time working independently while still receiving guidance and mentorship from faculty members.

During residency, you will likely spend long hours working with active patient care duties. This includes diagnosing and caring for patients in an inpatient or outpatient setting, as well as participating in research projects. You may also be responsible for teaching other medical students and residents.

In addition to patient care duties, you will likely need to complete administrative tasks such as writing up notes on patient cases, attending lectures and conferences, maintaining accurate paperwork, and working with medical teams.

How hard is medical residency?

The medical residency experience is demanding and can be grueling at times. Medical residents need to have the ability to balance their patient care duties with administrative tasks, all while staying up-to-date on the latest industry trends and developments. Residents are expected to work long hours in challenging conditions, often with limited breaks or vacation time.

It’s important to remember that while medical residency is demanding, it is also an incredibly rewarding experience. You will have the opportunity to work with experienced mentors and colleagues and gain valuable practical experience that you can use in your future career.

How many hours do residents work?

The amount of time medical residents spend in the hospital and clinic varies from program to program. Generally, most residencies require a minimum number of hours spent with patients per week as well as other educational requirements.

On average, you can expect to work between 60 and 80 hours per week during residency. However, there are a variety of schedules available that can accommodate different needs. Some programs may allow residents to take shifts overnight or on weekends to give them more rest time during the week.

What happens after residency?

Once you have completed your residency, you can apply for board certification in the specialty you chose. Board certification is an essential part of being able to practice medicine as a specialist and gives you recognition from peers and patients alike. After receiving board certification, most physicians will pursue additional training through fellowships, research projects, or other clinical opportunities.

Medical Fellowships

Fellowships provide further training in a specific medical field or subspecialty. They are often completed after the completion of a residency program and can last anywhere from one to three years, depending on the specialty. During fellowships, physicians gain valuable experience in their chosen field by working with experienced faculty members and mentors.

Research Projects

Many physicians choose to pursue research projects after residency, either in collaboration with industry partners or through their own independent initiatives. Research can be a great way for physicians to stay up-to-date on new developments in the field and make significant contributions.

Clinical Opportunities

Following residency, you may choose to pursue additional clinical opportunities. This can include working in a specific medical specialty, such as cardiology or oncology, or taking part in clinical trials and studies. Clinical work is an excellent way to gain experience and further your career.

Why Medical School Matters for Residency

When it comes to residency, your medical school education can make or break your level of preparedness.

Medical schools with strong curricula and experienced faculty members are well-equipped to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to succeed during their residency program. Through comprehensive coursework and hands-on experience in clinical settings, medical students can learn how to deliver patient care while developing relationships with mentors who will continue to support them throughout their residencies.

With the right foundation of education and mentorship, medical students can be confident that they have what it takes to excel as a resident physician.

Residency Success at Trinity

Since securing a residency is the ultimate goal of med students, you’ll want to be sure to attend a medical school with a history of success in residency placement. Because of Trinity’s low student-to-faculty ratio, early clinical experience, and world-class clerkships, our graduates have achieved a 95% cumulative residency match rate. Through the National Residency Match Program in the U.S. the Canadian Resident Matching Service in Canada, Trinity graduates succeed in securing their top-choice residencies in specialties such as Surgery, OB/GYN, Emergency Medicine, Psychiatry, and many others.

To learn more about how Trinity prepares our students for residency, check out our residency match data or get in touch with our admissions team to learn more!

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