The process and pathway to becoming a doctor in Australia part one

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Part 1

  • Main pathways into medicine
  • Application process for the different pathways

Part 2

  • Entry test for undergraduate and graduate pathways
  • What happens when you graduate from medical school?

There are 3 main pathways to getting your medical degree in Australia:

  1. Undergraduate Entry
  2. Graduate Entry
  3. School Leaver Provisional Entry

Undergraduate Entry

An undergraduate course is an entry level course at all universities. Most of the undergraduate programs are Bachelor’s degrees, although there are a few Diploma and Associate degree courses. In medicine, undergraduate courses are 5 or 6 years long.

You do not need to have studied at university before to qualify for undergraduate entry. You can apply directly from year 12 of if you have done an enabling course or previous study at TAFE.  You can also apply for undergraduate entry if you have already got a degree but in a different field.

Students observing surgery inside the operating theatre in Tanzania. Graduate Entry

A graduate entry programme is essentially a bachelors degree course, however, unlike undergraduate entry, you cannot apply for graduate entry directly from school. Only students who already have a degree qualify for these programmes. To study medicine in Australia, this degree can be obtained in any field.

Graduate entry medical degrees are of shorter duration than undergraduate medical courses. They are usually about 4 to 4 ½ years long. The reason they are shorter is that the university assumes that you’ve already developed the ability to learn effectively at university level and that you have an understanding of the basic sciences.

School Leaver Provisional Entry

Most universities that offer graduate-entry medical courses also offer the school leaver provisional entry pathway. This guarantees school leavers a place in the graduate entry medical programme provided that they first complete a bachelor level degree course at the university and meet certain conditions such as completing the degree in the normal minimum time period and maintaining a credit average.

The Application Process

The application process is quite different for the Undergraduate and Graduate entry pathways.

Applying for Undergraduate Entry – For the undergraduate medical course, applications are sent directly to the university itself or to one of the State or Territory Tertiary Admissions Centres depending on which university you are applying to – the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC), the South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre (SATAC), Tertiary Institutions Service Centre (TISC), Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC) or the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC).

If you are applying through this pathway you can apply for a maximum of five medical schools and can be invited to one interview per State/Territory.

Applying for Graduate Entry Medicine – Applications for graduate entry medicine are processed by the Graduate Management Admission Council or GMAC. This is a central body for administering applications across Australia.

Applicants to the graduate entry pathway can currently nominate up to three preferences from the 11 Australian universities that offer medicine and can only be invited to one interview per year. This is under review but until that comes through you have to be very careful about selecting your preferences under this pathway.  You will need to weigh up which university you would most like to go to against which university you are most likely to get admission into. If your chances of getting into your preferred university are very small, it is better to strike it off your list and work your way down your list of preferences. 

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