One question that always comes up is what in gods name is a preliminary year? well, the answer is simple: it an internship year that is done prior to some residencies. This year will allow you to get a feel for what its like to manage real patients if you are going into fields like anesthesiology or radiology where your patient contact is either minimal or limited to very specific procedures. The way it works is that if you want to go into radiology for example you will do a five year residency that includes 1 preliminary year + 4 years of radiology training. Practically, this means that when you are applying for residency you will have to apply for both a preliminary year position and a radiology position. so in essence you will be applying to two separate programs (they may also be in two different hospitals/locations). Usually, a preliminary year is done in either internal medicine, surgery, or you can do a transitional year where you rotate among various departments (usually transitional is not easy to get).
Final words on this preliminary year matter: do not make the mistake of not applying for a preliminary year thinking that will easily find a preliminary spot during the SOAP process. It is a painful and costly mistake that will only give you trouble. Apply for a prelim year when you apply for your residency and make your life easy.
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