CATEGORICAL VS PRELIMINARY There is lot of confusion amongst IMGs regarding types of residency programs and the pathways for the same. The objective of Categorical VS Preliminary article is to lay down complete clarity for the same. The US PG Medical residencies can be further divided into two general forms, namely, categorical residency and preliminary residency (or transitional year residency ).
You will find majority of the medical students in the United States seeking categorical residency training in terms of particular specialty. But what is it that makes this ‘categorical Position’so significant is that it enables the students to get into full residency trainings which are required for the board certification in that specific specialty. The categorical residency further lead to almost guaranteed job or opportunity for fellowships in subspecialities and hence, that’s what every med student aspires.

The residency trainings have a specific training duration depending on their competitiveness. Speaking of the least competitive medical specialties , we have internal medicine, family medicine and pediatrics with duration of 3 years. And when it comes to the most competitive residencies , the trainings can last for a period as long as 5 years for specialties like Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery, Dermatology, General Surgery, Neurosurgery, Orthopedic Surgery, Otolaryngology and Plastic Surgery.

While moving onto the other side of the coin, we will find the ‘ Preliminary position’ . The Preliminary position provides with a training lasting for mere 1-2 years. The preliminary trainings are taken up due to a few reasons. One of them being that thepreliminary trainings are taken upprior to entering into advanced specialty programs. The Preliminary position is often provided in specialties like internal medicine and surgery together with categorical position. Also, the specialty in anesthesia requires a minimum of one year training before completing the residency training in the field.

Then there are advanced positions that do not start off unless there has been at least one year after the residency match(Preliminary program). The advanced positions exist in specialty programs that usually need one or more years of preliminary training. Although you do not possess any earlier graduate medical training, you can register for these advanced positions while you apply for the preliminary training, provided they are compatible with the plan. Some of the specialties that offer the advanced position are ophthalmology, urology, radiology, radiation oncology, dermatology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, anesthesiology, neurology and psychiatry.

Another reason is to have something as a Categorical VS Preliminary backup. Many medical folks apply for both categorical residency and preliminary residency as no matter how strong your academics are, chances are yet there for you get unmatched. So better would be to apply for both as you not let your one year go waste in case you don’t match for a categorical residency . Moreover, the preliminary training programs are often referred to as transitional year residency .

There are numerous major fields that can be selected by the medical students for their residency training. Some of them areanesthesiology, dermatology, diagnostic radiology, emergency medicine, orthopaedic surgery, general surgery, urology, otolaryngology, neurology, obstetrics and gynaecology, pediatrics, pathology, ophthalmology, family practice, neurological surgery, physical medicine and rehabilitation, plastic surgery, psychiatry, radiation oncology andinternal medicine.

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