How to become a Specialist Doctor

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How to become a Specialist Doctor

What do they do?

Specialists are fully qualified Medical Doctors who have decided on a particular area of medicine that they are passionate about and would like to focus on within their career.

If you’re really interested in a specific area of medicine, have all the qualities of a great Doctor and are committed and passionate, then you might like to consider your options to specialise within the medical profession.

There are over 64 different medical specialties to choose from in Australia, and within some of those areas, you can specialise even further:

  • Addiction Medicine
  • Anaesthesia
  • Dermatology
  • Emergency Medicine / Paediatric emergency medicine
  • General Practice
  • Intensive care medicine / Paediatric intensive care medicine
  • Medical administration
  • Obstetrics and gynaecology includes: gynaecological oncology, maternal-foetal medicine, obstetrics & gynaecological ultrasound, reproductive endocrinology and infertility, urogynaecology
  • Occupational and environmental medicine
  • Ophthalmology
  • Paediatrics and child health includes: clinical genetics, community child health, general paediatrics, neonatal and perinatal medicine, paediatric oncology, paediatric clinical pharmacology, paediatric emergency medicine, paediatric endocrinology, paediatric gastroenterology & hepatology, paediatric immunology & allergy, paediatric infectious diseases, paediatric intensive care medicine, paediatric medical oncology, paediatric nephrology, paediatric neurology, paediatric nuclear medicine, paediatric palliative care, paediatric rehabilitation medicine, paediatric respiratory and sleep medicine, paediatric rheumatology
  • Pain medicine
  • Palliative medicine
  • Pathology – include: general, anatomical, chemical, haematology, immunology, microbiology, forensic
  • Physician – includes: cardiology, clinical genetics, clinical pharmacology, endocrinology, gastroenterology & hepatology, general medicine, geriatric medicine, haematology, immunology & allergy, infectious diseases, medical oncology, nephrology, neurology, nuclear medicine, respiratory and sleep medicine, rheumatology.
  • Psychiatry
  • Public health medicine
  • Radiation oncology
  • Radiology – diagnostic radiology, diagnostic ultrasound, nuclear medicine
  • Rehabilitation medicine
  • Sexual health medicine
  • Sport and exercise medicine
  • Surgery including: cardio-thoracic, general, neurosurgery, orthopaedic, otolaryngology (head & neck), oral and maxillofacial, paediatric, plastic, urology, vascular


Duties: (vary widely according to speciality undertaken), examples of duties include:

  • undertaking patient consultations and physical examinations
  • admit or refer patients to hospitals
  • consult other medical specialists
  • using technical equipment to undertake laboratory tests and diagnostic procedures
  • analysing test results and other medical information to make diagnoses
  • assessing and planning treatment requirements
  • prescribing, administering and monitoring medication, remedial and therapeutic treatment and procedures
  • writing reports, referral letters, recording medical information and data
  • reporting specified contagious and notifiable diseases to government health and immigration authorities
  • organising workloads
  • performing surgical procedures
  • providing general pre- and post-operative care
  • liaising daily with staff including other doctors, non-medical management staff and healthcare professionals
  • promoting health education
  • managing a department
  • leading a medical team
  • keeping GPs informed about the care of their patients
  • teaching and supervising trainee doctors


Skills required:

  • excellent communicators
  • good leadership skills
  • able to solve problems under stress and in emergency situations.
  • compassionate
  • attention to detail
  • organisational skills
  • good record keeping
  • patience
  • stamina to work long hours and handle emotional stress
  • dexterity to work with medical equipment and tools



  • Become a registered medical doctor (see pathways in the Study Work Grow Doctor job spotlight).
  • Complete at least two years of postgraduate residency before they can enter a speciality training program (3-7years full-time) with an AMC accredited specialist college.
  • Pass clinical, practical and exit exams, and other assessments to test the full range of skills and behaviours required as a doctor, such as communication and team work.
  • Undertake vocational training in a public hospital, private hospital, or a regional, rural and community health settings. (The exception is general practice, where doctors undertake most of their training in designated private general practices in a community setting).
  • Awarded a fellowship from the college.
  • Apply for unrestricted Medicare provider number
  • Apply for jobs within any medical institution to practise independently in the area of your specialty.


Average Salary: 

As the jobs are so diverse, as are the institutions in which specialists practise, these figures are just a guide. They don’t include overtime, bonuses etc.

Neurosurgeon: $242,200 (range $60,402 to $502,004).

Anaesthesiologist: $153,506 range $51,583 to $296,958.

Physician / doctor, cardiologist: $120,000 range $60,000 to $400,000.

Obstetrician / Gynaecologist: $109,113 range $50,013 to $391,486

Paediatrician: $100,478 range $51,555 to $171,140

(Source: MEDIQ Financial Services)

Medical specialists $160,340 (Source: au.indeed.com)

Radiologist $154,783 (Source: payscale.com)

Emergency Room Doctor $102,718 (Source: payscale.com)


Future growth: strong (joboutlook.gov.au)




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