The FREIDA residency database is an extremely useful tool for residency applicants. Not only does it provide helpful information on accredited residency and fellowship programs in the US, it can help you with tips on how to prep for residency applications, how to choose a medical specialty and how to navigate the residency match process. Whether you’re a US medical graduate, an international medical graduate or a mature residency applicant, there are resources available to you. In this blog, we’ll cover what FREIDA is, what resources there are for you to take advantage of, plus the importance of doing thorough research into residency programs when preparing for the match. 

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8 min read

What is FREIDA Residency? How Can I Use FREIDA to Prepare for Residency? FREIDA Residency: Why is Researching Residency Programs so Important? Conclusion FAQs

What is FREIDA Residency?

FREIDA is the Fellowship and Residency Electronic Interactive Database, created by the American Medical Association as a resource for medical residency and medical fellowship applicants.

It’s a comprehensive database which allows you to search through over 13,000 ACGME-accredited programs in the US. This helpful tool can make the process of finding a residency program and creating your residency rank order list (ROL) much easier. FREIDA’s residency resources can even help you choose a medical specialty and plan your future after graduating from medical school.

Along with its comprehensive list of programs, FREIDA has free video series and online residency guides you can use to plan your applications and get answers to common questions.

FREIDA allows you to search through its list of residency programs and fellowships using its free resources and tools, but it offers members only benefits, too. Students can pay a subscription fee of $20 per year and get access to a members’ portal which includes a dashboard which allows you to compare and rank programs as you create your ROL, a residency match calculator, access to networking events, discounts on test prep services and skill development courses.

The free version of FREIDA is extremely useful in giving you an overall look at the residency program options available to you as a medical school graduate. Choosing the right residency programs, and even deciding how many residency programs to apply to, can be a daunting task and this database tool takes out a lot of the guesswork and narrows down the list of programs you might be interested in.

We’ll dive into the many tools FREIDA has that you can use to prepare for residency applications, and some of the benefits, both paid and free, you might want to take advantage of next.

How Can I Use FREIDA to Prepare for Residency?

So, how can you use FREIDA’s resources and database to help you prepare for residency applications and life as a resident doctor? There are a few key ways in which FREIDA’s tools can be of use to you:

  1. Finding critical information on residency programs and creating your ROL
  2. Choosing a medical specialty and discovering more about specialties
  3. Using FREIDA’s member benefits to boost your chances of matching

First, we’ll cover what FREIDA’s many free resources, how you can use them to your advantage and why they might be helpful to you. Then, we’ll go over the paid member benefits available and how you can use them to increase your chances of a successful residency match.

1. Researching Residency Programs and Creating Your ROL

The first and most expansive tool in FREIDA’s toolbox is the searchable database. It includes more than 13,000 accredited residency and fellowship programs. You can search for residency programs first based on specialty and location, then narrow your choices down from these filters:

All of these are helpful in narrowing down your list of potential residency programs, and they can inform you what your options are. Start your search broad and start taking notes on what types of programs are available, what some of the key application requirements are, how much residents make and so on.

If you’re an IMG, keep notes on where the IMG friendly residency programs are and what the requirements are. If you want to know how to get into a residency program as an IMG, start by searching for the programs that are friendliest to you and what visas they require so you can get a head start on preparation. FREIDA will help you pinpoint what are the most IMG friendly states and even the most IMG friendly hospitals so you can better focus your search.

Once you’ve made some initial notes, you can conduct a more in-depth analysis of the residency programs you’re most interested in. Here’s some of the interesting information that FREIDA provides on individual programs:

Not sure how many residency programs to apply to?

2. Choosing a Medical Specialty and Specialty Information

FREIDA provides comprehensive information on its many medical specialties, so you can find out what to expect from a residency in said specialty. From anesthesiology residency to neurosurgery residency to dermatology residency and psychiatry residency, you can get a glimpse into what working in this specialty is like, how competitive it is to match into and what are the best programs for that specialty.

The database also includes statistics that can help inform your choices, such as which specialties have the highest number of first-year positions, which states are the most popular for certain specialties or have the best working conditions in that specialty, and the most popular specialties. This can give you a broader understanding of how competitive a specialty is, where you can expect to find the best residency programs for surgery or the best pediatric residency, for instance, and much more.

IMGs can also use this information to find the most IMG friendly family medicine residency programs, the IMG friendly internal medicine residencies and the best IMG friendly psychiatry residency programs, all specialties that admit a higher percentage of international applicants.

FREIDA also has numerous video series and articles with advice on choosing your specialty, what to make of the statistics FREIDA monitors and how to start preparing for your residency applications.

3. FREIDA Membership Benefits

FREIDA’s paid member benefits are optional, but they might be worth it for your residency prep. Here’s an overview of the benefits available through a yearly subscription:

  • FREIDA dashboard – Use this paid tool to compare, rate and take notes on residency programs you’re interested in.
  • Residency calculator – You can use the residency match calculator to get an idea of how competitive you are for the match and what your chances of matching are!
  • Leadership learning – The AMA has a Medical Student Leadership Learning course, which includes access to interactive modules, resources and expert advice.
  • Member events – The AMA has many networking events which you can use to build your professional network and connect with residency program directors directly. For AMA members, these events are free.
  • Discounts – With a subscription, you can get a discount on AMA test prep services, including a USMLE Step 2 CK prep course, a USMLE Step 3 prep course or even a COMLEX prep course for DO students.
  • Financial perks – The AMA offers many discounts and financial benefits to members, both for residents and physicians. This might include a discount on home or auto insurance, discounts on certain products or services and more.

Here are some residency personal statement examples to help you write your own!

FREIDA Residency: Why is Researching Residency Programs so Important?

Plan for a bright future

Why is researching residency programs so important? First, depending on how long residency is for you, you’ll be spending the next 3-7+ years training and working in your chosen specialty, in whatever program you match to. This is a significant chunk of your life and career as a physician, so you need to be sure that you’re making the best choice for yourself and your future after residency.

Residency is a notoriously challenging time in your journey to becoming a doctor, and it will take determination and commitment to see it through. It is considerably better for your own mental and physical health and well-being if you commit to a residency program that you truly enjoy working in and a specialty that you’re passionate about. Although it’s possible for you to do a residency swap, it’s ideal to get matched to your ideal program the first time around.

Get matched to the right program for you

When you go through the match process and get matched with a residency program, you’re also entering a binding agreement. Meaning if you get matched, it is expected that you will accept the offer, or one of the offers, and start working at that program.

Getting matched to the ideal residency program for you starts with creating a good rank order list. To tailor the best possible ROL for yourself requires extensive research. It’s recommended to put around 10-12 residency programs on your ROL, more if you’re applying to one of the most competitive residencies. To find the top 10 or so best programs for you means parsing through all your options both through online research and program visits or interviews. The more you know about a residency program, the better you’ll be able to decide if it is worthy of being put on your rank order list.

Keep in mind that not every applicant will match to their top-choice program, so the remainder of your list should include residency programs you have a strong interest in, even if they are not your number one.

How to decide if a residency program belongs on your ROL

It’s possible that you’re having trouble deciding what programs to place on your final rank order list or you’re wondering if there’s a certain strategy you should be employing.

The truth is, you need to curate your list very carefully. Remember that your initial list of programs you’re interested in will likely shrink or change as you visit programs and attend residency interviews. This is completely fine, as the FREIDA residency resources can only tell you so much about a program—asking questions and visiting in person will yield you even more crucial information.

Here are two key things to keep in mind when creating your list:

  1. Only rank programs you actually like and want to attend – If you’re not interested in a residency program, but you are a competitive applicant for it, don’t include it on your list. Even if it looks like a guaranteed match for you and can serve as a safety net should you go unmatched, you may know already that you won’t be happy at this program, and if you match to it, you will be stuck. Stick to programs that you genuinely like and would be happy to attend.
  2. Include programs you are likely to match – It might be tempting to include programs you’re drawn to but that are highly competitive. This is fine if you’ve done your research and have a good shot of matching based on your application and profile. However, if you don’t meet the selection criteria or your application isn’t as competitive compared to other successful applicants, keep the spot open for a residency program you have a better shot of matching into.

FREIDA Residency: Conclusion

Preparing for residency and creating your application can be daunting tasks, but fortunately there are many resources, tools and information available to help you make informed decisions. The FREIDA residency tools and resources are comprehensive and a good place to start looking at potential residency programs. Even if you choose only to use the free resources, there is a huge amount of helpful information for you to find. If you do choose to make use of the paid benefits, you can give yourself even more tools to succeed in the residency match and in your graduate medical education.


1. What is FREIDA?

FREIDA is the Fellowship and Residency Electronic Interactive Database, created by the American Medical Association. The database contains extensive information on over 13,000 accredited residency and fellowship programs in the United States and offers many great tools for residency and fellowship applicants.

2. How much does FREIDA cost?

For students, a subscription to FREIDA’s paid member resources is $20 a year.

3. What are the least competitive residencies?

Some of the least competitive residencies are family medicine residency, internal medicine residency, emergency medicine residency, pathology residency and general surgery residency (preliminary).

4. What are the most competitive residencies?

Some of the most competitive residencies are orthopedic surgery residency, physical medicine and rehabilitation, interventional radiology, plastic surgery residency, radiology residency (diagnostic) and thoracic surgery residency.

5. Which specialties have the highest number of first-year residency positions?

According to FREIDA, the specialties with the highest number of first-year residency positions are internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, general surgery, emergency medicine, psychiatry, anesthesiology, obstetrics and gynecology and diagnostic radiology.

6. Is FREIDA helpful for residency?

Yes, FREIDA can be extremely beneficial for residency applicants. The free resources and use of the database can help streamline the process of researching residency programs, information on specialties and tips on navigating the residency match process.

7. Is it easy to get matched for residency?

Getting matched to a residency program is not easy, but it’s not impossible, either. While some specialties are highly competitive and others are less competitive, a majority of US medical school graduates do match into their top-choice program. For DO and IMG applicants, the match rates are slightly lower but still promising.

8. How do I create my rank order list for residency?

To create your rank order list for residency, it’s recommended to choose at least 12 programs to include, and more if you are applying in a competitive specialty. Choose the residency programs that you like the most and would be happy to match with. Make sure these programs are also ones that you have a good chance of matching into based on your applicant profile. Consider what you are looking for most in a residency program when creating your list.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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