Incoming 4th year Doctor of Medicine Student: James
Preparing for the GAMSAT is tough. You spent months working on your problem-solving skills for the humanities and the sciences in GAMSAT Section 1 and GAMSAT Section 3 along with writing copious amounts of essays for GAMSAT Section 2.
However, the reward makes it all worthwhile. Entry into your medical school of choice. There are so many fantastic GAMSAT medical schools in Australia but my first choice was the Doctor of Medicine at the University of Melbourne. Let me share with you my experiences of the Doctor of Medicine here in the hopes that you can use it as some strong GAMSAT study motivation.
First Year MD Course
The first year of Doctor of Medicine at the University of Melbourne is largely on campus and incorporates lectures, labs, tutorials and Cased-Based Learning (CSL) sessions. This means the majority of your week consists of:
- CSLs – amazing. At the start of each week, you get a case with a patient and associated symptoms. Throughout the week, you will be allocated a group of 10-12 first year students and associated lectures will give you enough information to solve the case.
- Tutorials held throughout the week. In between tutorials, people often study with friends and this was the best part of medicine. I would get together with a group of friends to divide the lectures for that week. There would be multiple lectures, and each person would make some MCQs for a particular lecture. We then complete a mini test and then explain the answer to everyone else.
The campus is gorgeous and I would often eat out at the many cafes next to the medical building during lecture or tutorial breaks. It was a nice way to break up the rhythm of the day and debrief with friends. You’ll mis campus after first year so don’t think it for granted and take the opportunity to socialise.
The ability to study medicine everyday on campus was absolutely surreal and the most fun I’ve ever had, though this was unfortunately hampered by Covid in the following year.
Second Year MD Course
Each person is shipped off to their clinical schools. There are 6 clinical schools and more details contained here: https://medicine.unimelb.edu.au/study/current-student-resources/md-students-resources/clinical-schools/clinical-schools-zones
- Austin Clinical School
- Epworth Clinical School
- Northern Clinical School
- Royal Melbourne Clinical School
- St Vincent’s Clinical School
- Western Clinical School
For those in the extended rural cohort, rural training would be provided to those students interested in practising medicine in a rural or regional location.
The larger the hospital, the larger the cohort. For those in smaller clinical schools, you’ll get to know your classmates really well as you will be with them for the rest of your degree. In second year, there are three major specialties that you will rotate through:
- General medicine
- Emergency medicine – probably the most fun. There are no ward rounds. Doctors will ask you bring in a patient, take their history and their examination. It is baptism by fire, really fun and hands-on.
Depending on the rotation, you will have mostly have ward-rounds in the morning (if in general medicine or surgery) which means you follow doctors around and see patients as they prepare them for the course of the day.
After the ward-rounds, there is free time to ask doctors if there is a patient available to take a history and have an examination. You are essentially set free in the hospital and most people are keen to teach and help out. It’s a very cool environment to be in and it feels good to go to hospital everyday to learn.
Throughout the year, we also learnt various procedural skills such as inserting a cannula, catheter and venous blood gas.
Third Year MD Course
The third year Doctor of Medicine course is the hardest by far. You move into more specialised areas of medicine and rotate through:
- Women’s health – Live vaginal births, Caesarean sections in theatre, gynaecology outpatient clinics, antenatal care, obstetrics and gynaecology presentations. Seeing a live birth was unreal.
- Paediatrics – deals with children and newborns. We rotate through paediatric ED and our involvement included taking histories and exams to present to the doctor. Generally very fun.
- General practice – Spent 6 weeks a GP clinic, can choose between metropolitan or rural clinics but unfortunately where you are placed is randomised to some extent.
- Aged care – inpatient care, palliative care, residential care
- Mental health – emergency presentations, psychiatric in-patients, community care
If you are in the Extended Rural Cohort (ERC), students will spend their time in regional Victoria (accommodation paid for) learning all the above specialties in a mostly primary health care setting. The curriculum and assessments are the same for other third year MD students.
These rotations really help you decide what you like and don’t like.
Highlights: Med Ball and Cocktail night
In addition, every we get the MDSC Student Conference. It is entirely organised by students and every year is amazing. We have had some amazing speakers: Dr Norman Swan and Leigh Sales have been two of my favourite over the year.
More information: https://www.melbournemdconference.org.au/
Every year, amazing people come to speak about all sort of things. You can pick the sessions you find most interesting (e.g. wellness activities like dodgeball with 100 classmates from different clinical schools, use of a microscopic camera) whilst learning a lot at the same time. It is impressive what students are able to organise.
Fourth Year MD Course
This will be my final year and the blog will be updated. It will be the end of university but the start of a longer journey.
Good luck to all University of Melbourne Doctor of Medicine applicants! You’ll get there!