INTERVIEW
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Which Australian Post-Graduate Medical School Is The Best Fit For You?

Published on
May 2, 2024
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So you’ve sat the GAMSAT and are ready to embark on the rigorous medical application process. You want to know what the best postgrad medical school is for you. You might be wondering, what are the best medical schools in Australia? It is important to maintain some perspective: all of the Medical schools in Australia are excellent. In fact, rankings consistently show that Australia boasts some of the best medical schools in the world. Indeed, you are spoilt for choice being in a position to study medicine in Australia and all of the programs will result in you becoming a good doctor. Having said that, some schools may align better with your interests or values than others, so consider all schools, but read on to work out which Australian medical school should be at the top of your list!

How to Compare Medical Schools: the Big Picture

Whilst all Australian medical schools teach to comparable, high standards, there are subtle differences in factors like location, course structure, and culture. Accordingly, it is important to take the time to research each medical school and really think about where you could envision yourself attending. It would be wasteful to preference a school that you don’t actually want to attend - especially if this means losing a spot at a school that would be a better fit for you! 

Remember, studying medicine is quite an encompassing experience. They don’t talk about getting stuck in the ‘med bubble’ for nothing. The significant contact hours at uni as well as study hours required in the library consolidating knowledge means that your med classmates are who you will likely be spending the vast majority of your time with. Given how large and long of a commitment medical education is, it is important to select a University that has a location, infrastructure, placements, and culture that aligns with your personal preferences. This is critical for minimising your vulnerability to homesickness (for those moving interstate) and burnout (for everyone). Moreover, the state that you attend medical school in, will likely determine where you take up your internship, so location truly is a big commitment!

The Fraser’s Interview Training team is here to help you determine which medical schools are the most appealing and tailored to your interests so that you can order your GEMSAS preferences accordingly. In order to do so, we encourage you to consider the following questions: 

Be Aware of What Medical Schools You Are Most Likely To Get Into. But Focus On ‘What Medical School Should I Go To’?

One of the most common questions we get asked by students is ‘What is the easiest medical school to get into in Australia?’. Students want to know which universities they can expect to receive offers from. In our experience, this is very difficult to predict, (although we do have a predicting algorithm), and varies on a case to case basis. Variables include whether you are a metro or rural candidate, whether or not you qualify for any bonuses, and the calibre of other applicants that year. Indeed, even with amazing GAMSAT and GPA scores, a medical school offer also requires excellent performance in the Interview component (and sometimes a portfolio). This further increases uncertainty in students’ minds regarding whether or not they will ‘get in’. On the one hand, the tumultuous nature of this process unfortunately leaves many students feeling dejected and disappointed. Perhaps a silver lining is that some students actually exceed their expectations and get into schools that they never believed would be possible. 

We encourage you to arm yourself with the knowledge of which schools you are most likely to get into. To do this, look at previous years’ cut-off GPA and GAMSAT scores and read the Fraser’s Applications Guide to familiarise with what types of bonuses you may be eligible for. For example, Deakin provides a small bonus for eligible Deakin undergraduate students whilst ANU rewards applicants with Honours or Masters by Research degrees. Keep this information in the back of your mind to maintain a realistic idea of what might happen.

Whilst keeping in touch with reality to avoid unnecessary disappointment is undoubtedly important, this doesn’t mean that you should preference solely according to what schools you believe would accept you. Moreover, whether your GPA and GAMSAT scores are very strong or somewhat questionable, our advice to you remains the same. Determine which schools you would love to go to and preference these ones the most highly, even if their entry scores seem ‘out of reach’. This is in addition to applying for any non-GEMSAS schools you may be interested in, of course! 

Which Locations Would You Feel Comfortable Living In?

Perhaps the most important question to ask yourself when determining which medical schools appeal to you is: ‘where would you be prepared to live’? For many students, this could represent your first time moving out of the family home and/or moving interstate - both of which are a massive deal! Do not underestimate the importance of choosing a location that has a ‘vibe’ that resonates with you and is reasonably accessible to your existing social connections. Whilst we do live in a post-lockdown world that is used to connecting virtually, do not underestimate the comfort of being relatively close to home. Research the approximate rental prices, airfares, bus routes or time needed to commute by car if you were to move to an interstate university. The 2-3 hour time difference when moving from East to West coast or vice versa should also be considered. This becomes especially important for any students in serious, long-term relationships. 

Whilst moving to a new place can definitely be intimidating and difficult, it can also be an extremely enriching experience. Moving away from where you are comfortable will force you to grow and become more independent. You will be forced to make new, lifelong friends because - well - you have to! The comforting thing is that a lot of students are in similar positions and will be more than happy to embrace you into their friendship groups. We encourage our students to keep an open mind regarding moving interstate because not only are medical school offers hard to come by but moving someplace new could be the best thing you ever did! Believe it or not, you may end up liking your new city even more than your current one. 

Which Schools Embody the Qualities That You Value?

Other factors to get acquainted with are the different values of each of the different universities. Indeed, the best universities for medical schools differ for each person. Taking the ‘best’ medical schools in Victoria as an example: if you value prestige consider The University of Melbourne, if you are looking for a sense of community opt for Deakin. If you’re a Monash Undergraduate, you have exclusive access to the Monash Postgraduate Medical course so you should definitely apply for that. As you can see, this is highly individualised. Take some time to think about which of the following factors matter to you and in what order:  

  1. Prestige 
  2. Small cohort size / strong sense of community 
  3. Optional vs potentially mandatory year-long rural placements
  4. Focus on community service 
  5. Catholic viewpoint

Would You Prefer To Learn Pre-Clinical Content Over One or Two Years?

Whilst all Australian universities teach largely the same curriculum, there are two different macro-structure approaches. Medical Schools such as The University of Melbourne cover pre-clinical content in only one year, allowing for three clinical years in hospitals. In contrast, the other institutions, such as Notre Dame spread pre-clinical learning out over two years, leaving two years for clinical learning. 

The case for One Pre-Clinical Year: 

By cramming all of the pre-clinical content into the first year, students at Unimelb are able to spend three full years in clinical settings. This will allow them to apply their pre-clinical knowledge as well as to learn-on-the-job. If you are a student who can understand and memorise information rapidly and love to learn through simulated experience, this structure could be ideal for you. 

The case for Two Pre-Clinical Years:

By spreading out the pre-clinical content over the first two years, rather than one, institutions are allowing students to digest and understand the content that will form the basis of their clinical practise. Moreover, many of these courses are now incorporating one day per week in a clinical setting from the first year, such as ANU and Notre Dame, which allows students to pick up clinical skills from the outset in palatable chunks. This structure could be ideal for you if you’d prefer to move through content more slowly to support your understanding before being thrown into a hospital full time. 

Resources For More Information: 

Frasers have many FREE resources on offer to help you through your applications and preferencing journey. In order to ascertain the best medical schools for you, we encourage you to attend our University-specific webinars in which current students provide their honest perspectives on the idiosyncrasies and culture of each medical school. Also check out our ‘Sorting Hat’ medical school quiz which will assign you to your dream uni - Harry Potter style! 

Finally, visit the medical school websites of the universities that stand out to you to get a sense of their teaching staff, resources and values. 

What To Read Next?

Check out our range of Free Tools from a Medical Interview Calculator which calculates your approximate score to receive an interview offer from your preferred medical school or the super cool COVID GPA Calculator!