How to become a doctor

Everything you need to know about becoming a doctor in Australia
To pursue a career in medicine you need to finish year 12 and graduate from a bachelor’s degree. You then need to complete a four-year postgraduate medical program. To be fully registered, you must also complete an intern year.
Rafael Szumer is a law graduate pursuing a Doctor of Medicine at Sydney

Becoming a doctor is quite a competitive process.

The number of years and steps involved will depend on the course and speciality you choose to pursue, as well as whether you are a domestic or international applicant.

Below is a summary of the phases that are normally required.

1. Complete year 12 prerequisites

At the University of Sydney, there are two ways students can enter a medicine program. Either straight from high school, or after completing a bachelor's degree.

The first pathway is only available to a very limited number of students (30 domestic and 10 international students) and requires applicants to achieve a band four in mathematics advanced (or equivalent) and gain an ATAR of 99.95 in the Higher School Certificate or equivalent.

The two double-degree programs available for this cohort are:

  1. Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Medicine
  2. Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Medicine

Most students gain entry by completing a bachelor's degree beforehand. This also requires you to complete the HSC or another state-based equivalent. Depending on the course you would like to study, you may need to complete some prerequisite subjects in Year 12 and achieve a specific ATAR.

2. Graduate from a bachelor’s degree

At Sydney, you can complete any undergraduate course of your choosing from arts and commerce to science or pharmacy before studying medicine. This encourages a diverse cohort of medicine students from a range of backgrounds.

You must achieve a grade point average of at least 65 or above (a credit average). Domestic students must have their bachelor’s degree assessed and GPA calculated by the Universities Admissions Centre through the QAS.

3. Sit the GAMSAT and apply for entry

The Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT) is a standardised exam used to assess the capabilities of students wishing to pursue further study in medicine and health programs at University.

There are three components to the test. Students in their penultimate or final year of a Bachelor’s degree are permitted to sit the GAMSAT.

To apply for the Doctor of Medicine at the University of Sydney a minimum score of 50 is required in all three sections of the test, which is offered twice a year in March and September.

Students who meet a satisfactory grade point average and GAMSAT score are invited to participate in an interview for entry into the Doctor of Medicine at Sydney. This is known as a multiple-mini-interview.

Please check the University of Sydney’s MD domestic admissions guide for more information about the application process.

If you are an international applicant, refer to our MD international admissions guide as you may be eligible to complete the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) in place of the GAMSAT and will need to meet English language requirements as well as the above criteria.

4. Study a Doctor of Medicine

The University of Sydney Doctor of Medicine (MD) is a four-year master’s level degree.

The course recently re-launched to include increased clinical immersion, opportunities to undertake a 14-week research project and more personalised pathways through elective and selective studies, domestically and overseas.

To prepare students for practice, the entire fourth-year of the program acts as a pre-internship, allowing students to become confident and comfortable in hospital and community settings.  

5. Complete an intern year

Upon completion of a medical degree students must undertake one year (47 weeks) as an intern in a hospital.

Graduates are responsible for coordinating their own internships. Applications are synchronised across all states within Australia and usually close in June the year prior to commencement.

Each state has its own candidate priorities list and intake numbers. Refer to state-based websites to apply.

You may also wish to consider the Junior Doctor Training Program Private Hospital Stream which offers 115 positions. This is a good option for international onshore applicants.

Six weeks prior to the completion of a medical degree, students will also need to apply for provisional registration with the Australian Medical Board to complete this supervised year of practice.

This can be done through an online application.

6. Gain general medical registration through the Medical Board of Australia

After completing an accredited intern year in Australia or New Zealand, graduates are awarded general medical registration through the Medical Board of Australia.

Registration renews on 30 September each year. Practicing graduates must therefore maintain registration throughout their career.

If you completed your intern year overseas, you are required to complete 12 months of approved supervised practice in Australia before obtaining your general registration.

7. Complete one or more years of prevocational training

After completing training as an intern in a public hospital, most medical graduates go on to pursue additional training as Resident Medical Officers to better prepare for medical specialty programs.

The amount of time spent in this role will vary depending on the specialty you choose.

8. Obtain fellowship through a specialty medical training program

Once you have completed a sufficient amount of training as an intern and RMO, you will be able to apply for admission into a medical specialty training program via speciality colleges.

This will require the completion of a number of different assessments including written, clinical and practical examinations which may vary depending on the college.

These vocational training programs can vary in length from three to seven years, after which you will be able to practice medicine independently as a general practitioner or specialist physician or surgeon.

Last updated 4 April 2024

10 March 2020

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