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Doctors: Specialties and Training (cont.)

Residency Training

Near the end of medical school, each medical student selects a specialty for residency training. There are currently 24 medical specialties recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Medical specialties include the following:

  • Allergy & immunology
  • Anesthesiology
  • Colon and rectal surgery
  • Dermatology
  • Emergency medicine
  • Family practice
  • Internal medicine
  • Medical genetics
  • Neurological surgery
  • Nuclear medicine
  • Obstetrics & gynecology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Orthopaedic surgery
  • Otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat or ENT)
  • Pathology
  • Pediatrics
  • Physical medicine and rehabilitation
  • Plastic surgery
  • Preventive medicine
  • Psychiatry & neurology
  • Radiology
  • General surgery
  • Thoracic surgery
  • Urology

After graduation from medical school, these individuals have earned the right to be called doctor, but they are a long way from completing the skills necessary to safely practice medicine. Depending on the state they want to practice in, they need at least one to three more years of training.

Fully trained physicians must now supervise them for a period of three to five years. The majority of the training occurs in teaching hospitals and hospital-affiliated clinics. Specialty training is a long and difficult process. These young physicians work long hours and traditionally have often worked 36 hours without sleep or rest. During the last 10 years, these working hours have been trimmed and regulated to allow for a better training environment that is safer for the patients and physicians in training.

At the completion of residency training, physicians are considered to be specialists and are board eligible. Most graduates elect to take these difficult, additional written and oral board exams, often with pass rates as low as 50%, that certify their knowledge base and skills. Physicians who pass these exams are allowed to state that they are a board-certified practitioner in their chosen specialty.




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