Where to Study Medicine Abroad as a School Leaver?

Hey guys!

I'm currently a student in Year 12, residing in Perth. I want to get into Medicine but I know my chances of getting in are very slim. My predicted ATAR is around 94 and I will be sitting the UCAT soon, to see if I would be able to get in. Even though it is a highly competitive course to get into, I feel that it would be rewarding at the end.

So I'm thinking of studying abroad as an International student pursuing a medical degree. I'm thinking of coming back after I finish my degree and internship and get registered under the Australian Medical Council (AMC). My parents are willing to spend ~$15,000 per year including basic neccessities (Food, Accomodation etc.) which I will have to pay back after I start working.

I'm thinking about where to go to get a degree that is recognised by the AMC for my price range. I've done some research and the cheapest courses coming up are from China, Russia and the Eastern European countries (Belarus, Romania etc.). I would like to pursue the degree in English.

Have any of you been in this situation? Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated :)

Mod note: This thread contains comments that may be distressing for some readers. Please refer to our mental health wiki page if you or someone you know needs support.


  • +2

    Be careful where you get trained. I have a friend who is on the board who examines overseas trained doctors. He says overseas training from certain countries is highly variable. Some have no hope of getting registered here with the training they have.

    • Don't suppose you have any idea from your mate what the training in Thailand is like?

      My partner studied at Chulalongkorn University and was hoping that she might be able to work here as a doctor when she ends up moving here (provided she can get her IELTS level up there)…

  • +3

    1) Apply for a science/biomedical undergraduate at an Australian university
    2) Achieve a competitive GPA and GAMSAT
    3) Apply for postgraduate medicine

    I don't actually know how easy it is to obtain a training position in Australia with a foreign medical degree but I suspect it's more difficult than going via post graduate degree in Australia.

    And just general advice for anyone wanting to pursue medicine, please please please seriously consider why you want to do medicine in the first place, especially if you don't desire pursuing general practice (which I believe has the best career pathway in terms of work/life/stress/reward balance).

    • +19

      4) Complete medical degree (Hint this is the easy part)
      5) Obtain internship position in an Australian hospital
      6) Reapply every year for residency/unaccredited registrar positions until you get onto a training program
      7) Work excessive hours (many of which are unpaid)
      8) Get bullied (+ sexually harassed if you're female)
      9) Spend countless hours doing research because the barrier for entry into a training position gets higher and higher every year
      10) Spend cash money doing courses to remain competitive because everyone else is doing them (e.g. $19,000 for diploma of surgical anatomy through Melbourne Uni)
      11) Battle crippling depression in silence
      12a) Get into your chosen field (or settle for your back-up option)
      12b) Uproot your family because the location of your training is in another state
      13) Further bullying/harassment
      14) Work even longer hours, be on call, and in your spare time study for exams of which the pass rate is 60%
      15) Fail said exam (well there goes $5000), try again the following year
      16) Tiktok goes the biological clok
      17) Pass exams and fulfill requirements of training
      18a) Apply for fellowship
      18b) Complete a PhD to be competitive for certain fellowships (e.g. upper GI/colorectal surgery)
      19) Complete fellowship
      20) Congratulations, you've made it! Now all you have to do is find a job that's within 100km of a city .___.

      N.B. I type this in jest, sprinkled with elements of harsh reality

      • +4

        A lot of this is actually spot on …..

      • +1

        A sad reality for surgeons/aspiring surgeons…one can only hope the culture will change for the better over a generation. I really do feel for all the surgical colleagues out there facing this battle.

        • Whereas I agree, I don't see what the solution is. To be a competent, independent surgeon, you have to do thousands of hours of procedural work. I just don't see how one can attain that without putting in insane hours and at great sacrifice to oneself/those around them. Having said that, our colleagues certainly need to address the terrible conditions trainees are going through with respect to harassment/bullying (even GP has these issues with poor registrar protection in private clinics).

        • I can only give my experience from my circle of surgeons and aneasthetists - it makes sense to hang out especially during the training years….

          There was very little/no bullying or harassment in our training years.
          Surgery is life or death and tensions can run high but the females I know can stand up for themselves.
          Standards have to be maintained and if you let them fall we will all pay when we become the patients

          For example a female colleague of mine was accused by a female trainee of sexual harassment. It was preposterous and devious.
          This trainee was the worst in her year and lethal to patients. She is no longer in the training program.
          But my colleague who was accused was suspended from her job for 2 months and from being devoted to the public system gave it away to go private.

          So be careful in believing all the stories you read in the SMH.

      • Yep. I'm at number 6. Just spent 30k on a masters to get a couple more points for the good old CV.

      • My Bro did this this is spot on.

      • Depressingly accurate!

  • +1

    Honestly if you cannot make it to local university to get into a medical school & degree - you really should not try to find a short-cut to get into it overseas, especially when it comes to the reason being academic capability. The reason medical career is rewarding, and difficult simply means it should go to the brighest & hardest working people as it is people's life at stake (and honestly to be academically successfully in Australian high schools really isn't that difficult compared to East Asian or some US jurisdictions). So just either study harder to get into local medical school or find anther career path.

    • +1

      The best orthopaedic surgeons are glorified carpenters.
      The overly hard standards here are giving us a generation of scheming bookworms. I try and train them.
      Medicine needs balance and ATARs of 98 are not the way

  • +5

    If you're Australian and intend to work in Australia long term, I think it's easier to try to get into a med school in Oz compared to going overseas and coming back as an international graduate. Unless you go to a developed country with a reputable med school eg. UK (outside your budget) or US (all postgraduate so doesn't suit you), you will struggle with recognition when you come back. Specialist training jobs are already extremely competitive even for Australian graduates. There's also a 10 year moratorium which commits you to working in regional/rural areas which is fine if that's your thing, but you may also find it undesirable for family or lifestyle reasons in future. I can't think of a single overseas trained colleague who would not say they've had a harder time than an Australian trained doctor in every aspect of finding a job.

    In summary, it might seem like the easy option out now, but there will be plenty of (extra) difficulties for you in the future. Think carefully!

  • +1

    Bond Uni at Gold Coast? Privately paying course

    • Will have a look into it. Thanks!

  • +10

    Seriously don't do it. Your chances of getting an internship as an AMC are virtually nil. Do the GAMSAT and get in that way. Its competitive enough at the intern, resident and junior specialty stages for local trainees. Go and do a useful degree like physio, pharmacy, occ therapy or something that you can use as a fallback career while studying for the GAMSAT and do it that way. You will thank yourself later.

    • +1

      As with most medical threads MissG provides very solid advice. It's not all about the degree. Internship is not guaranteed and training programs are competitive, including GP. I did post-grad med and plenty of people in the course had the equivalent of an 94 or lower ATAR when they finished high school, but they did well enough in their undergraduate degree for it not to matter. And not all medical science degrees either, we had engineering, commerce and arts students. Unless you have your heart set on an undersubscribed specialty (outside of maybe pathology I don't even know what there is), or want to love your days out as a hospital CMO, I'd suggest going staying in Australia and doing the degree post-grad, it's a well trodden path.

    • Thank you for that. I think staying and not going overseas would be my best option. Will try to get into different course if I don't get in and will sit the GAMSAT. Really appreciate the advice :)

      • +1

        Sadly the universities took in extra students several years ago by the thousand.
        There were big shortages here and a big overseas intake until about 3 years ago then the locals came online.

        It is now very tight to get on a program and this has been intended to do several things…..

        Previously Aussies didnt want to work in the country - now they will especailly at a junior level
        Costs were creeping higher - more doctors will keep this under control…
        the unintended consequences are at a senior level young specialists are undertrained and and need more time so are too scared to go to the country where they can be surgically isolated.

        It is a good career - BUT YOU HAVE TO LOVE IT.
        If I didn't I would have quit long ago…. even though I probably need to work another 10 years I think of retirement a lot.

  • +2

    I dont think there should be an expectation to get into medicine straight out of high school. Quite a few of the graduates from my course decided to do med after completing their bachelors. If your family has money, I think it would be realistic that they could support you whilst you study in Australia. If you can't get into med straight out of uni, pick something else, health related, at least then you have something else to fall back on if med doesn't work out. You might also get a part time job in health related job whilst studying med. Trying something health related in uni might also help you find out if uni even suits you.

    I feel like there are plenty of overseas trained doctors in Australia, who have struggled to get accredited in Australia, and then end up doing whatever they can find. Imagine paying 6 figures to study med overseas and then can't get a job in Australia. :/

    • Medicine is a post graduate degree at most universities in Aus. Do a degree that aligns first (or even if it doesn’t… my good friend did economics before medicine!) and work on your interpersonal skills - that will put you ahead. Even consider doing a bachelor degree that includes foreign language as your “breadth subject” - it opens up many opportunities with the Colombo Plan etc for overseas internships.

    • Thanks for this :)

  • +5

    G'day, firstly love your enthusiasm mate. Keep it up. Enthusiasm is a great asset in life whatever your path is. It's so easy to become complacent in life. I'm a doctor - this is my 6th year out of medical school. I'm Australian-born and trained. I did post-graduate medicine. I did a pharmacy degree however went straight into a Victorian-based Graduate Medical School (Deakin) after finishing. I was always keen to enter medicine form high school days but despite doing well I completely failed the GAMSAT with flying colours. Haha. I know getting into Medicine is difficult but there is no need to rush. I'm guessing you're 17. The majority of medical spots are now in graduate medical positions. I don't necessarily think graduate medicine is best (as undergraduate courses are very well structured and have benefits over graduate medicine). That being said, the graduate medicine pathway was perfect for me. I was definitely not mentally nor mature enough to practice as a junior doctor from the age of 22 or 23. I just turned 26 when I graduated.

    I would strongly advise you not go overseas for your medical school training especially given you're an Australian. Reasoning for this is that returning to practice in Australia will be a nightmare. Despite being an Aussie, you'll be treated as an international and have limited choices to work initially. Plus you'll have to sit those stupid and costly exams. In addition, if you've noticed in the recent budgets - Australia is essentially planning to axe most international doctors from coming to Australia. This is because we've had a ridiculous growth in local medical schools and graduates over the last decade secondary to new medical schools. Australian-trained doctors are the best suited to the Australian Healthcare system. Overseas universities do not have the exact same standards and curriculums as Aussie universities.

    My advice is to you:

    • Put all your hard work into year 12 and try your best to get into medical school (undergraduate or via those fast-tracked graduate entry medical schools - i.e. UQ, Flinders (i.e. 2-year accelerated undergrad science degree with automatic entry into their 4-year program). Make sure you apply EVERYWHERE you can. This is the key. However, have a back-up plan.

    • If you don't get in (which is a likely possibility given there is only a handful of undergraduate medical spots). Don't take it to heart. Some of you good mates may get in and you may not. Or Vice-versa. Don't get jealous but congratulate/support them. Stay Humble. Even though Medicine is highly competitive, there is a still a degree of luck. And it's not the end of the World if you don't get in . It's so easy in Year 12 to get sucked into a career path and fixated/obsessed with a goal. Go overseas, Go out, date girls, move out of home and go to college, pursue your sports, do volunteering, get involved with university clubs, run a marathon, go snowboarding in Japan. I wished I moved out earlier and lived at a University College - probably one of my main regrets given it would've let me broken me out my shell earlier. However, it can be ridiculously expensive - the main reason I didn't do it as I knew my folks couldn't afford it and I wasn't keen to do a gap year. I would literally do anything to go back to the ages of 17-22. It's the best years of your life - you're free, no real responsibility, you're healthy, you're not attached to work and family. Make the most of it as before you know it - it's over. Don't just focus on university and getting into medical school. Enjoy life man.

    • Medicine is not everything. I really want to enforce this. This should be the main point of my essay and this is coming from a medical doctor. There's a quote from a classic movie Cool Runnings - "If you've not enough without one, you'll never be good enough with one". It's from the conversation between a coach and one of his players who questioned why he cheated. Essentially, applied in this situation, I use it to show that medicine isn't everything and your life will not magically be complete if you become a doctor . You don't have to become a doctor to do well in life. There are so many amazing employment opportunities in the 21st Century given the rise of globalisation and technology. Medical practitioners have the highest rate of mental health issues in any occupations and the journey to become fully-pledged specialist (ie. general practitioner, surgeon, anaesthetist, radiologist) can be long, expensive, complicated, full of unnecessary administration and countless exams. See the above comments for further info. Talk to as many medical students and doctors as possible about their careers - they will all have different opinions and journeys but their insight can be helpful. Make sure you listen to both the positives and negatives.

    • Also, remember a majority of training programs (From Surgery to GP to Radiology) require people to move or rotate every 3, 6 or 12 months (this can be within a city, region, state or even moving interstate). Most of the surgical programs are nation based - i.e. have to move interstate every 6-12 months to a different hospital/state which can include New Zealand (as the majority of colleges are NZ/AUS combined). So maintaining relationships/families can be extremely difficult during these time. Not to forget those overseas 'cool' fellowships you might be convinced to do.

    • There are very limited opportunities once fully trained to work inner-city. And it’s probably not going to change at all. I really want you to understand this. There is a real maldistribution of medical practitioners across Australia - i.e. large and low proportions in metropolitan and regional/rural regions, respectively. It's a complex and multi-factorial problem - and a topic in its own right. A lot of the city kids want to stay in the capital cities and envisage themselves living in these fringe-city suburbs however they realise once they've fully trained there is very little full-time regular employment opportunities unless they want to split themselves between 3-4 different hospitals or/and be stuck in traffic a couple of hours per day. I'm a kid from Country Victoria hence my goal is to return to a regional centre somewhere to practice. I had a CSP spot and am not bonded - hence can work anywhere. However, I wouldn't be able to stand the city lifestyle in my 30's and onwards. That being said I did love my years of living inner-city in my mid 20’s - I’m glad I did it but over it after a few years. Given my upbringing I have this inner sense to help serve the community that nurtured me. My parents were migrants from Sri Lanka who knew no one and only had a couple of thousands bucks in the pocket when they arrived. Regional Australia gave myself and family amazing opportunities and I wouldn't be here writing this if it wasn't for Australia and its regional communities.

    • And I reinforce, do not go overseas to train. You're opening up a can of worms. As much as I don't want to insult the Aussies who have gone overseas to complete medical school and return to Australia - their level of training is completely different to those of Australians and you're neglected compared to the Australian trainees. Do not be convinced to go overseas. Have a google and you’ll see my point.

    • Finally, read this article on the ABC. It’s quite old - 20 years or so but still extremely relevant. It’s a well written article from an Aussie ex-journalist who entered graduate entry medical school. I remember reading it when I was your age and it really struck a chord with me. I remember googling the author a couple of years ago and I saw he is a paediatrician somewhere in NSW.
      Link: https://www.abc.net.au/science/slab/doctor/

    Enough of my blabbling and this essay. A 1-minute comment has turned into a 30 minute English Essay. Apologies! Feel free to message me for further info. Enjoy your final year of high school mate and life in general! The best years are ahead of you!

    • +2

      Haha thank you so much for this, it really means a lot to me. Your advice is really helpful, just like everyone else's who's commented on this post. Looking at all of the comments, it seems like the best option for me is to try my best in Year 12, and if I don't get in, to sit the GAMSAT. I'll take all those factors into consideration and make sure that I'm making the right decision. I'll have a look at the article too! Again, I truly appreciate the advice thank u so much :)

    • I meant failed the UMAT not GAMSAT! Haha.

  • Hey mate,

    I think my brother could offer his assistance and expertise to you, direct message me if you would like to know more.

  • +2

    As a current postgrad medical student I would definitely suggest going the GAMSAT route if you're not confident getting in via high school entry (Atar of 94 won't be able to get you into medicine, Bond and Macquarie might be possible but they are private and will be much more than 15k a year). GAMSAT route is still competitive but if you are honestly determined enough it shouldn't be too hard.

    • Thanks for that, will look into Bond and Macquarie :)

  • just go through post grad. perhaps try a degree in science. good luck

  • You're and Oz resident/citizen. Just come to nz and make use of their domestic fees for you. You'll probably get student allowance for free from NZ government.

    Compete in your 1st year Uni (health science year) in Otago University. And you'll need to sit for GAMESAT (could be something else) previously they were using UMAT (the silly EQ test on paper etc).

    From OTAGO uni, you might be able to apply for Auckland uni base on good results after your first year. But don't hold your breathe, just study hard in your first year, play hard, work hard and you'll be able to get into medicine.

    I was too immature when I did my health science year. Too many distractions mainly because of a relationship.

    All the best, God bless.

    • Thanks, will have a look into Otago and Auckland :)

      • Keep in mind that the New Zealand medical schools (Auckland, Otago) have a completely different system to here. You cannot enter the medical school directly as a school leaver; rather, you enrol in a bachelor of health science type course (Auckland: BHsc, BSc (Biomed), Otago: Health Science First Year, HSFY), work your butt off during the first year of the uni, then apply for medical school using your first year uni marks, UMAT/UCAT scores +- interview. Nothing else (e.g. ATAR) is taken into account in the selection process. Effectively a clean slate for you to prove yourself again, although competition within these first year courses are absolutely cutthroat (only 1 in 7 get the coveted spot at the med school).

        You will be eligible for student loan as an Australian in NZ that covers both tuition and living cost. NZ medical schools are of same standard to Australian ones and the qualifications are interchangeable i.e. no need for AMC rigmarole, internship there counts as internship here. If you are an Australian citizen at the time of enrollment, you will not be targeted by the 19A/B ten year moratorium. You also get to live in the most beautiful country in the world while studying (although I am biased here).

        If you are interested in this option, Otago also has the country's only dental school, that you can enter from the HSFY stream if your marks are not enough for med.

      • A vote for NZ from me too.

        I can confirm their med schools are accredited by the AMC, you won't need to jump through those same hoops when coming back.

        One thing to consider is internship places are quite tight currently. If you do study overseas, there's a chance you will need to work a couple of years outside before returning as a senior resident. NZ is a pleasant place to do those few years… they were one of the first places to take safe working hours seriously. You'll also don't need to worry about work visas.

  • +1

    $15,000 a year is simply not enough anywhere it barely covers tuition, except like, Cuba where tuition is free, but you don't speak Spanish and you probably don't want to go there.

  • Tuition is pretty cheap in european countries, if my memory is correct i only paid 1000euros for 4 years. I believe Belgium is one of the easier EU places for medecine, and rather a cheap place to study. France is also cheap but has numerus closus after the first year making it pretty competitive it hard to get into.
    Studies would then be in dutch or french,

    • Which University was this in Belgium? Thanks for the advice :)

      • I went to france, but the general thought was that it was easier in belgium (plan B).
        just type universite de medecine and a city name and see what comes up.

        I'm also a "bit" older, but i believe tuition in public unis would still be rather cheap

  • +2

    Hi there,

    I am a postgraduate medical student in Australia. My ATAR was like <90 (I literally can't even remember the actual number), and did an undergrad degree in nursing. I worked and travelled for a few years and then applied to med school. My colleagues mostly come from a science background, and that was useful for like the first semester, but now the non-science students cannot be distinguished from science at all. I'd recommend just having a life, doing an undergrad degree you enjoy and can do well at (not just whatever your ATAR allows you to get into), travelling and then applying to postgrad med. If travelling overseas to study is what you're interested in, exchange programs are a really good option for that. Coming from a nursing background, the great doctors are people who have life experience outside of medicine and the ability to communicate well in teams.

    For more information on all application processes for medicine the PagingDr forum is really good. It has like past entrance scores, interview questions etc. You can just make a free account and join.

    • what budget should you expect going from nursing to medecine? how many extra years?

      did you work long as a nurse?

      Interesting pathway (feel free to PM if its too much out of topic)

    • +1 to this. Entering as an undergrad in a medical related field and then potentially getting a couple years life experience then going back and doing further studies.

      I have friends that did paramedicine and then got a job with an associated service, then a number of years later went back to become doctors (now working in ED, but thats just their preference).

  • +1

    You should be focused on doing the best you can in year 12 - not dreaming of ways to study abroad. If you spend your time hypothesising about failure you will achieve just that.

  • Do you have any alternate options? Not to be offensive or anything but I'm not too sure that a 94 ATAR is enough since medicine is quite competitive. Many of my friends who graduated with a 99 have been rejected despite doing alright on UCAT

  • +1

    No medical school from overseas is automatically recognised in Australia. After finishing your training there, you will have to follow the general pathway and sit for the AMC exams to be registered as a general doctor. I suppose you would like to be a specialist, and finding a training position in Australia when having your medical school from overseas is a big issue. You will be competing with Australians and migrants who completed the medical school here. In VIC, finding a training position in some areas is near impossible if your med school is not from here.

  • I know a few of my friends children went to study in Kursk medical college in Russia, Riga medical college and Gdańsk in Poland. Language is in English but you need to learn local language to communicate with patients.
    All of them registered in WHO medical school directory and previous graduates work in U.K.,Australia and other countries.
    Check with the uni directly, though there are agents who could help.
    Australia does not allow foreign medical degree holders to do internship in Australia now so it’s crucial you go to a country where you could do the internship after graduation.
    Baltic countries are EU and under EU work rules any citizen can work anywhere within EU and in the past they came to work in U.K. without doing the PLAB test.
    As a medical graduate,if you know the job there are so many countries to work and enjoy life.

  • Hi dude, my comment may be really out of date, but from memory there was a path to follow in NZ through the University of Otago.

    I can't remember much more, but reckon Otago would be a sweet party town and that's the main point of uni.

    Good luck.

  • Hey there! First of all, good luck, I hope your eagerness and hard work pays off. I'd like to add to the sentiments echoed by others:

    1. Contrary to popular opinion, graduating from medical school does not allow you to immediately practice medicine as a "general practitioner". In Australia, after you graduate, you have to do your internship/residency (prevocational) training in a hospital before you can go onto a vocational training program (3 to 8+ years) in GP/Internal Medicine/Surgery/<YOUR DESIRED SPECIALTY> and only after completing this can you practice independently. Internship positions are guaranteed for local Australian students, but it can be very difficult (perhaps impossible, depending on state policy) to get an internship position for international graduates. If you are thinking of doing an overseas medical degree, make sure you will be able to do
      prevocational training in that country as a fallback option, because if you can't get prevocational training somewhere, your medical degree is nearly USELESS!

    2. You have to sit the AMC's own exams before your foreign medical degree is recognised by the AMC, even if you're on the list of eligible schools.

    3. There is currently a 10 year moratorium on international medical graduates (IMGs). Assuming you graduate from an overseas medical school, sit the AMC exams and get registered, and finish your vocational training, you will only be allowed to bill Medicare in areas of shortage during your first 10 years. This effectively makes you unable to practice in any major cities during 10 years of your career.

    Given the hurdles and restrictions, if you do decide to go overseas, make sure you are OK with the idea of permanently relocating, because there are no guarantees you'll get a job after coming back. The only exception would be New Zealand which I don't think is subject to the same problems and is considered a part of Australia for these intents and purposes. IMO the best approach would be to work hard and trying to get in a local medical school. Heres some tips:

    1. Most Australian medical schools will use a combination of ATAR, UCAT and interview scores for the selection process. Whilst your estimated ATAR of 94 is on the lower end for applicants, I know some medical schools only consider the ATAR as a threshold rather than a weighting (in other words, provided that you get over the threshold mark, your 94 and someone's 99 become equivalent, and then it becomes all about the UCAT and interview).

    2. If you don't make it via the undergraduate route, you can do another undergraduate degree and try to go through the GAMSAT post-graduate entry route.

    3. Please don't take any of what I say as absolute fact, I have no idea if anything I said is completely correct or current.

    Good luck!

    • You are correct about NZ.

      NZ graduates don't need to sit AMC exams. And as long as you are an Australian or NZ citizen/resident at the time you enrolled in a NZ med school, you are not bound by the 10 year moratorium either. No other country has this privilege.

  • Would recommend doing an Australian undergraduate course, and then reapplying via post graduate medicine with GAMSAT
    1) Save money by not going overaseas, living at home, travel etc.
    2) Course may be cheaper under HECS/HELP in australia than overseas
    3) Flexibility - not committing to medicine if you later change your mind
    4) Gives you time to study for GAMSAT
    5) Don't have to re-sit examinations for your degree to be recognised in Australia

  • Hello,

    $15k isn't going to get you much. Try applying for CSU's new B.Medicine starting next year on the Orange campus or UTAS. They seem to be the easier undergrads. Other wise you may need to consider doing a B. Biomedical sciences or Clinical Sciences and transferring across either to undergrad during degree with high GPA or applying as a grad.

    Good luck

  • Bond Uni. Its a private university. Have $500K handy for your fees, add $30K per annum living expenses.


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