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Studying medicine - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students

We know how challenging it is to study medicine so we've pulled together this list of practical tips and real life advice to help you make the most of your time as a medical student.

Preparing for medical school


Contemporary medicine is challenging, exciting and dynamic.  Countless new discoveries are making their impact on medical practice, and the development of many new therapies and treatments arising from research in electronics, genetics and global health will mean future doctors face even more dramatic changes.

Medicine is an exciting and rewarding career.  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. Are you up for the challenge?

As an Indigenous Australian you may be eligible for one of the alternative pathways to medicine offered by the Universities with medical schools.  Of course, general entry is also available to you and you should check the other pages on this site for more information on entry into undergraduate and postgraduate medicine.

For information of preparing for medical school – through whichever portal you take – visit studying medicine

Lifecycle of a medical doctor


Source: Dr Tim Fazio, AMA VIC member, Doctor in training

Alternative pathways to medical school for Indigenous Australians


The following information is not intended to be comprehensive but will provide you with some avenues to explore.

To find out more, visit each university’s website for information specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people studying medicine and you may find some opportunities you had not considered.

Universities offer alternative pathway programs for many different reasons.  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people wanting to studying medicine might want to consider provisional entry (for school leavers) or direct entry (for graduates) options offered by some universities.

Entry requirements differ across the universities and it is important to understand what is expected from you before you apply.  The Leaders in Indigenous Medical Education (LIME Network) provides an online resource to assist future students determine which university or medical degree is best suited to them.

Where to get support and help


For information on how to cope as a medical student visit our webpage – studying medicine click here and for information on your medical career after graduation visit our page for doctors in training and career advancement click here.  The page with over 64 medical specialties and sub-specialities is worth visiting too as you may find your future career within the site - specialty training pathways guide click here.

For support contact your University Medical Society, Doctors Health Service and the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association

The AMA strongly advises that you have your own GP and if you do not have one, then either the Medical School or your local AMA may be able to assist you find one who will be your health-care adviser during these student years and beyond.

The Leaders in Indigenous Medical Education (LIME Network) consists of academic and professional staff from every medical school in Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand. More information is available on their website.

What’s next after graduation?


You will be eligible for membership of the AMA at the PGY1 (Intern) rate in the State or Territory in which you work or reside.  Click here for a list of State and Territory AMAs and their contact details.

Click here for a list of services and benefits you can receive as an AMA student member

You will also be eligible for membership of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association and full details are available on their website -



There are many scholarships available to Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander students wanting to study medicine in Australia. 

The AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship provides financial assistance to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders who are studying for a medical degree at an Australian university.

The Indigenous Scholarship Portal has information on scholarships available for students studying in Australia

The Aurora Education Foundation has a link to their scholarship page as well as information on applying for scholarships

What’s next after graduation


On completing your medical degree, you receive provisional registration and enter the workforce as an intern or postgraduate year 1 (PGY1) doctor.  This part of your training lasts for 12 months (47 weeks full time), and is usually undertaken in a public hospital - although interns will increasingly spend part of their training in general practice, community-based settings and private hospitals in the future.

As an Intern, you will undertake a series of work rotations designed to expose you to a range of clinical situations and environments.  This stage will help inform career choices for many graduates by providing experience in different medical specialties including general practice and provides grounding for subsequent specialist training.

Your 12 month internship will incorporate the following: 

8wks – emergency medical care
Providing assessment and management of patients with acute undifferentiated illnesses – including acutely ill patients.  Can be undertaken in emergency or in some general practice settings that provide equivalent experiences.

10wks – medicine
Caring for patients with a broad range of medical conditions.  Participating in assessment and admission of patients with acute medical problems. Managing in-patents with a range of general medical conditions.
Discharge planning (including preparation of discharge summaries and other components of handover) to the patient's GP and sub-acute/long-term care facility or ambulance care.

10wks – surgery
Caring for patients with broad range of acute and elective surgical conditions and/or who exhibit the common features of surgical illness including metabolic response to trauma, infection, shock and tumours (neoplasia).

19wks −
 a range of other approved positions in areas such as aged care, anaesthesia, general practice, palliative medicine, psychiatry, rehabilitation medicine or surgery. 

When you successfully complete your internship you receive general medical registration through the Medical Board of Australia (MBA). and you be eligible for full membership of the Australian Medical Association.

News flash!


AIDA and AMSA to collaborate on improving Indigenous Australians’ health and wellbeing


The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) and the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association (AIDA) have renewed their agreement to collaborate on improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing in Australia

At Old Parliament House in Canberra, the Memorandum of Understanding was signed by AIDA President Dr Kali Hayward, and AMSA President Alex Farrell.

“It was a wonderful event and great to see our two organisations come together and celebrate a relationship that strengthens us both,” said AMSA President Alex Farrell.

AIDA is the peak representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students and doctors, contributing to equitable health and life outcomes of Indigenous Australians. 

AMSA is the peak representative body of Australia’s 17,000 medical students.

Both organisations endeavour to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students, with a focus on increasing their recruitment and providing support to current students in order to improve retention.

Ms Farrell said that Australia has made improvements in recruiting Indigenous students to medical programs, with enrolment numbers approaching population parity. In 2017, 2% of all students starting medical school identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

“So much more can be done by medical schools to ensure that Indigenous students are supported throughout their degree, so they can graduate and become the doctors their communities need.” said Ms Farrell.

Each year, medical students set AMSA’s advocacy agenda through a national survey answered by over 1500 students, and every year Australia’s medical students identify the health of Australia’s Indigenous people as a core priority.

"When AMSA advocates on Australian Indigenous health issues, we know that the best way we can do that is by supporting AIDA initiatives. We will always apply the 'nothing about us, without us' motto.

“Today’s commitment is about working together to tackle the racism that Australian Indigenous doctors’ face.

“AMSA and AIDA have committed to welcome one another to their Representative Student Council meetings,”

“AMSA looks forward to welcoming more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students to all of our events,” said Ms Farrell.


Useful links


Study Medicine

Study Medicine identifies and compares each of the Australian university medical degrees - direct entry and degrees leading to undergraduate or postgraduate medicine.



This material is generic in nature and is made available on the understanding that the AMA is not engaged in rendering professional advice. Before relying on the material provided, users should carefully evaluate its accuracy, currency, completeness and relevance for their purposes, and should obtain professional advice relevant to their particular circumstances where necessary. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information on this Resource Hub, the AMA or its employees cannot be held responsible for any loss or damage arising to any person as a result of using this site.


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