The 10 Shortest Residencies - 2024 List

March 4, 2024
5 min read


Reviewed by:

Akhil Katakam

Third-Year Medical Student, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Reviewed: 3/4/24

If you’re researching medical residencies, you might wonder which ones are the quickest to complete. We will cover the shortest residencies and what each of them entails. 

Completing a medical residency is a crucial phase in a physician's journey toward becoming a qualified practitioner. It is a period of intense training and practical experience that enables doctors to specialize in a particular field of medicine. 

While most residency programs typically last between three to seven years, some offer a shorter duration, ranging from as little as three years. Choosing short-term residencies allows doctors to gain focused training in a specific medical specialty while minimizing the time and financial investment required.

This article will examine the ten shortest medical residencies available and explore their unique features and benefits.

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Shortest Time To Become A Doctor In the US

Becoming a doctor typically requires a minimum of eight years of education. However, certain accelerated MD programs or combined bachelor's and MD programs can shorten this timeline to six to seven years. A short residency program can allow you to start practicing in as little as 3 years post-graduation.

10 Shortest Residencies

Here is a table of ten of the shortest residencies in the US. 

Specialty Length Overview
Internal Medicine 3 years Focuses on acute and complex illnesses of the body’s major organ systems
Medical Genetics and Genomics 3 years Involves the diagnosis and treatment of genetic diseases.
Community Medicine 3 years Concentrates on public health, preventative medicine, and occupational medicine.
Pediatrics 3 years Specializes in treating infants, children, and adolescents' physical, mental, and social health
Family Medicine 3 years Its target is general health care for people of all ages.
Dermatology 3 years Involves the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses concerning the integumentary system.
Emergency Medicine 3-4 years Centers in a fast-paced and intense environment where immediate treatment is crucial.
Pathology 3-4 years Puts a spotlight on both clinical work and research on the nature and causes of diseases.
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 3-4 years Focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular and cardiopulmonary disabilities.
Neurology 3-4 years Specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases involving the central nervous system.

Source: Inspira Advantage 

Below, we’ll review each of the shortest medical residencies and what they entail.

Internal Medicine

Internal medicine residency programs are designed to train doctors to become specialists in diagnosing and treating adult illnesses. The residency typically lasts three years and involves both inpatient and outpatient care.

During this period, residents work under the supervision of experienced attending physicians and learn to manage various medical conditions, from acute illnesses to chronic diseases. 

In addition to clinical training, internal medicine residents receive didactic education in cardiology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, and nephrology. They also have opportunities to participate in research and quality improvement projects.

Upon completion of the residency program, these residents may pursue a subspecialty fellowship, such as cardiology, gastroenterology, or infectious disease, or they may choose to practice general internal medicine.

Medical Genetics and Genomics

This residency program is for physicians interested in genetics and genomics. The program is typically three years long and prepares residents to diagnose and manage genetic disorders

During their training, residents learn about genetic diseases' molecular, biochemical, and cellular basis and how to diagnose and manage these conditions. 

Community Medicine

Community or preventive medicine residency programs are designed to provide specialized training in public health, epidemiology, and healthcare systems management. 

These programs prepare medical professionals to identify and address public health issues at a population level rather than focusing solely on individual patient care.

Residents can work with local health departments, community organizations, and other public health agencies to gain hands-on experience developing and implementing public health programs and policies.


A pediatrics residency program prepares physicians to specialize in caring for infants, children, and adolescents. The program typically lasts three years and consists of clinical and didactic components.

During the program, residents gain experience in various clinical settings, including inpatient and outpatient care, emergency medicine, and subspecialty rotations. 

Family Medicine

This residency trains physicians to provide comprehensive primary care services to patients of all ages and genders, including infants, children, adults, and seniors. The program typically lasts three years and consists of clinical and didactic components.

During the program, residents gain experience in various clinical settings, including inpatient and outpatient care, emergency medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, and subspecialty rotations.


This is a specialized training program that prepares physicians to become dermatologists, who are experts in diagnosing, treating, and managing skin, hair, and nail diseases.

Dermatology residents receive extensive training in various dermatological conditions during the residency program. They are also taught dermatological procedures, such as biopsies, excisions, and laser treatments. 

The program includes both clinical rotations and didactic education, with residents working closely with attending dermatologists to gain hands-on experience in patient care.

Emergency Medicine

Emergency medicine residencies prepare physicians to diagnose and manage various medical conditions in high-pressure emergency department settings. 

This residency aims to develop the knowledge, skills, and clinical judgment needed to provide high-quality emergency care to patients of all ages.

Emergency medicine residencies typically last three to four years and consist of both didactic and clinical components. During the program, residents receive comprehensive training in various areas of emergency medicine, including trauma care, critical care, and toxicology.


Pathology residents are taught to diagnose, manage, and treat diseases by studying the causes and effects of diseases at the cellular and molecular levels. Pathology is divided into different sub-specialties, including anatomical pathology, clinical pathology, and forensic pathology.

During this program, residents typically spend several years gaining clinical experience in different areas of pathology, such as autopsy pathology, surgical pathology, and microbiology. They also receive training in laboratory management and research.

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

The field of physical medicine specializes in diagnosing and treating disabilities related to neuromuscular and cardiopulmonary systems, with an emphasis on rehabilitation. 

Although physical medicine primarily addresses physical health issues, it also aims to enhance the patient's social and psychological well-being. The core of this specialty lies in therapeutic exercise, rehabilitation practices, and the utilization of assistive devices such as orthotics and prosthetics.


This residency program is an essential medical training pathway specifically designed for aspiring neurologists. The program typically lasts three to four years and focuses on diagnosing and treating disorders related to the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, and nerves.

During neurology residencies, trainees will gain clinical experience in various settings, including outpatient clinics, inpatient units, and emergency departments. They will also participate in didactic training sessions. 

Throughout the program, residents will be expected to develop and demonstrate competence in a range of neurology-specific skills, including patient history-taking, physical examination, diagnostic testing, and treatment planning. They must also develop communication, teamwork, and professionalism skills.

What Can You Expect at Residency?

Residency offers an immersive, hands-on experience in the chosen field, providing a practical extension of academic learning. Residents work closely with doctors, gaining real-world insights and refining their professional skills. 

Residents must complete a minimum number of hours with patients per week, with additional educational requirements. Generally, you can expect to work 60 to 80 hours weekly as a resident. 

If you’re worried about your schedule as a resident, some programs permit residents to work overnight or on weekends, providing more rest time during the week.

Expect a dynamic learning environment, exposure to diverse cases, and integrating theoretical knowledge with practical application to prepare for a successful career.

If you need help and professional residency support, we've got you covered! Our service offers interview prep and help with letters of intent, among other things. If this interests you, we offer a free consultation and are dedicated to helping you get into your chosen residency.

FAQs: Shortest Residencies

If you still have questions about the shortest residencies, check out these frequently asked questions. 

1. Which Residency Is the Shortest?

The shortest residencies are family medicine, internal medicine, emergency medicine, and pediatrics. 

2. Which Is the Easiest Residency?

it's not accurate to say which residencies are easiest to complete or that short residencies offer the easiest way to become a doctor. The medical field is challenging to enter, regardless of your specialty. However, there are residencies known to be less competitive than others. 

The least competitive residencies include family medicine, internal medicine, emergency medicine, and pathology. 

3. What Type of Doctor Takes the Shortest Time to Become?

Many different types of doctors take the shortest time to become, such as family doctors, osteopathic physicians, and emergency medicine physicians. These are the shortest times because they have short residencies. 

4. Which Residency Is the Least Stressful?

It's difficult to say which medical residency is the least stressful, as the stress level can vary depending on various factors, such as the program, the individual, and the workload. 

However, there are medical specialties that may be less stressful than others. For example, dermatology and pathology are less stressful residencies, as they typically involve less demanding schedules and lower patient volumes.

5. How Long Does It Take To Become A Doctor?

There are three major steps to becoming a doctor: a four-year bachelor's, a four-year MD, and a three to seven-year residency. As such, it can take anywhere from 11-15 years to become a doctor. However, certain accelerated programs can shorten this timeline by a year or two. 

Final Thoughts

The medical field offers a variety of residency programs that vary in length, intensity, and requirements. 

This article has highlighted a range of residency programs that can be completed in as short as three years. While these programs may seem less demanding, they still require a great deal of commitment and hard work from the resident physicians. 

Choosing a residency program that aligns with personal and professional goals is crucial for success and fulfillment in the medical field. Ultimately, the length of a residency should not be the only deciding factor, as the quality of the program and the opportunities it offers are equally important in shaping a successful career in medicine.

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