Do All Medical Students Get Residency?

If you are a medical student or interested in anything medical-related, you should know what “residency” is about. Through informal programs, residency as an advanced medical and surgical practice began in the 19th century. But, do all medical students get a Residency?

Not all medical students get a Residency. Several factors prevent medical students from matching in a residency spot. These factors include poor United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) score, limited Post-Graduate Year 1 (PGY1) position, and poor interpersonal skills.

Do All Medical Students Get Residency?

Why Some Medical Students Don’t Match Residency

After their graduate programs, medical students don’t stop there. They proceed to Residency or post-graduate school. The Residency allows medical students to improve their clinical skills, especially by specializing in a particular branch of medicine. The medical school only exposes the medical student to a broad range of medical knowledge, basic clinical skills, and supervised experience in diverse medical fields. On the other hand, Residency is more specific, and guarantees focus on a particular branch the medical student is interested in. Being a jack of all trades doesn’t work for all medical students. This is why Residency is essential. There is a need to have a niche in medicine, as this allows for focus, perfection, discipline, and a higher success rate. Unfortunately, not all medical students get a residency, which makes it very hard for them to complete their journey in medicine. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the following encapsulates why some medical students don’t match Residency.

  • Poor United State Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Score
  • Poor Academic Standing
  • Poor Interpersonal And Communications Skills
  • Limited Position for Residency
  • Unsatisfactory Medical School Performance Evaluation (MSPE)
  • Not a Recent Medical School Graduate

Poor United State Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Score

The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is a three-step examination used to get medical licensure in the United States (US). It tests the physician’s ability to communicate with patients, apply the knowledge he has acquired, etc. Medical students applying for Residency must score very high in step one on their first attempt. Although step two is also required for Residency, step one has been taken more. This is why it was transited to a pass or failure mode. Therefore, a poor United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) score can hinder getting a residency match.

Poor Academic Standing

In the long run, the level of your academic discipline and other factors determine your chances of getting a residency match. For example, if you were a medical student who studied hard, it would be a plus for you. However, if your academic standing is poor, it might affect your chance of getting a medical residency. So, as a medical student aspiring to go for Residency, you must be intentional about your academic performance while at medical school.

Poor Interpersonal And Communication Skills

Doctors who have interpersonal and communication skills achieve better progress with their patients. Physicians must practice interpersonal skills like empathy, dependability, patience, compassion, flexibility, conflict resolution, etc. In addition, they must understand how to communicate with patients and learn how to be empathetic in their words. Communication skills are essential when doctors try to give medical counsel to patients or get information that would help them get the correct diagnosis. They need to learn how to use the right words and create a comfortable atmosphere that makes the patients open up to them.

Limited Position For Residency

If a medical student fails to get a place for Residency due to the limited offer position, then it is both directly and indirectly not the student’s fault. This happens when more student applies for Residency. For instance, in 2016, The National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) gave factual statistics that there were only 27,000 Post-Graduate Year 1 (PGY1) positions for over 35,000 applicants. This would be a considerable disadvantage for thousands of applicants who are more than ready to further their medical careers. To prevent this situation, the state government has to create more positions by building more hospitals or creating rooms in existing hospitals and clinics so as many medical students as possible can go for a Residency.

Unsatisfactory Medical School Performance Evaluation (MSPE)

This letter provides residency program directors with an honest and objective summary of medical students’ attitudes, experiences, and academic performance. When your medical school gives a negative summary of your overall medical school performance, your chances of getting a residency would be meager. On the other hand, having excellent academic performance, participating in extracurricular activities, and taking your hands-on clinical experiences seriously and diligently will favor you when it comes to providing your Medical School Performance Evaluation (MSPE) to the residency program directors.

Not A Recent Medical School Graduate

Medical students who have graduated for a long time would find it difficult to get residency spots; their chances are slimmer than those of fresh medical school graduates. So, as medical students, kindly ensure that you apply for Residency immediately after you graduate from medical school. This increases your chance of getting a position at the Post-Graduate Year 1 (PGY1).

From the following, We can see that medical students’ inability to get Residency is not entirely their fault. Some factors are within their control, and some are not within their control. However, since most of the factors are within their control, medical students have to sit up and give their best shot. Otherwise, they might find themselves in the endless circle of not getting a Residency.


There is competition everywhere, even in the medical world. Medicine is an intense discipline. This is why the processes involved in producing a well-grounded physician are very rigorous. It is more like the survival of the fittest. This is why getting a residency position is also quite tricky. However, the process can be worth it because only the disciplined and passionate can pull through to the end, and these are the kinds of physicians our world needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) How long does a medical Residency lasts?


Medical residencies last between three to seven years. However, surgical residencies take a minimum of five years.

2) Is Residency important for all medical students?


Yes. It is an indispensable part of their medical career, enabling them to acquire specific medical knowledge.