After undergraduate school and medical school, the third phase of medical education is graduate medical education, which prepares physicians for independent practice in their area of specialization. Residency programs focus on the acquisition of factual knowledge and development of clinical and professional skills in a particular specialty. Residencies can last anywhere from 3 to 7 years depending on the specialty. For further information, visit the American Board of Medical Specialties.
The fourth step in medical training is the licensure and practice of medicine and certification in a specialty. Each individual state regulates medical practice. Step 3 in the licensing examination of M.D.s and D.O.s. assesses the candidate’s ability to independently practice medicine.