If you are looking to work in the medical profession and are passionate about biosciences, health, and caring for people, then becoming a doctor is the perfect choice for you.
A career in medicine can be rewarding, but the path is not always easy and comes with a lot of challenges. Hence, to become a doctor, you need to 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, understands the root cause of their health condition, and further uses his or her 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
Amongst all healthcare professionals, it is the duty of a doctor 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 in situations where 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. Steps to Become a Doctor in Australia
Becoming a doctor in Australia is a highly competitive process. The number of steps and years involved to become 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
If you want to enter medical school in Australia, you either need to 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 equivalent.
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. You can complete your undergraduate course in a diverse range of fields like commerce, science, arts, pharmacy before studying medicine.
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
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 used by most Australian universities to select students for medicine courses.
The main focus of UCAT is to evaluate skills that are considered desirable in health professions, including empathy, problem-solving, and abstract reasoning skills. Getting a high score in 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
University of Tasmania
University of Newcastle
The University of New South Wales
The University of Western Australia
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 is specifically designed to evaluate a student’s ability to undertake high-level intellectual studies in the field of medicine and health.
Furthermore, GAMSAT focuses on assessing your critical and analytical thinking skills, along with how you communicate and organize 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 minutes extra are given for reading.
Written Communication: It comprises two questions, for which 60 minutes are provided with an additional five minutes 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
University of Wollongong
The University of Sydney
University of Notre Dame
University of Western Australia
Step 4: Study a Postgraduate Degree
Once you complete your bachelor’s degree, you need to enrol into a four-year master-level program such as Doctor of Medicine. Entry into a postgraduate degree is entirely based on the previous completion of a bachelor 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 enable them to be confident and comfortable in a community or hospital setting.
Step 5: Complete an Internship
Upon completion of your medical degree, you must complete one year (47 weeks) of internship in a public hospital. It is important to note that graduates are responsible for coordinating their internship on their own.
Internship applications are available across all states of Australia at the same time and usually close in the month of June (the year before internship starts).
Note: Each state in Australia has its own 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 completion of their medical degree. This will enable them to complete their internship successfully 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 career.
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 prevocational training period may vary, depending on the speciality you opt for.
Step 8: Obtain Fellowship via Speciality Medical Training Program
Once you successfully 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 go through several types of 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 fellowship, you will be eligible to practice medicine independently and work as a specialist physician, general practitioner, or a surgeon.
4. 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
Leadership and management skills
Good practical skills
Effective decision-making skills
Ability to solve problems
Excellent communication skills
Compassion, empathy, and integrity
Strong drive to continue learning throughout your career
5. How Long Does it Take to Become a Doctor in Australia?
Becoming a doctor is a lengthy process. Medical practitioners in Australia have to 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 much time it takes you to satisfy in-training requirements.
6. 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, with extended hours of studying and residency, and extremely hectic work conditions, you might have to make personal sacrifices.
In the end, it’s all worth it because the quality of life and job satisfaction is high in this career.
7. How Much Do Doctors Earn in Australia?
Being a doctor is one of the highest-paid professions in Australia. The salary of a doctor may vary, depending on the qualification, speciality, 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.
8. Closing Words
Although becoming a doctor in Australia is a long process and requires a lot of dedication, commitment, and determination, it is definitely 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. Just remember, regardless of the direction you choose, your hard work will always pay off.
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