What is a Resident Doctor? – Overview
If you’ve ever been to a hospital then you must have come across resident doctors. Ever wondered what’s the difference between resident doctors and practicing doctors?
In simple terms, a medical resident is a graduate of a medical school. These are doctors in training who are participating in a graduate medical education (GME) program.
Commonly, resident doctors are called “residents” while those in the first year of training are called “interns”. Resident doctors work at doctor’s offices or hospitals.
They are engaged in continuing their medical education and are training in their choice of medicinal specialty.
On average, trainee doctors have to participate in residency programs for 3 to 7 years, depending on their specific choice of sub-specialty.
During the residency, the doctor in training is expected to provide direct patient care. Their duties may involve diagnosing, managing and curing health disorders of patients.
Every resident has to work under the supervision of a doctor or senior resident in a healthcare facility.
Generally, junior residents are allotted simpler tasks and less complex responsibilities initially. As their experience and education grow, their responsibilities also become more complex and inclusive.
What does a Resident Doctor do?
A resident doctor may work in any specialty department within a hospital, such as in emergency care, general patient wards and intensive care units etc.
Resident doctors are expected to learn the following during their residency program:
- Recommending diagnostic tests and interpreting their results
- Performing physical examinations of patients
- Participating in, or performing, medical treatment procedures
- Keeping a record of patient’s medical history
The majority of a resident doctor’s work in a hospital is done during the doctor’s rounds.
This is when a group of residents follows an experienced doctor or healthcare professional around the award. This round involves them checking the patients’ health condition, treatment and progress.
This way, resident doctors are able to assess the patient’s health, determine the progress of treatment. Resident doctors do necessary adjustments to make the treatment more effective and safer.
Resident doctors may also choose to work in doctor’s offices or outpatient departments in clinics. This requires them to work directly with patients during examinations and treatments.
Resident doctors are also responsible for counseling and advising patients’ families and managing service provision with other members of the healthcare team.
Apart from this, resident doctors also continue their education by participating in formal seminars and conferences.
What are the Education and Training Required for a Resident Doctor?
To be a resident doctor, you will first need to complete your medical school. Along with this, you will need to acquire a diploma, such as a doctor of medicine (MD) or a similar degree.
While in medical school, you are required to gain direct clinical experience. This means that you will need to work directly with patients in a significant capacity.
Some of the fields at medical school where you can gain clinical experience include:
- Recording patient medical history
- Performing diagnostic examinations and interpreting their results
- Counselling and consulting patients, their families and other healthcare team members
- Prescribing and interpreting diagnostic lab results
- Performing medical or surgical procedures under close supervision of a doctor/surgeon
Once you have the necessary educational qualifications, you will then need to acquire a license from the state (or jurisdiction) where you work.
This is important if you want to provide healthcare services during your residency period. Junior residents are usually given restricted training licenses.
In order to continue their training and to establish their own practice, a resident doctor will need to obtain a full, unrestricted license.
As a resident doctor, you should work closely with experienced doctors and healthcare specialists. This is an excellent way to gain extensive medical knowledge and get experience working in patient care.
During the residency period, the supervising doctor guides, mentors and instructs resident doctors on patient safety and give feedback on their performance.
These aspects are incredibly essential for better educational, professional and personal development.
Top Residency for Doctors
Let’s take a quick look at some of the top choices of specialty residency programs for prospective doctors of the US in 2021:
1 – Residency in Internal Medicine
Internal medicine deals with preventing and treating various diseases that affect adults. Residency in internal medicine usually lasts for around 3 years. Those who specialize in internal medicine are called as “internists”.
2 – Residency in Family Medicine
Doctors who specialize in family medicine are normally considered to be primary healthcare providers. These doctors are trained in providing complete healthcare to people of all ages. They can also refer patients to specialists when needed. Usually, a residency program in family medicine lasts for around 3 years.
3 – Residency in Pediatrics
Pediatrics is related to diagnosing, treating preventing and managing illnesses and ailments that afflict infants, children and adolescents. A residency in a pediatrics program usually lasts for 3 years too.
4 – Residency in Emergency Medicine
Doctors who choose a residency in emergency medicine undergo training in diagnosing and treating various diseases in an emergency healthcare setting. These doctors work in collaboration with a team of nurses and specialists to provide optimal emergency healthcare services.
The residency in the emergency medicine program usually lasts for around 4 years due to its extensive nature.
5 – Residency in Anesthesiology
Anesthesiologists are responsible for the patient’s vital stats before, during and after surgical treatment.
They administer anesthesia and monitor the patient during and after surgery against complications. Typically, a residency in anesthesiology lasts for around 4 years too.
The tenures of residency training for other specialties are:
|Specialty||Residency Training Length|
|General Surgery||5 years|
|Physical Medicine||3 – 4 years|
|Plastic Surgery||6 years|
|Radiation Oncology||4 years|
Residency for doctors is an incredibly important part of their overall medical education. This is a time when doctors in training gain first-hand experience working with patients.
The direct supervision of experienced doctors makes residency programs effective and excellent for a fruitful professional career.