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Medical Residency

November 22, 2021
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WRITTEN BY Joshua Mueller

Executive Summary 

Medical residency consists of 3-7 years of training in a healthcare setting after completion of medical school, and is a prerequisite for full licensure as a physician. Residencies are primarily funded by Medicare, but can also be supported by state and private funds. The number of available residencies nationally has not kept up with the number of graduating medical students. Simultaneously, many areas in the country face healthcare workforce shortages. In Missouri, assistant physicians may provide limited healthcare services without having completed medical residency. 


  • The United States is estimated to experience a shortage of between 54,100 and 139,000 physicians (primary and specialty care) by 2033.
  •  In 2018, there were 33,167 total residency positions available and 43,909 applicants.
  • Medical residencies are primarily financed jointly by Medicare, state funds, and resident host institutions. The number of residency positions nationwide is determined by funding availability from these three sources.
  • Federal legislation has been proposed to increase the number of available residencies with 50% of slots reserved for specialty areas.


  • Data on the volume and quality of healthcare contributions by assistant physicians are limited.
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