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For hesble and other Pre-Meds - Re: Pre-req's, Biomed vs Non-BioMed Backgrounds

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Domperidone

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Original conversation on this topic started in another thread (on a different subject matter)
Just moving it here to be respectful to the OP of that thread.

hesble's original queries or observations:
"A research concludes that there's almost no differences between science students and other students after they start working in hospitals. However science students generally score higher in USMLE step 1&2 so maybe it's not so scary. Well, that's just another topic and the conclusion isn't necessarily accurate. Especially when people don't know who publishes it.

The reason why I brought up the "pre req" thing is that.......
If only I had the chance to take science classes........
I mean, the system in North America and other countries are quite different. In North America, law and medicine are considered professional education, or graduate education . But in most of other countries, they are undergraduate. In my country, there are some universities that only have law and medicine majors. And unfortunately, I am studying at a law school. I have taken very few science classes since admitted into university because the school don't have many except something like computer science or forensic. All of the science classes are at introductory level. I have heard that medical schools require that students should take science classes at science majors' level ( corret me if I am wrong), which is another problem. Neither do I think introductory level classes are enough for studying medicine.

Another tricky thing is that we are not allowed to take classes other than what you are required to. For example, our school do have calculus class and it could only be taken by students who major in financial law. What I mean is that you are more than welcomed to sit in the classroom, but you can't get semester hours or grades of this curriculum.

I am curious about the students who have never taken science classes. Haven't they taken them in high school? I took all of them at that time. Besides, all of applicants are required to take MCAT or GAMSAT, aren't they? If they never took those classes, how did they make it to med school? Maybe it's argumentative, I think self-studying is a lot harder. I am going over the science lessons on my own (Thanks to resources on Internet ), it's obvious that what I have learnt before comes back really quickly, however, I am struggling with college level chemistry, especially biochemistry. It is said that GAMSAT requires less science knowledge. Anyway, I would love to know how they became med students.

I am also wondering what is a research semester. I thought all of the med students are required to have research experience by the time they graduate. Do you mean that schools that have 0 pre reqs don't reqiure research semester?"

Okidokes.

For starters, I realize what you're saying as a pre-med.
Because I also very well remember being a pre-med and what that was like.

On the other hand,
Bear in mind, that I've graduated from medical school. I'm a resident practicing medicine at a hospital. So, I make observations and comments as someone who lived through medical school, and like many of my classmates, mentored students in the years below. Similarly, I make observations as a resident with students that I'm now expected to informally mentor & teach.

Alrighty, so to respond to your first comment:

"A research concludes that there's almost no differences between science students and other students after they start working in hospitals. However science students generally score higher in USMLE step 1&2 so maybe it's not so scary. Well, that's just another topic and the conclusion isn't necessarily accurate. Especially when people don't know who publishes it."

Note that I was in no way comparing arts or science majors after they start working.
If both groups got to the end of their degree - it means everyone passed their courses through 4-6 years of study and lived to tell the tale. You end up at the same level. It doesn't matter. Everyone earned that degree. It's not an easy 4-6 years either. Many pre-meds believe that getting into medical school is the hardest part. It isn't. In some cases, getting in was the easy part.

To state the obvious, yes, students in their early years who take standardized exams are going to have different results. Someone with a biomedical background is going to have a head start compared to someone with no exposure. *this applies to anyone with a non-biomed background, a degree in say, physics is only going to give a bit of a head start compared to an arts student.

Science is not an easy thing to master, by the way. Neither is medicine. In the pre-clinical years of medical school (or first 2 years in most schools) it's like taking courses on how to speak a new language.

There are always going to be students who studied human physiology and anatomy prior to starting medical school. As in they have under grad or even graduate degrees in those areas. And if you attend a school without pre-requisites in those areas, there will also be students who've never touched those topics. This then becomes simple logic - if you examine those students on human anatomy let's say in the first few months to years of school, the students with 4-8 years of study and degrees on anatomy are going to do better than their peers who only had a few months of exposure.

Those with limited exposure catch up eventually, but it the learning curve is higher for them and they have to spend more time or work harder. The schools themselves will never cut anyone slack because they didn't take similar courses in their past life. You're all tested and measured the same.

Does it matter when you become a doctor or get to the end? No, in the end, you'll have studied all the same things in those 4-6 years. But it will be harder for you to catch up to your peers those first few months to years. It's a very humbling experience, but one that will make you stronger if you survive.

*Also, the grades of those without pre-reqs or science backgrounds, may not be as high as those with them. Like how you found in your research, the USMLE scores weren't as a great for non-science background majors. Again doesn't affect their performance after, but in the US let's say..it does impact on what residency programs they get into. If their USMLE scores aren't high enough, they probably won't get into a competitive specialty or program.

"If only I had the chance to take science classes........"
Okay, you actually always have the chance. When you finish whatever degree or studies you're completing now, you can take sciences courses. Depending on what college or university you're looking at, you don't have to re-enroll for a new degree either. There's options. Maybe not in the country you live in presently, but if you're wanting to move to a Western one to do medical school, you can take pre-requisites in that country prior to applying.

Also don't make assumptions about North America - I've had medical school classmates and tutees coming from North American arts, psychology, business and law programs too, and they were not allowed to take sciences courses either. Depending on what university they went to.

"Neither do I think introductory level classes are enough for studying medicine. "
The pre-requisite courses I was referring to for say, Uni Melb, are human physiology and anatomy. They want the package. It's not like they're asking for random science courses like Ochem and calculus for no reason.

For some other Australian medical schools, your entire first year of medical school is just human physiology, biochem and anatomy with a little bit of pathology but not much (these med schools then don't have to make you take any "introductory courses" unless you want to, but they do highly recommend it - because they re-teach it to you at breakneck speed).

This means at uni melb, let's say, they presume that you already know your physiology and anatomy, they don't need to teach or re teach it. That's why instead of two pre-clinical years of just coursework, they do one. Most other schools do the two years of pre-clinical coursework.

A few Australian medical schools will simply recommend that you take those pre-reqs courses before starting rather than requiring them. It implies that students in the past without those courses have struggled.

"Another tricky thing is that we are not allowed to take classes other than what you are required to. For example, our school do have calculus class and it could only be taken by students who major in financial law. What I mean is that you are more than welcomed to sit in the classroom, but you can't get semester hours or grades of this curriculum. "

Again, after you finish your studies in law or finance, no one is stopping you from taking sciences courses. I don't know about your country, but if you want to go a Western medical school, you can take pre-reqs at a separate college let's say in the country you intend to do medical school in. It wouldn't matter to them if it was in your home country or not.

No one is forcing you to finish your current studies either if you don't like it. It'd be a shame to drop out if you're close to the end though, on the other hand you're looking into switching to an unrelated field.

What I gather is that you would rather not waste time and just start medicine? It's your choice by the way, as it's your life. However, the options are there.

If you don't have a strong science background I would actually recommend considering the undergrad medical degrees over the grad level ones in Australia like JCU. (Undergrad med schools in Australia allow direct entry from high school, grad entry means that you have to have an undergraduate degree)

"I am curious about the students who have never taken science classes. Haven't they taken them in high school? I took all of them at that time. "

I'm dead serious. I have had classmates or students I've known who have never even taken a science course in high school. At that time for them, they weren't thinking about medical school. They were on a different trajectory. It's rare, but they exist.

"Besides, all of applicants are required to take MCAT or GAMSAT, aren't they?"

Yes they took those exams. There's courses that help you take those exams. they took those.
Relative to North American schools at least, the MCAT scores required for admission to an Australian school is very low. It is not hard to score well with no science degree. **Wait, I shouldn't say not hard. It's not impossible is what I meant. Also, medical school studies are not going to be like the GAMSAT and the MCAT.

"I think self-studying is a lot harder"
Yes it is.

" If they never took those classes, how did they make it to med school?... Anyway, I would love to know how they became med students"
I've addressed this in a previous thread.
For international students, many Australian schools have a very low bar for admission because they need money. There's schools in Australia that don't even conduct interviews or actual select their students. Or even simpler - if you meet cut off minimums (which aren't high either) you get in. It's great if you're pre-med. Look at it that way.

Down side is..you get a huge variation in strange personalities when you start medical school with people who got in without an interview. Some people are fantastic, others, you can predict will get weeded out eventually (you hope). That said. It's not a perfect system that we have. I know there's all these morals and ethics on what medical school should be and selection criteria etc. Where's the accountability (rhetorical question). But it's like any other profession to a degree. We're human. We're not infallible. We do the best we can, but we make mistakes and there's going to be variability. etc. (Personally, I think it's very amoral and unethical, not to mention unfair to local Aussies. Just thank gawd they're not selling residencies here like they are degrees)

Irony is, for those reasons I've just listed, they probably contribute to North Americans not being particularly happy with their citizens travelling to Australia/Ireland/Poland etc. for degrees. The entry level requirements and selection process is no where near as rigorous to Canada and the US.

"I am also wondering what is a research semester. I thought all of the med students are required to have research experience by the time they graduate. Do you mean that schools that have 0 pre reqs don't reqiure research semester?"

Not all medical schools have research semester built into their degrees.
In Australia, not all medical students complete formal research. You may have to do learn how to do research and write essays like you do in undergrad, or do a small research project that takes a month. However, there is always the option for you to do research on your own time, either during studies or on summer holidays.

Those schools with formalized research built in, do several months of only research under a clinician. They don't do rotations or do courses when they conduct the research. It's built into their curriculum.

That's about all I can say to that, I would suggest that you do your own research further into different programs. like using the worldwide med website then emailing the schools listed for further information.

With the schools with 0 pre-reqs - I'd recommend you email and ask them directly. You don't have to attend a school that incorporates research into their curriculum to get research. It just means you have to take the initiative to find research on your own, which isn't hard either.

Phew. That was a marathon.
However it goes, you'll be fine :)
 
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hesble

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I am really appreciated that you post such a long thread to answer my questions. And it's really nice to communicate with people around the world who could give me some insight of this.

I eamiled the admission offices a couple of months ago. Some of them said that they don't require pre reqs but recommended me to take them. Some of them don't care at all. One of the schools(I think it's ANU)even encourages students who major in humanity or sociology to apply. ( They want application fee?) Others stated that it would be easier for students with science background to learn grade 1&2 courses but there's no diffences after graduation. It seems that there's something wrong with outlook email service because I can't find those mails or I would have post their original words directly. So I can't remember what they said exactly. Anyway, their attitudes are quite different.

I am aware of post bac program in United States. As a matter of fact, there is even a section in Student Doctor Network.
https://forums.studentdoctor.net/forums/postbaccalaureate-programs.71/
But it seems that American schools rarely admit students who obtain their bachelor degreee overseas.
I never thought that I could take courses in Australin schools since their websites don't have a "postbaccalaureate" section. Either way, I will write a email later to ask them about this.

And sorry for making a wrong assumption. I always thought American students can take whatever courses they want because students from all kinds of backgrounds could be admitted into med school.
 

Domperidone

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No worries!
It's why I'm on SDN :)

Probably best that you don't post emails sent to you from medical schools, without their permission. It breaks their privacy and confidentiality on a public forum like this. They won't like that.

I'm not surprised at the range of responses you received. Australian medical schools are highly diverse. That said, it's not just about what medical schools want or suggest. Remember for many if not all of them, they need full-fee paying international students. You still have to be wary of that. For many schools - getting in is ridiculously easy for international students with $$$. Why do you think there's so many international students in Australia? It's not exactly a good thing. I'm not entirely sure what argument you're trying to make with iterating what the schools are telling you. If you want to get into an Australian medical school, one of them will definitely take you.

When you're actually studying and competing with other medical students, you may not like what you experience. Particularly at first, those with biomed backgrounds will be ahead of you for months to years, on at least the first few exams during med school. That's my observations based on the arts background or non-biomed students I've known. It was rocky for them. Were they frustrated, yes. They definitely expressed it. Some also emailed and complained to their school - why did you allow this? Can you please warn future premeds.

Not saying you have to have a science degree before starting med school. It is good for a school to have students of many backgrounds, and diversity in degrees. It's very much encouraged for the long haul. However, it will make your studies easier before you get to the end if you have done relevant and related courses. If you think studying science is hard on your own now, imagine how it's going to be in medical school. They don't offer any extra things for non-biomed background students. Medical school still involves what they call "self-directed learning". they love that buzz word.

If grades matter for jobs after, then you kinda need all the advantages you can get unless you don't mind having only the option of non-competitive fields when you finish. If they don't matter, well, it may not matter at all. then it really comes down to whether you're okay with being behind and living with struggling a bit at first. Again, you'll catch up. It just takes more effort and time. There's also a degree of mentoring and tutoring that students do for each other, depending on the school. Like peer tutoring programs.

Anyway, not trying to stop you from making whatever choices you wish to do. There's no wrong decision per se. However, you live with those consequences. Just trying to get you to think about it further, in ways you probably wouldn't be able to on your own. A lot of premeds can't truly envision what medical school is like, similar to a lot of med students can't actually understand what residency is like. It's something you can only experience.

With regards to courses in Australia before entering medical school, I'm not sure if the larger universities offer them as separate to degree programs. The medical schools won't offer any premedical programs by the way. You probably could enrol in say a smaller university or college and take courses there. I'm not sure about VISAs though. Again, don't rule out the undergrad medical schools that are more forgiving the first few years, if you don't have time or resources for prerequisites.

At any rate, it's good that you're curious and thinking about these things before leaping into something. At least the thought was there. It's..almost protective in itself to a degree. In that if you start med school and it's not what you hoped it would be, at least you were a bit more prepared mentally. It's good that you're asking questions. Many premeds who travel to a foreign country for medical school don't do that.
 
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hesble

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Well I post what the schools told me merely because I am curious why Australian schools' attitudes vary.
First, let's say United States. Those schools make it a requirement that students should take all the courses. On the contrary, British and Irish schools generally don't have any requirements and state that students who have different backgrounds are all the same when it comes to studying medicine. But Australian schools are just... diverse.
There are a lot of residency match threads here.
https://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/official-2016-im-match-results.1188438/
It's not hard to conclude that research is an important factor when it comes to residency match in US. Maybe it's the reason why they all have pre reqs?
As you just mentioned, universities that have pre reqs have another research semester. My opinion was that maybe schools which have different requirements also have different curriculums. (Maybe additional help) An Irish school even states that their curriculums target at non-science students.
No matter what the requirement is, it's clear now that non-science students would need to study much much harder. :(

I am well aware of the difficulty of graduating from med school. I've heard dropping out rate is not low and many students quit. Studying medicine is not only about intelligence, what's more important is perseverence. People always tend to think that studying medicine is to remember symptoms and medical terms but it's not the case. I know it because some of my family members are doctors and nurses. My grandmother was a doctor and she gave me several medicine books. May I say, reading them is not reading a foreign language, it's like reading another planet's language. Saying this may sounds a little bit strange: Complicated as it is, I always consider it the most facinating and even magical part of medicine.

I prefer to make full preparation(curriculums, life style or weather). There are students who just decided to study abroad yesterday without asking any questions. I am not trying to judge people but does it seem strange that people make disicions without asking or making full consideration? It's really nice that someone who has been through it are answering my questions here. I really appreciate it.
 
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Domperidone

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Lol. Another planet's language.

Much of the variability with regards to pre-reqs or selection criteria comes from several factors.
1. Some UK and Australian schools also offer the direct from high school entry programs. These tend to be 5-6 years and in which case, it's okay to not have strong science exposure prior to school. they baby you a bit more those first few years. The advantage is more time. So they can legitimately say, come as you are, no pre-reqs etc.
2. US and Canada do not have high school entry at all. You must have done some undergraduate coursework, have prior degrees and pre-reqs. Medical school is seen as grad school (implying its harder, greater expectations) it's condensed into 4 years (more demanding). It's also a lot more competitive and they want you to do well and survive.
3. Australian and Irish grad entry programs well..depending on the school they're a bit more lax. It really depends on how their own program is set up. I compared a few in an earlier post. Shorter pre-clinical years (so lecture based classes) usually implies they need you to have pre-reqs (so they're not actually taking short cuts with your education). Another thing that influences how they recruit students (particularly full fee paying) include their own pressures for more revenue. If they're trying to meet a $$ quota, then in order to meet that, they may lower their selection criteria so that more can attend and pay fees.
*4. Public health factors - which is getting beyond scope here. Hence why it's trendy now for the recruitment of those with strong arts and humanities backgrounds. However, that said, this is looking at things after you leave school. It stems from the whole idea of patients not wanting robots treating them, they want people adept at caring for them and being able to show empathy etc.

That said, everyone still has to also be able to survive medical school and residency. Again, not implying that you can't succeed without ever having touched any biomed or science before. Unfortunately, everyone is expected to get to the finish line at the same time. So the journey and experience of it varies. Having tutored struggling students (and liked them) the suffering sucks and I was sad to witness what they were going through. Among other things, it was hard for them to live with being constantly compared to peers who happened to have more years of exposure to related courses. It's not like it took weeks to catch up, it's months to years, with few exceptions. All the while they're demoralized.

Also, exams aren't necessarily the only measure of success. You have to live with whatever knowledge and ability (or lack thereof) you have once you start working. At any point in time, whether during school or residency, there's no guarantee that you won't get forced to withdraw or resign. I know interns that aren't going to make it past their first rotation mid-term evaluation. And they've graduated.

** N.B. these are very much generalizations (and they run the risk of being over-generalizations. But if you browse or search through other SDN forums, they probably go into better detail about pre-reqs etc. My main point is that the key difference for countries that typically rely on full-fee paying international students to a large scale is money)

If medicine wasn't hard, we wouldn't need separate professional schools for it in addition to residency (and registrar training in UK & Australia). Even students with a biomedical background find it hard. What no one will have in common, is exposure to pathology or clinical skills - that all comes during medical school.

It is surprising how little research many premeds do prior to starting medical school. Theoretically it is adult education, they should know better.
However, many are just so desperate for their dreams they rather blindly rush in. Also, they're likely still in their early or mid twenties when they start. Average age for starting medical school in Australia is something like 24-26. Many will never have worked before in their lives. etc. etc. The disappointment is unsurprisingly heavier and higher among the more naive let's say, in the cohorts, compared to those who walked in a bit more aware of what the risks were.
 
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jedrek

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Really impressed with your response,leaky sieve :) It provides a deeper perspective into pre-meds(international) applying to Australia postgraduate medical pathway.

*I am a pre-med biomed international looking to apply to medical school in Australia and want to share my perspectives as well.

I am curious about the students who have never taken science classes. Haven't they taken them in high school? I took all of them at that time. Besides, all of applicants are required to take MCAT or GAMSAT, aren't they? If they never took those classes, how did they make it to med school? Maybe it's argumentative, I think self-studying is a lot harder. I am going over the science lessons on my own (Thanks to resources on Internet ), it's obvious that what I have learnt before comes back really quickly, however, I am struggling with college level chemistry, especially biochemistry. It is said that GAMSAT requires less science knowledge. Anyway, I would love to know how they became med students.

Going to address the question through GAMSAT vs MCAT
Hate to say it but,GAMSAT is arguably easier than the MCAT. If you have the option of taking both(I do),I will take up the GAMSAT,even if I have a science background.

MCAT
-Requires you to have foundation pre-req knowledge as questions are a little focused on recall of info.
-percentile rating,score according to your peers,very small score rating of 472 to 528.
-4 components,now additional with psychology.(pre-psy background)
-target audience:pre-meds with science background
-multiple times a yr

GAMSAT
-Foundational knowledge is supplementary as questions are towards understanding
-percentile rating,more absolute scoring,do well in arts,able to compensate for science,vice-versa.Score rating of 0 to 100.
-3 components,essay writing
-target audience:everyone,science/non-science background.
-once a yr

GAMSAT is definitely more non-science friendly than the MCAT.

I guess some people who applied to medicine graduate entry,did so because they weren't really interested in medicine in the first place and somehow discovered their passion as they journey through college and are also currently scoring exceptionally well in their courses.Hence,this kind of accounts for the audience without science backgrounds.I came across a video of Sydney medical school graduate interns,in which one lady stated that she didn't even touched physics since her middle school days.

As to the part of how they cope with that,it varies from individual. In my country,we have enrichment classes,GAMSAT/MCAT prep enrichment centres that functions like a cram school for students,with really amazing performance. In a way,you just have to spend more $$$ to get your way out,if you can't cope well. Likewise,self-studying also works,even better if you do that in a small group,you can help each other out.(if one is better in science vs one is better in humanities,etc.)

I am also wondering what is a research semester. I thought all of the med students are required to have research experience by the time they graduate. Do you mean that schools that have 0 pre reqs don't reqiure research semester?"

Perhaps,I might be able to answer this question with some research on research experience in medical schools :p

Medical schools can be classified to 2 categories:1.train you to clinician or 2.train you to clinician scientist

*Just going to include the PG medical schools for convinience purposes

Clinician schools generally have no research component
Deakin
Flinders
Griffith
Monash
UQ
Wollogong

Clinician scientist(CS) schools have research component
ANU
Melb
Usyd(choice to do research)

I known students with Non-science background(NSB) entered into CS schools,in which are more research-oriented.The learning curve is steep for students without research experience in CS schools.

I feel students should think extremely hard about whether they are interested in research or clinical before applying to medical school. For the matter,if you are vying towards psychiatry,etc.(one of my interest specialties) or surgery or the more relaxed family medicine,you wouldn't want to spend your curriculum time doing research.This applies more if you already know what you want,but if you are clueless,then perhaps exposure to research might be a splendid consideration.

The pre-requisite courses I was referring to for say, Uni Melb, are human physiology and anatomy. They want the package. It's not like they're asking for random science courses like Ochem and calculus for no reason.
For some other Australian medical schools, your entire first year of medical school is just human physiology, biochem and anatomy with a little bit of pathology but not much (these med schools then don't have to make you take any "introductory courses" unless you want to, but they do highly recommend it - because they re-teach it to you at breakneck speed).
This means at uni melb, let's say, they presume that you already know your physiology and anatomy, they don't need to teach or re teach it. That's why instead of two pre-clinical years of just coursework, they do one. Most other schools do the two years of pre-clinical coursework.

Ah,the melbourne pre-req misery. Melb has been a little strict on the pre-req subjects,namely physiology,anatomy and biochemistry. In their prereq list,there's a huge list of unapproved modules from the various international universities and several of it requires taking like 2 modules to fulfill one component of physiology,anatomy or biochemistry.

Melb does have a community access programme that helps students clear the pre-reqs,but the cost is worthy of consideration. $4.4k for each credit point subject pre-req you missed.(excludes living expenses)

I believe monash emphasizes this as well,but in a different manner,for monash,you just need a biomedical degree. Either way,both unis turn off a huge number due to their emphasis on science backgrounds.

This explains Melb world university rankings.It really stood out,from their intensive programmes and pre-req requirements,but this is probably all in place to nurture a super level of medical graduates.

Overall,I think I might not even be able to apply for Melb with it's strict pre-req requirements,even with a biomed background,but got 6 schools to work with,more than satisfied.


If you don't have a strong science background I would actually recommend considering the undergrad medical degrees over the grad level ones in Australia like JCU. (Undergrad med schools in Australia allow direct entry from high school, grad entry means that you have to have an undergraduate degree)

Hmm,this is an interesting point that you mentioned.By considering 5yr undergrad med degrees,I don't think you will need to attempt the MCAT/GAMSAT,though you might be required to take the ISAT or the PQA in Australia medical schools. As for Irish universities,I believe it's possible to apply straight with a degree.Last but not least,it definitely opens a huge spectrum of options from the UK universities,with majority requiring UKCAT though.

*The bottom line is to decide if you are able to invest that 1 yr(considering you repeat/take the MCAT/GAMSAT as a gap yr after graduation) and dedicate the finances towards enrichment courses to doing really well for the MCAT/GAMSAT.As far as finances are concerned,1 additional yr overseas will deal a $60k blow to the wallets,compared to getting really amazing counseling and preparatory resources with $5k investment in MCAT/GAMSAT.

"Besides, all of applicants are required to take MCAT or GAMSAT, aren't they?"

The Monash university graduate entry medical programme is interesting e.g. of not requiring applicants to take MCAT/GAMSAT. However,one thing to bear in mind is that they require degree of biomed background,nonetheless.

http://www.med.monash.edu.au/medicine/admissions/grad-entry/2017-entry-international.html

I'm not surprised at the range of responses you received. Australian medical schools are highly diverse. That said, it's not just about what medical schools want or suggest. Remember for many if not all of them, they need full-fee paying international students. You still have to be wary of that. For many schools - getting in is ridiculously easy for international students with $$$. Why do you think there's so many international students in Australia? It's not exactly a good thing. I'm not entirely sure what argument you're trying to make with iterating what the schools are telling you. If you want to get into an Australian medical school, one of them will definitely take you.

Totally agreed with you on this,hence,I am rather confident with my Australia medical school options available. Had a few buddies applying via the undergraduate pathway for international students and they managed to get in. From what I know,international students applied to school A(better sch) and school B(worst sch),they got both offers and decided to withdraw from B. The international students who are waitlisted in B still got their offers eventually,albeit at a later time.

Another case of consideration is,the full fee paying places generally have a reduced admission criteria.(academic gpa scoring + interviews) I always wondered why,till recently I realised FFP positions are really essential towards generating revenue for the school.Hence,there's a lot of leeway for international students to pursue medical school,provided you hit the minimum entry requirements.

The one of them,or my back-up uni will be flinders,as it has the lowest competition pool amongst international students and I heard my fair share of bad reviews of it,by my fellow countrymen warning me not to go there.Still gonna try,nonetheless.

If grades matter for jobs after, then you kinda need all the advantages you can get unless you don't mind having only the option of non-competitive fields when you finish. If they don't matter, well, it may not matter at all. then it really comes down to whether you're okay with being behind and living with struggling a bit at first. Again, you'll catch up. It just takes more effort and time. There's also a degree of mentoring and tutoring that students do for each other, depending on the school. Like peer tutoring programs.

I daresay the pass/fail system in medical schools,will take a huge load of my shoulders,rather than focusing on that grueling Gpa numeral each semester.For the matter,it might be attributed that getting in is harder than surviving in there.The pressure is tough,but assuming that one took their undergraduate programme seriously(with aims of getting medical sch before UG),I do say surviving might be easier,as their preparation to get into med sch is immense.

I am actually preparing more than I need,for academics,I am looking at overloading my course units,in a way to graduate earlier and also challenge myself to perform the best possible.Kill 2 birds in one stone.
For extra-curriculars,I am looking at attending several pre-med workshops and am currently a regular volunteer.

I know this might sound a little overkill(actually following the US style of admissions and applying it to Australia unis),considering that Australia doesn't require students to overload their course and also have volunteer experience,but it's better to prep more than required,as only through that,you can almost definitely guarantee yourself a "spot" which you will be proud of at the end of the day.

I've heard dropping out rate is not low and many students quit.
It is surprising how little research many premeds do prior to starting medical school. Theoretically it is adult education, they should know better.
However, many are just so desperate for their dreams they rather blindly rush in. Also, they're likely still in their early or mid twenties when they start. Average age for starting medical school in Australia is something like 24-26. Many will never have worked before in their lives. etc. etc. The disappointment is unsurprisingly heavier and higher among the more naive let's say, in the cohorts, compared to those who walked in a bit more aware of what the risks were.

If I am clearly not wrong,there are more drop-outs in undergrad than postgrad. Honestly speaking,for this to happen in postgrad,I really want to face palm myself sometimes. Having been through college,the extra yrs to prepare yourself for the rigorous journey,as well as,connections with seniors out there,who paint you a general picture or if one is even bothered to do hospital shadowing ,should be a litmus test towards deciding between medical school or not. Of course,truth is usually harder to accept,if you have yet to experience it for yourself. Some people got to learn it the tough way.I still feel genuinely sympathetic for any medical aspirants who have been solely denied a medical school offer because of a medical drop-out.That place could have went to the next doctor-to-be.

Having worked for 2yrs(outside healthcare though) before commencing UG,I clearly empathize with your statement on the people desperately rushing for the medical dream.It might be a no-brainer why they are rushing,this is surprisingly more common for those whose countries,have UG and PG in it. There's a sort of comparison in mind with the UG and the people rushing in,are like,can't waste any more precious time because my friend is in Y3 or Y4 of their MBBS. This creates their tunnel vision towards getting it(goal-oriented) but not knowing about the programme they are going for at all.(process oriented)

Though,I might be contradicting myself by saying this,as I mentioned I am overloading course units. I know I am capable of it,as I made sure to update my academic plans for UG during my work experience to keep it realistic by overloading 1 module for 1-2 semesters instead of multiple modules and it also isn't for the long hurl of the entire UG programme. That being said,my work experience,albeit it not being in healthcare sector,has definitely affirmed me that medical school is what I am looking at and it definitely makes me less naive in the decision-making process.

Australian and Irish grad entry programs well..depending on the school they're a bit more lax. It really depends on how their own program is set up. I compared a few in an earlier post. Shorter pre-clinical years (so lecture based classes) usually implies they need you to have pre-reqs (so they're not actually taking short cuts with your education). Another thing that influences how they recruit students (particularly full fee paying) include their own pressures for more revenue. If they're trying to meet a $$ quota, then in order to meet that, they may lower their selection criteria so that more can attend and pay fees
.

In my opinion,Australia is more laxed than Ireland in it's admission process.You only require a 3yr bachelors degree in Australia compared to 4yr honours in Ireland.And generally speaking,as I mentioned above in my CS post,research is not for everyone,thus it applies to honours as well.In my country,everyone bandwagons honours,but after careful consideration,I might be abandoning the honours move as I heard from an agent that honours course has no added advantage to an application in Australia,unless of course,you fared poorly in your first yr,since the universities will only consider your final 3 yrs in the application.

Ireland,though has its perks of non-interviews,do well for the GAMSAT and flee the interviews as I termed it. 3 of 4 of their medical schools(except RCSI) have no interviews and they base your acceptance on GAMSAT results,with GPA as tie-breaker. And shockingly,if you take the Australia GAMSAT,which is applicable to Ireland's admission and score the average 57++,you can be accepted to the majority of the medical schools there. Apparently,Ireland has their own GAMSAT as well,with a lower average score of around 55+,so there's a clear advantage there.


Also, exams aren't necessarily the only measure of success. You have to live with whatever knowledge and ability (or lack thereof) you have once you start working. At any point in time, whether during school or residency, there's no guarantee that you won't get forced to withdraw or resign. I know interns that aren't going to make it past their first rotation mid-term evaluation. And they've graduated.

Truly agreed with this. There are doctors I read up,who fared poorly in medical school but excelled in clinical practice during their clinical rotations,vice versa. The practical aspect is vastly in contrast to the theory aspect of exams.You are put in a different environment,situation,without the comfort of your textbook to aid you. I guess this is one of the reasons why I prefer a more theory based specialty,such as psychaitry as I mentioned above earlier,as my strengths are in exams.(strangely) I think to each his own and one has to really find that out for him/herself at the end of the day post-intern year. Some people are amazingly specialised,so they really suck at every aspect of medical practice,except probably what they really enjoy.In the end,when they get what they want,their specialty,other aspects of medical practice wouldn't be as huge a stumbling block for them,as they virtually don't touch them anymore in their medical journey as a doctor.
 
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Domperidone

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Thanks for that Jedrek! Esp for the comprehensive overview to GAMSAT vs MCAT, Ireland v.s. Australia.
I ran out of steam xD but I don't think I could haven't been provided as much detail even if I tried.

Also for mentioning the community access program in Melbourne with 4.4k courses.
Didn't know about that!

Haha, all the pre-meds resent the prereqs Uni Melb has.
Having going through med school and graduated, I wouldn't think of it as a barrier so much as something that is there to the benefit of students.
It makes you stronger when you start and everyone is at the same "advantage".

Irony is that many of my classmates at uni's without prereqs wish that they started having them (excepting the 5-6 year programs). At least pre-reqs requiring some biological science or human physio/bio exposure, not 0. Things like basic sciences (physics) - kinda useless, but does help to have some minimal understanding of it, even if high school level. It helps with understanding things like cardiac physiology. We'd all gone through grueling years of med school watching our non-science classmates suffer or tutoring the struggling non-science guys in the years below. It's unfair of schools to throw in people with no exposure at all into postgrad, where they aren't cut any slack. And either they fail or barely pass first year. Eventually they catch up (they have to or they're cut). But it's not an enjoyable way to spend first year.

Some of these guys end up writing to the schools asking them why they allowed them to get in...
The answer is money, if you were ask me. But anyway.

Looking over long term,
if you think about things as a student. everything's kinda assessment driven. in other words, you're studying to pass an exam or attempt to do well
If you pass, you cut your losses. it's okay. at least you pass the course. repeating would have cost you 10k, repeating a year is another 60k in the hole.

What haunts people the most though, is that those courses you barely pass in, for whatever reason (you are of non-science background etc.)
you end up revisiting those subjects constantly. If you were ****e at Cardiac Pathology (or physiology if this is taught at your school) for example, I mean there's a level of physics to it that throws people through loops. You'll have to face those demons again when you do internal medicine - some cardiology is in there. Similarly, if you were crap at an anatomy and went phews, made it through that alive and passed. It'll come back to haunt you in surgery. Anatomy is the foundation to surgery. Again, it's making life harder re-teaching yourself anatomy and surgery at the same time. Or re-teaching yourself cardiac physio during your med rotation. Those two rotation are also among the most demanding rotations at least of your time.

Even if you survive school, you have revisit everything all over again as a intern (to a degree of course - some people argue it's just paperwork. um no it's not, you're also meant to be the first point of call on the team for any issues on the wards affecting patients you're caring for, from hypotensive episodes, to chest pain etc. etc. depending on your boss, some surgeons require their interns to assist too, on rounds, if the students don't know the answer to qs, who do they ask next? and it won't be the easy questions you get left with).

Re volunteering - it never hurts to have that.
even in australia. the schools' may not care, but as a international it will matter to you when you go to apply for jobs after you graduate.
CVs are starting to matter more and more. Apart from other things like strong referee reports. It may not be a necessity for internships, but everything helps. everyone wants to see consistency in volunteering. I would suggest continuing your efforts as a med students. They also want to see leadership skills and roles. Some would like to see that you participated in med school clubs. it's not to fluff the CV necessarily, but it demonstrates that when you are a resident you are more independent, you can work well on the teams. You'll take initiatives, you can think outside the box etx or outside the textbook. The more competitive specialties will look at your contributions to community, to hospital life etc. when you go to apply.

With research, agree with that.
You don't really need it for family med, rural med etc.
Given how competitive it is for anything hospital based now, you do need research. Earlier the better to show that not only are you capable, but that you were interested in your X competitive field for years and have the evidence to prove it. Research isn't easy to do, it's not just that it's hard, it's freaking annoying with how repetitive it can be. Most students have to do data processing and stats. Most hospital based careers at tertiary sites (so cities) have the expectation that fully trained doctors will conduct research and clinical trials. Research is life. Again, I'm in agreement that if that's not you, re-think what med school you wish to attend and which hospitals you wish to apply to.

The classic saying of not all good med students make good doctors and not all bad students make bad doctors.
It's true. And the quote is there to demonstrate how different school (particularly the classroom environment) is to residency.
Working is vastly different to studying.

Good luck with your applications guys :)
Hope to see you both posting as a students in the near future.
 

jedrek

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Thanks for your compliments above, :)

I wouldn't think of it as a barrier so much as something that is there to the benefit of students.
It makes you stronger when you start and everyone is at the same "advantage".


I can only agree with this if melbourne approves all anatomy,physiology and biochem modules from each universities. Take mine for instance,though I am going via the biomedical track,which gives me an opportunity to cover all the above from my university,but some of the modules aren't approved.

To make issues more complicating,the melbourne pre-req requirement for physiology in my country is a Y3 equivalent module,detracting their focus on Y2 level physiology foundations.

I know,that melbourne might not be able to satisfy every universities prerequisites,but to deny a biomed degree holder a place due to meeting pre-req requirements,is really cringe-worthy for me,especially if I have done all the above pre-reqs which unfortunately,will not be recognised despite me coming from an international university with similar prestige/rankings compared to melbourne.

My options to fulfill pre-reqs:

1.Do an exchange in melbourne and end up taking a module less for a semester. My university clears 5 modules in a semester compared to maximum allowable module that can be taken,to be 4 in australia universities,which applies to melbourne as well

2.Do an exchange in an overseas university,most likely going with this.

So far,I can only clear the biochem component in my uni.

Now,it truly is a barrier for applications to Umelb but I believe I will not "force" my way to clear the pre-reqs as this forum thread has clearly re-affirmed that I can concentrate on applying to other schools instead.

https://forums.studentdoctor.net/th...t-is-good-enought-for-uq-traditional.1243638/ >> The 3 medical school offers for an international applicant,in particular.

*I think there's a trade-off to schools asking for pre-reqs as competition is just going to be more intense as there is a certain expectation set on you.

Small fish,big pond or big fish,small pond concept.

The former applies to unis with pre-reqs requirements.Coming from a small fish,big pond background in my country,I prefer a change in environment that is big fish,small pond. I guess this applies mainly to my choices in the middle tier unis like UQ,ANU and Monash.(though,I will still give a shot to the upper tier unis,Syd/Melb)

Competition is nice,but it can be draining and if done too excessively,diverts attention from learning for interest. At least,in my country,I usually experience this as students generally learn for the purpose of grades,rather than interest,which in my opinion,can't be helped due to the pragmatic environment that is a norm in a highly competitive scenario,which I hope to avoid if possible.

It's unfair of schools to throw in people with no exposure at all into postgrad, where they aren't cut any slack. And either they fail or barely pass first year.

I think this is quite pertinent to students who decided to transit from a pure humanities background to medicine. I meant if you look at this from a different angle,you definitely wouldn't see people from a humanities background transit to biomed.

I feel that a huge part of their decision,can be associated with either 1.prestige/prospects 2.calling they discovered later on.

For 1,these groups of people want to transit to medical school,probably to escape their dire prospects or to attain better prestige,it will be really tough for them to play catch-up when the going gets tough.

For 2,these groups of people will persevere and stand with resilience even if the going gets tough for them.

The GAMSAT/MCAT has humanities components added,to give a chance for people with no science exposure to get to medicine,I believe that medicine is a career that requires both strengths in science knowledge and also humanities.(communication to patients and making ethical decisions) Science usually being the foundational knowledge that must be overcomed first.

I don't really think it's unfair as these students did managed to overcome the GAMSAT/MCAT(do have some scientific knowledge),unless they fluke their way through with memory work. Then,they will have to suffer the repercussions later on.

I also feel that the onus is on them to learn as much as possible in a short time,as they chose the 4yr graduate entry programme. You mentioned this numerous times that it's possible to take up the 5-6yr undergraduate programmes,so ultimately,their first test as a prospective doctor is to know their strengths and weaknesses,before deciding if they are good enough for the graduate entry programmes.Failure to do so,will meant that they haven't done the necessary preparations and evaluations and like you mentioned,jump ship for the sake of shorter medical school.


Re volunteering - it never hurts to have that. even in australia.

I think it is really nice that australia/ireland don't emphasize so strictly on volunteering.It really gives me a lot of free roam to plan when I want to volunteer during my free time and not encroach into my study time. During interviews,where they want to find out more about you,it can be a game-maker when you mentioned that you did regular volunteering in an elderly home or initiate large scale community projects.Just like that,no fluffing and I am very sure that interviewers can distinguish truth and lies.

Apparently,this doesn't work out in the states.Many pre-meds in the allopathic forum,state their number of community work hours,hospital rotation hours,lab research hours. I feel it's good to do all of these,but to be assessed and pitted against each other in the scale of hours,really drives away the intention of serving the community from the heart.

I also believe that not requesting for volunteer work from the australia universities,helps to distinguish those who do them out of compassion vs one who do it for the sake of getting in medical school. Seems counter-intuitive but I really support the applications in australia/irish unis.

Will try to post as a student in either the australia or ireland thread frequently if possible. In the meantime,sticking to my pre-med posting here and the ireland thread~
 
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Domperidone

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Lol..

Okay..

Jedrek, So, don't get me wrong here - I'm not a uni melb grad. I don't really care whether or not you want to go there as individual applicant.
All I'm saying is don't assume that a particular med school has prereqs to weed out anyone or create competition. When have you gone through the rigors and demands of med school?
If they want prereqs it's their right and their decision. If you don't want to go there if it doesn't suit what you're after, don't go there.

There's no competition for any full fee paying internatioanls to attend Australian schools. If you meet cut off's for a particular school you get in. Some schools don't even require an undergraduate degree, high school is enough. Great if getting into a med school is all you care about, because it means you will likely get in. it's not like applying to the USA, Canada or Ireland.

As you've pointed out, you're a premed.
I respect the perspectives you have, it's valuable too, with regards to gamsat or mcat etc. But don't make arguments about things you've yet to experience, with regards to medical school itself, you're making points as an outsider. I get that you've some healthcare experience and background in a country outside of Australia. It's not the same thing. Similarly, I would say the same to any med student making presumptions about residency.

There are things in life that are not truly understood until you've lived through it, med school and residency are among them.

I'm not going to argue anything points with you further. I'm a grad for chrissakes lol. I'm around doing this anonymously to help students in my spare time outside of work, to no benefit of my own.

Finally, volunteering - So, entry into US med schools is a different kettle of forums and threads. As are the Irish schools. If you want to argue that point about volunteering as a pre-req for US schools - feel free to try in those other forums, but you'd get killed. If you can phrase it respectfully without making assumptions - "why is volunteering important to American med school" - I'm sure many SDN attendings, interviewers and program directors are happy to address why it is important to their schools and many schools in their country.

Don't suggest that one system is better than the other, each system is entirely different and suited to their own purposes. You can't compare apples to oranges. It's trite. They're massively complex, sophisticated systems.

Australia's system is much longer and stretched out. It allows for life style balance and things to be more laidback. It is not the same in North America. It is more demanding on the day to day. They require the volunteer experience not just because of the competition being so high, but they need to know that you know what you're getting yourself into. If they're going to make a commitment to you for 4 years, they need to know you are capable of that too.

More than that, the Australian schools..they want/need your money. Ever wonder why it's more competitive for domestic Aussies to get into med school but it's not competitive for internationals? They are not going to be picky if you're full-fee paying, currently there's still plenty of full-fee paying spots to go around. They have their domestic students to replenish their future work forces. It's cherry on top if a few internationals fill in the least wanted rural residency spots afterwards, but no one in Australian is beholden to giving you a job or ensure you get one at home. They got your money, you got your degree.

At any rate, I was here to help out hesble :)
I've done that.
I'm out of this thread.

Ta.
 
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hesble

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Nope. The schools which have prereqs don't do that to create barriers. The first reason, as Leaky Sieve had stated, is to help you to understand basic medical knowledge. And I think the other reason is that medical schools hate those who decided to be a doctor yesterday. A student who wants to be a docotor would probably start prereqs and volunteering early according to requirements. I read a post somewhere. The professor said that “Don't tell me that you wanted to be a doctor at the age of five but you don't even bother to take a biology course.”
 
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