Leaving for medical school in Australia—a big step!
Are you getting ready to leave for medical school in Australia?
By Dr Alain Humblet, UQ Medicine graduate
This is it! All the MCAT studying, the student visa documentation, and the packing of bags comes down to this one moment: leaving to study medicine in Australia. I remember this time vividly, although it has been over 5 years ago now. (How time flies!)
This is a time where many questions and concerns may arise. In this blog, I try to look back and re-live the questions and worries I had before making the big move. Hopefully this helps put some of your fears at ease.
Am I ready for this?
Yes, you are. You’ve been chosen from a panel of specialists. You’ve attained the necessary benchmark test grades and GPA scores, and you’ve likely completed an undergraduate degree. These milestones, which may seem trivial at the moment, are tasks that you should be proud of. These experiences have shaped you to be the future doctor you aspire to be. Although medical school is a daunting and imperceivable task at this point of the journey, know that you are capable of getting through this program. Your life experiences have prepared you for this.
Do I belong?
Yes! 100% you do. Whether you’re coming from a completely different career, have been chasing this dream and have been unsuccessful in Canada or just decided to plunge into a new adventure, you will find that the Australian medical cohort is the most welcoming in the world. You may be plagued with thoughts such as “I couldn’t make it back home. How will I cope in Australia?”
Trust the process. Trust the support network that surrounds you and work hard. You will make it. I have made friends from around the globe who share the same medical career aspirations. The University of Queensland medical program, in particular, has a varied cohort, which includes students from the US, Canada, and Singapore, to name a few. If you stay humble and remember the intrinsic reasons you decided to go down this path, you’ll find a helping hand and smiling faces along the way. I guarantee it.
Is this the right move?
I remember debating about this one for a while. It’s no secret that leaving for Australia is a huge financial and educational risk. Talking to friends and family made me doubt it even more. “But I will be so far from family.” “That tuition is insurmountable!” A few things that eased my mind: Canadians have been choosing to study in Australia for decades.
If you want to practice medicine in Canada after completing your studies, it is 100% doable. If you want to stay in Australia instead, then you have that option as well. The debt is large, but you will pay it off eventually if you’re smart with your money. One of the pros about UQ is the sheer number of Canadians who have walked this path before. A wealth of alumni is at your disposal if questions arise. We’ve been helped, and now we are more than willing to give our two cents if necessary.
What should I take with me?
Nothing in particular to be honest! You figure out what makes you miss home once you’re away for those first few months. If you’re anything like me, you start to make a mental list of things you’ll indulge in when you’re back home (the first Montreal poutine after a year away is definitely the best!).
I won’t lie, I find that the Australian cost of living is higher than back in Canada, so take your essentials and top up once you’re here. If you have the privilege of going back home between the semesters, gather whatever you really missed and weren’t able to acquire while in Aus.
Where should I live?
This question stumped me for a while. As for many things in medicine and in society in general, everyone will have a different opinion about accommodation. Take in everyone’s advice, but also keep in the back of your mind that you’re an individual. Something that works for one person (however successful they may seem) may not necessarily be appropriate for someone else. This is relevant to your studies as well.
The best advice I could give to you is this: What’s important to you? If saving money is priority number one, maybe live farther away from campus and commute. Maybe convenience and time efficiency is what you want to focus on: get a place on campus that allows you to walk to class. I got a six-month lease in an apartment adjacent to campus, so in that if I didn’t like it, I could change at the end of my six months once I figured out what and where the different suburbs were.
All in all, these were some of the questions that were running through my mind predeparture. Life isn’t about getting things right the first time; it’s about figuring things out along the way. To be able to study medicine in a country as beautiful as Australia is a true privilege, one that we sometimes take for granted. I hope I’ve eased some of your worries, but if there’s anything else, I’m just an email away.
Enjoy the journey, doctor.
Do you have a “Study in Australia” story to tell? Want to share it? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
About the UQ Doctor of Medicine Program
The Doctor of Medicine (MD) program at The University of Queensland has a rich and proud history, and has graduated more than 13,000 doctors. The curriculum has been developed to capture the enthusiasm and maturity of UQ’s graduate entrants and is underpinned by UQ’s world-class teachers and experts in their chosen field of research, ensuring the training program is learner-centred, research-driven, and evidence-based.
As a UQ medical student, will undertake 10 core clinical placements in varied disciplines while also learning to work in and collaborate with clinical teams.
Opportunities are embedded in the program for you to undertake international placements or elsewhere in Australia. These include the Observership at the end of Year 1, the Elective during Year 4, and for international students, the Rural and Remote Medicine placement that can be undertaken at a rural location in Canada. OzTREKK students have participated in clinical placements in Canada, USA, India, Papua New Guinea, and nearly everywhere in between!
Program: Doctor of Medicine
Location: Brisbane, Queensland
Duration: 4 years
Semester intake: January
Application deadline: Varying rounds, but you are encouraged to apply as early as possible.