How to get into undergraduate medicine (and keep your sanity)?
Studying medicine can be a really big deal. There are only a couple of universities which offer undergraduate medicine and there is a massive national demand for the degree. This is what makes it so difficult to enter into medicine. Each university can have different application processes and sometimes you must be willing to be able to move interstate to pursue this course. Here’s a general step by step approach to get into an undergraduate Medical Degree.
Step 1 (Even before Year 11!!!!): Ensure that you are studying the pre-requisites required for the course!
If you are not studying the pre-requisites, you will not be offered a place. Most universities which offer medicine require students to study Mathematical Methods/3-Unit/Maths B/Middle level Maths and Chemistry or equivalent in Year 11 or 12. The University of Adelaide allows student to study one subject in Biology or Chemistry or Mathematical Methods while James Cook University only requires students to study Chemistry to be eligible for the course. It is best to study Chemistry and Mathematical Methods to ensure that no matter where in Australia you decide to apply, you will be eligible.
Step 2 (Start of Year 12): Register for the UCAT
The next step is to study and register for the UCAT. Registration opens on the 1st of March and closes on the 17th of March. Ensure that you have registered because if you do not take the UCAT, the options you have to study undergraduate medicine reduces to just 2 universities. You should treat the UCAT as any other subject, it is that important. You cannot cram for the test and some universities place a lot of influence on it, the UCAT weighs the same amount as your ATAR is some instances. There are many tutoring companies which help students to prepare for the UCAT, MedEntry and UCAT NIE, which can help with lots of material and practice exams. More details about the UCAT can be found on their respective websites.
Step 3 1st to the 31st of July: Take the UCAT
The day has finally come. The UCAT test. After completing the test, the results are immediately given to applicants. There is no need to wait around like every other step.
Step 4: Register for different tertiary admission centres
Depending on which state you are applying for Medicine in, (in your home state or interstate) you will need to apply to different tertiary admission centres. So Victorian universities use VTAC, New South Wales and ACT universities use UAC, Queensland universities use QTAC, for the University of Tasmania just apply through their website, South Australia and Northern Territory universities use SATAC and for Western Australian universities use TISC. The career counsellor at your school should be able to help you with this. The closing date for medical admissions is late September so ensure that you have submitted your application and your preferences.
Step 5: James Cook University Application
This step is only if you want to study undergraduate medicine at James Cook University. The main advantage about James Cook University is that they do not require the UCAT. Instead, you must complete an application to receive an interview. To receive an interview, you have to give in your completed application and your school has to send them a predicted ATAR
result. James Cook University do not see you actual ATAR until after your interview. The application form usually asks 4 questions,
1. Why do you want to become a Medical Practitioner / Health Professional?
2. What activities (paid employment, work experience or voluntary) have you undertaken, in addition to your studies, which indicate your motivation to study Medicine or another Health Professional degree at James Cook University?
3. Tell us why you are interested in a course where important themes are Indigenous and tropical health and rural/remote medicine?
4. Provide any other information you believe will support your application.
It is very important to do research about the university because you have to show you are interested in their Medical Program, for the application as well as the interview.
Step 6: Study hard for exams
Unfortunately, you cannot prevent this. To be competitive anywhere in Australia, you will need to achieve an ATAR of at least 96 and above, the higher the ATAR the more likely you are of achieving a place. So study hard and try your best.
Step 7: Undertake James Cook University interview if selected
The James Cook University interview is different to most universities, it is not a MMI but it is a 3 people panel who just ask questions. If you have prepared well and you are confident, you should do really well.
Step 8: Wait for your ATAR
This is the most stressful part, you have no idea whether you have done well or not, whether your ATAR will be high enough but try your best to relax and have fun. You have just completed one of the most stressful years of your life so you should celebrate. Once your ATAR comes out, this will give you a much clearer idea as to whether you will have a competitive chance of getting in.
Step 9: Interviews
Universities will offer interviews in late December and early January. All universities require students to travel interstate so that it is a face-to-face interview. This will mean that if you have applied to a lot of universities you will be doing a lot of travelling.
Step 10: University Offers
Universities offer places in the second week of January to accepted students so if you are selected your journey ends here. You now have a place in an undergraduate medicine course in Australia. For those that haven’t received a place, you may receive one in the second or third round if you are lucky. There is one other option left if you have a high ATAR and really want to study medicine.
Step 11: Bond University
This university opens their application after offers come out so you have to apply in 2nd or 3rd week of January. This university does not take into account UCAT but has a psychometric test and an MMI style interview which you have to travel to the Gold Coast for. Also, this university is private which means that if you want to study medicine, you will be paying a lot. However there are government interest free FEE-HELP assistance packages available.
Step 12: Bond University offers
Bond University offers come out in the second week of March so if you are selected congratulations. If you have not received a place in any medical course yet, wait for a second round offer you may never know! (Make sure to check your junk emails all throughout the year you may never know what might be hiding amongst those ASOS clothing deals).
If you have not received a place into a medical course, there are many other pathways into medicine so do not be discouraged and lose your passion. You may find that there are other areas which you may not have considered which may become appealing to you throughout the year, so continue to work hard so that you can have as many opportunities as possible.