How To Become A Doctor In Australia: A Step-by-Step Guide

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  International students want to know how they can become a doctor in Australia from overseas, including many years it takes.


If you want to work in the medical profession and are passionate about biosciences, health, and caring for people, then becoming a doctor is a perfect choice.


A career in medicine can be rewarding, but the path can be challenging and comes with many challenges. Hence, to become a doctor, you must stay focused, study hard, and progress effectively through more than ten years of higher education and training. 


This includes earning a bachelor's degree, attending four years of medical school, internships, residency programs, and more. 


Once you fulfil all these requirements and become certified via the Medical Board of Australia, you will be permitted to practice medicine independently in Australia.


Now let us take a closer look at how to become a doctor in Australia. This post includes everything you need to know about becoming a doctor in Australia, including the education and experience required. So without any further ado, let's get started!



1. What Does a Doctor Do?


A doctor is someone who helps to restore the health of a person through different medical procedures. Their primary focus is to diagnose and treat a person's illness, pain, injury, disease, or other conditions.


The doctor deals with the patient, understand the root cause of their health condition and further uses their expertise in the best way to treat the problem and counsel patients on their health and well-being.


All in all, a doctor's profession is one of the most diverse and challenging and is well-respected all around the globe.



2. Major Duties and Tasks of a Doctor


Among all healthcare professionals, it is a doctor's duty to take up ultimate responsibility for difficult decisions in situations of clinical uncertainty and complexity.


These decisions are usually based on their well-developed clinical judgement and scientific knowledge while also considering what is in the best interest of patients.


Here are some other tasks and duties performed by a doctor:


  • Assess patients' healthcare needs by considering their social and personal circumstances. 

  • Gather, record, and maintain patient information, such as examination results, reports, and medical history.

  • Use expertise and skills to collect and merge information from different sources to reach the best possible understanding and diagnosis of a patient's condition.

  • Identify the problem and advise on preventive measures or appropriate treatment options. 

  • Help patients understand their diagnosis and what they might expect, especially when patients show symptoms that may have multiple causes.

  • Monitor the condition and progress of patients and reassess treatments as required.

  • Discuss and explain the benefits, risks, and uncertainties of various treatments and tests with the patients. Also, help patients to make decisions about how to care for themselves.

  • When necessary, refer patients to medical specialists or other practitioners.



3. What Are The Skills Required To Become a Doctor in Australia


As a medical professional, you are expected to have particular skills to deal with different scenarios and become exceptional at your work. Here are the most common attributes that a doctor needs to possess:


  • Ability to work under pressure

  • Ability to work for long hours

  • Ability to work as a part of a team 

  • Time management

  • Leadership and management skills

  • Good practical skills

  • Effective decision-making skills

  • Ability to solve problems

  • Excellent communication skills 

  • Compassion, empathy, and integrity 

  • Non-judgemental behaviour

  • Analytical ability

  • Strong drive to continue learning throughout your career



4. What Qualifications Do You Need To Be A Doctor In Australia? 


You must complete your Year 12 education and graduate with a bachelor's degree.


Next, complete a 4-year Master's medical program. You also need to complete an intern year to be able to apply for general medical registration through the Medical Board of Australia. 


Here are the complete steps to qualify for a doctor's profession in Australia:


  1. Gain your Senior Secondary Certification with one or more prerequisite subjects, including English, high-level mathematics, Chemistry, Biology, and other foundational sciences. 

  2. Complete an undergraduate degree in arts, science, commerce, or pharmacy from an accredited university in Australia. You must obtain a grade point average of 65 or above to undertake a postgraduate qualification in Medicine.

  3. Sit the Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT) and apply for the Doctor of Medicine course. Students who meet the required grade point average and GAMSAT score are called for an interview to enter the Doctor of Medicine course.

  4. Earn a 4-year master's degree, i.e., Doctor of Medicine, at an accredited university. 

  5. Complete an accredited intern year (47 weeks internship) in a public hospital after completing a medical degree. Apply for provisional registration with the Australian Medical Board six weeks before completing your medical degree to complete your supervised internship.

  6. Register with the Medical Board of Australia to obtain a general medical registration.



5. Steps To Become A Doctor in Australia


Becoming a doctor in Australia is a highly competitive process.


The number of steps and years involved in becoming a doctor entirely depends on the speciality and the course you choose to pursue. Also, it depends on whether you are an international or domestic candidate. 


Here is a brief overview of the steps required to become a Doctor in Australia:



Step 1: Meet Up With The Year 12 Prerequisites


To enter medical school in Australia, you must go through high school or complete your bachelor's degree


If you choose the first pathway, you usually need to achieve an ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) of 99.95 in the High School Certificate or equivalent and gain band four in mathematics advanced or comparable.



Step 2: Attend an Accredited University to Complete your Bachelor's Degree


If you do not wish to use your high school certificate to become a doctor in Australia - in that case, you can attend a recognised college or university to study a medical program and get a bachelor's degree.


Before studying medicine, you can complete your undergraduate course in a diverse range of fields like commerce, scienceartsand pharmacy.


Note: Most educational institutions in Australia require you to achieve a grade point average of 65 or above upon graduation.



Step 3: Take an Entrance Exam


Several universities in Australia require you to take UCAT and GAMSAT entrance exams to get entry into undergraduate and postgraduate medical courses.


Let us learn more about these entrance exams:



UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test)


If you want to apply for undergraduate medical courses in Australia, you may have to take UCAT. It is one of the main criteria most Australian universities use to select students for medical courses.


The main focus of UCAT is to evaluate skills considered desirable in health professions, including empathy, problem-solving, and abstract reasoning skills. A high score on this test will increase your chances of getting accepted by any medical school in Australia.


Here are some of the universities in Australia that require students to sit the UCAT and apply for entry into undergraduate courses:


  • The University of Queensland

  • The University of Adelaide

  • Western Sydney University

  • Flinders University

  • University of Tasmania

  • University of Newcastle

  • The University of New South Wales

  • Curtin University

  • The University of Western Australia

  • Monash University



GAMSAT (Graduate Medical School Admissions Test)


If you want to pursue a postgraduate degree from a medical school, you will need to sit the GAMSAT, which is coordinated by ACER (Australian Council for Education Research). The test evaluates a student's ability to undertake high-level intellectual studies in medicine and health.


Furthermore, GAMSAT focuses on assessing your critical and analytical thinking skills and how you communicate and organise your ideas.



The GAMSAT consists of the following three sections:


  • Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences: It comprises 75 questions that students must complete in 100 minutes. Ten extra minutes are given for reading.


  • Written Communication: It comprises two questions, for which 60 minutes are provided, with an additional five minutes for reading.


  • Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences: It comprises 110 questions, which you must complete in 170 minutes. Ten minutes extra minutes are provided for reading.


Here are a few universities in Australia that require students to sit the GAMSAT to apply for entry into postgraduate courses:


  • University of Melbourne

  • University of Queensland

  • Australian National University

  • Deakin University

  • University of Wollongong

  • Monash University

  • The University of Sydney

  • University of Notre Dame

  • University of Western Australia

  • Griffith University

  • Flinders University



Step 4: Study For A Postgraduate Degree


Once you complete your bachelor's degree, you need to enrol on a four-year master-level program such as a Doctor of Medicine.


Entry into a postgraduate degree is entirely based on the previous completion of a bachelor's degree, your performance in GAMSAT and your skills evaluated through a semi-structured interview.


The entire postgraduate program acts as a pre-internship to prepare students for practice and make them confident and comfortable in a community or hospital setting.



Step 5: Complete an Internship


Upon completing your medical degree, you must complete a one-year (47 weeks) internship in a public hospital. It is important to note that graduates are responsible for coordinating their training independently.


Internship applications are simultaneously available across all states of Australia and usually close in June (the year before the internship starts).


Note: Each state in Australia has its candidate intake numbers and priority list. You must check state-based websites to get further details.


Additionally, medical graduates must apply for provisional registration six weeks before the completion of their medical degree. This will enable them to complete their internship and become eligible for general registration. You can apply for provisional registration by filling out an online application.



Step 6: Receive General Medical Registration Through The Medical Board of Australia


After completing one year of internship in Australia, you will obtain general medical registration by the Medical Board of Australia, which renews every year on the 30th of September. It is crucial for practising graduates to maintain this registration throughout their careers.


Note: If you have done your internship outside of Australia, you would still have to complete an intern year in Australia before receiving your general registration.



Step 7: Go for One or More Years of Prevocational Training


Many medical graduates move on to seek further training as RMOs (Resident Medical Officers) after completing their training as an intern in a medical hospital.


This helps to prepare themselves better for medical specialty programs. The length of the prevocational training period may vary, depending on the speciality you opt for.



Step 8: Obtain Fellowship via Speciality Medical Training Program


Once you complete your training as an RMO and an intern, you will be eligible to apply for a medical speciality training program through accredited medical colleges in Australia.


This will require you to undergo several assessments, including clinical, written, and practical examinations. These assessments may differ depending on the medical college.


In addition, the amount of time spent in these vocational training programs may range between three to seven years. Once you obtain a fellowship, you will be eligible to practice medicine independently and work as a specialist physician, general practitioner, or surgeon.



6. How Long Does It Take to Become A Doctor in Australia?


Becoming a doctor is a lengthy process. Medical practitioners in Australia must fulfil specific education and training requirements before commencing independent practice, like starting medical school, completing internships, going through speciality training, and more. 


This may take between 9 to 16 years (or even more), depending on the speciality you choose and how long it takes to satisfy in-training requirements.



7. How Hard Is It To Become A Doctor in Australia?


To be a doctor in Australia is a real struggle as it involves more than ten years of education and training. Besides, you might have to make personal sacrifices with extended hours of studying and residency and extremely hectic work conditions.


Ultimately, it's all worth it because this career's quality of life and job satisfaction is high.



8. How Much Do Doctors Earn in Australia?


Being a doctor is one of the highest-paid professions in Australia. A doctor's salary may vary depending on qualifications, specialities, years of experience, and work hours.


According to PayScale, the average annual salary of a doctor may range somewhere between AU$78,000 to AU$166,000.



9. Career Possibilities For A Doctor In Australia


With a postgraduate qualification in Medicine, you can work in several areas, including:



Some of the careers you may consider:


  • General practitioner in rural, urban, and remote settings

  • Medical Specialist/ Emergency Medical Specialist

  • Public health manager

  • Patient assessor

  • Hospital Medical Officer

  • Clinical research coordinator

  • Clinical academic

  • Medical researcher

  • Defence force member

  • International aid worker

  • Rural Generalist

  • University lecturer/Academic, and more.



10. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



What Is The Best Age To Become A Doctor?


The right age to become a doctor is at least 30 years:


  • Complete your high school graduation at 18. 

  • Complete 3 to 4 years of undergraduate degree courses - 22

  • Complete your four years of medical school at 26. 

  • Complete an average of 4 years of residency training program – 30 years.



What Subjects Are Needed To Become a Doctor in Australia?


To qualify for a medical degree in Australia, you must study the below prerequisite subjects in your high school:


  • Biology

  • Chemistry

  • Physics

  • English

  • Maths

  • Other related foundational sciences 


Developing a solid foundation by completing prerequisite courses either during high school or throughout your undergraduate degree will undoubtedly lay a strong groundwork for your journey in the field of Medicine.



Which Doctor Has The Highest Salary?


According to Indeed, the highest-paid specialties of doctors (along with national average salaries) in Australia are:


  • Podiatrist - $80,016 per year

  • Family medicine physician, $86,405 per year

  • Dermatologist - $93,099 per year

  • Urgent care physician, $99,484 per year

  • Optometrist, $105,250 per year

  • Dentist, $121,489 per year

  • Urologist, $122,023 per year

  • Neurologist, $122,471 per year

  • Surgeon, $139,410 per year

  • Cardiology physician, $139,568 per year

  • Obstetrics and gynecology physician, $183,446 per year

  • Oncologist, $184,391 per year

  • Paediatrician, $188,908 per year

  • General practitioner, $223,218 per year 

  • Orthopaedist, $245,000 per year

  • Internal medicine physician, $253,446 per year



What is The Hardest Doctor To Become?


The most challenging medical specialty is Plastic/ Reconstructive Surgery. Plastic surgeons specialise in soft tissue, including skin, fat, and muscle. They can work on visible body parts to enhance their function and aesthetic appeal.


They also perform reconstructive operations to repair damage due to an injury, disease, or congenital disability that impacts appearance and function.


Liposuction treatments, skin grafts, tissue transfers, and implants are commonly used techniques plastic surgeons use to obtain desired results.



What is The Easiest Medical Field?


According to Indeed, there are specific roles in the medical field that require only 2-3 years of schooling. It means that you can enter the profession sooner than other medical professions.


Below we have discussed entry-level positions in the healthcare industry that don't require limited schooling and offer ample scope for job growth. So, if you are looking for medical care that is relatively less time and cost-intensive, then you can consider the below options:


  • Veterinary/Animal Technician - National average salary: $34,548 per yearQualification- Certificate III in Wildlife and Exhibited Animal Care (ACM30321) or a Diploma of Animal Technology (ACM50117) via TAFE or an RTO.


  • Pharmacy Technician - National average salary: $36,932 per yearQualification: A high school diploma or equivalent and the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) certification are required.


  • Phlebotomy Technician - National average salary: $37,788 per yearQualification - A high-school diploma, on-the-job training, a licence, and a certificate.


  • Medical Assistant - National average salary: $46,475 per yearQualification - A high school diploma and certificate programs like medical terminology certificates from accredited medical assistant schools.


  • Ophthalmic Technician - National average salary: $46,909 per yearQualification - At least a high school diploma or equivalent and certification and training.


  • Emergency Medical Technician - National average salary: $49,217 per yearQualification - A certificate in emergency medical treatment or paramedics.


  • Massage Therapist - National average salary: $58,172 per yearQualification: You need a Certificate IV in Massage Therapy (HLT42015), First Aid Certificate, and a Police Check to enter this role.


  • Nuclear Medicine Technologist - National average salary: $62,524 per yearQualification - At least a high school diploma or equivalent and certification from an accredited school in radiologic technology.


  • Radiologic Technologist - National average salary: $65,020 per year. Qualification: Technical or vocational school education may also require relevant certifications to work in this role.  



What Are The Least Competitive Medical Specialties?


If you are looking for a medical specialty that pays you well and is easy to enter, you may consider the following:




Can a Nurse Become a Doctor in Australia?


Yes. most medical schools prefer nurses for an M.D. course due to their previous healthcare training and experience.


Here is a pathway to progress from the role of a Nurse to a Doctor in Australia:


  1. You need a relevant bachelor's degree. Most nurses have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, sufficient to meet the prerequisites for medical school. However, suppose you don't have a bachelor's degree. In that case, you should consider completing this qualification to qualify to study an M.D. course.

  2. Take the standardised computer-based, i.e., Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), within three years of applying to medical school. 

  3. You can apply for a Doctor of Medicine degree if you get the required MCAT scores to gain admission to a Medical School. 

  4. Attend Medical School (two years in the classroom setting, followed by two years in the clinical setting) 

  5. Attend a 2–4-year Residency Program. You may require up to 5 years of Fellowship to specialize in a specific field.



How To Become a Doctor in Western Australia?


Aspiring doctors can study for an Australian Medical Council (AMC) accredited 4-year full-time Doctor of Medicine degree at the Perth campus of the University of Western Australia.



How to Become a G.P. in Australia?


Here is the roadmap to becoming a General Practitioner in Australia:


  1. Bachelor's degree – 3 to 4 years

  2. Doctor of Medicine – 3 to 4 years

  3. Internship as a Junior Hospital Doctor – 2 to 3 years

  4. Specialist Training- 3 to 5 years 


You become a Specialist Doctor by completing the above stepsBased on the Specialist training you take, you can pursue the following roles:




How To Become a Doctor in QLD?


The University of Queensland offers a 4-year AMC-accredited Doctor of Medicine postgraduate course to pursue a career as a doctor in Australia. Course graduates are eligible to gain professional Medical Board of Queensland membership.



How To Become a Doctor in Melbourne?


You can complete a 4-year Doctor of Medicine qualification at the Parkville campus of the University of Melbourne. Australian Medical Council accredits the course and Provision registration with the Medical Board of Australia.


However, to enter the M.D. course via standard entry, you must complete a 3-year undergraduate degree followed by the GAMSAT exam and a Multi Mini Interview.



How To Become a Doctor in Victoria?


Monash University is the only university in Victoria offering a double degree course to prepare you for a career as a Doctor in Australia.


The Bachelor of Medical Science and Doctor of Medicine course is a five-year study program with direct entry from high school.


Do you think about how much it costs to become a doctor in Australia? As the university is a Common Supported Place, the average study cost for this dual degree course is $11,800 (As of 2023). 


Note that the fees are subject to change yearly.



How To Become a Doctor in Australia for International Students?


International Medical Graduates (IMGs) who have a medical qualification from a medical school outside of Australia must complete several processes to register and work as medical practitioners in Australia.


The Australian Medical Council must verify your overseas qualifications before you can apply for registration with the Medical Board of Australia to practise Medicine in Australia.


'Doctor Connect' is an Australian Government Department of Health initiative that guides IMGs on the eligibility criteria and approved workplaces to work as a doctor in Australia.


If you want to know how to become a doctor in Australia from overseas, there are four pathways to get medical registration in Australia.


Based on your qualifications and the position you are applying for, you may consider any of the below pathways to work as a medical practitioner in Australia:




Do You Need a Good ATAR To Become a Doctor in Australia?


Yes. The majority of universities offering postgraduate Doctor of Medicine programs typically have entry requirements that include meeting the minimum ATAR score for enrollment.



State Medical School Qualification ATAR
NSW Macquarie University The Bachelor of Clinical Science/Doctor of Medicine 95
Monash University Bachelor of Medical Science/ Doctor of Medicine 97.05
University of New South Wales Bachelor of Medical Studies/ Doctor of Medicine 96.05 (local)

91.30 (Rural)
University of Sydney Bachelor of Science/ Doctor of Medicine degree 99.95
Western Sydney University Doctor of Medicine 98
Charles Sturt University Doctor of Medicine 95.5 (non-rural)

91.5 (Rural)
Victoria The University of Melbourne Doctor of Medicine 99.0
Western Australia The University of Western Australia Doctor of Medicine 98.0
Curtin University Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery 95.0
Northern Territory Flinders University Bachelor of Clinical Sciences/ Doctor of Medicine 95.0



Can I Get into Medicine with A 97 ATAR?


Yes. Macquarie University, Charles Sturt University, Curtin University, Flinders University, and University of New South Wales are three top universities offering Doctor of Medicine courses with an entry ATAR below 97.



Can I Get Into Medicine with A 90 ATAR?


Finding an accredited university in Australia that allows you to study for a postgraduate medical degree with 90 ATAR is almost impossible.



What is The Lowest ATAR Score for Medicine?


The lowest ATAR for non-rural applicants in Australia is 95, and for rural applicants is 91.3.



8. Closing Words


Although becoming a doctor in Australia is a long process and requires a lot of dedication, commitment, and determination, it is worth it, as you will be representing one of the most rewarding careers in the world.


When planning and working towards your future, it is crucial to consider and explore various opportunities that are open to you. Do not give up on your dream simply because the conventional path did not work for you.


Remember, regardless of your chosen direction, your hard work will always pay off.


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