What is the Difference Between a Resident and a Fellow Surgeon?

someone suggested i go to a fellow surgeon for a tummy tuck over a resident, what is the difference really?

Doctor Answers 3


The current American system of graduate medical education was introduced by William Stewart Halstead, Chief Surgeon and a founder of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (one of their famous Four Horsemen).

After completing the four years of basic medical education a medical school offers, doctors may choose further specialization post graduate training hospitals associated with hospitals.
INTERN - the first year of post-medical school hospital training. In the old days, these young doctors could not leave the hospital and lived "interned" within its walls. These are the least qualified of surgeons.
RESIDENT - better trained surgeons. Residency training length varies with different specialties. The highest ranking , most experienced resident is the CHIEF RESIDENT. While licensed, he still has to operate supervised by an ATTENDING surgeon.
FELLOW - a surgeon who graduated from a training program who is receiving additional specialized training. Depending on the institution, these surgeons can act as junior attending surgeons, supervising residents. These surgeons are the more experienced of the younger surgeon group.

There is little doubt that the older and more experienced the surgeon the better your outcome. 

Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 81 reviews

Resident vs Fellow

Typically a Resident is a surgeon in training at some stage along the path toward becoming Board Certified.  A Fellow is someone who has completed their residency training, usually is not yet Board Certified but may be in the process of taking those exams, and is doing additional training is a field of special interest to them.  Both are young surgeons but the Fellow is generally more experienced and less supervised by the attending surgeon who is doing the training.

Resident or Fellow

A resident is a doctor training in a specifict field.  A fellow is usually someone who has completed the residency but pursues additional training in a subspecialty of that field of training.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.