How to Become a Doctor in Australia

Australian doctors go through a lengthy training process, like their peers elsewhere.

Australian doctors go through a lengthy training process, like their peers elsewhere.

Becoming a doctor is not something you do overnight, regardless of where you live. For example, training in Australia takes just as long as it does in the United States, with some specialists requiring up to 15 or 16 years to begin practicing independently. Although the total time investment is similar, the training structure varies from the American model in some significant ways.

Undergraduate Model

Graduate from high school with excellent marks and preferably a heavy concentration in the sciences. Entry into the undergraduate medical program is extremely competitive, and institutions won't consider you unless your university entrance ranking is outstanding.

Take the undergraduate medical and health sciences admission test. Your UMAT score also counts heavily toward your chances of acceptance. You'll also interview with the admissions committee of any school where you've applied.

Complete the intensive six-year bachelor of medicine/bachelor of surgery program, or MBBS. This combines the elements of an undergraduate degree and a medical education.

Graduate Medical Education

Complete a four-year undergraduate degree in any discipline.

Take the graduate medical school admissions test, or GMSAT, which is the rough equivalent of the UMAT exam. You'll also interview with any schools where you've applied for admission.

Earn a position in a four-year graduate medical program at one of Australia's 18 medical colleges.

Graduate from the program successfully.

After Graduation

Spend 12 months in a general internship, usually at a public hospital. During this time, you're a doctor-in-training, or junior doctor, and you'll be given exposure to the widest possible variety of medical practice.

Spend a second year in general practice as a resident. This isn't mandatory, but most new doctors do it to gain experience and improve their chances of acceptance in their chosen specialty. Residents practice in a variety of settings, typically including outlying areas where doctors are in short supply.

Apply to the specialty training program, or "college," of your choice. These include anesthesia, general practice, internal medicine, pediatrics and several other medical disciplines. Most have several subspecialties as well.

Complete your specialist training. General practitioners usually train in a private practice, while other specialists learn their profession in public hospitals. When you've met the training requirements of your college, you'll become a fellow of the college and be granted an unrestricted Medicare billing number.


  • Australia has a large number of remote areas that are medically underserved. The federal and state governments offer medical students a variety of incentives and subsidies in exchange for a contractual commitment to practice in a specified area for a predetermined length of time.
  • Foreign-trained doctors can be licensed to practice in Australia if they meet the requirement for fluency in English and pass the Australian medical council examination. Most foreign-trained doctors must also undergo supervision during their first year of practice in Australia.

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About the Author

Fred Decker is a trained chef and certified food-safety trainer. Decker wrote for the Saint John, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, and has been published in Canada's Hospitality and Foodservice magazine. He's held positions selling computers, insurance and mutual funds, and was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

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