Applying to residency is confusing. Each specialty has different lengths of training, prerequisites, and deadlines that can be hard to keep track of. On top of that, there are different types of residencies to apply to: categorical, advanced, preliminary, and transitional. Huh? What do those mean?
Categorical residency is the type of residency that great majority of people will apply to. Categorical positions offer “full” training – meaning, they include an internship year and provide training leading to board certification in that specialty. These programs generally run 3-7 years and encompass most residency programs.
Meanwhile, preliminary residency encompasses single year positions that do not lead to board certification. There are preliminary positions offered in medicine, surgery, and pediatrics. These programs are generally structured the same as intern year in the corresponding categorical program. Another similar program is the transitional year residency. These positions are also one year, but are broader and encompasses a little bit of training in internal medicine, surgery, and other electives.
The next logical question is – who applies to these preliminary or transitional year programs? Well, the vast majority are applicants who are also applying to advanced residency programs – programs that require a year of post-graduate training before starting. These specialties include anesthesiology, dermatology, neurology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, radiology, ophthalmology, and radiation oncology.
Whatever you end up applying to, good luck in your future endeavors!