Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Author Question: Doctor's Training

T.E. Asks:

Hello, I realize this may sound quite bizarre, but another author recommended you to me because I have a question about medical school.

One of my characters is currently doing an internship to become a doctor. I imagine he's about 8-10 years in with his studies, and he's at a small hospital in a fictional town right now. I know he's not a certified doctor just yet . . . but I have no idea what people refer to him as? I've heard he should be called "Fellow Xiong", but I want to make sure I've got this right. Can you help me?

Thank you so much for your time.

Jordyn Says:

Thanks for sending me your question! First, my answer is based on this being a US medical school. Not sure where you're from.

Medical school is four years. After a person completes medical school-- they take an exam and if they pass-- they are then referred to as "Doctor" and then last name. After medical school they pick what type of residency program they want to do such as adult surgical, adult medical, pediatrics, etc. A doctor's first year of residency is called their intern year but they are still referred to as Dr. such and such. After residency, they can further specialize into a discipline like cardiology, transplant surgery, etc and this would be referred to as their fellowship program.

But-- after they pass the exam after medical school they are always "doctor" and then last name regardless of where they are at in their residency or fellowship program. We might further clarify among ourselves as medical people (he's a first year resident or first year fellow) because this will give us an idea of how much training they have had.
If writing a book, though, as staff we usually call each other by first names. In front of families we'll usually say "doctor".

One thing I want to caution you on is that "small" hospitals typically don't have these types of residency programs. Just larger hospitals and those associated with universities are the most likely so you may need to rethink your setting or rethink where the doctor is at in his training-- maybe make him an attending. A small community hospital is not going to have this type of program.
T.E. Ridener lives in a small community in Southeastern Kentucky.  She is an author paranormal romance and urban fantasy, including but not limited to; vampires, werewolves, werebears, elementals, and ghosts. When she isn't stuck in her writing cave, she loves being an awesome aunt to her niece and nephew and catching up on all of her favorite TV shows.   She is the co-founder and co-creator of an online Christmas charity that gives presents to children in need.  In 2013, over $69,000 worth of toys was given to children who otherwise would not have had a present to open.


  1. Hey Jordyn,

    In reading this question, I thought I'd mention my local hospital's new residency program. We're a town of 10,000, but our hospital is aggressive in bringing in local specialists and managed to work out an internal medicine residency in a partnership with a larger Utah hospital. I'm not sure how well this program will work, because our local hospital isn't in the typical position of larger cities and the training opportunities like in your answer (also the CEO is a snake-oil salesman, but there's a novel in that). If T.E. used something like this, it could be doable. The website is http://www.binghamimr.org/. Hope the info helps.

    1. Jason-- it's good to know about this. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Jordyn, you know how small St. Francis, KS is! We have a rural health rotation for Family Practice Residents from the Smoky Hills Residency in Salina, KS--part of the KU Med system, as well as PA students from the Wichita State University program. They come out for a month at a time and some actually come out several times during their residency. One of our FP docs is the President of the Kansas Academy of Family Practice Physicians. She has been named Mentor/Preceptor of the year by KU several times. Having those connections has fostered our ability to have the residents here. Just FYI