How long does a residency last?

The resident doctor is, by operational definition, the medical professional who enters a receiving medical unit to carry out a medical residency or specialty, which is characterized by a set of academic, care, and research activities that must be carried out during the time stipulated in the corresponding academic and operational programs. 

Besides, these must be endorsed and supervised by a university institution.

In this brief guide, we’re going to answer the question “How long does a residency last?’’ what is a residency, how many medical specialties are there, and what is inside a hospital.

How long does a residency last?

Once you’re a physician, you must complete a residency that can last between 3 to 8 years, depending on the hospital where it’s performed and the medical specialty in the area that you have decided to train.

On average, a resident works between 8 and 15 hours per day, with more than 4 to 12 monthly shifts (depending on the hospital and specialty). This means that for example 8 times a month, these doctors don’t return home to sleep to stay working until the end of the day the next day.

Being a resident, you must enter the hospital at 7 am and retire at five in the afternoon the next day (although the specific time may vary) and many times without touching a mattress.

What is the residency?

A residence results from the need and interest of a general practitioner for expanding his professional development with knowledge, skills, and values about a specialty so that you can deepen your knowledge.

The resident decides what specialty he is going to do, For this reason, he renounces the practice of general medicine and commits to the chosen specialty developing the learning of knowledge, skills, and own values of the specialty in the institution that he considers most appropriate for his professional development.

What is a medical specialty?

A medical specialty is the studies completed by a graduate in Medicine. Consists of a postgraduate period, which derives from a set of specialized medical knowledge related to a specific area of the human body, specific surgical techniques, or a specific diagnostic method.

How many medical specialties are there?

Medicine is the best-known health science and the one that is centuries old, going back to classical times such as Ancient Greece or even at the dawn of humanity with the primitive healing techniques of prehistoric peoples.

Today it constitutes a very extensive scientific field, which together with psychology, physiotherapy, nursing, and other health disciplines has sought to evaluate and improve the health of people who turn to professionals in these fields.

Given its wide field of intervention and the extent of its knowledge, medicine has been structured into several sub-disciplines or branches, each one specialized in different aspects related to the health of the human body and other animal species.

Depending on each country, both the number and the name of medical specialties may vary.

Medical specialties can be classified according to:

According to the place of professional practice

  • Hospital: Who works in hospitals, specialty centers, or outpatient clinics. They’re generally called specialist doctors.
  • Primary care: Physicians who practice in health centers or offices. They are generally called GPs.

Depending on their orientation, medical specialties focus on:

  • Age groups (pediatrics, geriatrics).
  • Human body systems or systems (pulmonology, vascular surgery).
  • Organs (ophthalmology, otorhinolaryngology).
  • Diagnostic techniques (radiology, microbiology).
  • Therapeutic and rehabilitative techniques (pharmacology, surgery, orthopedics and traumatology, rehabilitation, hydrology).
  • Specific diseases (infectious disease, allergology, psychiatry).
  • Human activities (occupational medicine, sports medicine, legal medicine, preventive medicine).

According to its traditional grouping

They are traditionally divided into clinical, surgical, and laboratory. Although with the continuous advances in medicine, those limits aren’t very precise.

Clinical specialties

Medical specialties correspond to the traditional figure of “doctor”: they assist the patient with preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic activities, generally without using surgical techniques. Some of these are:

  • Allergology: It’s the clinical specialization that includes the knowledge, diagnosis, and treatment of allergic pathology produced by inflammatory and immunological mechanisms.
  • Anesthesiology: It covers the treatment of critical patients in different areas such as postoperative recovery and emergencies, as well as the care of the critical patient in intensive care units or postoperative resuscitation.
  • Digestive System or Gastroenterology: it’s the study of normal function and diseases of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon and rectum, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts, and liver.
  • Cardiology: It’s the branch of medicine that is responsible for the study, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases of the heart and the circulatory system.
  • Endocrinology: Specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the endocrine system, which includes the glands and organs that make hormones. These disorders include diabetes, infertility, and thyroid, adrenal, and pituitary problems.
  • Geriatrics: It’s the branch of medicine that is concerned with the problems and diseases of older adults, how to prevent and manage them, and the aging process. Not only from the medical aspect but also from the psychological and social aspects that usually accompany this process.

Surgical specialties

They correspond to the figure of a surgeon and use invasive means to treat, modify, or physically remove the pathological structure. They’re divided into systems. Some of these are:

  • Cardiovascular Surgery: Cardiovascular surgeons operate on the heart and blood vessels to repair damage caused by diseases or disorders of the cardiovascular system.
  • General surgery: It’s the medical specialty of surgical class that covers the operations of the digestive system; including the gastrointestinal tract and the hepatic-biliopancreatic system, the endocrine system; including the adrenal, thyroid, parathyroid, breast, and other glands included in the digestive system.
  • Traumatology: It deals with traumatic injuries to the spine and extremities that affect: Bones: fractures (femur fracture, humerus fracture, Colles fracture), epiphysiodesis, etc. Ligaments and joints: sprains, dislocations, traumatic arthritis, etc.
  • Pediatric Surgery: Is a specialty of surgery dedicated to the diagnosis, preoperative management, operation, and postoperative care of the problems presented by the fetus (fetal surgery), infants, schoolchildren, adolescents, and young adults.
  • Plastic Surgery: Is the medical specialty that aims to correct and improve abnormalities of congenital, acquired, tumoral origin that require repair or replacement of the body shape and its function.
  • Neurosurgery: Is the medical specialty that is responsible for surgical management (including education, prevention, diagnosis, evaluation, treatment, intensive care, and rehabilitation) of certain diseases of the central, peripheral, and vegetative nervous system.

Medical-surgical specialties

They’re the ones that usually use both invasive (surgical) and non-invasive (pharmacological, etc.) techniques. Some of these are:

  • Angiology and Vascular Surgery: It deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the blood vessels (arteries and veins), excluding the heart and intracranial arteries.
  • Dermatology: Is a specialty of medicine that deals with the knowledge and study of human skin and the diseases that affect it.
  • Stomatology: It’s a branch of the health sciences that is responsible for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases of the stomatognathic system (this includes the teeth, gums, tongue, palate, oral mucosa, salivary glands, and other anatomical structures
  • Gynecology and Obstetrics: It’s a medical specialty that specializes in providing care to women throughout their lives, including pregnancy and childbirth, in addition to providing diagnosis and treatment for diseases of the female reproductive organs.
  • Ophthalmology: It’s the medical specialty that studies eye diseases and their treatment, including the eyeball, its muscles, the lacrimal system, and the eyelids.
  • Otorhinolaryngology: It’s the medical-surgical specialty that is responsible for the study of diseases of the ear, both auditory and balance, of the upper respiratory tract and part of the lower
  • Urology: It’s the medical-surgical specialty that deals with the study, diagnosis, and treatment of pathologies that affect the urinary system, adrenal glands, and retroperitoneum of both sexes, as well as the male reproductive system.

What is inside a hospital?

As most of us know, a hospital is an establishment designed for patient care and assistance through medical staff, nursing staff, auxiliary staff, and technical services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and that has the technology, adequate equipment, instruments and pharmacology. 

Residents should know that now the hospital will become their second home, but what is inside a hospital?

A hospital must have the most important medical equipment on hand, to be prepared to handle any case that passes through its door, at all times.

The most effective medical treatment in hospitals is to provide comprehensive care. This can’t be possible if hospitals do not have all the appropriate and required medical equipment.

The 10 most important medical teams in hospitals are:

To get hospitals to treat patients appropriately, here is a list of the top ten medical kits that every hospital should have on hand.

  1. ECG machine: This equipment records the electrical activity of the heart over a period which helps in the instantaneous evaluation of the heart rate and for the quick identification of possible abnormalities.
  2. Stress systems: Used in Cardiology, they help determine the body’s response and test it beyond the normal level. A stressed system exposes the health condition that isn’t observable under normal conditions.
  3. Electrosurgical units: Used in surgery to coagulate, cut or alter tissues. This helps restrict blood flow to a specific body area and improves visibility during a surgical procedure.
  4. Surgical lights: They’re designed to facilitate illumination during surgeries and to ensure adequate lighting conditions. This is mandatory medical equipment that is required in all surgical settings.
  5. Diagnostic Ultrasound: This system offers a painless method of examining the body and doesn’t use radiation. The equipment is mainly used to measure the density, size, and structure of the internal mass of the body and also helps to identify possible internal abnormalities.
  6. Surgical tables and patient beds: You can’t perform surgery without operating tables, nor can you accommodate any patient without a suitable bed. For medical treatment and surgical procedures, patient recovery beds and tables are the equipment that every hospital should have.
  7. Anesthesia Machine: These machines provide a continuous and precise supply of medical gas. Gas is delivered to patients with the safe flow and pressure to ensure consistent anesthesia. Modern anesthesia machines include a suction unit, a ventilator, and patient monitoring devices.
  8. Sterilizers: The sterilization procedure performed by sterilizers kills all types of microbes, including viruses, fungi, bacteria, spores, and others. These microbes are present in various medical articles and surgical tools.
  9. Defibrillators: They’re used to treat life-threatening conditions such as ventricular fibrillation, cardiac arrhythmias, and tachycardia. When electrical energy is delivered through a therapeutic dose, the defibrillator ceases the arrhythmia and restores the normal rhythm in the patient’s heart.
  10. Patient Monitors: Medical professionals use these monitors to view surgical procedures. These monitors provide high-resolution images to aid surgeons during difficult procedures. Similarly, the vital signs monitor provides accurate readings of a patient’s health status after undergoing surgery.

All of these medical equipment are essential devices for all types of hospital environments. They’re crucial to the operational success of hospitals, as well as the care they provide.

So, How long does a residency last?

In the United States, medical training is especially long. In the first place, it will be necessary to study for four years of “Bachelor’s Degree” in which they have to take pre-medicine subjects. After that, they have to study five years of general medicine, at a theoretical level, after which they have to spend two years of residency in hospitals. 

All this will serve to obtain the title of Medical Doctor, and if they want to specialize they have to undergo training of around three to eight more years depending on the area to which they want to specialize (and still another two more if they want subspecialties).

FAQSs: How long does a residency last?

How long does residency last in us?

A residency in medicine in the United States has an average duration of three to eight years depending on the specialty.

Can you fail residency?

You can’t fail your medical residency if you’re responsible and meet the objectives that you set yourself.

What comes after residency?

In the medical career after obtaining your residency, you can do a subspecialty.

What is the shortest residency?

Dermatology, pediatrics, internal medicine, family practice, emergency medicine that have a duration of 3 to 4 years.

What is the longest residency?

The longest residency is a neurosurgery program with a duration of 7 years.

In this brief guide, we answered the question “ How long does a residency last?’’ what is a residency, how many medical specialties are there, and what is inside a hospital.

So, are you going to do a residency?
If you have any questions or comments please let us know.


Erinnelson. (2019, October 26). How Long Does It Take to Become a Doctor? – Kaplan Test Prep. Retrieved October 15, 2020, from Kaplan Test Prep website:

How Long Does it Take to Become a Doctor in the U.S.? (2012). Retrieved October 15, 2020, from Work – website:

‌Shanafelt, T. D., Bradley, K. A., Wipf, J. E., & Back, A. L. (2002). Burnout and self-reported patient care in an internal medicine residency program. Annals of internal medicine, 136(5), 358-367.