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Top 15 Most Popular Residencies with the Residency Positions and Average Salaries

What are the best medical residency programs?

Most Popular Residencies with First-year Residency Positions and Average Salaries

Among the factors that can contribute to medical specialty, the choice is the magnitude of the opportunity. Graduating from medical school is no doubt a big milestone in a dreamer’s pursuit to become a doctor; however, it is not the last stage.

After medical school, graduates must apply and enter a residency program where they will specialize in a particular field in medicine. This is where they apply all their knowledge from medical school and train to become fully board-certified doctors in their respective specialties.

Arguably the most important decision graduates face is what type of residency they should enter because this choice will have an enduring impact on their medical career. Below is a compiled list of the 15 most popular residencies.

1. Internal Medicine

12,160 first-year residency positions (including preliminary positions)


This is another most famous and shortest residency program having a duration of 3 years. This field will teach you about how various organs of the body function and control your body system.

A general internist is also known as a physician who works either in a hospital or in a general office clinic. They manage complex problems of the body among people of all age groups. In short, they help you to promote great wellness and a healthy body free from harmful diseases.

Plus, they are even trained in some essentials of primary care which is related to the understanding of mental health, disease prevention, and effective treatment of various body tissues.

Length of Residency Training

Basic training in internal medicine is three years of residency (termed ‘categorical’ training) following medical school. Following the completion of three years of training, residents are eligible for board certification in internal medicine. About half of the country’s internal medicine residents choose to practice General Internal Medicine.

Salary will range between $211,000 to $229,000.

2. Family Medicine

5,199 first-year residency positions


Doctors who specialize in family medicine are often considered primary health care providers due to the nature of their work. They are trained in providing comprehensive healthcare to people of all ages and make referrals to see specialists if needed.

For some of the people, they are the general doctors. They are generally aiming to diagnose, prevent or even treat numerous other ailments, especially for people of old age groups. Students will be able to receive excellent training in the fields of internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, geriatrics, and obstetrics. If needed, they will also work with other physicians as well.

Length of Residency Training

Hence, it takes 3 years of residency to complete a family medicine residency program. Also, a minimum of three years of postgraduate coursework in an ACGME-accredited training institution is required.

Salary will range between $192,000 to $211,000.

3. Pediatrics

3,258 first-year residency positions

Pediatrics Residency


Pediatrics is primarily concerned with the physical, emotional, and social health of children from birth to young adulthood. Concerned with more than just physical well-being, pediatricians are involved with the prevention, early detection, and management of behavioral, developmental, and functional social problems that affect their patients.

Depending on the patient’s age, the measurements associated with these parameters can be quite different. A pediatrician deals with biological, social, and environmental influences on the developing child as well as with the impact of disease or dysfunction on development.

The pediatrician also interacts with parents or guardians to define the health status of patients and to educate and provide anticipatory guidance about the child’s normal health and growth. Pediatricians can be active at the community level by helping to prevent or solve problems in child health care and be public advocates for children’s causes.

Pediatricians work to reduce infant and child morbidity and mortality, control infectious disease, foster healthy lifestyles, and the day-to-day difficulties of children and adolescents with acute and/or chronic conditions.

Length of Residency Training

The total time duration of this residency program is around 3 years.


Subspecialty Length
Adolescent Medicine 3 years
Allergy & Immunology 2 years
Cardiology 3 years
Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 2 years
Critical Care Medicine 3 years
Endocrinology 3 years
Gastroenterology 3 years
Hematology & Oncology 3 years
Infectious Diseases 3 years
Medical Genetics 2-4 years
Neonatal Perinatal Medicine 3 years
Nephrology 3 years
Pediatric Emergency Medicine 3 years
Pulmonary Disease 3 years
Rheumatology 3 years

Salary will range between $182,000 to $221,000.

4. Emergency Medicine

3,000 first-year residency positions


Doctors who specialize in emergency medicine are trained to diagnose and treat a variety of diseases in an emergency setting. They work in conjunction with nurses, paramedics, and other healthcare professionals to provide emergency care.

To have a broader knowledge about the medical field, choosing this face-paced residency program is the best option for you. It will help the student to enhance their technical and clinical skills.

Emergency physicians are involved in treating people of all age groups. Therefore, their training field also covers the areas of mass gatherings and disaster medicine.

Length of Residency Training

A typical emergency medicine residency lasts three to four years and allows residents to achieve further clinical experience. Most programs have a set of minimum requirements, and many med students start applying for residency just before the start of their fourth year of school.

Salary will range between $272,000 to $320,000.

5. Dermatology:

504 first-year residency positions


This is the another shortest and best residency program for medical students. Dermatology is the field that is associated with skin-related issues or any skin allergy. It is a field of medical specialty which is associated with dealing with the healthcare of people of all age groups.

Dermatologists also deal with the problems of hair or nail allergies, skin diseases, or various sexually transmitted diseases. Plus, they are also involved in dealing with diseases related to warts, acne, skin cancers as well as contact dermatitis.

Various surgical procedures are used by the dermatologists such as laser surgery, hair transplant, or tissue augmentation therapies.

Length of Residency Training

This dermatology residency field has a duration of 4 years.

Salary will range between $314,000 to $460,000.

6. Psychiatry

2,089 first-year residency positions


Psychiatry is a branch of medicine that deals with mental conditions. Psychiatrists are trained to diagnose and treat mental disorders. The difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist is that the former are trained to treat mental illnesses with medicine if necessary.

A psychiatrist has powerful capabilities in the treatment of mental illness. But these capabilities come at a price measured in education, experience, and time.

Length of Residency Training

The residency length to become a psychiatrist is usually about four years.

Salary will range between $207,000 to $225,000.

7. Anesthesiology

1,774 first-year residency positions


Anesthesiology Residency

Anesthesiologists are specialized doctors who provide the necessary healthcare for patients before and after a surgical or medical procedure. Anesthesiology is the specialty dealing with taking care of patients before, during, and after surgery, or pre-op, intra-op, and post-op. Think of them as the patient’s “guardian angel”, or the one responsible for making sure the patient gets through surgery safely.

In addition to ensuring patients are properly sedated and comfortable throughout the operation, they also maintain stable vitals, hemodynamic status (meaning their blood circulation), and an open airway to ensure adequate breathing.

Length of Residency Training

Training consists of a minimum of four years of graduate medical education. Three years of training must be in clinical anesthesia.

One year of the training must be the clinical base year, which should provide the resident with 12 months of broad clinical education in medical disciplines of which a maximum of only one month may involve the administration of anesthesia. The clinical base year is usually the first year of graduate medical education.

Salary will range between $353,000 to $426,000.

8. General Surgery

3,056 first-year residency positions (including preliminary positions)


A general surgeon is a specialist who is trained to manage a broad spectrum of surgical conditions affecting almost any area of the body. The surgeon establishes the diagnosis and provides the preoperative, operative, and post-operative care to patients and is often responsible for the comprehensive management of the trauma victim and the critically ill patient.

During at educational period after obtaining a medical degree, the surgeon acquires knowledge and technical skills in managing medical conditions that relate to the head and neck, breast, skin, and soft tissues, abdominal wall, extremities, and the gastrointestinal, vascular, and endocrine systems.

Length of Residency Training

Residency for general surgery usually lasts five or more years.

Salary will range between $324,000 to $448,000.

9. Obstetrics and Gynecology

1,589 first-year residency positions

Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency


Doctors who specialize in obstetrics and gynecology are referred to as an obstetrician and gynecologists, or OB/GYN for short. This training residency program is the combination of two different specialties i.e. Obstetrics and Gynecology.

A specialist in obstetrics and gynecology is a physician who has been trained to provide medical and surgical care for pregnant patient, to deliver babies, and to provide medical and surgical care to treat conditions that affect the female reproductive system.

Some obstetricians/gynecologists have a strong professional interest in a specific area such as urogynecology, pelviscopy, adolescent/pediatric gynecology, or infectious diseases, and they focus their practice on one or more of these particular areas of the specialty.

All of these physicians are also trained in health maintenance and preventative care for women, and they have particular knowledge and skills that enable them to serve as consultants to physicians who practice in other areas of medicine.

There are also subspecialties in obstetrics and gynecology, which require additional training: maternal-fetal medicine specialists are obstetricians /gynecologists who are prepared to care for, and to consult on, patients with high-risk pregnancies; and reproductive endocrinologists are capable of managing complex problems related to reproductive endocrinology and infertility, including aspects of assisted reproduction, such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

Length of Residency Training

This residency field has a duration of 4 years.

Salary will range between $274,000 to $309,000.

10. Radiology

1,223 first-year residency positions


A radiologist is a physician who completed medical school and received specialized training in obtaining and interpreting medical images using x-rays (radiographs, CT, fluoroscopy), radioactive substances (nuclear medicine), sound waves (ultrasound), or magnets (MRI).

Almost all physicians examine patients, obtain medical histories, diagnose illnesses, and prescribe and treat injuries or diseases. A radiologist connects your medical image to other examinations and tests, recommends further examinations or treatments, and talks with the doctor who sent you for your exam, Radiologists also treat diseases by means of radiation (radiation oncology or nuclear medicine) or minimally invasive, image-guided surgery (interventional radiology).

A radiologist must first graduate from an accredited medical school, earn an MD or DO degree, pass a licensing examination, perform a year of internship, and complete at least four years of graduate medical education (residency) in radiology. After residency, these doctors may choose a fellowship program and sub-specialize in one or more areas of radiology.

Radiologists who are board-certified are approved to practice in the field by either the American Board of Radiology (for a medical doctor) or the American Osteopathic Board of Radiology (for an osteopathic doctor).

Subspecialties for Radiologists

A radiologist may also specialize in one or more radiology subspecialties. These include:

Breast imaging
The radiology subspecialty is devoted to the diagnostic imaging and diagnosis of breast diseases and conditions. This includes mammography, breast ultrasound, breast MRI, and breast procedures such as breast biopsy.

Cardiovascular Radiology
The radiology subspecialty is devoted to the diagnostic imaging and diagnosis of diseases of the heart and vascular or circulatory system (including blood and lymphatic vessels). This includes x-rays, CT (computed tomography or CAT), ultrasound, and MRI.

Chest Radiology
The radiology subspecialty is devoted to diagnostic imaging and diagnosis of diseases of the chest, especially the heart and lungs. This includes x-rays, CT (computed tomography or CAT), Ultrasound, MRI, and chest procedures, such as lung biopsy and thoracentesis or drainage of fluid from the chest.

Emergency Radiology
The radiology subspecialty is devoted to the diagnostic imaging and diagnosis of trauma and non-traumatic emergency conditions. This includes x-rays, CT (computed tomography or CAT), Ultrasound, and MRI.

Gastrointestinal (GI) Radiology
The radiology subspecialty is devoted to the diagnostic imaging and diagnosis of the gastrointestinal (GI) or digestive tract (the stomach and intestines) and abdomen. This includes fluoroscopy, x-rays, CT (computed tomography or CAT), Ultrasound, MRI, and GI procedures such as biopsy and fluid and abscess drainage.

Genitourinary Radiology
The radiology subspecialty is devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of the organs of the reproductive and urinary systems. This includes x-rays, CT (computed tomography or CAT), MRI, and procedures such as biopsy, kidney stone removal, and uterine fibroid removal.

Head and Neck Radiology
The radiology subspecialty is devoted to the diagnostic imaging and diagnosis of diseases of the head and neck. This includes x-rays, CT (computed tomography or CAT), Ultrasound, and MRI.

Musculoskeletal Radiology
The radiology subspecialty is devoted to the diagnostic imaging and diagnosis of the muscles and the skeleton. This includes x-rays, CT (computed tomography or CAT), Ultrasound, and MRI.

The radiology subspecialty is devoted to the diagnostic imaging and diagnosis of the brain and nervous system, head, neck, and spine. This includes x-rays, CT (computed tomography or CAT), Ultrasound, and MRI.

Pediatric Radiology
The radiology subspecialty is devoted to the diagnostic imaging and diagnosis of diseases of children. This includes x-rays, CT (computed tomography or CAT), Ultrasound, MRI, and procedures such as fluoroscopy, biopsy and drainage of fluid or abscess collections.

Interventional Radiology
The radiology subspecialty is devoted to the imaging, diagnosis, and treatment of patients utilizing minimally invasive interventional techniques. This includes imaging and treatment of the blood vessels (such as angiography, angioplasty, and stent placement), biopsy procedures, line and tube placement, uterine fibroid removal, fluids, and abscess drainage. These may be performed with imaging guidance using x-rays, fluoroscopy, CT (computed tomography or CAT), Ultrasound or MRI.

Nuclear Radiology
The radiology subspecialty is devoted to the imaging, diagnosis, and treatment of patients using trace doses of radioactive material. This includes imaging of the heart, the skeletal system, and most organs in the body (for example the thyroid and parathyroid glands, liver, spleen, kidneys, lungs, etc.). It also includes the treatment of various conditions in the body such as a hyperactive thyroid gland and thyroid cancer. The imaging modalities include gamma imaging, PET, and PET/CT.

Radiation Oncology
The radiology subspecialty is devoted to the treatment of cancer using radiation. The radiation may be delivered from an outside x-ray source or may be placed or injected into the body.

Length of Residency Training

The residency length for diagnostic radiology is about four years.

Salary will range between $344,000 to $487,000.

11. Ophthalmology:

498 first-year residency positions



This residency field is about the treatment and dealing with the structure of the visual eye system.  An ophthalmologist is concerned with the comprehensive care of the eyes and vision and is the only medical practitioner who is medically trained to diagnose and treat all eye and visual problems.

Ophthalmologists provide vision services (glasses and contact lenses), treat medical disorders of the eye, and perform surgical procedures for treatment.

Length of Residency Training

This residency field has a duration of 4 years.

Salary will range between $304,000 to $360,000.

12. Neurology

1070 first-year residency positions


Neurology is the branch of medicine concerned with the study and treatment of disorders of the nervous system. The nervous system is a complex, sophisticated system that regulates and coordinates body activities. It has two major divisions:

  • Central nervous system: the brain and spinal cord
  • Peripheral nervous system: all other neural elements, such as eyes, ears, skin, and other “sensory receptors”

A doctor who specializes in neurology is called a neurologist. The neurologist treats disorders that affect the brain, spinal cord, and nerves, such as:

  • Cerebrovascular diseases, such as stroke
  • Demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis
  • Headache disorders
  • Infections of the brain and peripheral nervous system
  • Movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease
  • Neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
  • Seizure disorders, such as epilepsy
  • Spinal cord disorders
  • Speech and language disorders

Neurologists do not perform surgery. If one of their patients requires surgery, they refer them to a neurosurgeon.

Length of Residency Training

This residency field has a duration of 4 years.

Salary will range between $282,000 to $364,000.

13. Pathology:

601 first-year residency positions


A pathologist deals with the causes and nature of the disease and contributes to diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment through knowledge gained by the laboratory application of the biologic, chemical, and physical sciences. This specialist uses information gathered from the microscopic examination of tissue specimens, cells, and body fluids, and from clinical laboratory tests on body fluids and secretions for the diagnosis, exclusion, and monitoring of disease.

Pathology is the medical specialty that studies the causes, processes, development, and consequences of disease and disease therapies. Pathology impacts virtually every other specialty of medicine. It incorporates the latest laboratory medicine technology to provide information that serves as the foundation for medical diagnosis, patient treatment, and research.

Within the spectrum of pathology, people often refer to two broad categories, anatomic and clinical pathology:

  • Anatomic pathology is concerned with the diagnosis of disease based on the gross, microscopic, chemical, immunologic and molecular examination of organs, tissues, and whole bodies. Some of the subspecialties in anatomic pathology include breast pathology, dermatopathology, gastrointestinal pathology, genitourinary pathology, gynecologic pathology, hematopathology, and pulmonary pathology. Some of the methods used in anatomic pathology are surgical pathology, cytopathology, and molecular pathology.

  • Clinical pathology is concerned with the diagnosis of disease based on the laboratory analysis of bodily fluids (such as blood and urine) and tissues using the tools of chemistry, microbiology, hematology, and molecular pathology. Clinical pathology in its laboratory setting covers hematology, clinical chemistry (including toxicology), microbiology (including immunology), and the blood bank (transfusion medicine).

Length of Residency Training

In short, it is a complete research-based field that is both investigative and clinical. This residency field has a duration of 4 years.

Salary will range between $248,000 to $365,000.

14. Orthopedic Surgery

868 first-year residency positions

Orthopedic Surgery Residency


Orthopedic surgery is a surgical specialty that is specifically devoted to the care of the musculoskeletal system. This system includes bones, joints, muscles, associated nerves, arteries, and the overlying skin. Much of the orthopedic surgeon’s practice involves the performance of surgical procedures, but many conditions are treated medically or physically through the use of braces, casts, splints, or physical therapy.

Orthopedic surgeons take care of a wide variety of problems that may be present at birth, or that may develop at any time during the lifetime of the person. Such problems can include congenital deformities, trauma, infections, tumors, degenerative conditions, and metabolic disturbances that fall into the category of musculoskeletal abnormalities.

Orthopedics may also involve the treatment of secondary muscular problems in patients who suffer from various central or peripheral nervous system lesions such as cerebral palsy, paraplegia, or stroke.

The field of orthopedic surgery has become very broad and now encompasses a number of specialty areas. Following a standard residency experience in orthopedic surgery, an orthopaedist may continue with an additional one- to two-year fellowship to achieve added qualifications in the following special interest areas.

Hand Surgery

This specialty focuses on the investigation and treatment of diseases, injuries, or abnormalities affecting the upper extremities. This specialty includes the performance of microvascular surgery, which is necessary for the reattachment of amputated fingers or limbs.

Sports Medicine

This specialty addresses the various concerns of the person who is involved in athletics, including conditioning, equipment, and, of course, injuries to the musculoskeletal system.

Pediatric Orthopaedics

Specialists in pediatric orthopedics address their practice to children with orthopedic problems including scoliosis, cerebral palsy, congenital dislocation of the hips, clubfoot, and a wide variety of other conditions specifically seen in children–including trauma.

Spine Surgery

Spine surgeons work with patients who have major spine problems as a result of disease, degeneration, or trauma. Orthopedic spine surgeons frequently work in conjunction with neurosurgeons.

Foot and Ankle Orthopaedics

This specialty is concerned with problems predominantly involving the foot and ankle that are amenable to treatment by both surgical and nonsurgical techniques.

Joint Replacement

Specialists in joint replacement take care of damaged or worn-out joints usually by surgically replacing the joint with an artificial device. The majority of cases involve the hip or knee–and sometimes the ankle or shoulder. Most joint replacement in the hand falls into the area of expertise of the hand surgeons.

Trauma Surgery

Because of the complex nature of injuries seen today, a special area of orthopedics is now related to the management of persons with critical or multiple injuries to the musculoskeletal system. This specialty is largely surgical in nature and involves close cooperative efforts with many other specialties in surgery.


The orthopedic tumor surgeon specializes in the management of benign and malignant tumors affecting the musculoskeletal system. Options for treatment have expanded greatly in the past few years with the advent of chemotherapy and radiotherapy coupled with the excision of the tumor and replacement with preserved bone or joint specimens.

Length of Residency Training

This residency field has a duration of one year in a broadly-based, patient-related program, plus four years in orthopedic surgery

Salary will range between $256,000 to $315,000.

15. Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery

172 first-year residency positions


The specialty of plastic surgery deals with the repair, replacement, and reconstruction of defects of the form and function of the body covering and its underlying musculoskeletal system, with emphasis on the craniofacial structures, the oropharynx, the upper and lower limbs, the breast, and the external genitalia. This surgical specialty also focuses on the aesthetic surgery of structures with undesirable forms.

Special knowledge and skill in the design and transfer of skin flaps, in the transplantation of tissues, and in the replantation of structures are vital to the performance of plastic surgery. The plastic surgeon must also possess excellent skills in the performance of excisional surgery, in the management of complex wounds, and in the use of allopathic materials.

Knowledge of surgical design, surgical diagnosis, surgical and artistic anatomy, surgical pathology, surgical oncology, surgical physiology, pharmacology, bacteriology, biomechanics, embryology, and surgical instrumentation are other fundamental areas of expertise within the specialty. Furthermore, the judgment and technical capacity for achieving satisfactory results are mandatory qualities for the plastic surgeon.

After completing a residency in plastic surgery, a plastic surgeon may subspecialize in:

Hand Surgery

This subspecialty focuses on the investigation, preservation, and restoration by medical, surgical, and rehabilitative means of all of the structures of the upper extremity that directly affect the form and function of the hand and wrist.

Length of Residency Training

Three years of preparatory surgery training plus two years of plastic surgery training. Many physicians add an additional six to 12 months of training for a particular field of interest

Salary will range between $256,000 to $315,000.

What to Expect in Residency

All residencies have graduated levels of responsibility throughout the training which means that you will become more independent and responsible for every year of your residency training. The ultimate goal is that, by the end of the residency, you are functioning independently within your specialty.

As you gain more knowledge, expertise, and skill, you will feel comfortable taking on more responsibility and your attendings will welcome the help. Additionally, you will have increased supervisory and teaching roles throughout your residency.

By the end of the residency, you will be supervising your interns and junior residents. Therefore, you will need to delegate roles and duties, oversee your interns and junior residents, and often you will be the one those junior doctors turn to with questions.

After Medical Residency

After residency training, residents choose to either practice in the chosen specialty or pursue further fellowship training. Within one to two years of finishing residency, doctors also take specialty boards to become board certified in the specialty in which they trained. These specialty boards always involve a written exam and some specialties have an oral exam component as well.

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