Pathways to Practicing Medicine
This page looks at career pathways after medical school. For prospective medical students, you can read our Applying to Med Guide.
What happens after MedSchool: Clinical Career Paths
Studying medicine opens the door to a huge variety of careers! Most medical graduates go on to specialise and practice clinical medicine, while others pursue careers in research, medical administration, public health policy, teaching, or some combination of all of the above!
The following is a rough guide of a pathway after medicine and your options:
Once you graduate you’ll receive provisional registration. If you want to fully qualify to practice clinically, you need to enter the workforce as an intern/PGY1 (post-graduate year 1) and complete a mandatory 47 weeks full-time to receive general medical registration from the Medical Board Australia (MBA).
Most people then go on to complete a PGY 2 year before applying for vocational training (AKA admission to a specialist college). This involves spending more time gaining clinical experience and taking on more responsibility in areas of interest. Some people do 2 or 3 years as an HMO.
3. Registrar or CMO
The next step involves choosing whether or not to specialise (vocational training), which is required to obtain a fellowship and allows you to practice medicine independently. The alternative is to not specialise and become a non-vocational Career Medical Officer (CMO) instead.
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. 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.
There are over 64 medical specialties to choose from in Australia, all of which involve between 3 and 6 years of training and fall under one of the specialist colleges:
- Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) www.acem.org.au
- Australasian College of Dermatologists (ACD) www.dermcoll.asn.au
- Australasian College of Sports Physicians (ACSP) www.acsp.org.au
- Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) www.anzca.edu.au
- Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) www.acrrm.org.au
- College of Intensive Care Medicine of Australia and New Zealand (CICM) www.cicm.org.au
- Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons (RACDS) www.racds.org
- Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators (RACMA) www.racma.edu.au
- Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) www.racp.edu.au
- Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) www.surgeons.org
- Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) www.ranzcog.edu.au
- Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) www.ranzco.edu.au
- Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) www.ranzcp.org
- Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) www.racgp.org.au
- Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA) www.rcpa.edu.au
- The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) www.ranzcr.edu.au
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.
For more information:
- Contact the Colleges directly
- Speak to trainees/qualified doctors who work within the specialty you are interested in.