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Pathways to Practicing Medicine

Clinical Career Paths

While medicine is a profession that provides a very structured career pathway, there are a lot of variations across specialties, and many opportunities to diverge from the set pathways that are presented in the adjacent diagram. All Australian medical graduates must satisfactorily complete one year as an intern in order to be registered as a medical practitioner. Following this, graduates must complete a period of postgraduate training before they can enter private practice. The majority of graduates undertake general practice, surgery, or physician training, with smaller numbers moving into the other specialties. Postgraduate training is undertaken through the various specialist Colleges, and results in trainees being awarded the "Fellowship" of that particular College. In general terms, most training programs require a certain period of general hospital training (Basic Training) following the intern year. For some, this may involve posts specific to the specialty (for example, basic surgical training predominantly requires trainees to undertake general surgical posts). Others accept broader hospital experience, however all training programs generally have specific requirements for this period of training (particular terms, accredited hospitals etc.). At the end of this period, trainees generally sit an exam (written and/or clinical) which they must pass before they can enter Advanced Training. This next period of training lasts a number of years. At the end of Advanced Training, some specialties automatically admit trainees as Fellows of their College (for example, Physician Training, Paediatrics). However, most require candidates to sit exit examinations. Having gained postgraduate qualifications, doctors then have a number of options in terms of practice. These vary according to the specialty, but include entering private practice, practising as a Visiting Medical Officer or Staff Specialist, or undertaking further training and specialisation. The actual details of the training programs, such as duration of training, entry requirements, type of training, and assessment, vary greatly from specialty to specialty. To obtain more details:

  1. Contact the Colleges directly
  2. Speak to trainees/qualified doctors who work within the specialty you are interested in.