A resident is a qualified physician who is in training in a medical speciality. Residents work in hospitals under the supervision of specialists in their chosen field for a period of two to three years after completing their internships. Residents are already qualified as general physicians. In a hospital setting, they are generally responsible for around the clock patient care and typically work 12 hour shifts on call as well as doing regular rounds of the patients in their care. Although many residents can make patient care decisions, they all work under the supervision of an attending physician at all times. On each shift, one resident is appointed as the senior and is responsible for all patient care decisions on the shift.
Residency spots are scarce and not all physicians that complete their internship will find a residency position, particularly in specialties that are in great demand. However, it is not necessary to complete a residency to practice family medicine.
Residents who complete their term can generally find good paying jobs in their speciality. However, some residents seek less well paying jobs as fellows in order to study a sub-specialty. Doctors who complete fellowships are very much in demand in hospitals, medical schools and private practice and can have outstanding careers.