A career as a doctor can prove to be a rigorous path to take up, especially considering how diverse the domain of medicine is. After years of studying and practical training, students might want to train further and choose a residency program to do that. Many end up becoming resident doctors. But what exactly is a resident doctor?

A resident doctor is a graduate from a medical school who is under training and is undertaking a Graduate Medical Education (GME) program. This is an essential part of the course for graduates, as it provides further training to students in their choice of specialty. Health care institutions often refer to resident doctors as residents. First-year residents are often called interns.

Residents work regularly in hospitals and health care facilities to continue their medical training in their specialized fields. Resident doctors may work like this to obtain proper work experience for three to seven years. This period is called residency.

Junior residents start their journey off with less complicated tasks, and the responsibilities increase with their experience, education, and performance. They are directly involved with the patients and provide health care services such as treating health conditions, diagnosing, and managing patients. This is usually done under the supervision of a senior practitioner in the facility. Doctors, along with senior residents,  provide supervision to each junior resident. 

Supervising doctors and senior residents provide training to junior residents in their chosen specialty. These can include:

Work of a Resident Doctor

Residents often work in departments at hospitals like the emergency department, operating rooms, intensive care units, and general wards. Supervising professionals train the residents to provide the following services:

  • Give examinations
  • Record medical histories
  • Perform medical procedures
  • Order diagnostic tests
  • Interpret diagnostic tests
  • Prescribing medications to the patients based on their diagnostics
  • Providing consultation to patients and educating them on topics such as hygiene and fitness
  • Assisting in surgeries
  • Arranging onboarding and discharge of patients
  • Charting out treatment plans for patients
  • Maintaining the documentation and medical records of patients along with documenting their treatment journey, including test results and medications

A major part of the residents’ training and education happens during rounds in hospitals. This is when a group of health care professionals or doctors go from patient to patient to check how their treatment is going, their current condition, and progress. Working under these professionals helps residents assess the patient health, and see the trajectory of their healing. This way they learn how to make treatment adjustments and perform health assessments.

Residents also work in doctor’s offices and outpatient clinics. There, they work directly with the patients during their treatments, diagnosis, and examinations. Residents also spend time with patient’s families and coordinate various services with the health care team.

Another thing that residents can do is continue their training and education by taking part in associate’s programs, attending seminars, and formal conferences. This helps them in refining their skills and education in their choice of specialization.

What comes after becoming a resident doctor?

Resident doctors rely on many principles to continue their learning and training before starting their own practice:

  • Devoting adequate time for experiential and reflective learning
  • Observing how medical conditions evolve by directly working with patients
  • Becoming more responsible for providing healthcare to patients, under the supervision of senior residents and doctors

For providing healthcare to patients during their residency, resident doctors must obtain a license from the jurisdiction they work in, or the state. Junior residents start their journey off with a restricted training license. As they gain more experience and skills, they must obtain an unrestricted license. This helps them continue with their training and eventually gain enough experience to start their own practice.