How Long Is Medical Residency (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 3 years

Medical residency is a post-graduate training for newly becoming doctors. These physicians should have a degree of either Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathy. To put it simply, medical residency is to put into practice the knowledge gained in past medical colleges.



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The medical residencies training, as evident from them, takes place either in hospitals or clinics. It helps to establish all the knowledge and skills attained to be practiced under the guidance of a superior doctor of that hospital or clinic. The residency training is mandated to be taken for a specific period, which is generally for three years.

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How Long Is Medical Residency?

There is not one particular medical residency term that applies to all branches of various medical studies. Each branch of study has its requirement and accordingly its residency period. However, on average, a medical residency can take up to about 3 years.

The detailed list of medical residency courses with the respective training period involved is given as below:

Medical Residency CourseTime Taken
Gynecology4 years
Neurosurgery7 years
Family Medicine 3 years
Anesthesiology3 years and PG year 1 Preliminary
Pathology4 years
Pediatrics3 years
Orthopedic surgery4 years and 1 year for general surgery
Neurology3 years and PG year 1 preliminary
Ophthalmology3 years and PG year 1 preliminary
General surgery5 years
Internal medicine3 years
Dermatology3 years and PG year 1 preliminary
Emergency Medicine3-4 years
Transitional/Preliminary1 year
Physical Medicine3-4 years
Radiation Oncology 4 years and PG year 1 preliminary
Radiation Diagnostics4 years and PG year 1 preliminary
Plastic Surgery6 years
Psychiatry4 years
Otolaryngology5 years
Urology4 years and 1 year of General surgery

Thus, one can understand from the table that medical residency programs are diverse and rarely related to each other. Each has its own set of knowledge and skills that takes different amounts of time. Neurosurgery is the longest medical residency course with seven years of training while the transitional or preliminary course is the shortest course to be completed in a year.

Medical residency programs like family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, and physical medicine require three years. Anesthesiology, Neurology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Radiation Oncology, and Radiation Diagnostics require an additional PG year 1 for preliminary besides their regular training.

Why Medical Residency Takes So Long?

Doctors are considered the shadow of God on earth. They are accorded the highest levels of respect on earth for the great work of serving the people they do. This only makes it more appropriate to have multiple exams, pieces of training, and other such programs to enhance their skills and knowledge.

A medical residency helps provide prospective doctors with in-depth knowledge. They help to increase the understanding of the candidates in the subjects they choose to specialize in.

This knowledge is imparted to them in real-life situations. They are required to work in hospitals or clinics specializing in the field of candidates. This helps to infer the problem as it exists and solve them accordingly. It is crucial to make them capable of solving crises on the ground.

While as resident doctors, they also learn about how to manage human relations. Senior doctors teach them the skill of breaking the sad news to patients or their relatives. This skill is of increasing importance these days as cases of aggrieved relatives attacking doctors are increasing.

This makes the skill of self-care all the more important. These residents are taught to take care of their both mental and physical well-being. Mental self-care is necessary as they might have to deal with depressing news regularly while physical self-care helps to fight back physical attacks if any.


The duration of a medical residency program differs based on the subject that the student chooses to specialize in. Although it may take 3 years approximately on average, some programs may take as long as 7 years while some may end in 1 year itself.

Completing the medical residency programs is a major step in becoming a doctor. It gives you on-the-job training and helps you to cope up with the problems you are about to face in your career.



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