Contemporary medicine is quite exciting, dynamic, and challenging. Medicine is quite a rewarding and exciting career and the training needed to accomplish this goal can be extremely rigorous and takes almost one decade after your high school years. Medical school entry is quite competitive and you will have to demonstrate perseverance for you to complete your training. Additionally, prospective doctors must have a strong desire of helping other people, a love for learning, and a genuine intellectual curiosity about medicine.
In Australia, Medicine and Dentistry have an unmatched reputation and one of the most rigorous training programs around the globe. Furthermore, Australian Medical qualifications are acknowledged in most countries of the world. Australian Medical study is largely based on problem-based learning and integrating clinical disciplines and medical science to guarantee an optimum learning experience. In most of the medical programs, clinical experience is usually included from the first year of learning. All medical degrees that are offered in Australia are accredited by the Australian Medical Council (AMC). This comprehensive guide will help you know how to get into medical schools in Australia.
When can I apply for medical school?
Applications for Medicine and Dentistry programs are usually open from the beginning of April every year and close in May. This means that students that want to apply should have their GAMSAT results ready to be included or they should be expecting their results at this stage.
Medicine and Dentistry programs in Australia have a single intake every year, usually, the first semester begins in February or March. Students must be on campus from early to mid-February so that they can attend the international student enrollment and orientation. Learning always commences on the first Monday of February every year. Applications for the subsequent year’s intake usually open early in the year. It is paramount for interested applicants to be familiar with the application closing dates for different universities to avoid missing out. Even though the application window is usually open for several months, it is important to apply early. This is because some medical schools will not wait for all applications to be released before they make offers. Students with ready academic results may be interviewed and get slots earlier than those who are still waiting for their academic results to be released later in the year.
Undergraduate medical program
The undergraduate program is a 5-year program and is offered to students who are fresh from high school or with high school qualifications. For an undergraduate program in medicine or health sciences, most Australian universities will need a combination of your Undergraduate Medical Admissions Test (UMAT) scores, a medical interview, and an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). Some medical learning institutions will require specified pre-requisite subjects, for example, chemistry to be studied in the high school final years. This means that students should be aware of these selecting subjects so that they can meet these requirements.
How do I apply for Undergraduate Medical Programs?
You are a local applicant if you are an Australian citizen and a permanent resident of Australia. Local applicants are not eligible to apply as international students regardless of their citizenship of any other country.
Local applicants can apply for medicinal courses through the Rural Student Entry Scheme only if they live or have lived in a specific rural location in Australia for a substantial amount of time. Applicants must choose whether to make an application for study through the Rural Student Entry Scheme or the general local entry and can never apply through both.
Torres Strait Islander origin and Aboriginal applicants can make their applications through the Indigenous Entry into Medicine Scheme. Applicants should opt to apply through the Indigenous Entry into Medicine Scheme or the general local entry and not both.
What are the Undergraduate Medical Schools in Australia?
Universities that offer undergraduate-entry medical programs in Australia include:
● University of Adelaide
● Bond University
● University of Western Sydney
● Monash University
● University of Newcastle
● University of New South Wales
● University of Tasmania
● James Cook University
UMAT cut-off scores
All domestic applicants for Medicine must undertake the Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admissions Test (UMAT). This test is usually held in July of every year and it takes 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete and it is a multiple choice test. Results for UMAT are released in September of every year. UMAT has three sections, including Logical Reasoning and Problem Solving, Non-Verbal reasoning, and Understanding People. Students who want to excel must achieve not less than 50 for each section.
The UMAT score needed to get an offer for medicine or an interview offer will largely depend on the Medical School that you are applying to. Furthermore, the UMAT requirements for undergraduate medical programs in Australia will change from one year to another based on the performance of the applicants that specific year. In general, having a UMAT percentile of about 85 is necessary for you to get an interview.
Some medical schools will disclose their UMAT cut-off while other will not. Once all applicants have been assessed by the different schools, the applicants are usually lined up based on their aggregate UMAT scores. The UMAT cut off points will vary depending on the number of applicants for every intake and it is difficult to predict this in advance. However, you must ensure that you get at least scores that are above 90 to enhance your eligibility given the competitive nature of most Australian medical schools.
Students applying to institutions such as Monash, UWA, University of Adelaide, or UNSW will need very high ATAR scores of close to 99.95. Some institutions such as James Cook University does not require UMAT scores for their undergraduate medical degree program. You should keep in mind that your final entry into a medicine program will depend on a combination of your ATAR, UMAT, and your interview performance.
The selection of Year 12 applicants for most causes is based on the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). The ATAR is usually used in all the Australian states, except Queensland that uses the OP.
The minimum ATAR that is listed for every course entry usually indicates the ATAR score for first-round offers for high school leaver applicants. Highly competitive courses like Medicine has a minimum ATAR that applies, and slots are allocated based on strict quotas. ATAR scores only apply to Australian residents.
How are the ATAR scores weighted?
The ATAR is basically a percentile ranking of all your Tertiary Entrance Score. The TE score is usually calculated by aggregating scores of the best three pre-tertiary subjects from Year 12 or 13, plus the best scores of about two other pre-tertiary subjects in a specific year. The ATAR scores usually range between zero and 99.95.
Undergraduate Medical Interviews
All domestic interviews are usually conducted on a face-to-face basis usually in one of the campuses of your respective university. If you get an invitation for interviews, it is your responsibility to make sure that you are available during the specified time. This is because most training institutions will not conduct interviews outside the allocated dates. Most medical schools will decline requests for interviews before or after the nominated period given the high number of applicants and the competitive nature of these courses.
Make sure that you inquire and research to determine the favorite interview formats of your preferred medical school in Australia. Most universities will mainly reuse their interview question. By looking at past questions, you can prepare yourself regarding the type of things you will require in order to give favorable responses.
Applicants are invited for interviews from the respective universities through email. Selection for the interview is based on a combination of your ATAR and UMAT scores. The Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences for the respective university will set the dates for the interviews and the applicants need to appear on the specified dates. Keep in mind that only applicants who attend these interviews will be considered in the final ranking list to be eligible for a position of study.
What are the Medical Interview Formats?
Students should look at the type of Multiple Mini Interview that their preferred institution runs so that they are familiar with what exactly they should focus on if they get an interview offer. Most Australian medical schools use the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI). The MMI stations usually include a series of associated questions and scenarios that focus on the applicants:
● Critical thinking
● Ethical reasoning
The MMI is made up of about eight chronological interview stations. The applicant needs to be interviewed for about eight minutes and this is followed by two minutes for giving scores and changing over. This means that you can complete your interview in about 1 and ½ hours.
Over the last few years, most Australian medical schools have shifted from running undergraduate programs to exclusively admitting graduate students. Undergraduate medicine is usually a 5-year program when compared to the graduate program that takes 4 years to complete. Requirements for the graduate medical program include:
● A basic degree in science
● Appear for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) or the Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT). All these examinations will test the knowledge of the applicant in science subjects.
With a graduate program, you must have completed at least a 3 to 4 years basic degree before entry. This means that the total time taken to complete your medical degree will be about 7 to 8 years. When you start your graduate program at 20 years, you will graduate from medical school at 26 or 27 years old. If you are comfortable with this, then a graduate program is ideal for you. Graduate medical programs are ideal for graduates who have made a decision to commit themselves to the medical profession.
What are the Graduate Medical Schools in Australia?
Australian Universities that offer graduate medical programs only include:
● Australian National University
● University of Sydney
● Griffith University
● Notre Dame University, Sydney
● University of Melbourne
● University of Western Australia
● University of Wollongong
● Deakin University
● Flinders University
● University of Queensland
● Notre Dame University, Fremantle
How do I apply for Graduate Medicine?
Eligible applicants should apply for a Medicine course directly to the Australian Medical School that they are interested in. Applications can be submitted directly online to the specific Medical school or through the Indigenous Entry or the rural pathway.
Basic Entry Requirements for Graduate Medicine Programs
● Completion of a Bachelor degree
● Minimum GPA of at least 5.5 from the recent three years of valid study
● Sit GAMSAT test and get a suitable score
● In-person interview
● English Language Competency
GAMSAT Score Cutoffs
The GAMSAT Graduate Medical School Admissions Test is a standardized examination that is designed, developed, and scored by ACER to help in the admission of students into the graduate-entry programs in medicine, pharmacy, optometry, and dentistry. This test is open to graduates from all disciplines. In Australia, the GAMSAT test is offered two times every year in March and September.
Local medical courses Applicants must get the best GAMSAT score to ensure eligibility for interviews and get course offers. The interview offers for Graduate medical programs are usually based on a combination of both GPA and GAMSAT scores. The minimum overall Score for GAMSAT tests required usually fluctuate every year and from one institution to another. It is ideal for applicants to ensure that they obtain a score of 50 and above in each of the three sections included in the GAMSAT test.
● For the standard pathway in the year 2017 to 2018, the average lowest GAMSAT score to get an interview offer was 66 with a minimum GPA of 7. The average GAMSAT score was 71.68.
● For the rural pathway for 2017 to 2018, the minimum overall GAMSAT scores to get an interview offer was 56 with a GPA of 6.94. The average overall score for GAMSAT was 64.2.
Grade Point Average (GPA) is basically the average results of all the grades that you have achieved throughout your degree. The GPA score is usually calculated using a 7 point grading scale, meaning that 7 is the highest, while 0 is the lowest score. Your fail grades will also be included in this calculation. GPA is usually calculated on the basis of the most recent three years of full-time study and it excludes any advanced standing, credit, or exemptions.
How are your scores weighted?
Majority of medical schools will utilize a combination score when ranking their applicants. This combination score is calculated using the GAMSAT and GPA score of the applicants. Keep in mind that these calculations will differ between different medical schools based on the GPA scale that they use.
GAMSAT and GPA Combination Score Formula
Combination score =GPA/7 + GAMSAT Score/100
The combination score assumes that both GPA and GAMSAT scores are weighted equally. Even though this is generally the case, it is essential for you to check with the relevant medical institutions to obtain further details.
Australian Medical institutions will usually calculate the overall combination score for every eligible applicant and then rank them accordingly. The rankings will determine the applicants who will receive an interview offer and those who do not. Keep in mind that GPA is generally calculated over a smaller scale, and a higher GPA is more valuable to your combination score when compared to a higher GAMSAT score. Therefore, Medical schools in Australia will favor applicants who have higher GPAs of above 6.5 and GAMSAT scores that are slightly lower.
Graduate Medical Interviews
Applicants for graduate medical programs must attend interviews for them to be considered for different medical spots. Applicants are usually alerted of the interviews via the email address that they used during the application process. To ensure eligibility, students need to attend the one-on-one interviews on the scheduled date. This is important because most medical schools will rarely offer interviews for students who missed the appointed dates given the high number of applicants for these positions. The formats of these interviews will vary depending on the university that you have applied to.
What are the Medical Interview Formats?
The Australian Medical Interview is challenging and varied, and there are no medical interview formats that duplicate across different medical schools. Universities like USyd, UOW, Flinders, Melbourne, UNDF, UWA, and Griffith all use the Multiple Mini-Interviews (MMIs) when interviewing applicants for their Graduate medical programs.
What is an MMI?
A multiple mini interview includes a series of structured, short interview stations. MMI is used for assessing the non-cognitive qualities of applicants including communication skills, reliability, teamwork, empathy, maturity level, cultural sensitivity, and many more. Before starting each MMI interview rotation, candidates usually get a question or scenario and are given a few minutes to prepare their answer. At the end of the mini interview, the interviewer will give an evaluation of the candidate’s performance while he/she moves to the subsequent station. The duration of these sessions usually lasts for about 30 minutes up to 2 hours.
Other medical Schools in Australia will use structured and semi-structured panel interviews or hybrid formats. Some schools will gradually introduce different facets and benefits of The MMIs into different parts of their interview assessments.
Additionally, Different Australian Medical schools will use various structural requirements for the MMIS that will necessitate different social, cognitive, and higher-order skills from their applicants. Some schools will use only 5 stations while others will come up with 6, 7, 8, 9 or even 10 stations. Some institutions may offer rest stations during the interview, while others will just have a continuous interview session for applicants.
Tuition fees for Medical study in Australia
Cost is probably a major consideration for both local and international students. the tuition fees for University medical study in Australia will vary depending on the level of study and the institution. The university fees are usually calculated based on per unit of credit or UOC. Students are also charged depending on their status, whether domestic or international. The fees will also depend on the classification of the course, for example, undergraduate, postgraduate, and research.
Over the last decade, Australian medical school fees have been increasing by about 5 to 8 percent every year and obtaining a degree may see, somewhat costly. The estimated total costs are about AUD $400-450,000, inclusive of living costs. You should bear in mind that these costs are not static and will vary from one university to another based on reputation and location.
Which Medical School Should I Apply To?
After making a decision between taking an undergraduate medical course and a graduate course, you should look at the individual schools. Many students usually ask about the best Australian medical schools. However, this is a difficult question to answer given that there is no official ranking of the medical schools in Australia.
There are learning institutions that are well-known, while others are lesser known, particularly the new institutions. However, all these schools have accreditation from the Australian Medical Council (AMC). AMC is a body that ensures that all accredited medical schools offer the highest standard of medical education possible across the country. Therefore, the medical school that you choose will be a personal decision.
What to look for in terms of Teaching Styles?
Apart from choosing a school that is alleged to be prestigious, students should determine whether the teaching style suits them. Most medical schools in Australia will incorporate a problem-based learning approach to assist students to integrate clinical practice with basic sciences from an early stage. When researching the teaching style of specific medical schools, you need to ask yourself several questions. You should start by determining whether you learn best through self-directed learning or being didactically taught. Inquire about the contact hours every week and whether the schools have opportunities for undergraduate research.
Location of the undergraduate school
For many students, the location of the medical schools may be a big issue. This is because some medical schools in Australia are located in big cities. Such schools offer excellent training locations for future doctors and memorable retail opportunities and gastronomic prospects where students can unwind after spending long hours in the hospital. Other medical schools are situated in more remote areas that offer a simple and more phlegmatic country lifestyle experience. Such schools will have cheaper accommodation budgets that come in handy for students who are on a tight budget. Students should take time to research the different medical schools in Australia before they make a decision.
With about 20 medical schools in Australia, there are countless paths that any prospective student can opt to follow to become a doctor. Each path provides a slightly different approach and course to studying medicine. So, in addition to your favorite entry type, the choice of program and university remains a personal choice for every student. It is essential that you take the time to read all the available information regarding the different options so that you can make an information that suits your current needs and your future medical career.