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Medical School Preferencing

AU---FB-Post---Suggested-Tertiary-Preferences

Applications to study at most undergraduate medical courses close at the end of September. To apply, you will need to visit the Tertiary Admissions Centre for each state. MedEntry recommends that you apply for as many courses as possible, in order to maximise your chances of obtaining a place. Further information can be found in our recent blog.

Most states offer multiple medical courses. Every uni says their course is the best and the students at each uni parrot the official uni line. So how do you choose?

Additionally, there are various types of place to which you can apply. It can be a confusing process, and can be difficult to know how you should preference each option. This blog provides some guidance.

Note: The information contained in this blog only provides suggestions. You will need to take into account your personal circumstances and preferences when submitting your application.

Tips for Preferencing Universities

Most states offer a number of medical courses. So which courses should you place first on your application form? Here are some tips:

  1. The ‘prestige’ of a particular university means very little in terms of a medical career. All medical graduates obtain the same licence to practice medicine. You do not get a better quality licence by attending a higher ranked university. For more information regarding university prestige, please see our dedicated blogs on university rankings and how much they don't matter.
  2. In fact being contrarian is often useful. For exampe most students put UNSW as the first preference in UAC. But someone who chooses to go to WSU, rather than to UNSW will get better grades at uni for the same effort, so they will have a better chance of getting into their desired competitive specialty.
  3. The duration of the medical course should be an important consideration. Shorter five year courses (such as Monash, WSU, Newcastle, Curtin) are generally better, as it will allow you to graduate, enter the specialty training and practice medicine earlier. Even though only 1-2 yrs shorter, the graduates from these medical schools finish specialty training & become Consultants, on average about 4 years earlier.
  4. Additional research years (such as the ILP program at UNSW) are designed to benefit the university, not you! Instead, it is often better for your future career to engage in research after your internship, and once you have decided on the specialty that you will be applying for. Further, the research you will carry out after graduation will be 'Clinical' (hence more interesting/relevant) rather than 'Lab/Theoretical'. Only doctors can carry out clinical reasearch.
  5. The proximity of the university to where you live should not necessarily be a major consideration if two universities you are considering are both in the city where you live. Remember that in medicine, you will attend the university campus only for the first 2 years. After that, you will be based at various teaching hospitals.
  6. If the universities you are considering are not in the city in which you live, how far the uni is or whether it is interstate should not matter. For intership or after internship, you will be able to move easily to where you want to be.
  7. There are numerous advantages to applying for school-leaver courses rather than provisional 'guaranteed' entry programs (such as those at UQ, USyd, UniMelb, Flinders, Griffith and UWA). For example, provisional entry programs are longer, and there is a risk that you may lose your place in medicine if you do not perform well in your first degree (and get through other hurdles). The benefit is so significant that it may be beneficial to move interstate in order to study medicine at a school-leaver course.

Plan B Preferences

It is important to include some ‘Plan B’ preferences on your application. That is, if you don’t get into medicine, what will you do? Remember that interviews are an important part of the admissions criteria into medicine at most universities, and because there is an element of subjectivity involved, there is no guarantee that you will be admitted into your preferred course, even if you excel in UCAT and year 12.

If you don’t get into medicine, one option is to take a gap year. Other options include starting another degree and trying to transfer into medicine (which can be difficult due to the limited number of places and universities to which you can apply), or applying for graduate medicine.

Factors to be taken into account when considering ‘Plan B’ preferences include:

  1. Your interests
  2. Job opportunities in the particular field, in case your plan for a medical career does not eventuate
  3. Courses that will enable you to achieve the highest GPA (for example, a course you have genuine interest and motivation to study). Unis only look at your GPA when applying as non-standard student/GAMSAT/UCAT pathway for graduates, not which university you went to or the course that you did (with only a few exceptions – see below*). This means it is important to consider which university/course will be easier to gain high GPAs when considering your Plan B preferences. This consideration will include which course you are interested in, as well as the competitiveness of the cohort of students in that course. As an example, you will receive higher GPA while doing nursing at Victoria University, rather than doing Law at Monash University, because the cohort you are competing with is stronger in the latter case.
    * Note, that some unis only permit their own university students for non-standard entry (eg Adelaide), graduate entry (eg Monash which only accepts their own students who are studying certain health related courses) or give preferential points for graduate entry (eg Deakin).
  4. Beware of medicine "pathway programs" offered by many universities, which encourage you to study degrees such as biomedical science. The aim is to lure you into pursuing a degree at their university with the bait of medical entry (the chances are often low which is not revealed). Such programs often have hurdles you need to get through (eg maintain high GPA, pass interview/certain subjects). An example is the Bachelor of Medical Science at Uni of Sunshine Coast, which is the 'pathway' program into Griffith. Griffith does not use UCAT because it instead uses "Human Skills for Medicine" (which tests similar skills), which needs to be completed as part of Bachelor of Medical Science. 

Types of Place

There are various types of place that you can apply for. These include CSP (Commonwealth Supported Places) and BMP (Bonded Medical Program).

It is strongly recommended that you place CSP ahead of BMP, as there is no advantage in placing BMP ahead of CSP.

For more information on BMP, please see our dedicated bonded medical program blog.

Suggested Preferences

Suggested preferences for each state are listed below. Please note these are only suggestions: you must take into account your own personal circumstances and do your own research before finalising your preferences.

For reasons why certain courses have been placed above others, please see the sections above.

UAC Preferences (NSW)

Medicine at Western Sydney University/CSU or Medicine at Newcastle University/UNE

Medicine at UNSW

Medicine at the University of Sydney (513720, 513715)

Plan B Preferences

VTAC Preferences (Vic)

Monash University Medicine (CSP, ERC, BMP in that order)

Melbourne University Medicine (Chancellors Program)

Monash Medicine Pathway programs (Science, BioMed Sci, Pharmacy, Physio)

Plan B Preferences (Note: as of 2022 intake, applicants will no longer be required to complete prerequisite subjects for the graduate entry medicine at Melbourne University, so any undergraduate degree can be chosen for this path)

QTAC Preferences (Qld)

University of Queensland

James Cook University (consider placing higher if rural health interest or live near Townsville)

Griffith University (Bachelor of Medical Science provisional path to Doctor of Medicine, QTAC 233422)

Bond University (consider placing higher if can afford the fees)

Plan B Preferences

SATAC Preferences (SA)

Adelaide University

Flinders University

Plan B Preferences

TISC (WA)

Curtin University

University of Western Australia

Plan B Preferences

Tasmania (UTas)

University of Tasmania

Plan B Preferences

 

The matters in this blog are discussed at length in MedEntry UCAT workshops.

Stay tuned for our next blog which discusses double degrees.

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