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In Australia, medicine is one of the most competitive courses to enter as a high-school leaver. Every year, almost 95% of people who apply don’t receive an offer. However, if this has happened to you, it doesn’t mean that you should abandon your dreams of becoming a doctor. Australia’s medical entry system is flexible, and there’s more ways than you might think to enter medical school.
In this post, we’ll provide you with a series of steps that’ll help optimise your chances of being accepted to medicine in the future, even if you weren’t successful this time around.
1. Check if you’re eligible for provisional-entry medical school
Your ATAR might qualify you for provisional entry medicine courses, which guarantee spots for top and rural students. Students in the provisional entry pathway to medical school complete a Bachelor’s degree (three years) and then immediately progress to a four-year graduate medical program. The best part is, you don’t have to sit the GAMSAT!
We have curated the below table which provides an overview of the universities that offer this pathway.
University and pathway
What you’ll need
ATAR of 99.90 or above
You will be guaranteed a Commonwealth-supported place in the Unimelb Doctor of Medicine program after completing a Bachelor’s degree.
ATAR of 99.85 or above
You will progress to the MD after two years of the Bachelor of Medical Science, making this shorter than the standard graduate pathway.
ATAR above 99
You will be guaranteed a full-fee place in the Unimelb Doctor of Medicine program after completing a Bachelor’s degree.
Note: The full-fee place can cost upwards of $350,000.
2. Decide whether you want to start a degree or take a gap year
“Should I take a gap year?” is a question asked by many high school graduates. A gap year provides every student with the opportunity to rest, travel, make money and just generally take a break from studying for once. But, as a medical school aspirant, a gap year gives you even more opportunities.
Most direct-entry medical courses deny applicants who have already started tertiary study. By taking a gap year and applying again next year, you will still be eligible. This way, you get another chance to start medical school directly from high school.
What can you do during a gap year? Well, most people take the opportunity to re-sit the UCAT if their original score was lacking. In your gap year, you’ll have almost eight months of time solely to prepare for the UCAT. You don’t have to balance schoolwork and UCAT study like you did in Year 12. If you need additional support and mentoring, MissionMed is ready to help with our masterclasses and one-on-one tutoring.
The UCAT made easy.
Our UCAT foundations masterclasses provide you with everything you need to get ahead of the competition.
You can also re-do some of your high school subjects if you didn’t receive the marks that you wanted. This way, you can focus your efforts solely on the subjects that you want to improve. This will likely boost your ATAR and increase your chance for the next round of applications.
It should be noted that, if you sat the interview for a particular medical school the first time around, you will most likely not get the chance to interview again, even if your ATAR and/or UCAT scores are significantly higher. So, if you believe that a poor interview was likely the reason why you didn’t receive an offer, taking a gap year might not be for you.
In any case, whether you decide to take a gap year or enrol directly in a degree program, choosing the right undergraduate degree is key to keeping your medical school dreams alive.
3. Decide what degree you’ll start studying
For somebody who’s spent most of their Year 12 aiming for a medical degree, having to decide on another at the last moment can be confusing (to say the least). Should you do a Bachelor of Science? Clinical Science? Health Science? Biomedicine? Or something else completely? Even though the names of these degrees are very similar, the impact that they have on your future medical applications process is significant. It’s critical to pick the correct one so that you maximise your future chances while maintaining your non-medical career prospects.
First, let’s talk about pre-med degrees. These are degrees offered by universities specifically for medical aspirants, with the top students progressing straight into an MD without sitting the GAMSAT (like the UCAT, but for graduate entry). For example, the Biomedical Science degree at Monash, or Medical Science at UNSW and WSU.
The lack of an extra exam sounds like a great deal at first, but there’s a catch. Over 90% of graduate entry applicants don’t get an offer on their first try, so it’s important to consider your career prospects outside of medical school. And it turns out that pre-med degrees don’t have great career opportunities. For this reason, it’s not recommended to go for these pre-med degrees if you’re just leveraging them to get into medicine.
So, what can you choose instead? Well, for the vast majority of graduate medical schools, you can apply with any undergraduate degree! It doesn’t have to be related to medicine or even science. You could study Law and still be just as eligible as somebody who studied Medical Science. So, don’t think that you have to restrict yourself to pre-med or medicine-adjacent degrees (unless you want to).
Now, let’s talk about your options once you enter university. You can:
- Sit the UCAT again and apply for a direct-entry course at JCU, UNSW, JMP (the Joint Medical Program at Newcastle) or WSU. You’ll be ranked based on your UCAT result, first year GPA and interview. This is called non-standard entry.
- Apply for graduate entry in the final year of your degree. You’ll have to sit the Graduate Medical Schools Admissions Test (GAMSAT).
For the second option, you’ll also have to maintain a competitive GPA. GPA stands for Grade Point Average, and it’s exactly what it sounds like – an average of your grades. Importantly, unlike high school scores, it doesn’t scale based on the difficulty on your subjects. So, choosing a degree that’s less rigorous can help you achieve the scores that you need for medicine.
4. Don’t lose hope
Not receiving an offer to medical school can feel devastating. You’ve likely spent years working towards this goal. However, the worst thing you can do now is lose hope or give up on your dreams of becoming a doctor.
First, recognise that the medical school admissions process is highly competitive – not getting in says nothing about your potential as a future doctor. The most successful people often have faced rejection before reaching their goals. See this as an opportunity to grow.
Next, take time to process your emotions. Feeling disappointed or sad is normal. Reach out to people who can support you during this challenging period. Being in a healthier headspace will make you better equipped to evaluate your next steps.
Then, critically re-assess your options. As already mentioned, there are many pathways still open to you, from taking a gap year to applying for graduate medicine programs. Speak to your teachers or career advisor to understand all possible alternatives. An informed, strategic approach is key.
Finally, remain determined and committed. Persistence and resilience are vital qualities for anybody wanting a future in medicine. If becoming a doctor is your dream, don’t let one setback deter you. Let this experience strengthen your motivation to succeed.
You have what it takes, so believe in yourself. Your hard work will pay off if you stay focused on your goals. The future you envision is still within reach.
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