What Happens After Medical School?

Eye-opening hospital work experience
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Have you always been keen on going to medical school but confused as to what happens afterwards? You do not want to dedicate yourself to all of the hard work to then be unsure of where it leaves you in terms of your career, so we have decided to explain it a little for you…

Stage 1: Internship

After you graduate from medical school, all Australian States and Territories require you to undertake and successfully complete at least one year of internship or supervised practice to prove your abilities before you can obtain full registration to practice independently.

This period of internship is usually done in accredited training hospitals and allows you to experience the different medical fields in rotation so that you can experience all aspects of working as a doctor. In addition to gaining valuable experience, another important purpose of the rotations is to help medical students identify an area they want to specialise in, whether that is oncology, ophthalmology, surgery or paediatrics.

Gap Medics students on their hospital work experience placement in Tanzania.

Stage 2: Residency

Residency really is the heart and soul of the post graduate training system. Residents or resident medical officers are doctors who have completed their internship and are employed in a hospital but have not yet completed their pre-vocational training. Spanning a period from about 3 years to 7 years, residency involves a deep commitment of time and effort. There are several different types of programs, leading to many different specialties. Successfully completing an approved program makes you ‘board eligible’ in that particular specialty, which means you can now practice wherever you have become licensed. You can take the board any time down the road and if you are successful, your designation will then be converted to ‘board certified’.

Stage 3: Specialist Training 

A specialist is a doctor who has completed their training to practise a particular branch of medicine. Specialist training is a very focused and intense training, at the end of which you will be specialised in a particular area of medicine. Successful completion of this training allows you to work in either specialty practice or a specific part of the health system.

In Australia, specialist training programs are governed by Medical Colleges. The duration of these programs vary considerably depending upon the chosen speciaty. The application and entry procedure is typically a combination of an interview, supervisor’s reports of previous training, any previous relevant work experience and any relevant qualifications. As expected, most training programs are very competitive to get a place on. Some medical colleges reserve and offer Indigenous specific training places.

Stage 4: Fellowship

After you have completed your specialist training, if you are looking to become even more narrowly focused, you can go on to another level of post graduate training known as ‘fellowship’. This generally involves an additional 2 to 4 years of training and upon successful completion, allows you to become a subspecialist.

Fellowship training is somewhat like residency training only at another level. You work in a hospital or clinic that focuses on your chosen specialty and get on the job experience from veteran doctors in the field.

The exception to the rule of specialty training is General Practice. It is a recognised specialty, however by its nature it is very general in the type of work that you do. If you want to do a little of everything then General Practice is for you.

 

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