What are the hardest fellowships to get into?

Answered by Jeremy Urbaniak

The process of obtaining a fellowship can be highly competitive, especially in certain medical subspecialties. These fellowships provide advanced training and expertise in a specific area of medicine, and they are often sought after by medical graduates looking to specialize further. Let’s explore some of the toughest fellowships to get into.

1. Obstetrics & Gynecology (OB/GYN): This field deals with the female reproductive system and childbirth. It is known for its competitiveness due to the high demand and relatively limited number of fellowship positions available. The combination of surgical skills and a wide range of medical knowledge required makes OB/GYN fellowships highly sought after.

2. Surgery: General surgery and surgical subspecialties, such as cardiothoracic surgery, neurosurgery, or orthopedic surgery, are known for their intense competition. These fellowships require exceptional surgical skills, long hours, and a strong academic background. The limited number of spots available adds to the difficulty of securing a fellowship position.

3. Pediatrics: Fellowships in pediatric subspecialties, such as pediatric cardiology, neonatology, or pediatric oncology, are highly competitive. Pediatrics itself is a popular field among medical graduates, and securing a fellowship spot in one of the subspecialties can be challenging due to the limited availability and high demand.

4. Internal Medicine: Fellowships in internal medicine subspecialties, such as cardiology, gastroenterology, or endocrinology, are highly competitive. Internal medicine is a broad field, and many medical graduates pursue these fellowships to gain specialized knowledge and expertise. The competitiveness is driven by the limited number of fellowship positions available and the high number of qualified applicants.

5. Emergency Medicine: Fellowships in emergency medicine subspecialties, such as critical care or sports medicine, can be highly competitive. Emergency medicine itself is a demanding and fast-paced field, and those seeking fellowships in specialized areas within emergency medicine face tough competition for limited positions.

It’s important to note that competitiveness can vary over time and may also depend on factors such as geographic location. These are just a few examples of highly competitive fellowships, but there are many other subspecialties that also attract a significant number of applicants.

In my personal experience, I have seen the intense competition for surgical fellowships, particularly in cardiothoracic surgery. The combination of technical skills, research experience, and a strong academic background makes securing a fellowship position in this field incredibly challenging. I have witnessed colleagues and friends go through multiple application cycles and extensive interviews before finally obtaining a coveted fellowship spot.

The hardest fellowships to get into are often those that require a unique set of skills, extensive training, and have a limited number of available positions. The competitiveness can be influenced by various factors, including the popularity of the specialty, the demand for specialized care, and the prestige associated with certain fellowships.