Medical Residency in Nigeria: Residency training program in Nigeria – Benefits, how to apply, duration, salary and challenges.


A fresh medical graduate is just a green horn in the field of medicine that will need further sharpening and training to become better skilled and specialised in treating specific organ-systemic diseases. Medicine does not encourage jack of all trades as human life is involved here.

Medical Residency in Nigeria - how to apply, duration & salary
Resident doctors undergoing medical residency in Nigeria

The society will be better off if their are specialist doctors trained to treat organ specific diseases. For example, a doctor, called neurologist or the neurosurgeon, is trained for about 7 years to treat brain diseases. The training a doctor undergoes to gain skills in the treatment of organ specific diseases is called “medical residency” or surgical residency as the case may be.


Medical Residency is the constitutionally laid down training designed at making a doctor better skilled and proficient in the treatment of organ-specific diseases. A doctor that has completed his or her medical residency training program is called a specialist or a consultant.

The Law backing medical residency in Nigeria

Medical Residency training is backed by an act of parliament called the Medical Residency Training Act (MRTA).


1.I don’t want to look at the benefits of medical residency program in monetary terms only. This is because many medical officers will for a while earn more than a junior resident but the wage gap will level up and even become much higher for the resident doctor when she or he becomes a senior registrar and later a consultant.

2. More knowledge, skills and decision making in patient care.

3. Career progression

4. MRTF – called the medical residency training fund: a special sum of good money paid to resident doctors yearly for about 5 consecutive years of residency training. Non-resident doctors don’t get this money.

5. Fulfilment and honour in becoming a consultant

How to become a resident doctor – how to apply

1. First you need to be a certified medical doctor or dentist, after you have completed your undergraduate training of 6 years.

2. Then you must complete you mandatory 1 year housemanship or internship or house job as you want to call it.

3. You can decide to go for NYSC if you are still age eligible after your Housejob or you get an exemption.

4. You then write a special exam called PRIMARIES depending on your chosen specialty. This primaries has 2 faculties: National Postgraduate College of Surgery or Physicians or West Africa College of Surgeons or Physicians.

5. If you pass the primaries, you apply for residency training in any of the govt recognized teaching hospital or federal medical centres……if they take you, you are a resident doctor automatically.

Different types of residency training programs in Nigeria

There are numerous so I will break it down into Surgery, Internal Medicine, Pathology, Anasthesia, Paediatrics, radiology, oncology, dentistry and community medicine or public health.

1. Surgery

– general surgery residency
– pediatric surgery residency
– Burns and plastic/cosmetic surgery residency
– Neurosurgery residency
– orthopedic surgery residency
– Ear, Nose and Throat Residency
– Ophthalmology residency
– cardiothoracic surgery residency
– Trauma surgery
– urology residency
– head and neck surgery

2. Internal Medicine

– Neurology residency
– Endocrinology
– Nephrology
– Geriatric medicine residency
– Respiratory medicine
– Clinical Pharmacology and therapeutics
– Dermatology
– Infectious diseases
– cardiology
– gastroenterology
– family medicine

3. Pathology

– hematology residency
– microbiology residency
– histopathology residency
– chemical pathology residency

4. Paediatric residency with division into endocrinology, infectious diseases, gastroenterology, nephrology, neonatology, hemato-oncology, dermatology, and so on

5. Dentistry – maxillofacial surgery, community dentistry, orthodontics, paediatric dentistry, oral biology etc

6. Radiology residency

7. Community health residency

8. Oncology – radiotherapy, nuclear medicine.

9. Anasthesia

10. Emergency medicine residency – 2 years old now in UBTH

What is the duration of residency training in Nigeria…?

Medical Residency training program irrespective of specialist takes about 5 – 6 years. You will be exited from the program if you fail to excel to become a consultant after this period.

Salary of a resident doctor in Nigeria

A junior resident earns about #330,000 after tax while a senior registrar earns a monthly salary of about #500,000 after tax. Read more about the salary structure of a resident doctor here

Challenges of residency training in Nigeria

1. Poor pay especially for residents working in state hospitals

2. Incessant strikes from ARD, NARD, NMA, JOHESU,Nursing Union.

3. Cumbersome curriculum

4. Doctor migration – the migration of consultants waters down the training program

5. Facilities problems..worse in many state teaching hospitals

6. Physically and mentally tasking

7. Manpower problems – doctors migration has truly put a huge strain on residency training program. Few manpower means a resident doctor taking calls every other day without rest.

The benefits of being a consultant far surpasses the above challenges.

In my YouTube channel below, I spoke extensively on medical residency training in Nigeria…please watch and subscribe…


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