The basic pathway to becoming a physician in Australia – A guide for pre-med students

December 11, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Gap Medics students ready to observe surgery in Tanzania! There are two different routes that you can take if you wish to become a doctor. One option is for those who want to get into medical school straight after their 12th grade, while the other option is for students who want to get into medical school after completing their graduation. Whichever path you choose, it is good to know the options that are available to you.

Australia has eighteen recognised medical schools. Each of these schools offer different courses and have different specialisation options. Other than these differences, all schools offer well-structured courses that are designed in a specific manner that allows all students to gain detailed knowledge about basic medicine and helps them develop all the skills that are necessary to be able to practice in any kind of specialisation of medicine.


The five-year medical program

If you have decided to pursue medicine as soon as you finish school, you can apply for the five-year medical school courses. These courses offer students an MBBS degree (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree). Students who want to apply for this course should have a high university ranking and you will also have to pass the Undergraduate Medical and Health Sciences Test. Commonly known as the UMAT, this test reflects the ability of the student to become a doctor.


The four-year medical program

If you decide to get into medicine after you have completed your graduate studies, you can apply for the four-year course which will give you a medical degree upon completion. Passing the Graduate Australian Medical Schools Admissions Test is mandatory for getting admission into med school. Commonly called the GAMSAT, this test is similar to the UMAT for graduates. Like the UMAT, this test too gives admissions authorities an insight into the personalities and capabilities of the pre-meds applying to their school.


Residency and internships

After completing your medical degree, you would have to work for a minimum period of one year as an intern. This internship usually takes place in the public health sector. Some students may work in rural areas for their internships. They will have to rotate between different departments in order to gain practical medical knowledge in various departments. 

After completing this internship, you will then get a registration from your state medical board. This registration will allow you to complete a postgraduate degree and a fellowship. Only after completing both of these phases will you be able to practise as an independent doctor.

A lot of junior doctors choose to work for another year or so after they complete their internship in the public system with a hospital or work in the rural sector for a few rotations. During this training, they will be classified as Resident Medical Officers (RMO) or Residents. The residency period will allow you to explore different specialisations and decide on the field that you want to get in to.

Before you start applying to medical schools, it is a good idea to visit the websites of all of the medical schools you are interested in so that you know the exact courses offered in each school and whether or not it is a good fit for you.