When Does Residency Start? How To Plan Accordingly 

You’ve spent four years as an undergraduate, two years getting your master’s degrees, and now you’re in medical school. Unfortunately, there’s still more to go! Although you have a degree, you won’t be able to practice medicine independently without completing a residency at a hospital. 

If you’re looking to apply for a medical residency program, you may be wondering, when does residency start?

We’ll answer this exact question and suggest how best to plan so you’re prepared for what’s to come. 

Ready to get started? Let’s go.

When Do Medical Residency Programs Start? 

For most residency programs in the U.S., the training begins on July 1st. However, this can vary depending on your specialty. 

Some residencies can start in mid-June with several days or weeks of orientation before. There isn’t a standard beginning date, but generally, residency starts no later than July. 

If you’re planning a post-graduate vacation, it’s important to plan for this. While most programs begin July 1st, you’re typically expected to be there beforehand for orientation. Sometimes these can start as early as June 15th. 

When Do You Apply for Residency? 

You’ll start the application process for medical residency during the third year of medical school (MS3).

At the beginning of your fourth year (MS4), you’ll register for one or more matches.

Most programs choose students for interviews on a “first come, first serve” basis, meaning the sooner you apply, the better.

At the latest, submit your application materials by early fall in your fourth year. 

How to Plan for Medical Residency Application  

Preparing to apply for residency can be stressful. It’s common for students to miss deadlines or fail to prepare for all the requirements of the process. 

Here are some valuable tips to help you plan for the medical residency application.

1. Choose Your Residency and Apply

There are a variety of medical residency programs. This includes everything from family and internal medicine to neurological surgery and ophthalmology – check out our medical residency guides to get a snapshot of different specialty programs and how they differ.

The key is to build your preferred list and consider the factors that are most important to you, such as:

  1. Location
  2. Compensation
  3. Affiliated hospitals
  4. Length of specialized training 
  5. Available spaces
  6. Patient volume 
  7. Living expenses 

Exhaust all the resources possible in your research. You can attend residency fairs and conferences, perform online research, and speak to training students.

2. Prepare for Interviews

Attending interviews at hospitals is a critical component of being matched to a residency program. Interviewing also gives you a better idea of whether the program is a good fit for you.

Hospitals will review your personal statement before inviting you to an interview. This essay is your opportunity to impress the residency committee by showing them what makes you uniquely suited for the program.

In addition, it’s important to practice your interview skills. Knowing the questions and how to answer them shows that you’re prepared. Interview questions are sometimes publicized online and can often be searched by year for individual programs.

Mock interviews are an excellent way to reduce your anxiety and nervousness. When you’re clear on why and where you want to attend residency and what makes you a good fit, you can better articulate the message during the interview. Try and find residents in your specialty to help you practice interview questions. 

3. Have all the Components of a Residency Application

Residency applications require a compilation of materials demonstrating your qualifications. This helps program directors assess whether you’re a good candidate.

You’ll be expected to put together the following:

  1. Personal statement – A formal letter to highlight your strengths as a potential resident of the desired specialty 
  2. Application or curriculum vitae (CV) – An overview of your education, publications, volunteering, leadership, and the depth of your professional experience and accomplishes in medicine
  3. Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) – A letter that provides program directors an objective summary of your salient experiences, academic performance, and attributes 
  4. Licensing exam transcript – Your test scores 
  5. Medical school transcripts – Your academic grades in medical school 
  6. Letters of recommendations – Letters from medical professionals in your specialty that can vouch for your excellence

4. Know the Application Timeline 

A clear roadmap for the application process can help prevent you from missing deadlines.

Keep in mind that the application timeline is different, depending on the program. 

Below is a timeline that can help guide you in your preparation schedule by month…

Early JuneERAS application season begins. Students gain access to MYERAS (an online portal to apply for residency)
Mid-to-late JuneStart the application process and research programs of interest
July and August1. Gather letters of recommendation 2. Write a personal statement 3. Request transcript 4. Prep for interview
SeptemberSubmit application 
OctoberInterviews begin 

Related: Residency ERAS Photo Tips (9 Best Tips & Examples!)

How Do You Prepare Once You’ve Matched With a Residency Program? 

Residency is a life-changing experience, and making the transition to this new lifestyle can be challenging. 

It’s best to prepare with a focus on the following…

1. Plan Your Finances

While residency programs have above-average starting salaries, it’s not nearly the amount that certified physicians make. First, you’ll need a financial strategy to help navigate your residency years, help cover the interest on loans, and make any urgent payments.

Start by determining where you’re going to live. Aim not to spend more than 20-35% of your income on housing. Ideally, you’ll already have a loan repayment and refinancing option in place to help you feel more financially secure during the program. 

2. Meet Your Co-Residents

Next, it’s important to get to know your co-interns and co-residents. Many residencies last four years, and some can last up to six. You’ll be spending years stressed out, sleep-deprived and overworked, so having a support group by your side will come in handy. 

Join or set up social media groups or a group chat with your intake. Strong friendships will help improve patient care, increasing your chances of residency success.

3. Complete Your Requirements

Once you’ve been matched, residency programs will send you a list of requirements. This includes submitting the licensing application. 

Thousands of new graduates are going through the process of finding housing and getting their badges. Obtaining your NPI and DEA numbers sooner will save you time in the long haul.