What Is a Resident Doctor? (With Skills and Career Path)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 26 January 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A career as a doctor can be rewarding and satisfying. If you are interested in becoming a doctor, you perhaps already know that this career path involves years of studying and practical training. After completing medical school, you may want to enter a residency program for further training. In this article, we explain what a resident doctor is, explore their duties and skills and outline the steps for how to become a resident doctor.

What is a resident doctor?

A resident doctor is a medical school graduate pursuing a specialised training program in their field of interest. During the training program, aspiring doctors give direct care to patients. They devise appropriate management and treatment methods for patients, communicate regularly with them, conduct medical examinations and arrange necessary treatments.

Resident doctors typically work at hospitals under the supervision of a senior physician. Their training program, also known as a residency, may last anywhere between three and seven years. Medical school graduates learn essential skills and responsibilities during their residency.

Related: How To Become a Doctor (With 6 Steps You Can Follow)

Roles and responsibilities of a resident doctor

Following are the responsibilities of a resident doctor:

  • performing initial assessment of the medical and physical status of patients

  • evaluating patients' symptoms and recording progress notes

  • developing treatment plans for patients

  • maintaining patients' medical records to document all medications and test results

  • prescribing medications and providing patient education

  • consulting patients on various topics related to their fitness and hygiene

  • ordering tests and examinations

  • arranging for discharge of patients

  • assisting in surgeries

Skills for a resident doctor

As a resident doctor, you take care of patients under the supervision of more experienced seniors. Providing care to patients requires a range of skills technical and soft skills. Here are the essential skills needed to become a resident doctor:


Professionalism is critical in medical practice to ensure patients feel safe and secure. Resident doctors follow certain guidelines of professionalism in all circumstances. Some important qualities for maintaining professionalism throughout your career include cultural awareness, integrity, discipline and the ability to stay calm and collected.

Interpersonal and communication skills

Resident doctors often use their interpersonal skills to develop a healthy doctor-patient relationship. As a resident doctor, you also need strong communication skills when interacting with patients, nurses and other health care professionals. It is important for patients to understand your medical recommendations, diagnosis and treatment. Having strong interpersonal and communication skills can help you talk to your patients with compassion and sensitivity. You can improve these skills through workshops, volunteering and participating in various programmes.

Related: How To Overcome Communication Barriers: Benefits and Tips

Time management

Resident doctors perform various tasks such as taking care of patients, creating assessment and treatment plans and assisting in surgeries. To successfully manage, prioritise and complete all these tasks, you need strong organisation and time management skills. The ability to manage your time effectively is an important skill that can help you enhance your performance during your residency.


Resident doctors use empathy to fulfil the emotional requirements of patients and properly respond to their concerns. Having the skill to understand what patients are feeling is essential for resident doctors. Patients are more satisfied with those resident doctors who listen to their concerns and understand their point of view.


The role of a resident doctor involves collaborating with multiple health care professionals, such as surgeons, nurses, technicians and administrative staff. Having good collaboration skills helps them provide the best possible patient care and treatment. They collaborate with different team members in complex medical situations. You can develop collaboration skills by working in groups and participating in some research opportunities. You can work closely with other medical professionals and offer the best possible patient care.

Positive attitude

Resident doctors with a positive attitude can help boost the morale of stressed and emotional patients. Having a positive mindset also helps them keep patience and continue treatment of critical illnesses. The stress from work and frequent interaction with patients can make it difficult to keep a positive attitude all the time. You can take a break and make conscious efforts to be positive.

Technical skills

Resident doctors perform various clinical procedures, which require different technical skills. Aspiring resident doctors can learn technical and other routine skills such as injection, gastric tube insertion, arterial puncture, insertion, removal of IUDs and others. Adding technical skills to your resident doctor resume can set you apart from other candidates.

Stress management

Resident doctors deal with people's lives and hence there is a lot of pressure to handle. Those who can manage stress well can easily focus on patient care. You can exercise regularly and eat well to avoid stress. Getting enough sleep and taking care of your own health are effective ways of stress management.

Attention to detail

Medical science is a highly detail-oriented field where attention to detail is of great importance while dealing with patient histories and drug doses. Resident doctors are meticulous with their work and pay attention to detail during all phases of patient treatment. Attention to detail becomes more critical in fast-paced situations where constant distractions can make it challenging to focus on a task. As a resident doctor, you require observation, focus, delegation and attentiveness for avoiding medical negligence. Attention to detail is one of the most important skills in health care as patients' lives are on the line.

Related: How To Become a Nursing Assistant: Guide and Career Tips

Average salary of a resident doctor

The average salary of a resident doctor is ₹5,67,056 per year. The salary of a resident doctor may vary based on the experience of the candidate, size of the medical institution and job location. You can get a higher starting pay if you have a postgraduate degree with years of related experience.

Related: Average Doctor Salaries: A Complete Guide by Specialty

How to become a resident doctor

Follow these steps if you want to become a resident doctor:

1. Complete your higher secondary education

The first step towards becoming a resident doctor is completing your higher secondary education (10+2) with physics, chemistry and biology. Many medical colleges have a minimum marks requirement which could be anywhere between 50% and 60%. You can also take mathematics as an optional subject. Many candidates prepare for medical entrance examinations during their higher secondary education.

2. Appear for NEET

Candidates prepare for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) to get admission to a reputed medical college. You can appear for NEET after finishing your higher secondary education. Selected candidates get admission to medical colleges as per their ranks in NEET.

3. Earn an undergraduate degree

The next step to becoming a resident doctor is to earn an undergraduate medical degree. The Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) is the most popular undergraduate medical degree. Earning this degree is a basic requirement for becoming a doctor. Once you have cleared the medical entrance examination, you can get admission to a medical college for an MBBS degree.

4. Get a medical licence

After completing your MBBS examination and a one-year training at a medical institution recognised by the Medical Council of India, you can receive a medical licence. The licence requirements may vary depending on where you plan to practise medicine. You may also be required to pay a licensing fee.

5. Gain relevant experience

You can gain experience by working at hospitals and medical facilities that hire medical graduates with MBBS degrees. Many hospitals prefer medical professionals with some experience. Gaining relevant experience can help you learn valuable clinical skills and handle the job duties of a resident doctor in the future.

6. Apply for junior resident posts

After completing your MBBS degree and gaining experience, you can search for relevant resident doctor jobs. Apply for positions that match your speciality and experience level. Make sure you read the job description and then tailor your resume accordingly. You can include keywords from the job description in your resident doctor resume.

Related: 10 Resume Writing Tips To Help You Land a Job

7. Complete your post-graduation degree

Many junior resident doctors complete their post-graduation degrees, like MD or MS to become promising candidates for a senior resident doctor's position. You can get a master's or doctorate degree to advance your medical career. Candidates with a postgraduate degree and three years of residency can become senior resident doctors.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

Explore more articles