Choosing your Residency Program

The happy-go-lucky intern will highly consider the ladder up the hill of medicine. After the medical board exams, he’ll be deciding on a subspecialty he is interested in.

Thousands of new physicians pass the board exams every year and slots to fill in residency positions remain to be scarce. Some of the best hospitals employ at most 20 residents per year. The more stringent ones employ just 1-2 residents over a span of 5 years. The competition is getting stiffer and stiffer with new doctors unable to decide which residency training program they want to apply to.

There are certain things to consider in deciding a residency training program and this should be your utmost priority.


1. Your subspecialty.

Before you apply for a program, make sure it’s lined up with your interests when you were in medical school. If you enjoyed long operations at the table, you may want a surgical field. If you’re not the type to face patients, Pathology and Radiology may be a viable option. I chose Internal Medicine because I wanted to be capable of treating anything under the sun. Whatever subspecialty you choose, there will always be a niche for you. Choose wisely.

2. The hospital.

It’s always easy to stay in the hospital where you graduated medical school. The place of residency does not necessarily predict your future practice. You may choose to do it in Manila but practice in the provinces. Salary, leaves, distance, working hours become factors when it comes to the hospital. After all, we already graduated and we would like to avoid asking money from parents as much as possible.

3. The training program.

Are their graduates passing the specialty board exams? Are they competing outside for research competitions? Where are the practice of their graduates? The training program makes it all. At the end of the day, you’re going to spend the next 3-5 years in this program. Check their accreditation for the past years with the society they belong to. You want to make sure it’ll be worth it.

4. The consultant staff.

You will be under them for most of your life in training. They might be the president of societies, chairmen of certain organizations, etc. Whether they hold positions or not, what’s important is that you get along with them. At best, they should be there to mentor you. They will be your parents in medicine. Your consultants will be the ones to back you up in your lapses and encourage you when quitting seems to be an option. They can make or break you.

5. Your peers.

You might not get along with people in a hospital. The peer pressure is high in surgical fields and the hierarchy is steep. Your batchmates are also crucial to surviving residency. Without understanding and compassionate batchmates, residency might be hell for you. The world of medicine is small so you can ask your colleagues for background checks on the people you’ll be working with for the next chapter of your life.


Whatever residency training program you may end up in, your career towards becoming a full-fledged physician remains to be in your hands. The journey up will always be hard.

Once you enter a residency training program, stick to it and always remember, don’t quit!


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