Guide to studying medicine in Australia

The title says it all; a generous soul going by the online moniker of Matsuri (who by the way is doing a degree in Medicine in Aussieland) created this very informative post to provide a leg up of sorts for aspiring doctors:

" Recognition of the medical degree in Singapore by Singapore Medical Council. I believe most people would have googled the list already but anyways here's the LIST. This is quite a transitional period for Australian medical schools because most of them are changing their degrees from MBBS/BMed (bachelor's) to MD (doctorate). Just getting into any one of the schools listed in the schedule would be pretty safe. Singapore Medical Council (SMC) does take some time to update the name of the degree but they are all the same thing.

Length of study: Graduate programs - 4 years. Undergrad - 5 to 6 years.

School fees: (2015) A few schools popular amongst Singaporeans:

- University of South Wales (UNSW): AUD 415,000 for 6 yrs

- Monash: AUD 325,000 (65k a yr) x 5 yrs

- University of Tasmania (UTAS): AUD 53k a yr x 5 yrs

- University of Adelaide: AUD 63k a yr x 6 yrs

- University of Newcastle: AUD 47k a yr x 5 yrs

You get the rough idea.

Living expenses: Bulk of the expenses come from rent, which ranges from roughly around 150 AUD a week to near 300 AUD a week, depending on where you stay and the facilities etc. Eating out is very expensive so cooking your own meals can save you a lot of money, plus know where and when to get your groceries and you might be able to get them cheaper than what you can get in Singapore. Prepare at least 200-300 AUD on top of your rent for food, transport and misc. That's quite a safe estimate.

Entry pathway: Heard of polytechnic students entering medical school in Australia. Not impossible but mostly JC students. Also possible to enter through their foundation programs. Last I checked, entry requirements range from BBB to straight As, of course some with/without interview or some other tests. Check with IDP/AUG.

What you will study: Most medical schools in Australia have been using problem-based learning (PBL) for a while but I think some schools still use that traditional lecture and tutorial style of teaching. My thoughts: I was a JC student, never attended university in Singapore so I can't really compare the two methods of teaching but PBL felt more applicable to each topic. For example, each week, we will be given a scenario such as Mr A presented with etc etc symptoms, then we are given test results and medical history etc etc. We then have to think of 'learning targets/outcomes' related to everything mentioned in the scenario, whether it was anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, drug stuff to medical ethics, professional skills etc. After that, we get a couple of lectures to guide us but the bulk of learning comes from our own learning and research from books, internet etc. Finally, we have another few sessions to share with everyone what we have found and to kinda ensure everyone has achieved the 'learning outcomes' before moving on to another scenario.

The downside is that it gets rather messy because you will be jumping from one system to another system but PBL emphasises on spiral learning, where you keep adding new knowledge to your existing broad-based knowledge.

Medical schools in general follow such a general format:

Pre-clinical years (year 1 and 2 for undergrad): You will be based full time at the university, learning about anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, whatnot. A lot of emphasis on communication and patient safety. You would also get perhaps a handful of clinical sessions at the hospitals to practise your history taking skills, physical examinations skills on real patients, of course under supervision of a doctor.

Research year (year 3): Some universities such as UNSW have such a thing. Not too sure about that but as far as I am aware they spend their third year doing research. While for some other 6-year schools, the third year might not be spent on research.

Clinical years (year 3-5/6): Yes, you will be studying full time in hospitals. You will have rotations for a few weeks, before moving onto the next rotation. This also means that you might have to go from one clinical school (hospital) to the other clinical school, depending on the location. Clinical years exist to turn medical students into functional junior doctors that are capable of working in a hospital so it's all about learning how the system works etc.

After graduation: You will need to do an internship/housemanship to be fully registered as a doctor in Australia/Singapore. Coming back to Singapore is not a problem now because of the high demand for doctors (esp overseas-trained Singaporeans) in the new hospitals. On the other hand, it is slightly more tricky in Australia. The internship crisis has been going on for years; fact, I have heard some people saying that it has going on since the 90s. The government just doesn't guarantee the internationals any internship places but many have often said that everyone who applied for internship will eventually get one. There is also a Commonwealth Medical Internship thing initiated by the federal government, specifically for internationals for them to complete their internship in Australia, but they would have to repay with a year of service in a regional/rural area.

If possible, get the Australian Medical Council (AMC) registration first before coming back to Singapore. It makes more sense because SMC registration is much easier to get than AMC's. Best is to specialise before coming back to Singapore, well you would be at least offered a position of an associate consultant rather than a houseman.

One thing to take note is also the different types of registration given by SMC.

Read it HERE.

Ultimately, you will want a full registration in Singapore but upon first returning to Singapore, you will be an IMG (international medical grad), as such you will have to work under supervision in a public hospital until you are given a full registration. There isn't a definite answer as to how long it will take for you to gain full registration.

Back to Australia, one thing to take note is that there aren't a lot of specialisation spots, especially for internationals but then again, it is a huge country, and as long as you are not stubborn enough to want to stay only in Sydney or Melbourne, there will be training spots I believe.

Some thoughts: - First entered med school having many ideals

- Passion doesn't pay for your degree

- Nonetheless, don't enter medicine just because all the medical schools everywhere made it so damn hard for you to enter

- Don't enter for the money either, you will command a decent pay yes but not a sky high one

- Be mindful of your actions and thoughts, be aware of the impact of your actions/words on others and aware of the thoughts going through your mind. Med schools can have so many lectures teaching their students to be excellent communicators but only a handful of them are mindful of their actions and thoughts.

- You will see patients that look just like the average uncle/auntie out there, but only have a few months to live

- You will also see old people with tons of diseases and still fighting on

- You will then realise how fortunate you are to be healthy

- You will also realise how you never had the greatest problem on earth

With regards to studying in Australia, even though it is a developed country, it is still a huge country and hence healthcare isn't that well distributed there so it is definitely not what you see in Singapore. If you didn't get a chance to study locally, it is not that bad an idea to consider Australia/UK to broaden your perspective because it has broadened mine, not just in terms of healthcare but everything from the expectations of the people to how it is to live outside Singapore."


The Czar (Site Founder)

Dated 23 January 2015


Don't want to study in SIM, must I retake my 'A' Levels?

Heading to the USA or Canada with only 'O'/'A' Levels for further study-possible options

Applying for Med School: BMAT matters very much