How to become a Medical Doctor

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How to become a Medical Doctor

What do they do?

Doctors are highly qualified and skilled people who diagnose, manage, treat, cure and prevent illness and promote wellness in their patients.

There are lots of different types of Doctor, depending on your area of interest and strengths you might like to consider these options – but you won’t have to decide until much later on your journey to becoming qualified.

If you’re good with people, compassionate but analytical, can retain and use information in lots of different way, and enjoy variety then you could consider becoming a Doctor.

Duties vary depending on the type of Doctor and practise but examples include:

  • examine patients to determine the nature of the disorder or illness and record the patient’s medical information
  • order, perform and analyse laboratory tests, X-rays and other diagnostic images and procedures
  • provide overall care for patients, and prescribe and administer treatments, medications and other remedial measures
  • aid in the prevention of diseases and disorders by advising patients on diet, exercise, hygiene and general health
  • prescribe and administer medication and inoculate patients to prevent infectious or contagious diseases
  • provide pre-natal and post-natal care
  • report births, deaths and notifiable diseases to government authorities
  • arrange for patients to be admitted to hospital
  • refer patients to other medical specialists and exchange relevant medical details.

Skills required: 

  • Good communication skills, compassion and a good bedside manner
  • Self-confidence
  • Able to exercise high ethical standards
  • Enjoy working with people
  • Able to cope with the physical demands of the job
  • A high degree of motivation and self-discipline
  • Ability to work long hours, often under pressure
  • Good practical skills
  • Ability to solve problems
  • Effective decision-making skills
  • Leadership and management skills
  • Drive to continue learning throughout career
  • Analytical ability
  • Time management


The training required to accomplish this goal will take nearly a decade AFTER high school and be extremely rigorous.

Entry into medicine is competitive and you will need to demonstrate perseverance to complete the training, a strong desire to help others, a true intellectual curiosity about medicine in particular, and a love of learning in general.

You’ll have to complete:

  • Highschool
  • Undergraduate (3 years) & Master’s degree (3 years) OR a combined direct entry program (5-7 years)
  • 12 month (47 weeks full time) internship / postgraduate year 1 (PGY1) doctor completing rotations in: emergency medical care (12 weeks), medicine (10 weeks), surgery (10 weeks), & 19 weeks in a range of other approved positions in areas such as aged care, anaesthesia, general practice, palliative medicine, psychiatry, rehabilitation medicine or surgery.
  • Receive general medical registration through Medical Board of Australia (MBA)


  • Pursue a research career / work as locum / continue to work in hospitals as non-vocational doctor typically known as Career Medical Officers (CMOs).


  • Work 1 – 3 years as a resident and apply to a recognised medical specialty training program – Doctors during this period of prevocational on-the-job training are known as Resident Medical Officers (RMO) or “Resident”, Hospital Medical Officer (HMO) in Victoria or Trainee Medical Officer (TMO) in South Australia.
  • Obtain fellowship from one of the recognised specialist medical colleges, and practise medicine independently as a Registrar


  • Undertake additional sub-specialty training e.g. anaesthetists may undertake additional training in intensive care.
  • Obtain unrestricted Medicare provider number, which enables you to practise medicine independently in your chosen field, anywhere in Australia. Choose to practise in:
    • Private medical practice
    • A combination of private medical practice with a visiting medical officer engagement at one or more public hospitals
    • Employment as a staff specialist in a public hospital or health facility


Average salary: $107,442

Varies with experience, speciality, location, organisation, bonuses, overtime. (Source: payscale.com)

Job growth in this area is strong (source: Joboutlook.gov.au)


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