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What happens when you finish your medical degree?


All Australian States and Territories require recently qualified medical graduates to successfully undertake and complete at least one year of supervised practice (known commonly as an Internship) in order to get full registration and to prove they are fit to practice.

This period of internship is done in accredited training hospitals and allows you to go through ‘rotations’ in various fields so that you can experience all facets of working as a doctor and perhaps find an area they want to specialise in, such as; paediatrics, oncology, general practice, surgery (see ‘Medical Colleges’ for more information on specialties).


Doctors who have completed their internship and are employed in a hospital but haven't yet completed pre-vocational training are known as residents. Once you have successfully completed your internship you qualify for full registration with the Medical Board in your state and can practice independently. Most people spend around two or three years working in residency as what are known as either ‘Junior Doctors’, ‘Resident Medical Officers’ (RMOs) or ‘PGY 1s and PGY 2s’ (Postgraduate years 1 and 2) to learn more about being a doctor and to decide where they would like to specialise. Many people choose to continue working in this area their whole lives as they love the diversity.

Specialist Training

A doctor who has completed their training to practise a particular branch of medicine is known as a specialist, while a doctor training to become a specialist is known as a registrar.

Specialist training allows you to specialise in a particular area and typically work in either specialty practice or a specific part of the health system.

Specialist training programs in Australia are governed by Medical Colleges and vary considerably in length and the type of hours you are likely to work. Most training programs are very competitive to get a place on and the application and entry procedure is typically a combination of an interview, supervisor’s reports of previous training, any previous relevant work experience and any relevant qualifications. Some medical colleges reserve and offer Indigenous specific training places.

For example, if you want to work with children you might choose to do Paediatrics and work in a Children’s Hospital or a Paediatric clinic. You might be fascinated by the body’s largest organ (the skin) and choose Dermatology as your specialty. Maybe you want to help people who are in accidents or have weak organs and choose to be a Surgeon. Or perhaps you are more interested in what makes people in your community sick and choose a research specialty such as Public Health. The exception to the rule of specialty training is General Practice. It is a recognised specialty, however by its nature it is very general in the type of work you do. Most doctors you visit, for example your family doctor, will be a General Practitioner. If you want to do a little of everything then maybe it’s for you.

For a list of Specialist Medical Colleges in click here.

This page was last updated on: 6/07/2010