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Medical Staff Titles & Terminology


Internship is a stage of graduate medical training in which the newly-graduated physician serves in a hospital learning medical practice under supervision before beginning a residency program.

Intern is a physician in training who has completed medical school and is engaged in a year of additional training practicing medicine under the supervision of fully licensed physicians (attending physicians), usually in a hospital or clinic.

Residency is a stage of graduate medical training in which the physician becomes trained in a specific medical specialty. A residency may follow the internship year or include the internship year as the first year of residency. Successful completion of residency training is a requirement to practice medicine in many jurisdictions.

Resident is a physician who has received a medical degree and completed an internship, but practices medicine under the supervision of fully licensed physicians (attending physicians), usually in a hospital or clinic.

Chief Resident is a physician who is usually the most senior resident and, like all residents, practices medicine under the supervision of fully licensed physicians (attending physicians), usually in a hospital or clinic. Chief Residents are advocates for the resident staff and promote resident interests in conjunction with residency program needs and functions.  The Chief Resident works closely with the Residency Program Director.

Fellowship is a period of medical training that a physician undergoes after completing advanced sub-specialty training. The duration of a fellowship lasts usually a year or longer depending on specialty. After completing a fellowship in the relevant sub-specialty, the physician is permitted to practice without direct supervision by other physicians in that sub-specialty.

Fellow is a physician who has completed residency training and is undergoing advanced sub-specialty training. Fellows are fully accredited and can serve as attending physicians in the medical field in which they were primarily trained.

Attending Physician, or staff physician, is a physician who has completed residency and who practices medicine in a hospital or clinic in the specialty learned during their residency or fellowship training. An attending physician may supervise fellows, residents and medical students. Attending physicians may also have an academic title at the medical college meaning that they also teach medical students.