Fellowship vs Residency: Difference and Comparison

Medicine takes a longer period to study than most other vocations. After several years of pre-medical studies, starting medical school is time.

The new graduate must then apply for a residency and a fellowship after graduating from a medical program. 

Two of the most significant words in clinical practice are fellowship and residency. They have a lot in common regarding purpose, but they’re very different in the training they deliver. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Residency is a period of postgraduate medical training for doctors to specialize in a specific field, while a fellowship offers advanced training in a subspecialty after completing a residency.
  2. Residencies are longer, ranging from 3-7 years, during fellowships last 1-3 years.
  3. Residency programs aim to build a strong foundation in the chosen speciality, whereas fellowships focus on refining and expanding expertise in a specific area.

Fellowship vs Residency  

Residency programs provide clinical experience to train residents to become competent and independent practitioners in their field of medicine. Fellowships are an additional period of training that follows residency. They last one to three years and provide in-depth training in a specific disease.

Fellowship vs Residency

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Fellowship is a very formal period of training for fully credentialed physicians who want to gain further training in their particular specialization.

It is not required for the general practice of medicine. It consists of more laboratory-based or other clinical work and is finished after a residency only. 

On the other hand, residency is a program meant for post-professional, clinical, and didactic education and is designed to facilitate a physician’s experience and preparations for being a fully certified physician and a provider of patient care services in a clinical or hospital setting.

It is a requirement for every future physician. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of Comparison Fellowship Residency 
Formal More formal Less formal 
Pay More than a residency Less than a fellowship 
Setting Industry, academia, non-traditional pharmacy, or health care setting. Clinical, hospital, community practices. 
Timing Done after residency. Done after graduation and internship. 
Training Further training on their specialization. Additional training on an individual’s specialization of choice. 
Work More laboratory-based or other clinical work Required to do more than basic clinical work. 
Credentials Fully credentialed physicians. Not board-certified or fully credentialed. 
Necessity Not required for general practice. It is a requirement for every future physician. 

What is Fellowship? 

A fellowship is a planned, funded, and post-professional opportunity to learn in a more focused clinical practice, education, or research area.

It is specially designed for residency graduates or board-certified therapists to help them focus on the subspecialty area of their choice. 

There are certain requirements for a person to enter a fellowship program. Some of these qualifications for applicants are: 

  1. Completion of a residency in the speciality area chosen or specialist certification. 
  2. A significant amount of clinical experience and work experience in the respective speciality area. 
  3. The applicant needs to be able to demonstrate the clinical skills required within that particular speciality area. 

When it comes to modern medicine, a fellowship means a period of training that may last from anywhere between 1 to 3 or 4 years.

They tend to be very competitive, and not all physicians who wish to pursue it get chosen due to its selectivity, 

A fellowship’s goal is to help prepare the trainees to become full-fledged physicians in the future and to be able to take part in individual practice.

During a fellowship, the trainees receive specialized training from experienced doctors in their chosen speciality who work under the supervision of the physician-in-chief.

This helps them gain independence. 

What is Residency? 

A residency is a medical training period that is required of those who have received a medical degree under the supervision of licensed physicians in a medical establishment. 

A clinical residency is intended to significantly improve a resident’s skill in examining, evaluating, diagnosing, prognosis, intervening, and caring for patients in a specific clinical field (speciality).

Community outreach, patient education, research, and supervision of other healthcare practitioners may all be part of this emphasis (professional and paraprofessional).  

A residency program trains a person to become a board-certified clinical specialist. Interns are residents who are in their first year of residency training.

They perform medical exams and treatments under the direction and supervision of an attending physician responsible for patient care and medical decisions.  

Residency programs vary in length depending on the speciality. A doctor obtains hands-on instruction from experienced doctors while working under the supervision of a physician-in-chief throughout this period.

The learner will benefit from this expertise as they develop their own practice and achieve independence. 

A student will be eligible to become a board-certified clinical expert after completing a residency.

Professional and paraprofessional health care professionals participate in community service, research, supervision, and patient education. 

The first year of a fellowship might include a year of residence. It enables a person to get additional information and expertise in his or her chosen field.

A fellowship is required if you wish to pursue a career in academic medicine. It will allow you to work as an attending or consulting physician in your profession. 

Main Differences Between Fellowship and Residency 

  1. A fellowship is more formal when compared to a residency. 
  2. When it comes to salaries, a fellowship tends to pay more than a residency. 
  3. A fellowship takes place in an industry, academia, non-traditional pharmacy, or health setting. A residency takes place in a clinical, hospital, or community practice setting. 
  4. A residency is done after graduation and internship of a student or trainee, whereas a fellowship is done after the completion of a residency. 
  5. A fellowship provides further training on a person’s specialization, whereas a residency provides additional training on an individual’s chosen specialization. 
  6. A fellowship includes more laboratory-based or other clinical work, whereas a residency includes more basic clinical work. 
  7. A fellowship requires a fully credentialed physician, whereas a residency doesn’t require a board-certified or fully credentialed physician. 
  8. A fellowship isn’t required for general practice. On the other hand, a residency is required for every future physician. 
Difference Between Fellowship and Residency
  1. https://journals.lww.com/annalsofsurgery/Fulltext/2013/09000/General_Surgery_Residency_Inadequately_Prepares.8.aspx?sessionEnd=true 
  2. https://www.journalacs.org/article/S1072-7515(20)30299-4/abstract 

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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