Difference Between Fellowship and Residency

By: | Updated: Jul-19, 2021

Fellowship and Residency are two of the most important terms in clinical practice. Fellowship is a program that allows medical students to complete their clinical rotations in hospitals and other health care facilities. Residency is the period of time that a physician spends working at a hospital or another health care facility after completing training. They are quite similar in terms of purpose.

However, there are some other differences between the two terms. In this article, we will discuss the similarities and differences between Fellowship and Residency. We will also compare both of these programs to each other, how they work, what is required for one to become a Fellow or Resident in a hospital or health care facility, and why. So, let’s begin.

Summary Table:

Fellowship Residency
More formal Less formal
Required to do some basic laboratory testing or other clinical work  

Required to do more than basic clinical work

Usually has a longer duration  

Usually has a shorter duration

Definitions:

Difference Between Fellowship and Residency

Before we talk about the differences between “fellowship” and “residency”, let’s first define what we mean by “fellowship” and “residency.” To do this, we need to take a look back at the definitions and meanings of these two words, what kind of experience a “fellowship” and “residency” entails, and how they relate to each other.

What Is Fellowship?

The word “fellowship” was first used in the Middle Ages when physicians joined together for long periods of time. These fellowships usually lasted for several years or even decades, where they shared the responsibility of providing care to patients and conducting research. The concept of fellowship was expanded in the 19th century to include medical residents and doctors who worked under a “fellowship” system.

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In terms of modern clinical practice, a fellowship is usually a period of training lasting between two and four years. The goal of this program is to prepare the trainee for independent practice or to become a full-fledged doctor in the future. During this time, they receive specialized training from experienced doctors who work under supervision of a physician-in-chief. This experience helps the trainee to build their own practice and gain independence.

What Is Residency?

Residency, on the other hand, refers to a period of training lasting between one and three years. During this time, a doctor receives hands-on training from experienced doctors who work under supervision of a physician-in-chief. This experience helps the trainee to build their own practice and gain independence.

So, while fellowship is more formal and lasts longer than residency, both programs are very similar in terms of purpose and goals. Both programs aim to prepare doctors for independent practice or to become full-fledged doctors in the future.

How Does Fellowship and Residency Work?

The process of becoming a Fellow or Resident in a hospital or health care facility is quite different from the process of becoming a Fellow or Resident in an academic medical center.

In most hospitals, fellowships and residencies are offered to doctors who have completed their residency training. They usually start after they complete their residency training. Fellowship and residency programs are usually very competitive, so only the best and brightest doctors can get these positions.

In an academic medical center, on the other hand, fellowship training is offered to physicians who have completed their residency training. Fellowship programs in an academic medical center may be shorter than those in a hospital, and they may not be as competitive. However, these programs are usually designed to provide medical students with experience working in a clinical setting, which is similar to what fellowship training provides.

How Do You Become a Fellow or Resident?

You will usually have to complete your residency training before you can apply for a fellowship. Once you have completed your residency training, you will have to write an application letter and submit it to the faculty members of the program. If your application is accepted, you will be invited to join a “fellowship” program in the same medical center.

Fellowship Vs. Residency:

As you may know, there are several words that have a similar meaning. For example, “fellowship” and “residency” are both used to describe the program where you work under the supervision of a specialist in your chosen field. So, you can say that fellowship and residency are the same. But, if we compare them to each other, they differ in many ways. Let’s take a look at these differences below:

The Program Duration

The fellowship program is usually for two years or less, while the residency program is usually for more than one year. In some cases, both programs can last up to four years. So, if you choose to become a resident in a hospital or health care facility after your fellowship ends, you will be able to stay in the same hospital or health care facility for more than one year.

Eligibility Requirements

The eligibility requirements of fellowship and residency programs are different, as they differ according to the type of program that you are interested in pursuing. For example, the fellowship program requires that you have a medical degree and a doctorate in your chosen field. On the other hand, residency programs usually do not require you to have a medical degree or doctorate. But they do require that you have completed at least one year of specialized training in your chosen field.

In general, the requirements for admission to a fellowship program are very similar to those of medical school. However, if you have completed at least one year of residency training, you may be eligible to apply for the fellowship program.

The Type of Work That Is Expected From Fellows and Residents

In general, the type of work that is expected from fellows and residents in fellowship programs is very similar to that of a medical student. For example, you may be required to do some basic laboratory testing or other clinical work. However, as you get promoted through the ranks in your program, you will be required to take on more responsibilities.

On the other hand, residents in a hospital or health care facility are expected to do much more than that of fellows and medical students. For example, you may be required to take care of patients, perform surgery, work with laboratory equipment and examine test results.

The Career Opportunities After Completion Of The Program

Fellows and residents are not guaranteed a job after completion of the program. However, they are usually given an opportunity to apply for jobs in hospitals or health care facilities that need specialists in their chosen field. The fellowship program usually gives you an opportunity to do some research, which may lead to a publication. This is good for the long term and if you want a more secure job.

On the other hand, residents in a hospital or health care facility are usually required to work as long as they are qualified to do so. But, if you want to move up the ranks in your program and become a professor or researcher, you may be able to do so after completing your residency training.

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