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Study medicine courses in Australia

Field of Study: Medicine Course Information

Are you comfortable being around people who are sick and injured or do you go pale at the sight of blood? Do you care about health and wellbeing? We ask these questions because too many people choose medicine without realising that they are also choosing to be doctors (almost all medical graduates go on to work as doctors). And if they do think about their future occupation, they tend to concentrate on social status and money, rather than the long hours and huge workload that doctors undertake.

Many seem to choose medicine because they have attained the high marks it requires, without thinking about whether they are really passionate about it. If you’re thinking about medicine, talk to some doctors and find out about their working lives. Ask them about the future of the profession, as well as about their daily work. It’s not always an adrenalin-fuelled life-saving exercise in the emergency room, as some TV programs would have you believe. Many GPs are battling away in the suburbs like any other small business person in a competitive industry. If you want to be a specialist, the financial rewards are greater but you have to study for many years.

To find out more about training as a medical practitioner, refer to the Australian Medical Council website.

If you are interested in medicine, you should also consider other health-related courses. Look into dentistry, nursing, veterinary science and perhaps psychology. You may also like to consider the increasing number of courses available in alternative medicine, including Chinese medicine, herbal medicine or naturopathy. Consult the health services and support field of study profile for more information about related options.

Browse medicine courses by state

VET study in medicine

Courses in the VET sector do not provide professional qualifications in medicine. See the profile for health services and support for information about related courses.

Undergraduate study in medicine

Courses, majors and specialisations in Medicine

For a professional career in medicine you need to do a bachelor degree in medicine and surgery, otherwise known as an MBBS. Note that there are degrees in medical science that are widely available but only the MBBS will allow you to qualify as a doctor.

The MBBS will involve plenty of core (in other words, compulsory) material and will run over about five or six years, with later years involving more practical work in hospitals.

Some of the newer courses are focused on rural or community-based practice to encourage graduates to take up employment in areas of Australia where doctors are in short supply, and many courses offer placements in country areas.

In addition, an increasing number of courses are designed for graduates from other fields who are looking to qualify as doctors. It is worthwhile considering doing a first degree in something else and then going on to a graduate entry course. The first degree can usually be in any field, but is often in a branch of science or health science. Entry requirements are broader and include performance in the GAMSAT (Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test), an interview and the results of the undergraduate degree. Completing a different degree beforehand may broaden your outlook and give you a chance to make a mature decision about getting into a tough field, but remember, it may take you even longer if you do end up a doctor (ten years or more of study will not suit everyone!). If course length is not a problem, you might also look into doing a combined degree (medicine/law, for example).

As you will know by now, it is very tough to get into this field. Entry to most undergraduate courses requires you to complete the Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test (UMAT) and many also require an interview.

The excellent employment rate among graduates indicates that we are far from producing an oversupply of doctors. Indeed, the growing trend in all health education — and particularly in medicine — towards rurally focused courses reflects the chronic undersupply of health professionals in regional areas. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) recognises this shortage as a major health issue, particularly in regional and rural Australia, and has deemed that these communities are overly reliant on international medical graduates.

Meanwhile, the Australian Medical Council (AMC) and the Medical Board of Australia have implemented the National Intern Training Accreditation Framework, which provides national guidelines and standards for the training of medical interns.

Where to study Medicine courses

Medicine degrees are available at a number of universities throughout the country, mainly along the eastern coast. This is also a field where you may need to relocate to pursue your studies, whether this is due to entry difficulty (although all courses in the field are competitive) or a certain specialisation of interest.

See Degree costs and loans for more information about paying for your degree.

To find out how each institution performs in your field of study, see our Ratings section.

Career opportunities in Medicine field

The 2014 national Course Experience Questionnaire survey indicates that medical graduates are not particularly impressed with the standards of teaching they encounter. Although medical graduates have very high starting salaries and virtually no unemployment, at just three per cent, this is not the life for everyone. Interns work such long hours that their average salary of $62,624 can equate to a meagre sum per hour. Having studied for six years or so, they are also older than other graduates and have been surviving on student money for a longer period of time.

See the Career Search for more information about your career options.

Postgraduate study in medicine

Courses, majors and specialisations in Medicine

Medicine is one of a handful of fields that are very well established, have small numbers of programs and students, and offer numerous postgraduate programs designed for existing members of an enclosed profession with well-defined career paths. As such, there have typically been few opportunities for graduates from other disciplines in postgraduate medicine programs.

However, in the last few years there has been a rush of new graduate entry bachelor degrees in medicine introduced around the country, opening up a pathway for career conversion. As always, there is also a high proportion of postgraduates pursuing research.

Where to study Medicine courses

Medicine courses are available at a number of universities throughout the country, although you may be slightly limited — and required to relocate — if you want to pursue a niche specialisation.

To find out how each institution performs in your field of study, see our Ratings section.

Career opportunities in Medicine field

According to the latest Course Experience Questionnaire survey, postgraduate students in medicine gave their courses quite low ratings — giving just one and two stars for skill development and teaching quality, respectively. The end result, however, is more satisfying, with the unemployment rate sitting at just six per cent. Graduate salaries were also excellent, at an average of $87,014, but have fallen since the previous year.

See the Career Search for more information about your career options.

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