As you embark on your core rotations during your clinical years of medical school, you will begin to work with advisors and clerkship directors to investigate residency options. Remember that any accredited residency program can lead to fellowship training if desired. Moreover, it is important to keep an open mind about your future career goals when applying for and starting residency.

Residency programs view training as a time for exploration and growth, so change is expected and welcomed. The key to finding the right residency is knowing what matters to you – particularly your values and priorities – as you start planning for your professional future.   

Every pediatric residency has a similar core structure that adheres to Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) requirements. For example, the ACGME mandates that a minimum amount of clinical time must be spent on inpatient care, with a nearly equivalent minimum amount of time mandated for subspecialty exposure.

Elective time outside of these requirements allows the programs or residents to tailor their training according to their interests. Some programs utilize tracks to provide a cohesive experience centered around a population or type of pediatric care, like rural health or primary care. Signing up for a track should not restrict your ability to explore other types of pediatric practice.   

Each program will present pros and cons. For instance, for a future resident committed to primary care, a large program with a significant catchment area might enable broader exposure to different problems, which is often seen as beneficial for primary care training. However, for future residents committed to academic subspecialty practice, catchment area may not be as important as exposure in their intended fields.

Your pediatric mentors, clinical advisors, clerkship director, and other knowledgeable providers can offer valuable insight into finding the right pediatric residency. Most importantly, the interview process will help crystallize priorities and clarify options.  

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American Academy of Pediatrics