The Most Difficult Medical Residency to Get into, Ranked

Choose the medical residency you think is the most difficult!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Jun 19, 2024 06:31
Choosing a medical residency is a crucial step for every aspiring physician, shaping their career path and expertise. Knowing which residencies are considered the most difficult to enter can help medical students prepare more effectively for the challenging journey ahead. This knowledge not only sets realistic expectations but also aids in strategizing their educational and professional trajectories. By providing a live ranking system based on user votes, this site reflects current opinions and trends from a wide array of medical professionals and students. Your participation by voting enhances the accuracy and relevance of the rankings, making it a valuable resource for future generations of medical students. Engaging with this list offers a clearer perspective on the competitive landscape of medical specialties.

What Is the Most Difficult Medical Residency to Get into?

  1. 1

    Plastic Surgery

    Plastic Surgery is a competitive field focusing on reconstructive or cosmetic surgery to restore form and function.
    • Competitiveness: High
    • Focus Area: Reconstructive or cosmetic surgery
  2. 2


    Dermatology is known for its highly competitive nature, focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of skin diseases.
    • Competitiveness: High
    • Focus Area: Skin diseases
  3. 3

    Orthopedic Surgery

    Orthopedic Surgery involves the musculoskeletal system, requiring extensive training and is highly sought after.
    • Competitiveness: High
    • Focus Area: Musculoskeletal system
  4. 4


    Urology focuses on the urinary-tract system and male reproductive organs, known for its competitive residency programs.
    • Competitiveness: High
    • Focus Area: Urinary-tract and male reproductive organs
  5. 5


    Neurosurgery is a challenging specialty focused on the brain and nervous system, known for its long training period.
    • Competitiveness: High
    • Focus Area: Brain and nervous system
  6. 6

    Thoracic Surgery

    Thoracic Surgery, focusing on the organs in the chest, including the heart and lungs, is highly specialized and competitive.
    • Competitiveness: High
    • Focus Area: Chest organs
  7. 7


    Radiology involves imaging techniques to diagnose and treat diseases, known for its competitive residency spots.
    • Competitiveness: High
    • Focus Area: Imaging techniques
  8. 8


    Ophthalmology focuses on eye and vision care, with residency programs known for their competitiveness.
    • Competitiveness: High
    • Focus Area: Eye and vision
  9. 9


    Otolaryngology, or ENT, involves the treatment of ear, nose, and throat conditions, and is highly competitive.
    • Competitiveness: High
    • Focus Area: Ear, nose, and throat
  10. 10


    Anesthesiology, focusing on perioperative care and pain management, has become increasingly competitive.
    • Competitiveness: High
    • Focus Area: Perioperative care and pain management

Missing your favorite medical residency?

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About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most difficult medical residency to get into. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or residency is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 8 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each residency once every 24 hours. The rank of each residency is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.


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Additional Information

More about the Most Difficult Medical Residency to Get into

Plastic Surgery
Rank #1 for the most difficult medical residency to get into: Plastic Surgery (Source)
Medical residencies vary in difficulty. Some are harder to get into than others. Many factors influence this. One key factor is the number of available spots. Another is the specialty's popularity. The more popular a specialty, the more competition there is for spots.

Applicants must have strong academic records. This includes high scores on standardized tests. It also includes good grades in medical school. Research experience can also help. Many programs value applicants who have published papers. Clinical experience is another important factor. Programs look for applicants who have excelled in their clinical rotations.

Letters of recommendation play a big role. Strong letters from respected doctors can make a difference. These letters should speak to the applicant's skills and character. Personal statements are also important. They give applicants a chance to explain why they want to enter a specific field.

Interviews are a key part of the process. They allow programs to get to know applicants better. They also give applicants a chance to learn more about the program. Good communication skills are important during interviews. Applicants need to show they are a good fit for the program.

Some specialties are known for their long hours and high stress. These factors can make them less appealing to some applicants. But for others, the challenge is part of the appeal. These fields often attract applicants who are driven and passionate. They are willing to work hard to succeed.

Residency programs in these fields often have rigorous training. They expect a lot from their residents. This can include long hours and a heavy workload. But it also includes valuable learning experiences. Residents in these programs often gain a lot of hands-on experience. They learn from working with complex cases.

The competition for these spots can be intense. Many applicants apply to multiple programs. They may also apply to programs in different specialties. This can increase their chances of getting a spot. But it also means they need to be well-prepared. They must have strong applications and be ready for interviews.

Some programs have a reputation for being very selective. They may receive many applications but only accept a few. This can make it hard to get a spot. Applicants need to stand out from the crowd. They need to show they are the best fit for the program.

The application process can be stressful. It requires a lot of time and effort. But for those who are successful, it can be very rewarding. They get the chance to train in a field they are passionate about. They also get the chance to work with experts in their field.

In the end, the most difficult residencies to get into are those that combine high standards with high demand. They attract many qualified applicants. They also have rigorous training programs. But for those who succeed, the rewards can be great. They get the chance to work in a field they love. They also get the chance to make a difference in the lives of their patients.

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