Residents Residency Timeline

Residency Timeline

DOs in training

Key milestones of residency training

Navigate the challenges and rewards of your training, from obtaining your medical license to earning board certification and finding a job.

You’ve completed osteopathic medical school and now it’s time to embark on your internship or residency. The timeline below provides a high level overview of what you can expect as you navigate the next few years of training.


Getting started

Take COMLEX Level 3

Most residents complete the COMLEX Level 3 exam during their first year of residency.

Obtain your medical license

You’ll need to obtain state licensure in the state where you’re completing your residency training.

If you completed an ACGME residency in Pennsylvania, Florida, or West Virginia, medical licensing boards may require you to complete extra steps:

  • If you want to be licensed in Pennsylvania or Florida, contact the AOA for assistance.
  • You can obtain AOA recognition of ACGME training, which in many cases meets the requirements for licensure in Pennsylvania or Florida.
  • In West Virginia, ACGME-trained DOs must complete 40 hours of CME in osteopathic medicine with osteopathic manipulative treatment in AOA-approved category 1-A courses. Obtaining AOA recognition of ACGME training doesn’t address this requirement.

Create a loan repayment plan

Start by listing out all your loans, including credit card and private loan debts, and when repayments start for each. Then, create a repayment plan and look into options like loan forgiveness and loan consolidation. For AOA members, Doctors Without Quarters offers discounted financial counseling on managing student loans. Learn more about financial planning.

During residency

Engage in scholarly activity

All residents must participate in scholarly activity in order to graduate, so start thinking about your plan and talk it over with your attending physician. Learn more about research opportunities for residents.

Complete in-training exams

Depending on your specialty, you’ll take in-training exams as often as every year to evaluate your progress in your residency training.

End of residency

Start your job hunt

By your second-to-last year of residency or even before, you’ll start looking for a job. If you plan to practice in another state, allow six months to apply for and receive licensure to practice there. Check out our Career Center for tips on optimizing your job search.

Earn AOA Board Certification

At the beginning of your final year of residency, start planning to take your board exams if you plan to become board certified. Many AOA certifying boards allow residents to start the exam sequence once they’ve completed 80% of their residency. Learn more about the unique benefits of AOA Board Certification.

Apply for fellowship training

If you’re planning to complete a fellowship after residency training, you’ll apply and match during your last year of residency. If you’re on the fence, check out The DO’s five questions to ask yourself if you’re considering fellowship training.

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