School leaver entry (UCAT) or Graduate entry (GAMSAT)? Which route is better?
1 year ago by Rob
Medicine after high school or degree?
For a simpler comparison of UCAT against the GAMSAT please see the following articles:
‘UCAT or GAMSAT? which is harder? which is easier?‘.
Our view is that UCAT route is far superior for several reasons including:
- No guarantee: Even if you do ace your GPA and do well in GAMSAT, there is no gurantee that you will get in: there is often an interview as well.
- More stress and uncertainty: You have just finished a hard slog for your final high school exams. Do you really want to continue to do that for another 3 to 4 years? And you have to live with the pressure and uncertainty that you may not get in, in spite of your hard work.
- The dreaded GAMSAT: You will also need to sit the dreaded 5 hour GAMSAT test and do well, to have a chance of getting in.
- Choices restricted: For graduate entry (GAMSAT route), you can only apply to one university (with six preferences) and will be interviewed by only one through the GEMSAS. Medical schools have colluded so that it makes their job of selection easier. With school leaver entry, there are no such restrictions.
- Plan B: If you pursue a degree (say in Science) and are then unable to get into medicine, you will have very limited career options (other than a research career which has little job security)
- Financial reasons: For those who like to look at things rationally, it takes at least two more years of study to do medicine at Melbourne. The average lifetime earnings of doctors in private practice is about $300,000 per year (Source: Australian Doctor 22 July 2011). So by not trying to get in through the UCAT route, you are effectively losing half a million dollars. Plus there is the cost of study – being at university for at least two more years.
- Length of training: To become a fully qualified specialist, after graduation you will need to train for at least seven years further. The GAMSAT route will prolong your time training for even longer.
- After graduating in medicine, once you have chosen the specialty you wish to pursue, you will need to sit exams while working as a Registrar. You will find this last hurdle easier to get through when you are younger (eg by studying Medicine via the UCAT route) rather than when you are older with family commitments. Studying for exams is less daunting when you are younger for several other reasons.
- Focussed training: If you choose the GAMSAT route, some of the subjects that you will be studying in the University may seem irrelevant to you, as it is not focussed on medicine. Undergraduate medicine (the UCAT route) offers focussed medical training from week one.
- Most professionals will tell you that real learning takes place when you start work, not at university. Most of what universities teach is irrelevant to real world of work and they teach it because that is all academics know. Hence the adage “Those who can, do; those who can’t teach!”. University is a place for fun and five years of fun is enough for most people!
- Prestige: In Australia, which university you go to doesn’t count as much as in the USA. This is particularly so with medicine, because patients are more concerned about your bed-side manner, diagnostic skills etc. Please see Medical schools ranking.
- Misleading MD: Some universities are rebadging their GAMSAT route degrees with an “MD” title and are misleadingly promoting them as a superior degree. It is no different to MBBS degrees offered by other medical schools and you will have no career advantages. Many people wrongly assume that because its an MD degree, the duration of their subsequent training is reduced.
- Uncertainty of career choice: After commencing at Medicine via UCAT route, in the unlikely event that you feel Medicine is not for you (the drop out rate is less than 1%), you can always drop out after a year or two and pursue another degree with prior learning credits.
- Real reasons: There are at least three (real, as opposed to those peddled by the Universities) reasons why some Unis have chosen to ape the US graduate entry model. First, by keeping the students at university for two more years, their income from fees is increased (Universities get an additional $60,000 from each student). Second, due to government policy, they can charge full fee ($55,000 per year) for their courses but is prohibited from doing so if it is a school leaver entry program. The universities are therefore able to increase their income by about 70%. Third, by getting students into their Science programs, they are able to increase the flagging enrolments in their science faculties. Since the demand to get into medicine is high, the universities are able to lure a large number of students (up to 1000) to commence their Science programs, most of who hope to get into medicine. So it is a nice cash cow for the universities, earning a massive $100 million dollars a year. Many students after completion will be unable to get into Med or get jobs and will choose to stay on to pursue higher degrees. This not only further increases the iuniversities' ncome but they get slave labor (postgraduate research students) to boost their research profile and hence their international ranking.
- Due to the fact that GAMSAT entry doctors are older (about 6 years older on average), they are likely to choose specialties which is easier to get in, and require shorter training, such as General Practice. UCAT entry doctors are more likely to choose competitive specialties such as Dermatology, Ophthalmology, Neurosurgery, Gastroenterology, because time is on their side, among other reasons. There is evidence that graduate entry doctors (GAMSAT route) are more likely to choose general Practice, because it is easier to get into.
- Competition for everything is increasing in all aspects of life (eg Registrar positions), so the quicker you finish your training, the better it is for you.
In summary, UCAT route (school leaver entry) medicine is good for you, and GAMSAT route (graduate entry) medicine is good for the university.