Congratulations! Graduation from medical school is an enormous success. However, your journey into medicine has really just started. There is still a long, but also very rewarding path in front of you: from your time as intern, junior doctor and resident, to specialist training and fellowship.
Once you finish your medical degree, you need to undertake an internship. In order to become a fully registered Medical Practitioner with the Medical Board, you are required to successfully undertake and complete at least one year of supervised practice (commonly known as an internship). You spend your internship year in accredited training hospitals with the aim to prove that you are fit to practice medicine unsupervised. Most junior doctors continue to work in hospitals until they are ready to enter vocational training with any of the specialist colleges.
AIDA’s recently refreshed AIDA Indigenous Medical Students Guide to Internship provides a great resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in preparation for internship.
You are known as a resident once you have completed your internship and are employed in a hospital, but haven’t yet completed pre-vocational training. Most doctors spend around two or three years working in residency as what is known as either ‘Junior Doctor’, ‘Resident Medical Officer’ (RMOs) or ‘PGY 2, PGY 3 or PGY4’ (Postgraduate years 2, 3, and 4). During this time you learn more about being a doctor and decide where you would like to specialise. Some doctors choose to continue working in a hospital setting as Career Medical Officers (CMOs) for their entire career as they enjoy the diverse working environment.
Specialist training allows you to work in either a specialty practice or a specific part of the health system, for example as a surgeon or a radiologist. Once you have been accepted for training by any of the specialist colleges, you are known as a trainee or registrar. Once you successfully complete your training, you are known as a specialist and become a Fellow of your specialist college.
Specialist training programs in Australia are governed by medical colleges and vary considerably in length and the type of hours you are likely to work. There is substantial competition to get a place in most training programs. The application and entry procedure is typically a combination of an interview, supervisor’s reports of previous training, any previous relevant work experience and relevant qualifications. Some medical colleges reserve and offer Indigenous specific training places.
The exception to the rule of specialty training is general practice. It is a recognised specialty, however by its nature it is very general in the type of work you do. Most doctors you visit, for example your family doctor, are general practitioners.
Specialist medical colleges
- Australasian College of Dermatologists
- Australasian College for Emergency Medicine
- Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine
- Australasian College of Sport and Exercise Physicians
- College of Intensive Care Medicine of Australia and New Zealand
- Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists
- Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators
- The Royal Australasian College of Physicians
- Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
- Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
- Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
- Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists
- Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists
- Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists
- Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia