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Medical Residency Length – A Definitive Guide 2022-2023

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How long does it take to complete a residency program? What is the average length of residency training? What is the shortest residency training program? What is the longest residency training program? These are some common questions medical students ask when deciding on which residency program to choose. The length of medical residency is one of the major factors that make the medical specialty selection process easier.

Some medical residency programs are longer compared to other programs. For instance, primary care residency programs are shorter in length compared to surgical residencies. It is because some medical specialties involve advanced medical treatment and procedures.

During your residency training, you will learn how to deal with complex clinical cases, perform intricate medical procedures and practice independently. Furthermore, some residency programs offer advanced training, called fellowship training for highly advanced knowledge and clinical procedures.

If you haven’t chosen a medical specialty yet, this post will help you know the medical residency length and all the important factors that contribute to the length of a medical residency training program.

Important Factors that Affect Residency Length Program

After completing a successful medical school journey, you are required to choose a medical specialty in order to complete a residency program and obtain a license to practice in a particular state. Usually, it takes three to seven years to complete a medical residency program. The length of a medical residency depends on a number of factors, including:

  •         The type of medical specialty is the major factor that affects the length of residency programs. For instance, you need to learn advanced courses and perform intricate medical procedures to become a neurosurgeon compared to a general surgeon.
  •         The length of residency program also depends on the medical school and hospital where you get training. Since the length of residency programs are decided, some programs take a bit longer to complete.
  •         Some medical specialties require fellowship training. You need to complete a one to three years fellowship program after completing your residency program to become a qualified, practicing doctor. It will further increase your medical residency length.
  •         Transitional year is another factor that affects the length of medical residency training programs. Some residency programs require you to take a transitional year between medical school and specialization.

The Length of Medical Residency

The average Medical residency length is four to five years. It takes three years to complete the shortest residency training program, while a medical residency program with complex knowledge and methods requires seven years to complete the training. Keep in mind that the overall residency training will further extend one to three years, depending on the subspeciality.

Medical Specialty Residency Training Length
Internal medicine. 3 Years
Medical Genetics and Genomics. 3 Years
Osteopathic Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine 3 Years
Pediatrics 3 Years
Preventive Medicine 3 Years
Emergency Medicine 3-4 Years
Family Medicine 3-4 Years
Neurology 3-4 Years
Pathology 3-4 Years
Anesthesiology 4 Years
Internal Medicine Pediatrics 4 Years
Nuclear Medicine 4 Years
Obstetrics and Gynecology 4 Years
Ophthalmology 4 Years
Dermatology 4 Years
Psychiatry 5 Years
Child Neurology 5 Years
Diagnostic Radiology 5 Years
Orthopedic Surgery 5 Years
Otolaryngology 5 Years
Radiation Oncology 5 Years
General Surgery 5 Years
Urology 5 Years
Vascular Surgery 5 Years
Plastic Surgery 6 Years
Interventional Radiology 6-7 Years
Thoracic Surgery 6-7 Years
Neurological Surgery 7 Years


These medical residency training programs require a minimum one year of postgraduate training to become a board-certified doctor.

 Concluding Note

Choosing the right medical specialty is no easy feat. Before you decide, it is advised to have a clear understanding of each specialty, their complexities, and the length of a medical residency. The length of a medical residency program varies by specialty, you need to determine which residency program length will allow you to fulfill your career goals. By considering the medical residency length, you can easily choose the medical specialty that perfectly suits your personality and help you become a board-certified doctor

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