Former medical students offer advice for succeeding in medical school

17 April 2024

Is studying at an Australian medical school worth it?

Should you take the plunge?

If you ask former OzTREKK students, Dr. Chih Kai Yang (Kevin), Dr. Jhonna Collins, Dr. Casey Croppo, and Dr. Daveena Sihota, they’d respond with a resounding, Yes!

We recently held a webinar for anyone interested in pursuing a career in medicine, and they kindly agreed to participate. Because they’ve been in your shoes, they were eager to share their insider knowledge. They remember what it feels like to be just starting out and just finishing their undergraduate degree.

Advice for Succeeding in Medical School

University of Sydney Doctor of Medicine graduate Dr. Jhonna Collins is currently undertaking a nephrology fellowship at McMaster University with future plans to complete training in transplant nephrology.

When asked what she would say to prospective medical students, Dr. Jhonna said, “Take the time to understand the content you’re learning as opposed to just memorizing things.

“Months down the road when you need the content in your mind, you won’t remember those things, so it’s worth sitting down and working through the why, so even if down the road you don’t remember it, you can work through the answer.”

Dr. Daveena Sihota, a University of Queensland (UQ) Doctor of Medicine graduate, is now doing her family medicine residency at the University of Saskatchewan. She felt med school in Australia was doable, and at UQ, it was about passing her courses and not about a specific GPA.

“Show up, listen to the lectures, study the lectures, Dr. Daveena said. “You don’t have to supplement your learning too much. Make the most out of it, you’ll get different experiences, especially when you get to your clinical years.”

Also a UQ MD grad, Dr. Chih Kai Yang (Kevin) is a currently a second-year House Officer in Family Medicine at St. Joseph Mercy Livingston in the USA. When asked about his time in Australia, he said, “Australian life is similar to Vancouver in that people are a little more laid-back.”

He also suggested that Canadians may have a head start with their study discipline as he found the study culture to be less intense than in Canada. After all, it’s easy to be lured outside by the beautiful weather!

“I did study a lot, ” Dr. Kevin said, explaining that he’d already decided to work toward taking the USMLE, where Steps 1 and 2 can be taken outside the US. “First year was pretty much all studying.”

Dr. Casey Croppo studied medicine at James Cook University and graduated in 2023 with an MBBS uniquely focused on rural and remote medicine. Unlike her counterparts, Dr. Casey stayed in Australia and is now completing her doing post-grad training at Cairns Hospital.

When talking about her experience at JCU, Dr. Casey said, “It was an awesome experience. I think we did over a thousand clinical hours in rural locations.”

Since Queensland is a huge state, rural locations can be hours away from any main city. Because of that, Dr. Casey explained, there tends to be a smaller medical staff in these locations. As a medical student, you really become part of that remote medical team. “You get an insane amount firsthand and hands-on experience that I didn’t expect.”

She also acknowledged that JCU has a bit of a reputation of being easier to get into when compared to other Australian medical schools, but their exams are not easy. While other medical schools focus on multiple choice questions, JCU “starts us off with KFPs and short-answer exams” and the answers require detailed knowledge of pathology.

For the first couple of years, Dr. Casey tried to study hard and maintain a high GPA, but she actually got burnt out. When she stopped trying to rote memorize everything but instead slow down and understand the information, she could rely on her understanding and work through things, and she did much better!

As Casey said, “Be kind to yourself! Study hard but enjoy the process as well.”

Are you interested in watching the full webinar, “Thriving in the Medical Profession: From Medical Student to Medical Practitioner”? Please reach out to and we’ll send you the link.

Here’s what we covered:

  • 21:40 – 24:30 – Kevin & Daveena talk about studying at the University of Queensland
  • 24:00 – 26:00 – Daveena’s experience with coming back to Canada
  • 26:10 – 29:00 – Casey’s JCU experience and her rotations in Canada
  • 32:50 – 35:00 – Jhonna’s University of Sydney MD experience
  • 35:00 – 38:50 – Jhonna’s experience with American & Canadian residency match
  • 40:50 – 45:00 – Kevin’s experience with training in all 3 countries!
  • 46:45 – 47:55 – Daveena’s tips on getting a residency match in Canada
  • 48:20 – 55:30 – Casey’s experience and insights on PG training in Australia
  • 56:00 – 1:03:22 – All panelists offer advice on succeeding in med school

Australian Medical Programs

Do you have a degree or are you graduating soon? Here’s a list of graduate-entry medical programs:

Deakin University – Doctor of Medicine
Flinders University – Doctor of Medicine
Griffith University – Doctor of Medicine
Macquarie University – Doctor of Medicine
Monash University – Bachelor of Medical Science / Doctor of Medicine (Graduate Entry)
University of Melbourne – Doctor of Medicine
University of Notre Dame Australia – Doctor of Medicine
University of Queensland – Doctor of Medicine
University of Sydney – Doctor of Medicine
University of Western Australia – Doctor of Medicine

Coming from high school? Don’t want to write the MCAT? Here are undergraduate medical programs:

Flinders University – Bachelor of Clinical Sciences, Doctor of Medicine
Griffith University – Bachelor of Medical Science, Doctor of Medicine
James Cook University – Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery
Macquarie University – Bachelor of Clinical Science, Doctor of Medicine
Monash University – Bachelor of Medical Science / Doctor of Medicine (Undergraduate Entry)
University of Western Australia – Bachelor of Biomedicine (Specialised), Doctor of Medicine

Practicing Medicine

We know that an international medical education means you have questions about what happens after you graduate. Each year, OzTREKK hosts several medical licensing seminars for students who have submitted their med school application via OzTREKK. These sessions provide the latest information regarding the accreditation and medical licensing processes in Canada and the United States, as well as outline options for internships in Australia—an option that a growing number of students choose.

Our Medical Licensing webpage is a great place to start your research!


Would you like to study medicine in Australia but not sure where to start? We can help! Email us at or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.

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