Your pathway to practice: How to become a doctor

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If you've got your heart set on becoming a doctor, why wait to start your medical career? We're one of the few universities in Australia that offers a medicine degree at undergraduate level. 

Medicine is a highly rewarding career, but becoming a doctor is no easy feat. It takes years of study and intern training to become a registered doctor and several more years of training to become a qualified specialist. 

In this guide, we break down the process that’ll take you from medical student to specialist consultant.

Start your medical career with UNSW's six-year Bachelor of Medical Studies/Doctor of Medicine (BMed/MD) degree.

For the last four years running, our BMed/MD was the most in-demand degree in NSW*. Our award-winning double degree will equip you with the knowledge, skills and experience you need to tackle the ever-changing medical industry.

From your first year, you’ll be learning in real hospitals and within our state-of-the-art Clinical Skills Centre, gaining hands-on experience and vital clinical skills. In your fourth year, you’ll undertake an Independent Learning Project (ILP) or Honours year, giving you the opportunity to engage in meaningful research.

After completing the BMed/MD, you'll gain provisional registration from the Medical Board of Australia. This will allow you to enter the workforce as an intern. 

Complete a one-year internship in a hospital.

You must complete 12 months of supervised clinical experience to become a registered doctor. As an intern, also known as a postgraduate year one (PGY1) doctor, you'll complete three mandatory core rotations in medicine, surgery and emergency medical care, along with non-core rotations to make up the balance of the intern year.

This pre-registration year will help you transition from medical school to working as a clinical doctor. Senior colleagues will provide support, feedback, teaching and assessment as you apply and expand your clinical knowledge and skills.

After completing an accredited intern year, you'll gain general registration from the Medical Board of Australia.

Note: The application process, including prioritisation and allocation systems, varies by state. Refer to state-based websites for detailed information. International students may wish to consider the Junior Doctor Training Program Private Hospital Stream.

Complete one or more years of prevocational training.

Residency is typically a period of one or two years of prevocational training. As a Resident Medical Officer (RMO), you may undertake research or further training to prepare for a specialty training program.

While it’s possible to gain entry into some specialist medical colleges after completing your internship (PGY1), most colleges prefer applicants to have completed a further two (PGY2) or three (PGY3) years of postgraduate training. For highly competitive colleges, entry into specialist training programs can take several years.

Following your residency, you’ll be eligible to apply for a medical specialty (also known as a ‘vocational’) training program through an accredited medical college in Australia.

Complete a specialty medical training program to obtain fellowship. 

When you’re accepted into an accredited specialty training program, you’re considered a ‘registrar’ or ‘trainee specialist doctor’.

To qualify for fellowship of a specialist medical college, you’ll complete assessments and rigorous on-the-job training. The length of vocational training programs varies by specialty. For example, it takes three years to become a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

After completing your vocational training, you’ll be eligible for fellowship of your chosen college and gain specialist registration from the Medical Board of Australia. You’ll be eligible to practice medicine independently and work as a specialist physician, general practitioner, or a surgeon.

While the pathway to practice may not be easy, it’ll be worth it. Set yourself up for success with UNSW's BMed/MD degree.

As one of the world’s top 50 medical schools**, we attract the brightest minds and create global leaders in healthcare. Learn from renowned researchers and educators in our cutting-edge facilities. Tap into our extensive industry connections to start building your own professional network. Become part of a supportive, tight-knit student community that's working together to improve life for all.

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Join an inclusive, collaborative community that's leading the future of health. Visit our application page below to get started.

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*The Bachelor of Medical Studies/Doctor of Medicine at UNSW Sydney topped the list of most in-demand courses, 2018-2021, UAC

**UNSW Medicine is ranked 45th globally, QS Top Universities Rankings 2021 by Subject