Medical Residency Requirements & How to Apply in the USADecember 13, 2022
Learning how to be a physician doesn’t stop once you graduate from medical school. Before practicing medicine in the U.S., you’ll also need to complete a medical residency program.
Medical residency serves as on-the-job training for new med school graduates. During your residency, you’ll work alongside practicing healthcare professionals and learn the ins and outs of working in a hospital or physician’s office. The residency program experience is invaluable and helps put what you’ve learned in medical school into practice.
If you’re in medical school and thinking ahead toward residency, here’s what you need to know.
What to know about medical residency requirements
You don’t need to have a med school degree or be within months of graduation to start looking at residency programs. In fact, it’s wise to begin seriously researching at least a year before you graduate. Applying for residency is complicated, so starting early will give you enough time to identify your preferred programs, learn about their requirements and deadlines, and prepare your application materials.
How to research residency programs
Consider starting your research at your medical school’s career services office. They will likely be able to offer some valuable information about potential programs and the process of applying for residency. Given that the process is complicated getting trusted guidance may help make it less overwhelming.
You can also research residency programs on your own using a tool like the American Medical Association’s FREIDA database. FREIDA lets you search for programs by inputting your specialty or location, and you can narrow your choices further using filters like application and program type.
If you find a program that aligns with your needs, you can also learn more about it using FREIDA. The tool shares a program overview, work schedule information, and features and benefits.
How to apply for medical residency
Applying for medical residency in the U.S.A. is a two-step process. First, you need to submit applications, and then you need to interview with programs after receiving an invitation.
Once you’ve narrowed program options, you’ll want to start the application process. Remember that different residency programs may have other application deadlines, so it’s important to research those in advance. Before you begin applying, you’ll also need to gather and prepare the following information:
- Curriculum vitae (CV)
- Personal statement
- Letters of recommendation
- Medical school transcripts
- Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE)
Once you’ve collected all this info, you can submit applications for residency through the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Electronic Residency Application Service® (ERAS). There are fees to use the service based on the number of applications you submit.
In addition to collecting the information above, you may need to complete all or a portion of your United States Medical Licensing Examinations (USMLE) before you begin interviews. Timelines for interviews can vary based on the programs you select.
The bottom line
Applying for residency is time-consuming, but participating in a residency program will give you invaluable real-world experience. It’s wise to start researching programs, preparing application materials, and practicing your interview skills early. Doing so will give you the best chance of getting a spot in your preferred program.