What is a Fellowship in Medicine?


What is a Fellowship in Medicine?

Why do fellowships exist?

The main reason for fellowships is the opportunity to gain advanced and/or specialized training. Instead of pursuing general or family medicine, a physician can specialize in a particular area. For example, after completing an internship and residency in internal medicine, you may want to become a cardiologist (heart specialist). To do this, you would apply for fellowship training through the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Cardiovascular Disease program. This would allow you to develop your skills by working directly with patients and other physicians who specialize in heart conditions.

Fellowships also provide mentorship opportunities that help strengthen your clinical expertise. During some programs, you have the opportunity to teach residents who are just entering their field as well as mentor undergraduates or medical students interested in pursuing your specialty area.

Medical Fellowship

After completing four years of medical school and a three-year residency, some doctors may choose to continue their training in a specific medical specialty. These post-residency programs are known as fellowships and can help a physician become board certified in a specialty or subspecialty.

In general, fellowship opportunities can be classified into two main types: clinical fellowship and research fellowship. Clinical fellowships focus on providing hands-on patient care within a particular field, such as cardiology or neurology. This type of experience is often required for physicians who plan to practice medicine in an academic setting or work for the National Institutes of Health. Research fellowships focus on developing new knowledge through clinical trials or other research projects, which may be sponsored by the government or private organizations. In some cases, individuals pursue both types of training at the same time.

Regardless of which type they choose, individuals who participate in these programs will have the opportunity to learn from experienced physicians while refining their decision-making skills under close supervision. Fellows also gain exposure to patients with extremely rare conditions that they might not encounter during residency training alone.

Fellows typically receive salaries during their training period; however, the amount will vary depending on factors such as location and cost of living expenses in the area where they are working. Individuals interested in pursuing these opportunities must first complete medical school and residency program before applying for an open position at one or more institutions offering fellowship programs in their chosen field(s).


A medical fellowship is a specialized training program that physicians (MDs) and doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) can participate in after they complete their residency. During their residencies, these professionals learn how to work with patients in real conditions, and a fellowship gives them the opportunity to develop expertise in a specific area.

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Medical fellows are highly skilled professionals who choose to specialize in an area of medicine that fascinates them or has the greatest need for more experts. For example, there’s currently a high demand for specialists in internal medicine, but not enough people are interested in becoming internal medicine fellows to fill the gap. If you’re interested in helping people through focused treatment and research on an illness like diabetes or cancer, consider pursuing a fellowship.

The key difference between fellowships and residencies is time frame: Fellowships take about one year to complete, whereas residencies last three years or longer. They also require less supervision than residencies; during your residency you’ll be required to work with supervising physicians as you practice treating patients and learning about new treatments. As a fellow, you’ll work fairly independently on research projects and other specialties within your specialty group. You will likely be able to lead your own classes for medical students or participate in seminars at hospitals for other physicians seeking similar expertise as yourself!

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So, what is a medical fellowship? It’s a period of training in your chosen specialty that takes place after you’ve finished residency and become board certified. Typically, it lasts between one and three years, but some fellowships can run longer.

If you want to pursue fellowships, it means you are interested in an advanced or specialized area of medicine. Fellowship programs usually involve both hands-on training and research in the subspecialty program of your choice—and often both. Many doctors pursue fellowships because they like the idea of being leaders in their field. Fellows receive salaries during the fellowship period (most take place at hospitals), which typically adds up to about $50,000 per year for a first-year fellow.

This is important: The number of people who apply for fellowships far exceeds the number of available positions every year—but don’t let this discourage you from applying! Competition for fellowships varies by specialty; some are more competitive than others. For example, cardiology fellowship programs have been known to have thousands of applicants for just 200 openings nationally each year.* In contrast, there are greater numbers of unfilled positions in pediatric specialties like infectious disease (56 open positions) or nephrology (32 open positions)


Medical fellowships are the most significant way for medical students to gain the experience and knowledge they need to become professionals in this field. They are also essential to advancing medicine as a whole. Without these programs, we would not have any of the advancements we have seen within the past 50 years. This is because they provide training that doctors need in order to be able to practice medicine safely and effectively. Medical fellowships can help medical students gain expertise in a particular area which will make them more likely to succeed when they enter their chosen field after completing their education at university or college level studying medicine itself. When completing such an advanced degree program like this, it’s important not only for those looking into entering into it but also those who have already begun courses elsewhere because it provides them with more opportunities for advancement within their chosen career path later down the line as well!

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The importance of having access to fellowship programs should never be underestimated due its ability to transform lives and change how people think about healthcare as well as giving them hope for better things ahead once all required courses are completed successfully within just two years’ time at most institutions across America today so long as no additional graduate work needs doing before applying with certain other schools here (e.g., University of North Carolina).

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As a fellow, you’ll become part of an educational network where you’ll be participating in research and teaching, as well as building your professional reputation. Being awarded a fellowship can open up more job opportunities for you after your fellowship has been completed. During the fellowship, you’ll have access to funding and resources that will further enhance your experience. The networking, research and teaching opportunities that accompany a fellowship are very beneficial to doctors because they help them grow professionally in their field; this translates into better care for patients.


  • You’ll make a lot less money than your peers who went into private practice.
  • There’s a lot of competition for the best fellowships.
  • You’ll have to do a lot of work, and it can be hard to find time for research or other projects you’re interested in.


What does a fellowship include?

Fellowship programs may vary, but most include a tuition payment, books, and other academic fees. Fellowships may also pay a stipend and benefits in return for the fellowship holder working full-time at the institution.

Working as a fellow also comes with opportunities to mentor students and/or residents, teach classes or conduct seminars, participate in clinical research endeavors, or collaborate on projects with an instructor. These opportunities are dependent on the type of fellowship program you attend, but many programs offer similar experiences to help fellows gain valuable experience in their field of expertise.

How long is a fellowship?

The length of a fellowship program varies depending on the chosen specialty. Some fellowships last one month while others last 7 years. Most range between 1-5 years. A shorter term fellowship is typically classified as a subspecialty fellowship and these are more commonly pursued after completing a longer primary care fellowship (or other specialty) within medicine. For example, if you have completed your internal medicine residency training, you may choose to do an additional one year subspecialty of cardiology or pulmonary medicine, or both!

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In general, the longer the time commitment for a medical residency or fellowship, the more likely it will be considered a primary care speciality vs a subspecialty. The minimum time commitment for any medical residency is three years. These programs are for primary specialties such as family practice and internal medicine. To become board certified in these specialties you must also complete an exam at the end of your program to show that you’ve achieved competency in all areas pertaining to your field of study

When should I apply for a fellowship?

One of the most common questions we get is, “When should I apply for a fellowship?” The answer depends on your specialty, but in general you should apply a year before you plan to start. In other words, if you graduate from residency training in June of 2020 and are applying for a fellowship that starts in June 2021, you would apply between January and March 2020.

It’s important to know when each specialty accepts applications because some fellowships require you to start at a certain time of year. If your program starts only once per year, then it’s straightforward—you need to apply around the same time as everyone else in your field. If it has multiple start dates throughout the year, the timeline can be more complicated since not all programs accept applicants at every starting date.

So how do you figure out when your program accepts applicants? We recommend checking with your future mentor or program administrator as early as possible so that you don’t miss any application deadlines.

Fellowships in medicine are optional post-residency programs that provide advanced training and mentorship.

When you hear the word “fellowship,” you might think of college students who are pursuing advanced studies. In medicine, a fellowship can be thought of in similar terms. A medical fellowship is an optional program (i.e. it isn’t required) where physicians hone their skills in a specialized area of medicine or surgery through hands-on practice and/or research in an accredited program. Fellowships are typically one to three years in length, but some programs allow participants to work at their own pace. Medical fellowships are highly competitive and selective, so don’t expect to breeze into your dream program without several years of hard work on your end first!

While the primary benefit is gaining more knowledge and experience in your chosen specialty, there are other advantages that come with doing a medical fellowship:

  • You’ll gain practical experience by working closely with experts in your field
  • You’ll have access to specialized equipment for procedures or research that may not be available otherwise
  • In addition to building clinical skills, you may have the opportunity to teach residents under your supervision

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