Interns and Residents and Fellows…oh my!

When we first started on this medical journey 12 years ago, neither one of us understood the medical lingo. We didn’t know what an intern was and had absolutely no clue what a fellow was.

When asked what my husband does, I always hesitate because most people don’t know the difference between residency and fellowship either. So here is my poor attempt to clarify the different stages in medical training.

Medical school: 4 years. The first two years are mostly spent in the classroom. The third year is full of different rotations. Kind of a little sampling of what residency will be like. Fourth year is spent doing more rotations but flying around the country interviewing for residencies.

MS: short for medical student, 1st year med student = MS-1, 2nd year = MS-2 and so on.

After four years, you graduate with an MD (you are a doctor now). Yay! Go celebrate cause your life is about to suck.

PGY: Post Graduate Year. So your first year after medical school, you are a PGY-1. Your fourth year after med school… PGY-4 and so on.

Residency: training in a specialty. Programs can vary from 3 – 7 years, depending on the specialty. Family practice, pediatrics, and internal medicine are 3 years whereas a surgery residency program can be anywhere from 5 – 7 years long.

Intern: what you are called the very first year of residency.

Resident: what you are referred to during your training years in residency.

Fellowship: this is a sub-specialty program after residency. It is completely separate from a residency program. You have to apply and interview and possibly move for the program (like we did). Say you want to be a pediatric cardiologist… then you do a pediatric residency (3 years) and then a peds cardiology fellowship (3, but most likely 4 more years). Adult cardiologist: 3 years in internal medicine residency, then 3 year adult cardiology fellowship. Pediatric anesthesiologist: 4 years anesthesiology residency (I think) and then 1 year pediatric anesthesia fellowship.

Fellow: trainee in the sub-specialty (fellowship) program

Attending: One who has finished all the training. Or as I call them….a “real” doctor. {six more months for us!!!! not that I’m counting or anything}

Hopefully that clears things up and hope I didn’t make it even more confusing. Feel free to add anything that I missed!

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If you’re visiting from the Medical Monday blog hop, you can check out other medical posts here.  Would love to connect with you too! You can find me hanging out on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram

Also, be sure to take a peek at my leather cuffs in my new shop I opened up last week!


thanks for stopping by!!

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15 Responses to Interns and Residents and Fellows…oh my!

  1. Debra Page says:

    Thank you for the explanation, awesome!

  2. Oh wow, I’m so excited to have found your blog via Naptime Diaries! I’ve thankfully had the opportunity to learn most of these terms in the 3.5 years I’ve known my doctor husband (he was finishing his last fellowship when we met), but I still learn new things about medicine all the time.

    Looking forward to checking out more of your blog!
    Maggie (from Canada) recently posted..On Reading (Follow-up): A Marriage Reading Plan for 2013My Profile

    • Amber says:

      So glad you found me too! And lucky you, you met your husband on the tail end of his medical training – I’m a little jealous ;)

  3. Love it! Thanks for the scoop! And I had NO IDEA you had an online store. NICE – shopping will begin shortly! :)
    Med Student Wife recently posted..Isopropyl Alcohol with LimeMy Profile

  4. Wow! I had no idea it was that detailed!!
    Princess Stephie recently posted..Life In The ER: Before 12:01My Profile

  5. We’ve been an “attending” for well over a decade. Let me tell you… if you’re Doc H is as ambitious and passionate about his career as mine, it doesn’t let up. The up side is the pay is much better on this side of the coin! You can actually breathe! And shop!
    Thanks for joining us for Medical Monday!!!
    Emma @ Your Doctor’s Wife recently posted..Medical Monday! {December Edition}My Profile

    • Amber says:

      My hubs made me well aware that his schedule won’t change much (sadness). I had to come to terms with that a while ago. I just can’t wait to “settle” somewhere and to start paying our loans off!

  6. Amber, I didn’t realize we were in the same stage to real doctor-hood. July 1st can’t come fast enough:-) Thanks for linking up today!
    From A Doctor’s Wife recently posted..Medical Monday’s Ho Ho Ho!My Profile

    • Amber says:

      I didn’t either! Man, it’s been a long road and I’m looking forward to starting a new chapter. Are you going to be moving for the next job or staying put? I’m hoping this is our last move for a while!

  7. What was confusing for me was when I entered the blogging world and realised that South African medical lingo is different from US medical lingo. Here, medical school is a six-year undergraduate degree. An Intern is a newly graduated doctor completing two compulsory hospital years for additional experience. Then we have a compulsory community service year, and only after that do we get to specialise. And a specialising doctor is called a registrar, and a specialist is called a consultant.
    So confusing :P
    Happy Medical Monday!
    BarefootMedStudent recently posted..Cure for AIDS: In the Pipeline?My Profile

    • Amber says:

      That is REALLY confusing! I know my husband has tried to explain some programs over seas to me as he has worked with foreign medical grads in residency and fellowship, but I don’t know if he really understands it either ;)

  8. First off I love the cuffs!! Second, thanks for clearing the lingo up! I’m always confused at what the heck these docs in training are/what level they are!! We actually have quite a few interns and residents here! Greys Anatomy doesn’t help with the lingo confusion lol it seems like just yesterday they were little interns and now they’re attendings?!

    • Amber says:

      That’s kind of why I wrote this. I had a few friends who thought they knew what they were talking about because they would reference Grey’s Anatomy and it drove me crazy :/

      Thanks for stopping by! and glad you like the cuffs :)

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