Quantcast

Canadian Applicant for Aus Medschools - Whats wrong with rural ?

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.

VaselineTime

New Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2018
Messages
1
Reaction score
0

Members don't see this ad.
Hello everybody.
I'm a canadian ( 26M) who is looking to apply to an australian medical school. I have near 0 chance at Canadian or US schools due to terrible GPA, around ~3.4-3.5ish, my MCAT score on the other hand is at 517. my pharm degree GPA really dragged me down (grades are curved and I was playing around more than I should have). I have two years of experience as a community pharmacist at a rural location. Aside from working a variety of odd jobs (I've worked as salesmen for just about anything you can think of) and working for a regulatory body, there's really nothing else to add for my application.

To be honest I do enjoy working as a pharmacist and the pay is great, but I can't really see myself being a pharmacist forever. As part of a career soul search, I thought I'd try to "upgrade" to medicine and Aus medschool seems like a good place. While this may be scary for some, the thought of starting fresh in a new country is in many ways quite exciting to me. Along with med, I've also thought about comp sci, various start ups, etc. To be clear here, I am not totally fixated on medicine, but if there's ever been an opportunity to become a physician, this would probably be my one and only chance and I want to make sure that I explore every option I can.

So along comes the googling about becoming a physician in Australia. Oztrekk application was a breeze, requirements for International students seem low, perhaps too low and it's fairly clear why. I understand that I might be placing myself in quite a bit of debt (probably 500k) and would have to add the unrealized loss of around 400k due to not working as a pharmacist. Looking at all warnings from various posts about lack of residency spots in Canada and US, I get the feeling that maybe perhaps there isn't a shortage of residency spots per se, it's just that people don't want to do rural medicine.

Knowing what I've read online about Australia, I imagine my complaints about being a rural physician would be the hot weather, the dangerous wildlife, bad internet, possibly racist australian people? (I'm asian). Feel free to complete this list.

I've been in a rural location in Canada for two years. Yes there are challenges and downsides but something that I realized about myself is that I don't really care too much for living in cities, right now I only go back to socialize with friends. I'm OK with being a GP or FM in a rural location, doesn't matter if its in Canada or Australia.

So please answer the follow questions
Am I wrong to assume that there is actually enough rural residency spots for IMGs?
If not what's really the issue?
Is it purely the lifestyle factor?
Is the pay for rural physicians really low and might not be enough to pay for the cost of the degree?
 

marble30

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Oct 27, 2008
Messages
627
Reaction score
44
Feel like rural gets a bad rap around here. If anything, I feel like you actually learn more going rural since a lot of places are so understaffed. Plus LCOL compared to the major metropolitan areas so good if you want to save money.

Btw, the internet is ****, I will agree 100% with that, but that was the case in the capital cities as well.
Don't feel like racism is a significant issue. Sure you have some bogans occasionally but the majority of people are quite pleasant.
 

pms_testosterone

Full Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2014
Messages
721
Reaction score
344
It's possible, though not common, to get into Canadian schools with a 3.4 GPA. Several schools have a preference/quote for rural applicants. I wouldn't write it off.
 

Domperidone

Full Member
2+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2017
Messages
550
Reaction score
501
Hello everybody.
I'm a canadian ( 26M) who is looking to apply to an australian medical school. I have near 0 chance at Canadian or US schools due to terrible GPA, around ~3.4-3.5ish, my MCAT score on the other hand is at 517. my pharm degree GPA really dragged me down (grades are curved and I was playing around more than I should have). I have two years of experience as a community pharmacist at a rural location. Aside from working a variety of odd jobs (I've worked as salesmen for just about anything you can think of) and working for a regulatory body, there's really nothing else to add for my application.

To be honest I do enjoy working as a pharmacist and the pay is great, but I can't really see myself being a pharmacist forever. As part of a career soul search, I thought I'd try to "upgrade" to medicine and Aus medschool seems like a good place. While this may be scary for some, the thought of starting fresh in a new country is in many ways quite exciting to me. Along with med, I've also thought about comp sci, various start ups, etc. To be clear here, I am not totally fixated on medicine, but if there's ever been an opportunity to become a physician, this would probably be my one and only chance and I want to make sure that I explore every option I can.

So along comes the googling about becoming a physician in Australia. Oztrekk application was a breeze, requirements for International students seem low, perhaps too low and it's fairly clear why. I understand that I might be placing myself in quite a bit of debt (probably 500k) and would have to add the unrealized loss of around 400k due to not working as a pharmacist. Looking at all warnings from various posts about lack of residency spots in Canada and US, I get the feeling that maybe perhaps there isn't a shortage of residency spots per se, it's just that people don't want to do rural medicine.

Knowing what I've read online about Australia, I imagine my complaints about being a rural physician would be the hot weather, the dangerous wildlife, bad internet, possibly racist australian people? (I'm asian). Feel free to complete this list.

I've been in a rural location in Canada for two years. Yes there are challenges and downsides but something that I realized about myself is that I don't really care too much for living in cities, right now I only go back to socialize with friends. I'm OK with being a GP or FM in a rural location, doesn't matter if its in Canada or Australia.

So please answer the follow questions
Am I wrong to assume that there is actually enough rural residency spots for IMGs?
If not what's really the issue?
Is it purely the lifestyle factor?
Is the pay for rural physicians really low and might not be enough to pay for the cost of the degree?
Those are really thought out questions.
Certainly, you'll have more knowledge and experience than most med students or premeds entering medical school, about a life in medicine, the career etc. Which is a huge strength.

That said, community pharmacy may be quite different to hospitalist life.

Rural resident spots for IMGs.
Two separate things going on in this scenario.
If you attend an Australian med school as an international student, you're not an IMG.
IMGs = means that you have a non-Australian degree. So even Australina citizens with non-Australian degrees are IMGs. International students educated in Australia are in between IMGs and Australian domestic grads, so you are prioritized above even Australian citizens with non-Australian degrees. It's just like how international students in med school in the US and Canada are preferenced above "US IMGs" etc. Carib or off-shore grads to the US and Canada.

"Am I wrong to assume that there is actually enough rural residency spots for IMGs?"
It's not wrong to assume. It's just difficult to predict.
Have you got a crystal ball? I could use one too. Badly.
It's a hot topic because of the government report on junior doctor oversupply.
Doesn't matter whether you accept this to be true or not, it's what the government believes. Depending on what field you aspire to or where you are in Australia, you will feel the pressure too. And then there's ongoing maldistribution and training bottle necks. It's a complex scenario. So you have to assume an element of risk and perpetually being comfortable (or oblivious) to living on the edge.

There is far more security in rural positions (rural generalist (super GP/upskilled on the side) or rural GP). Because right now, there are gaps in these areas at the consultant and trainee level. It's hard to say what things will be like in 5-6 years. I'm not willing to place a number or assumption on this for you or other premeds and then be wrong later. Not when... it's not my life or money at stake, it's yours. so you have to decide on your own, is this worth staking my 300-500k on this? That certainly is a lot of debt to bear.

There's no "issue" with rural medicine which is deflecting people away necessarily. I would argue there isn't a bad rap.. I certainly didn't feel this not in a serious way. Apart from what a general, layman public thinks from the news outlets.

However, it's just not for everyone. That's the bottomline.
that's what you have to be careful about. How well do you know yourself? (rhetorical question).

Do you really want to spend the rest of your life working in something you're only 'okay' with? There's a lot of repetition in this job. in addition to occasional sparks of thrill or excitement. You have to be able to find the lows bearable on a regular basis. The other thing that many find they're not comfortable with is undifferentiated medicine or the sometimes "vague" medicine. People who go into FM or EM love this, they don't just tolerate it. But many subspecialists hate it with a passion. You don't want to end up in something you could potentially hate or become bored with. Not when you're about to spend 80% of your waking life doing it the next 20-30 years. you do assume some level of risk if you're only okay with something, it can become unbearable after a few years.

Rural is where the Australian government hopes to channel international students, that's the only place where there isn't bottle necks - right now (don't know about later). The country needs rural doctors. But, it's like every other field, it's suited for some but not others.

I couldn't say that orthopedics is suitable for everyone. Emergency medicine or obstetrics is not for everyone. I've come to recognize and accept that you cannot pigeon hole people or pigeon hole yourself really, into something you haven't actually tried.

Sometimes, there's no way of knowing what is the best 'fit' for you until your final years of med school, on rotations. And when you go off-shore, automatically, your choices of fields become limited, before you even have a chance to real know what your preferences or skill sets are. Priority in this country is on citizens with on-shore degrees. So, as an inernational it's much easier if you're sure that's what your passion was in the beginning. Similarly, should you wish to match back home, odds are higher that you'll end up in a rural GP position at home too.

Part of the reason there's so many more positions available in FM or rural FM/GP, is simply because there's many more positions 'created' for it relative to subspecialty medicine/surgery. You only need so many nephrologists - and they're only employed at larger hospitals that actually offer subspecialties. Whereas, you can place your 'community' outpatient GP/FM doc anywhere. Similarly, not all hospitals need ICUs, so you only have so many intensivists. It's just..math really in essence.

If there is a bad rap, it's this odd perception that it's 'unwanted'. When really, it's higher community demand relative to supply. There's far less people interested in ICU etc, but there's far fewer spots.

Pay for rural physicians is actually higher than city I would argue.
Many metro hospitals do not pay over time. Rural hospitals are in need of trainees and attendings - they will pay a lot to attract them. However, this is about minimum 7 years away for you as a premed. I honestly don't know what it's going to be like then. I'm not willing to bet someone else's 300-500k and the rest of their life.

Have a read of this article: Best in Country

Racist Australians. Haha.
I mean. It happens in every country when you're in a minority group. Doesn't matter where.
there's casual racism in the country - i.e. old people asking where you're really from. Because it can't be Canada etc. if you look Asian. generally, the hospital staff have low tolerance for racism and will look after you, with patients it depends on their level of education, age, socioeconomic status etc.

Also depends where in rural Australia you find yourself in.

I forgot to mention, some areas are going to be difficult to work in as a rural doctor. Just to do with less support and greater turn over in IMGs GPs or locums. There's pockets where there's a lot more domestically trianed doctors who stay for 20 years in taht one area. Or areas where doctors only ever stay 2-3 years at most. When you work in a high turnover area, it's greater pressure on you - there's always gaps to fill. It just becomes this chronic issue as no one wants to stay in an area like this - it's just too much. So some rural areas are better than others. In this sense.

Similarly, your own personality will be a better fit for some communities on the whole than others. Some rural communities are sleepy town with a largely retired and aging population. Others are mining communities, like Mount Isa. Or it could be that it has a high proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, as is the case with many northern territories or northern QLD towns. Or it's an industrial bust town, with drugs, depression, EtOH abuse, unemployment, addiction, chronic pain etc. Pick your flavor. Some people I've known are very passionate about changing things in their communities - some of them come from these types of rural communities in their backgrounds and choose to go back to serve similar ones. It's cathartic for them, on some level. Or it's simply the place where they feel like. There is the greatest need for their skills and attention, even though, they cannot hope to change a damn thing. that's what makes medicine as a whole, challenging. It's never in a vacuum, it's never, just the disease. And that is particularly true, of rural medicine.

If you're not interested in that stuff - that's perfectly okay too.
You just..need to be passionate about something or some aspect of it to survive and enjoy a very lengthy career that will be very demanding of your time and energy. Doesn't have to be amazing, but something about it has to keep you going everyday. And able to deal with the hard parts, on bad days, because you will get an assortment of good and bad.

Weather. Right.
Ha. You can choose to work next to the beach if you wanted and go surfing after work everyday.
If you end up in a busy job with big workforce gaps, you'll barely be outside to notice the weather.

It's possible, though not common, to get into Canadian schools with a 3.4 GPA. Several schools have a preference/quote for rural applicants. I wouldn't write it off.
Agree with this. At least apply a couple of cycles at home.
(pms testosterone.. lol. love it)

Consider US DO south of the border too. It's not some chiropractic degree - so many Canadians seem to think this.
With this, at least you're seen as a "domestic" US grad, without the stigma of offshore. with the chance of matching at the affiliate hospitals of whatever DO school you attend and more opportunities in different fields. the idea is just..more options and freedom.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

jedrek

Full Member
2+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2015
Messages
59
Reaction score
19
Thanks for the heads-up,Domperidone!

I was wondering if taking up rural elective experience in medical school,will give one a better idea of working in a rural healthcare setting?

Rural healthcare seems like a heavy commitment,taking one out of their comfort zone and to do that for the rest of one's life is subjective.You mentioned in an older post that movement from rural to metropolitan could be a potential challenge in the past,so I wondered if it helps for one to be exposed to rural healthcare settings in med school before they decide whether to commit to working as rural doctor.
 

Domperidone

Full Member
2+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2017
Messages
550
Reaction score
501
Thanks for the heads-up,Domperidone!

I was wondering if taking up rural elective experience in medical school,will give one a better idea of working in a rural healthcare setting?

Rural healthcare seems like a heavy commitment,taking one out of their comfort zone and to do that for the rest of one's life is subjective.You mentioned in an older post that movement from rural to metropolitan could be a potential challenge in the past,so I wondered if it helps for one to be exposed to rural healthcare settings in med school before they decide whether to commit to working as rural doctor.
Reminds me of a good point..

It's not always going to be that cut and dry. That during rotations, you'll just 'know' what field is right for you. that just doesn't always happen.

So, if you're not certain about rural, I don't know for sure that doing a rural elective as a student will help you decide. You can get a taste for it as a student on elective, but it's 4 weeks. That doesn't really give you any in depth feel for it. It's a very short amount of time. It's not really comparable to working, but any exposure is better than none.

You do have to differentiate in your mind that work is different to being an elective student. At least in Australia - this is going to be so. So, some people rotate through PGY1 and PGY2 (or even more) as residents before committing to the rural pathway - they work as rural doctors that rotate through various regional or rural hospitals. They try it out. Then apply to the college and complete the rest of their training in however long that takes. that's Australia. the land of..not rushing into things. No hurry.

(on the side, it's not going to be that way for North America (US or Canada) necessarily - as you're given more responsibility than you would as a student in Australia, the hours are longer for one. You may get on-call shifts with other residents or attendings supervising. It's a bit more like 'reality')

However, in some cases, some students will know early if something is for them or not. Some know as early as premed what they want to do later. Some know they want surgery, for others, it has to be gen med. Or maybe GP or rural med. etc. etc.

Rotations confirm what they were already leaning towards. If you like anatomy, you're more likely to gravitate towards surgery or radiology for instance. Others are from rural backgrounds, they know they will return to their roots, they like that strong connection with their community. You don't get that in a tertiary setting. Not nearly as much.
 
Last edited:
Top