The AMA (Australian Medical Association) and how they can help you
So you’ve decided you want to study medicine and practice as a doctor.
But there’s a lot more to this than just studying the right subjects and getting the marks you need at school or university…
Here is some helpful information to key questions that might be on your mind. If you need more detailed and expert information follow the links that will take you either to other sections of Study Medicine or to the Australian Medical Association (AMA) where you can find detailed advice.
Am I really cut out for medicine?
Undergraduate medicine degrees take between 4 years 8 months and 6 years to complete (go to the University Selection page or the University Details section for information about each university’s medical degree duration). You wouldn’t want to get through all that study only to find out its really not for you. Here’s where you can find out more about what it’s really like to be a doctor:-
What happens after medical school?
It takes more than just qualifying for your university medical degree to become a doctor. For a start you need to progress through a variety of additional stages to fully qualify. These stages are:
Internship - 1 year of training that includes hospital rotations. At the end of this period, you are able to hold a general registration, which means you are able to practice as a doctor (within your training limits).
The key thing to be aware of here, is that you have to apply for internship positions (the medical equivalent of applying for your first job). The number of internship positions are limited, so this means its not a guarantee that once you’ve finished medical school you can automatically move into an internship and be on the path to practicing. You apply for State Government or Federal Government funded internship positions through each State’s Health Department (see What’s Next After Graduation).
Once you’ve completed your internship and qualified with a general registration its still not the end of your training…
Residency - 1 or more years. As a House Medical Officer or Resident Medical Officer you may be involved in conducting further research or you may do further training - particularly if you’re looking to specialise (remembering that General Practice is also a specialisation). If you don’t want to specialise you can progress along the path of becoming a Career Medical Officer.
Registrar - undertaken once you’ve been accepted into a specialty training program. Specialty training areas include:
GP Registrar - 2 years
Medical Registrar - 3 years
Surgical Registrar - depends on the specific specialty you are training in (eg general surgery, neurosurgery)
There are over 64 areas of specialisation with training undertaken through the commensurate specialist College. Specialist training usually takes a further 3 to 6 years (for more information see the Specialty Training Pathway Guide).
So when you add all of this up, after finishing medical school you are up for a minimum of 2 years to qualify as a Career Medical Officer or will train for up to a further 8 years or more to qualify as a specialist.
What’s Plan B if I don’t get in?
The reality of applying to university to do medicine is, unfortunately, that most applicants will not be accepted. For example, the University of New South Wales (undergraduate medical program) received 2262 applications for 138 domestic places and 331 applications for 51 rural places in 2018. The odds for these applicants were a 6% chance of being accepted into a domestic place and a 15% chance if they were applying for a rural place.
So what are your options? These are, basically -
You can apply for all the medical programs that are available to increase your chances - this means doing your research and also determining interstate medical schools you are able to apply for (see the University Selection section for details about all the available Australian medical programs).
If you’re applying for medicine straight from high school and aren’t accepted, the options available to you are:
either to pursue a different path (including applying for other university courses), or
you could choose to apply for medicine again.
You could try for undergraduate medicine again and this raises the question of what are you going to do differently to increase your chances this time? Have you understood all the entrance requirements and how can you optimise these? Do you need to improve either your ATAR or UCAT result? UCAT can be repeated - it is valid for 1 year and can be undertaken any number of times (a maximum of once per year).
or you may be seeking to transfer from another degree into medicine), or you could complete a non-medical undergraduate degree and then apply for postgraduate medicine. There’s a lot to consider under either of these approaches:
If you’re considering
If you’re wanting to apply for entry into undergraduate medicine again you need to check the requirements regarding university studies for the university you are interested in. Your Plan B might be starting a non-medical university degree and transferring over into medicine. Some undergraduate medical programs, however, will not accept students who have any record of university study. Other university medicine programs may accept transfers but the number able to transfer over may be limited; transfers may only be possible from certain non-medical degrees - so again, do your homework to determine what the specific requirements are to check your Plan B is viable (see the University Selection section and University Details sections for all the available Australian medical programs and details regarding which undergraduate degrees are accepted).
If you’re looking to apply later for a postgraduate medical program, make sure you know which undergraduate degrees are accepted by the university. Some postgraduate medical degrees just require you to have completed an undergraduate degree. Other postgraduate programs require specific undergraduate degrees to have been completed. Some universities go one step further and also require undergraduate degrees to have been completed at their university - for example, Monash postgraduate medicine entry will only accept Monash university graduates, and specifically only those graduates who have certain, specified degrees. So again, if your Plan B involves postgraduate medicine check what the requirements are for the specific university program you are interested in (see the University Selection section and University Details sections for all the available Australian medical programs and details regarding which degrees are accepted).
Other aspects to consider in the case of postgraduate degree applications is ensuring you have the required prerequisites (for example, required Grade Point Average from your undergraduate degree, required GAMSAT results, any other requirements etc) for the particular medicine program.
Unlike high school, university studies can be continued by undertaking further degree studies (Bachelor and postgraduate degrees). Again, its worth determining whether the postgraduate medical programs you may be considering will accept students with higher university studies and whether any further studies will contribute to Grade Point Average calculations. (see the University Selection section and University Details sections for all the available Australian medical programs and details regarding which degrees are accepted and how Grade Point Averages are calculated).
GAMSAT can be undertaken on multiple occasions (there are 2 sittings per year) and the best result out of these can be used. GAMSAT is valid for up to 2 consecutive years.
These are the reason why it is important to think ahead and determine which undergraduate degrees lead to medicine in case your first attempt to be accepted into undergraduate medicine is unsuccessful.
How much is it going to cost? Can I afford it and when do I start making money?
Life as a med student
Each university has a student medical society and these societies not only support students currently studying medicine, but they are a great source of information about what it’s like to be a medical student.
The university student medical associations are:
Resources for international students
Places at Australian university medical programs include both Commonwealth Supported Places as well as full fee paying/international student places. The number of full fee paying/international students places at each university is usually disclosed (see the University Details section for each university).
There are some key considerations international students need to be aware of with regard to future training and employment in Australia post their degree. These considerations include - the ability to secure an internship and xxxxx
The previous Commonwealth program (Commonwealth Medical Internships) that supported international students who had completed their training in Australia has been replaced by the Junior Doctor Training Program - Private Hospital Stream
The AMA International Medical Students and Graduates page provides further information.
Rural and remote medicine
What happens after medical school?
Jobs - where are they and how do I get one?
Here are some helpful links
How do I go about working overseas?
AN IMPORTANT QUALIFICATION
Study Medicine information has been compiled from Australian university and other reputable public information sources and therefore is a guide. Authoritative information is provided by the university only. Make sure you obtain information directly from the university before making any decisions.
The above information is intended to help you understand common medical degree application terms. Remember, information can always change, so ensure you keep up to date by regularly checking directly with the appropriate university.