questions to ask residency programs

13 Questions to Ask Residency Programs in Your Interview

There are many questions you should be asking residency programs during your interview with them. It is important to know the answers to these questions before you start ranking programs, so that you can make an informed decision about what program is right for you. In this blog post, we will discuss 13 questions that every applicant should ask a residency program in their interviews!

#1 How does the program support residents

How does the program support residents? It is important that the residency you choose supports its current residents. Ask questions about how they treat their current residents and what type of assistance they offer them in terms of education, finances or other resources.

questions to ask residency programs

Questions to ask:

  • – How does your program support its current residents?
  • – What do you provide for your current residents?
  • – What does your program provide to help them with their education and finances?
  • – How involved is the residency in helping its current residents find jobs after they graduate from it?

You may be wondering questions about what type of lifestyle you will lead while working at this particular residency. Questions like these should also come up when you ask questions during your interview with the residency program.

Questions to ask:

  • – What is the typical day like at this particular residency?
  • – How many hours do residents work each shift?
  • – Is there a lot of on call duty alongside working in clinics or hospitals?

The more questions that you can answer about the residency program, the better understanding you will have about what it is like to work there.

Figuring out how all the residency programs support their residents during residency training is so important to the residents overall happiness.

Make sure you ask the questions mentioned above to get a good sense on how that particular program supports its residents.

#2 How many residents in each class

Resident class size is a big factor in how your residency will go. The more residents there are, the less personal attention you will get from faculty and staff.

Questions to ask:

  • – How many residents does this program have?
  • – What is the typical class size for each resident at this particular hospital?
questions to ask residency programs

Make sure that you know ahead of time how many residents are in each class to ensure that the residency program is a good fit for you.

Knowing how many other residents are there will help you decide how many opportunities exist for procedures and other kinds of additional training.

Knowing this on interview day will help you decide if this residency will be a good fit for your needs.

Not all residencies offer the same amount of opportunities to their residents.

If you are worried about not getting enough experience, make sure to ask questions concerning your questions and concerns. You should also be asking questions like how often do they rotate through different departments at this hospital?

#3 What is the call schedule like

Knowing your residency call schedule is so important to understanding if this program will work for you. It can affect your life and how much medicine you learn because it affects the number of hours that you need to put in at each shift.

Right Questions to ask:

  • – What are the average on call requirements?
  • – How many weekends do residents typically need to work?
  • – What is the typical number of hours worked on each shift?

The questions you ask during your interview will be crucial in determining how much call duty that you have for this particular residency.

The overall work environment and the clinical work load is directly determined by the amount of call you have.

This is a great piece of information to know and can open the door to other aspects of the program that helps the residents freely answer questions without prompting from you.

#4 What is the Work Life Balance Like

Work life balance is so important to the quality of your residency experience.

It is crucial that you have time outside of work, because it helps with mental health and overall happiness. It also allows for more opportunity to study or just relax and unwind before going back into clinicals again.

Questions questions to ask:

  • – How many hours do residents work each shift?
  • – What is the work life balance like at this particular residency program?
  • – How many residents do you have in each class?

Knowing how much time there will be outside of clinicals to study or just relax and unwind before going back into a shift. It also allows for more opportunity to take advantage of other opportunities that the residency may offer.

If you are worried about not getting enough work and play balance, make sure to ask questions that address this.

It is important that the resident wants a schedule that doesn’t keep them up at night worrying how they will manage their time between clinicals and study time for exams or other coursework.

#5 What is the typical patient population

Patient population is an important factor to consider when deciding on a residency program.

You want your patient population to be appropriate for the type of medicine that you are going into, as well as the needs and wants that come with being in this particular specialty.

Questions questions to ask:

  • – What is the typical patient population at this hospital?
  • – How many patients would a resident typically see in one day?

Knowing the patient population at this hospital will help you decide if it is an appropriate fit for your needs.

You also want to make sure that there are enough opportunities and chances for procedures, etc., by looking at the number of residents enrolled. This information can be helpful in determining how many opportunities there are.

If you want to see a lot of procedures, then this might not be the residency for you because it is only one hospital and they may or may not have enough residents enrolled in their program to perform these types of tasks.

Knowing the patient population will also help you to understand the overall global health, since it will be in a new city that you may never have been to before that.

This comes up a lot in family medicine, since there is such a wide range of ages to take care of.

Most programs will happily discuss their typical patient population, and asking additional questions about this topic will help you get more information from them to help you decide just how interested you are in them, and where to place them on the rank list.

#6 What are the program’s strengths

Asking the program director what the strengths of the program are is a great way to figure out what they think about their residency.

This will help you gauge how much effort has been put into developing this particular residency and if it would be an appropriate fit for your needs.

Questions questions to ask:

  • – What are some of the strengths that make this a good place to work?
  • – What are the things that you think sets your residency program apart from other programs in this area of medicine?

Knowing what they see as their strengths will help to determine if it is a good fit for you.

#7 Is there a focus on resident well being

Resident well being is important to ensure that the residents are happy and healthy while they are working.

Questions questions to ask:

  • – How does your residency program help with resident well being?
  • – What type of programs do you have in place for each resident during their time here?

Knowing if there is a focus on resident well being will determine how much effort is put into it and if the program cares about this topic.

This questions also deals with understanding what type of programs are offered to residents outside of just clinicals, since many things can be learned during these times.

Do they do monthly wellness seminars? Do they have a resident mentoring system in place where you will always be assigned to a resident who has been there for one or two years? These questions will help you figure out if the program is invested in this topic.

Some programs may say that they have these things when really it’s just an hour of reading every month before clinicals and then nothing more, while others are so involved with this topic that it is a major focus of the residency.

This is also a good question for other health care professionals in the program. A lot of programs have psychologists or other similar professionals whose focus is on resident well being.

Be sure to find out if the program ahs a person that focuses on well being, and talk to them directly about it.

#8 Does the residency program teach medical students

Teaching medical students is a great way to learn more about medicine and what questions they have, while also giving back and helping out.

Questions questions ask:

  • – How much experience with teaching medical students does the residency program have? What percentage of residents are involved in this type of work? Is there an assigned time for it or do you get to choose when you would like to do it?
  • – How long do the medical students that rotate through here stay?

Knowing if they teach medical students is a major factor in deciding whether this residency will be good fit.

Teaching medical students allows for a lot of informal learning opportunities and that can really boost your overall knowledge of medicine.

If you are interested in teaching medical students, then make sure you ask about it on the residency interview trail at each program.

#9 What kind of free time is there with the fellow residents

Free time is very important to figure out.

Questions questions ask:

– How much free time does the resident have? Is it structured or is there a lot of flexibility with when you can do your own work and be on call?

Resident free time is one of the most important questions for residency programs and it impacts how happy you will be.

Knowing what kind of resident free-time there is, as well if they are structured or flexible with their own work hours can help determine your happiness with this program.

This is a fairly simple question to ask, and you should focus on asking it to the actual residents and not the faculty or the program director, because you will get a more honest answer from the residents, since it is their free time.

#10 What can the resident expect from the faculty

Knowing expectations of the faculty is also very important questions to ask.

Questions questions ask:

  • – What are they looking for in residents that make them a good fit?
  • – Do you have any special requirements such as an advanced degree or experience with certain areas of medicine?

This will help determine if your background and skill set would be a good match for this program.

This questions is important because it will help you make a decision about whether or not the faculty are looking for certain attributes in their residents that may be outside of your own skill set.

– What does excellent resident performance look like to them?

Knowing what they expect from someone who has done an excellent job can really change the overall dynamic of your experience with them.

Knowing how formal it is, can also help you decide if that is the style of learning you want. We all know that the hierarchy of medicine can make it difficult to break down barriers to learning, so knowing the expectations in formality can make a huge difference in your rank list.

#11 How is feedback provided

During residency interviews is a great time to find out how feedback is given.

Questions questions ask:

– How does the residency program provide feedback? Is it formal and written, or informal in person? What are their thoughts on verbal feed back versus written comments?

How a residency program provides feedback can really change your experience with them. You should know how your medical school provided feedback, and then compare it to how the residency program provides feedback.

It can be difficult to take in all of the information about a program during the residency interviews, but questions like this will help you make an informed decision when ranking your programs later on.

– What is their philosophy towards criticism? Do they believe that constructive criticism is positive?

Knowing where they stand on criticism can help you know if this residency program will fit your needs.

Constructive feedback is important in the medical field, it helps people grow and learn from mistakes so that we can improve our skills even more.

#12 How many other residents are there

This is a great question for the program directors. It helps you see what the program is like, and where it fits in with your needs.

Questions questions ask:

– How many other residents are there? What’s the ratio of faculty to residents?

Knowing how much time and energy will be put into teaching can help you decide if this residency program will give you all the opportunity that you want.

Asking the program directors this question lets you see just how involved the PD is in the resident life and understanding the dynamic of the residents overall.

The good news is that if you forget to ask this during your residency interviews, you can always just look on the website to see the answer.

#13 How many faculty members are there

In medical school there are typically way more students than faculty and I am sure you noticed the lack of learning because of it sometimes.

Well, in residency there should be a much lower ratio of student to faculty than there was in medical school, and this should really improve your learning overall.

Once again, it is a great question to ask during your residency interview, but if you forget you can also look this one up on most programs websites.

Other Common Questions to ask Residency Programs

What is your Residency Program Looking for

Interview season is a great time to ask questions.

Asking the residency program directors what they are looking for in their residents is a great way to see if your skill set will be a match and that it would work well with this residency programs needs.

It can also help you decide how much of an experience these people have had, which may make them more or less desirable.

If you don’t ask questions during the residency interview then at least make sure to find out what they are looking for before applying, it can really help your chances of getting in!

How do you get a strong residency Application

Strong residency applications are usually filled with great grades, board scores, research and letters of recommendation.

Make sure you know the average board score for your specialty, and what the other candidates for that specialty typically have in their application.

Knowing those details will help you figure out how competitive you are, or if you need to prepare to choose a different specialty that will increase your chances of matching.

How do I know if a Residency is good

A good question to ask is if there are residents that you can shadow during your interview day.

Most of the time the residency program directors will be more than happy to have you shadow a resident for the day.

Shadowing is really important because it gives you an idea of what life in that particular place would be like, and if this type of environment would work best for your needs.

It can also help give insight into questions they might not usually answer during the residency interview.

Another great option to know if the residency is good is simply to do a Sub-Internship at the program.

This allows you to rotate at the residency for a specific amount of time during medical school, and that will allow you to really see the nitty gritty details of the program as a whole.

This will give you a better understanding of what the residency program is like, and if it is a good program for you or not.


We’d love to hear what questions you ask during your residency interviews, and any tips or insights that might help other applicants. What are some of the questions that really helped you get a feel for the program? How important is research in this particular specialty? Are residents given enough autonomy on their patients? Do they have a mentorship system set up for new graduates? These 13 questions should give you an idea if this residency program would be right for you. Share with us which ones were most helpful.

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