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Phloston

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[original post from 2012; there are 2015 and 2016 updates below]

I'm a third-year at UQ and am one of the three Americans (40 total) in my cohort who's not in Ochsner (i.e. I'm doing the full degree in Australia).

Cons:

The teaching here during the first two years is not satisfactory. That's just my opinion. There are plenty who are content with the program, but I also think most people are just oblivious or myopic as it is.

I expected a lot more hands-on anatomy/histology assessment during my first-year, and the program severely lacks that. The written assessment is also very minimal (equivalent to my undergrad university's physiology exams) such that many who pass still don't know that much.

The program also literally does not teach microbiology, pharmacology or biochemistry beyond a mere ostensible and/or cursory level.

Every student who comes here goes through a "realization" phase during mid-semester first-year where he or she becomes aware of the lack of guidance in the program.

A subtle cultural difference between America and Australia that has taken me some time to realize: Australians, in general, take greater umbrage to challenges/debates within the classroom. My classmates never pushed me to learn or grow. They would just seem to get offended if I questioned them to elaborate on what they knew. They were mostly very passive and decorous (like furniture), but not challenging whatsoever- very banal. This really bothered me because I wanted my classmates to push me to a level that probably could not be achieved by independent studying alone. At many times, I had felt I was at the wrong school and conveyed this by not displaying the greatest patience with some of my colleagues; this repetitive process during second-year was exasperating.

PBL/CBL (problem-/peer-based learning / case-based learning) during second-year, at times, can be very insipid and dragging. It adheres to a very fixed, focus-question-based learning style that doesn't really help anyone substance-wise. Since you're with the same group of nine other students all year (and meeting with them twice per week), although important personal-professional relationships can be developed, if you get a bad group, you're screwed, and PBL seriously can be the biggest waste of time, especially when you have other things to learn/do outside of class (i.e. the USMLE!).

Pros:

UQ offers a 6-year MD-PhD program. It entails two full-time PhD years intercalated between MS2 and -3. There is also part-time PhD work during MS3 (and 4 if necessary). In contrast (and as far as I'm aware), the overwhelming majority of programs out there are 7-9 years in length. Needless to say, I'm glad I have the option to get it done in 6, rather than to have it drag on for 8 or 9 years. Finding an advisor is super-easy, and there are quite a few UQ-affiliated research institutions to scope out.

Ironically, the weak program actually becomes advantageous when you begin prep for the USMLE. I was glad that I didn't have to deal with [too many] onerous requirements during my second-year because I was able to accelerate my external USMLE focus. This has carried into my third-year, and I will be sitting the exam in December. Since UQ doesn't teach micro, pharm or biochem, I've relied heavily on FA, QBanks and other external resources to improve these areas, blind as to the nature of the extent of my learning because I was never assessed by my school on these topics. Shockingly, micro, biochem and pharm have become among my strongest subjects so far, and I attribute that to "over-compensation" with respect to my school's deficits; no other conclusion could be a possibility.

There is also record of some of the world's highest USMLE scores having come from this school (once again, strongly due to external "over-compensation"). And when I say high, I mean really ridiculously, unnecessarily high.

There is a physiology professor during first-year, Terry Tunny, who is phenomenal. If only the entire staff/administration paralleled his excellence..

Clinical coaching during second-year is in the hospital wards and hands-on (mostly what you make of it).

I had the opportunity to do a two-month colonoscopy training course (on a $70,000 piece of vinyl). This actually helped me learn quite a bit, and I also got paid to do it.

There is an OSCE-exam at the end of second-year that mimics Step-2CS of the USMLE in some ways. This at least ensures a degree of practical competency before progressing to third-year.

The one-month elective at the end of first-year, where you work full-time in a hospital/clinic anywhere in the world, in any field or specialty, is A+++ (of course some people don't have the best time on theirs, but that's the exception rather than the rule). People tend to go international. I know many who went to Africa, the islands or wherever. I chose to stay local (for financial reasons) and worked in the obstetrics OT in Brisbane. I would literally scrub-in to assist with hysterectomies and Cesarean sections. I even helped with a natural birth. Compared to some of my friends who go to school in the States, they were blown away that I had had this experience this early on.

You can take advantage of being a med student and contact local surgeons/specialists to get "in" with them at your leisure. As I mentioned above, I did my one-month elective full-time in obstetrics, but I had actually been working with the same surgeon once per week for half of the year prior, just because I took the initiative to make contacts. Some of the other students in my program were amazed that I would leave class early to go help with a C-section, but meanwhile, if they had merely gone out of their way to contact whomever, they could have been in the same position. The same goes for the wards. You don't have to be shy and just show up when clinical coaching happens once per week. You can walk in whenever and see patients / do exams. Perhaps the flexibility is just as strong at other med schools, but I'm simply citing that as an absolute fact of this school regardless.

David Wilkinson, the dean, is extremely amiable and personable. I've met with him a few times, and it's been very evident to me each time exactly how and why he's dean.

Pathology is taught well during second-year, despite the lack of adequate assessment. I've read on other forums/websites, etc., that there are two types of med schools: those that teach path well and those that teach pharm well. UQ is definitely the former. I didn't come out of second-year feeling as though I was well-rounded. I came out feeling like I was supposed to be a pathologist or something (that's also probably because I had read Robbin's and BRS Pathology and had done an obscene number of path questions from various resources).

Brisbane is an awesome location. The backpacker-feeling north and south of here is phenomenal. The idea of being in Australia is exactly as it sounds. It's exotic. It's fun. It's the time of your life when you're in your 20s. I will forever be glad that I made my life more exciting by having come here.

At the end of the day, regardless of the pros/cons of the UQ program, you're only as good of a doctor as you choose to be. No program nor anyone around you, in the long-term, will or can dictate that. The drive to learn comes from within you, and that will get you anywhere in this world.

If you apply to UQ (or UQ-Ochsner), good luck. I hope my pithy statements here have been of at least minimal assistance.

-----------

Update (August 2015):

I'm now in my 6th and final year of the UQ program. Teaching on / quality of the clinical rotations in the latter two years is variable and highly dependent on getting lucky with whom you're assigned to / which teams you work with. Therefore the subjective component cannot be quantified and can differ entirely based on factors out of one's control.

Objectively however, I'm going to be as honest and candid as I can possibly be when I say that the quality of the slides / learning material issued by the school for the rotations is overall poor and outdated. I really don't want to be negative, since sometimes the most mature viewpoint is to not voice one at all if it's not positive, but I believe it's important people know that. The quality of the written assessment for the rotations is also very poor and often completely unrelated or meandering. This isn't just my own view; this is what everyone in the program talks about.

Now that I've finished the USMLE process (excepting Step 3 which is taken after med school), I could easily rewrite the slides and exams for every rotation in the program, as a complete overhaul, and the program would go from a D to an A. As I just mentioned above, I do not believe the subjective component as far as quality of mentors/teams is necessarily school-dependent, which is why I collectively use the course material and quality of assessment in my analysis of how strong the UQ program is.

What I can communicate is that if you show an enthusiasm to learn, be an active team player, and never put yourself first, people will be more likely to reciprocate and teach with enthusiasm.

And in terms of any update on preclinical years (which I finished long ago), I've heard through the grapevine that various first-year students were confused about the lack of guidance and didn't feel challenged; so perhaps not much has changed from that end.

-----

Update #2 (August 2016)

I'm a graduate of the UQ program and am humbled and thankful to have finished the process, for all that it has taught me and for the tools it's equipped me with to give back to others.

As per my first update above, made almost a year ago while I was a final-year student, one's experience in the clinical years is extraordinarily variable, and therefore one cannot make an overarching assessment of the school based alone on subjective or luck-based factors, such as team dynamics, quality of mentors, or degree of bonhomie.

So we rely on what's objective. I once again do not endorse the learning material as high-quality during the clinical years. And I say that as euphemistically as possible because I don't want to be negative here. There are many people who scrape by not learning that much. It will really be up to you to learn. And although that is how it will and should be throughout one's medical career, I make note that it is very important to build an independent study routine outside of what the school requires, otherwise, going off of the school's material alone, one's trajectory will be weak.

As a doctor I would say most of my raw knowledge from med school came from studying assiduously for the USMLEs. I'd recommend that, even if you have zero interest in going to the US, to pursue those studies abreast the Ochsner cohort. I also found that when I was on rotations, occasionally when I'd mention USMLEs to interns/residents, they'd ask if I felt I was learning a lot / if it made a big difference; this led me to the impression that there's a tacit awareness that students and doctors who've pursued the USMLEs are comparatively stronger.

The most important thing during clinical years is to have a good attitude and learn the job of the intern. It's not about what you know or how amazing you are. People will respect you infinitely more for being quiet, humble and always available, compared to any knowledge you bring to the table. That is possibly the most important piece of advice I can give to any individual who is entering a medical program. Medicine is most fundamentally about character building. And people will transform from first-year to the time they walk out that door at the end. Most of that change will occur on rotations.

By far the biggest con of the program is the lack of timely communication and personalized correspondences by the school. The admissions process was fine. But there were quite a few times as a student that I had inquiries and would actually receive no response at all from the school. I recognize people are busy, but it shouldn't ever have had to be an exercise of temperament. There are other low-points, but truthfully I don't feel I need this update to descend into a jeremiad.

The most salient pro is the school has exceptional senior admin who are very tolerant, understanding and friendly. I put out my regard to Dr. Jenny Schafer, the current director of the medical program, as one of the most friendly, empathetic and valuable role models at the university.

Once again, I am thankful and humbled to have gone through the process. I hope this post was even minimally helpful.
 
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bc2m

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This is great. Thank you for taking the time to write this, and for the advice, though that perhaps wasn't your primary aim. I appreciate your objective view of the program.
 

Phloston

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This is great. Thank you for taking the time to write this, and for the advice, though that perhaps wasn't your primary aim. I appreciate your objective view of the program.

Funny enough, I had originally written the first part of this post as a response to your thread, but decided that someone searching "pros/cons of UQ" in Google might have better success if I had made it search-friendly via its own thread.

Thanks for taking the time to read and respond.
 
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bc2m

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Funny enough, I had originally written the first part of this post as a response to your thread, but decided that someone searching "pros/cons of UQ" in Google might have better success if I had made it search-friendly via its own thread.

Thanks for taking the time to read and respond.

Haha! Cool.
 

Cdn mo

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THanks for the post..I am currently apply for this upcoming cycle. I'm applying to UofMel, UQ, Flinders. UofMel and Flinders because of the MD program. Something in my head does not allow me to get a BMMB or wateve they gave out at UQ. But after your post I might make UQ my first choice.

I might have some questions later but I gotta run to work now. Is it ok if I PM you?
 

Phloston

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THanks for the post..I am currently apply for this upcoming cycle. I'm applying to UofMel, UQ, Flinders. UofMel and Flinders because of the MD program. Something in my head does not allow me to get a BMMB or wateve they gave out at UQ. But after your post I might make UQ my first choice.

I might have some questions later but I gotta run to work now. Is it ok if I PM you?

The MBBS equals the MD in the States. Before taking any Australian degree over to the US, you must sit the USMLEs and become ECFMG certified (which essentially just means submitting your USMLE scores and med school transcript). ECFMG certification, which is required for all IMGs, isn't granted unless the degree is recognized as a true equivalent of the US's. This means that once certification has been granted, you can have "MD" on your white coat (or however you want to think of it), once you're in residency in the States.

Btw, the recent trend of Melbourne offering an MD vs MBBS is simply to attract international applicants- no other purpose- but once you go back to the States, it doesn't make a difference anyway. I also had never heard of Flinders offering the MD. I guess they're really trying to "up" their applicant pool.
 

shan564

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Btw, the recent trend of Melbourne offering an MD vs MBBS is simply to attract international applicants- no other purpose- but once you go back to the States, it doesn't make a difference anyway. I also had never heard of Flinders offering the MD. I guess they're really trying to "up" their applicant pool.

I'm not sure if this has changed, but for a long time, Melbourne was having trouble getting accreditation for their "MD" program. When they changed the system, they were no longer subject to a lot of the MBBS regulations (most significantly, they're able to give out as many full fee-paying places as they want, which allows them to charge a lot of tuition money), so accreditation wasn't guaranteed. I'm sure it'll be sorted out eventually, but I wouldn't want to take the risk.

This issue was brought up at one of the Sydney Uni Medical Society's meetings last year. Somebody had proposed the possibility of us also changing to an MD degree, but it was shot down because it's a marketing ploy that might have negative ramifications. Those of us who are planning to practice in the US will get the "MD" title anyway.
 

Phloston

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I'm not sure of the technicalities regarding what the Australia programs actually do internally when they change their degree-name, but regardless as to whether a particular school markets MBBS or MD here in Australia, certification by the ECFMG, which is required when taking any medical degree over to the States, is recognition of their equivalence to the US degree, and so all are "MD" in the States.
 

Cdn mo

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Hey. I was wondering if you knew how the conversion for GPA works. I know the cut off is 2.7/4 gpa but theres also the third year x3..second year x2...am sooooo confused with all this.

thanks in advance
 

Phloston

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Hey. I was wondering if you knew how the conversion for GPA works. I know the cut off is 2.7/4 gpa but theres also the third year x3..second year x2...am sooooo confused with all this.

thanks in advance

Don't worry about GPA. It's difficult to judge international GPAs anyway, especially since schools differ so substantially. The UQ application rides almost entirely on your MCAT. Although UQ has been known to have accepted scores as low as 24 (and as high as 43), if you at least break 30 (my cohort's average), you'd likely be guaranteed a place insofar as you apply early.
 

shan564

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Hey. I was wondering if you knew how the conversion for GPA works. I know the cut off is 2.7/4 gpa but theres also the third year x3..second year x2...am sooooo confused with all this.

thanks in advance

Just use this formula:

[ (your sophomore GPA) + 2*(your junior GPA) + 3*(your senior GPA) ] / 6 .
 

shan564

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Yeah, but I'm guessing that if somebody is so concerned about the conversion, then their GPA is probably borderline. I don't know about other schools, but USyd is pretty firm about the cut-offs.
 
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Cdn mo

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Just use this formula:

[ (your sophomore GPA) + 2*(your junior GPA) + 3*(your senior GPA) ] / 6 .


Wow, i love this formula...i just went from a 3.3 GPA to a 3.65 GPA..but i do understand the MCAT is important...Just out of curosity what were you all GPA applying into aussie med school?

this leads me to my other question. I plan on sitting the MCAT on june 21...do u think that will be late for applying this cycle..I originally was not planning on going to Aussie (ireland was my first choice) but i figure why waste a year when i can start in Jan..Most schools start interviewing late July, around the time when my MCAT is sechdule to be released. what do you guys think?

Another question..if the aussie school term goes from Jan-Oct...and you wanted to come back to US for residency...then would you not be missing the residency match by a semseter and be matching with the following year, in a sense, your schooling will take 4.5 years to match because your not in sechdule with north american school year. OR can you make up the different during your last year where you can do back-to-back electives (during 4th yr) and not take a break after third year to match in time with students starting medical school in Sept. 2012 in north american

If your start Aussie medical school Jan 2013..you will finish Oct. 2016..missing residency start dates for 2016

IF your start US medical school in Sept. 2012...you will finish May 2016..in time for matching start dates in June and July

I hope i made sense :)

Thank you in advance
 

Phloston

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Yes, the Australian calendar is displaced relative to the US one, so there is a 6-7-month period before starting residency. There's nothing any of us can do about that.

I think it's actually a good thing to be honest. I plan on using that time to travel and maybe work at a clinic/hospital on one of the South Pacific islands. After all, we'll be full-fledged doctors (or doctor-doctors) at that point, and our expertise would obviously be needed in the third-world, somewhere.
 

Cdn mo

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Yes, the Australian calendar is displaced relative to the US one, so there is a 6-7-month period before starting residency. There's nothing any of us can do about that.

I think it's actually a good thing to be honest. I plan on using that time to travel and maybe work at a clinic/hospital on one of the South Pacific islands. After all, we'll be full-fledged doctors (or doctor-doctors) at that point, and our expertise would obviously be needed in the third-world, somewhere.


I thought there was some way of making up the time..

You seem to be the guidance counsellor for UQ..so heres a couple of questions lol

How many years does it take to finish internship aka residency in australia for GP/FM..i think thats the residency with the lowest amount of years

and lets say you want to get into orthopedics...how many years would that be?

I tried looking for this information but it seems theres many stages but no years were indicated..like MO/RO etc...

Also, what is average day as medical student like?...is it 9-5 for three weeks then exam..or is it like semester system where the course last for 3-4 months and you take 4 courses at a time?


Hey i appreciate all you answer by the way :thumbup:
 

Phloston

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My perception of the Australian internship/residency process is still incomplete, quite honestly. My view is that it is a more subjective process than it should be. The US at least relies on selecting its applicants based on USMLE scores and research; Australia seems to preferentially adhere to medical school grades and letters of recommendation. Also, no matter how well you perform in medical school here / no matter how much research you produce while in med school, international-born students (i.e. any of us who were born in the US), are fifth on the list for getting preference of residency here in Australia. So you could have been an awesome student at UQ, but a domestic one will always get his or her pick before you. I just find that absurd, particularly when any one of us could just take the USMLE and get our top pick in the US (easier said than done, but doable).

In terms of studying, medical school is also just what you make of it. There are many people who just get by, but yet again, I wouldn't trust them as my doctors. The UQ med schedule itself, with regard to class hours, etc., is not particularly fastidious, but you should always be doing >8 hours/day of studying. Once again, most people don't do that, but they should.

And yes, the program is broken into semesters, with both mid- and end-of-semester exams.

Hope that helps,
 
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finalrace

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Thanks for all the helpful posts guys! This is probably the best thread on the UQ MBBS exprience written this year that I have come across.

Phloston, since you said MCAT is the determining factor for UQ, would 32S (PS14, VB7, BS11) MCAT written Sept 2009 (written 3 months more than 3 years ago) be acceptable and competitive for 2013 entry?

Any advice would be appreciated!
 

shan564

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Also, no matter how well you perform in medical school here / no matter how much research you produce while in med school, international-born students (i.e. any of us who were born in the US), are fifth on the list for getting preference of residency here in Australia. So you could have been an awesome student at UQ, but a domestic one will always get his or her pick before you. I just find that absurd, particularly when any one of us could just take the USMLE and get our top pick in the US (easier said than done, but doable).
,

I just want to clarify one thing here for the people who don't have a great understanding of how the Australian system works. The bottleneck with regard to "preference for residency" is only for your first year, or your internship. After the internship, everybody is on equal footing.

Thanks for all the helpful posts guys! This is probably the best thread on the UQ MBBS exprience written this year that I have come across.

Phloston, since you said MCAT is the determining factor for UQ, would 32S (PS14, VB7, BS11) MCAT written Sept 2009 (written 3 months more than 3 years ago) be acceptable and competitive for 2013 entry?

Any advice would be appreciated!
A 32S will be competitive at every Australian school, but unless something has changed, that score is too old. When I applied to UQ and USyd, they both told me that I needed to retake the MCAT - I took it for the first time in August 2005 and I was applying in mid-2008 for entry in Jan/Feb 2009. So I re-took it in Jan 2008.

Phloston said:
And yes, the program is broken into semesters, with both mid- and end-of-semester exams.
Huh, that's interesting... USyd is quite different. We had five blocks in each year, and each block had a different systems-based subject (i.e. a 10-week foundation block, and then 8 weeks of musculoskeletal, 6 weeks of resp, 5 weeks of heme, 7 weeks of cardio, etc.). Then we just had one big exam at the end of 1st year (over all of those topics) and one big exam at the end of 2nd year (which was 80% 2nd-year material and 20% 1st-year material). There are some smaller exams in between, but the final end-of-year exams are worth 80% of your final mark for each year (and to clarify - there are no grades in the first two years, so your final mark is just "pass/fail").

In 3rd/4th year, it was even more complicated than that... some of our rotations had exams at the end, while others didn't... and then we had one big exam at the end of the year that covered everything, and we get grades based on our results on those exams.
 

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How many years does it take to finish internship aka residency in australia for GP/FM..i think thats the residency with the lowest amount of years
The absolute minimum is one year of internship plus three years of GP training. But most people don't get into specialty training straight after internship (unless you want to do psychiatry or pathology, or if you're just a great candidate), so you do another "residency" year after the internship.

and lets say you want to get into orthopedics...how many years would that be?
For most people - one year of internship, two years of "residency" (which is basically just more intern years so that you can get more experience), at least three years of basic surgical training, and then three years of orthopedics training. I do know one person who got into basic surgical training after one year of internship, but he was really good. So overall, you're looking at 8-10 years.


Now, that sounds like a lot of years, but you have to consider the fact that it's VERY different from American training. You get decent pay, decent hours, and decent autonomy after you finish your intern/resident years. The GP trainees essentially practice independently and occasionally consult their supervisor if they need help with something. On my rotation, my GP supervisor told me that her trainees (aka registrars) actually get paid more than she does... but that's probably just because she wasn't the best businessperson (she had three full-time staff members doing a job that could be done by one... and various other inefficiencies).
 

Phloston

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Thanks for all the helpful posts guys! This is probably the best thread on the UQ MBBS exprience written this year that I have come across.

Phloston, since you said MCAT is the determining factor for UQ, would 32S (PS14, VB7, BS11) MCAT written Sept 2009 (written 3 months more than 3 years ago) be acceptable and competitive for 2013 entry?

Any advice would be appreciated!

UQ explicitly states on the website that the minimum MCAT scores taken into consideration are 8/8/8/M. I know of a student (who also failed out, coincidentally) who was public about his 24. I don't know if he had had 8/8/8 vs 8/7/9, etc., but it had always been my impression that scores below 8 weren't considered. The application process is variable, and since 30 was the average for my particular cohort, they might give you some leeway, despite the 7V. Things are very lax over here (more than you'd expect), and I'd doubt they'd throw a 32S that is "one-year expired" back in your face. I would still apply with that score.

On the flip-side, you'll do well on the USMLE (once you actually get to med school), because unlike the verbal section of the MCAT, which necessitates your interest in some random author's most likely view on Mexican art during the 1600s, the USMLE is like the science sections of the MCAT: short, sweet, problem-solving-based.
 

finalrace

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Phloston and Shan564, thanks so much for your advice! I rewrote MCAT a few days ago, but still feel uneasy about verbal. Hopefully the score improves from last time so I can reapply with new scores if necessary.

Thank goodness USMLE won't be like the verbal.
 

Cdn mo

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Hey finalrace.

Out of curiosity, are you applying to any Australian medical schools? If so which ones?

I am also applying for this upcoming cycle. UQ, UM and i might add USyd (but last choice).

Best of luck on the MCAT, waiting for the marks is the best part lol jokes!!!
 
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finalrace

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Hey, thanks for the well wishes. You're right, waiting is the "best" part of it.

I applied to UQ early using my old scores. Currently waiting for new scores to apply to Sydney and reapply to UQ if necessary.
 

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Also, no matter how well you perform in medical school here / no matter how much research you produce while in med school, international-born students (i.e. any of us who were born in the US), are fifth on the list for getting preference of residency here in Australia.

I think you're referring more to the internship process -- once you've received your general registration (after internship) you will be on an equal footing with the rest of your peers, as others have pointed out.

You also have to have permanent residency before you apply to any of the colleges. For the rural generalist program, entry into the college will scored based on a situational judgement exam and interviews. Your recommendations come last. And for those who intending to be generalist, the 10 year-moratorium comes into effect -- you'll only be assigned a medicare number if you practice in the regional/rural regions.
 

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I think you're referring more to the internship process -- once you've received your general registration (after internship) you will be on an equal footing with the rest of your peers, as others have pointed out.

You also have to have permanent residency before you apply to any of the colleges. For the rural generalist program, entry into the college will scored based on a situational judgement exam and interviews. Your recommendations come last. And for those who intending to be generalist, the 10 year-moratorium comes into effect -- you'll only be assigned a medicare number if you practice in the regional/rural regions.

But depending on what you want to do, you can spend many of those 10 years as a registrar, so you won't need a medicare number.
 

neulite30

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On the flip-side, you'll do well on the USMLE (once you actually get to med school), because unlike the verbal section of the MCAT, which necessitates your interest in some random author's most likely view on Mexican art during the 1600s, the USMLE is like the science sections of the MCAT: short, sweet, problem-solving-based.

4th year UQ American non-Ochsner student here (i.e. I live in Brisbane).

Won't type too much, suffice it to say there is enough time to supplement your UQ work with board prep (if you're motivated).

MCAT: 28 (first time was a 24)
USMLE Step 1: 244
USMLE Step 2CK: 265

I'm not applying to the states, but I have heard of those in the years above me matching in respectable places. [Do note the NRMP published stats on American IMGs during the match (50% I believe)]
 

Blankdots

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There is also record of some of the world's highest USMLE scores having come from this school (once again, strongly due to external "over-compensation"). And when I say high, I mean really ridiculously, unnecessarily high.

Where did you get this information from? And how high is 'ridiculously high' - Although some guy who posted on this board earlier did say he got 276 in step 1.

I have to say though, overall your assessment of Australian medical schools is pretty spot on. As a local student, I have to say that compared to what some of my friends are going through now in the US, the level of competition and intensity is a fraction of what it is in the states.
 

Phloston

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Where did you get this information from? And how high is 'ridiculously high' - Although some guy who posted on this board earlier did say he got 276 in step 1.

I have to say though, overall your assessment of Australian medical schools is pretty spot on. As a local student, I have to say that compared to what some of my friends are going through now in the US, the level of competition and intensity is a fraction of what it is in the states.

If you've read about the 276, then you have your best information.

Which school are you at?
 

Blankdots

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Nice to see a fellow UQ student here (sorry I blew your cover).

Haha not UQ :p. Nice guess though

I do have a question that you might be able to answer though.

Will you still be applying for an internship in Australia?
I know there is an obligation to sign a contract in Australia, and that there is also a contractual obligation to fulfil your residency match in the US.
What are the implications of not fulfilling your residency match?
 
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Phloston

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Haha not UQ :p. Nice guess though

I do have a question that you might be able to answer though.

Will you still be applying for an internship in Australia?
I know there is an obligation to sign a contract in Australia, and that there is also a contractual obligation to fulfil your residency match in the US.
What are the implications of not fulfilling your residency match?

At this point, I'm about 100% sure I will not be applying for internship in Australia.

The only factor that genuinely determines whether or not you'll be successful with the match is your USMLE performance. It's the same as with the MCAT (or GAMSAT / UMAT here in Australia).
 

aheadric

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Hey Phloston,

I've been looking into medical school in Australia and though its been difficult to find a lot of solid information, this page and your input has been very helpful. One of the issues I'm currently trying to better understand is the finances. I've been accepted at a few good universities here stateside and though the tuition cost overall is generally comparable, I feel I stand a good chance of securing some form of financial aid. When attending a school such as Queensland, how have you managed the bill? Did they offer any sort of financial aid package and/or were any scholarships available to you?

Secondly, I noticed your status lists you as an MD/PhD student. If I were to attend QSM, it would be with the hopes of pursuing the same degree. On their site, it seems as though, and correct me if I'm wrong, that you must be accepted into the MBBS program before applying to do the PhD work. Is there no direct entry path for the MD/PhD program? Lastly, what all requirements did you have to meet with an American degree, since we don't have what they list as the required "honours degree", in order to gain admittance. I would love to hear more about your personal experience with research there and the PhD program in general if you ever have the time. Thanks!
 

Phloston

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Hey Phloston,

I've been looking into medical school in Australia and though its been difficult to find a lot of solid information, this page and your input has been very helpful. One of the issues I'm currently trying to better understand is the finances. I've been accepted at a few good universities here stateside and though the tuition cost overall is generally comparable, I feel I stand a good chance of securing some form of financial aid. When attending a school such as Queensland, how have you managed the bill? Did they offer any sort of financial aid package and/or were any scholarships available to you?

I'm guessing you're an international student? I've secured loans from the USA for the duration of my studies here (= $530,000 for 7 years of MD/PhD tuition + living expenses). Some people might find that absurd, but I'm aware that I'll make it back quickly as a plastic surgeon.

Scholarship is not available for the medical degree. PhD scholarships are rare, despite students occasionally proclaiming that they've gotten them and/or UQ boasting of its generousness. Scholarships for domestic students are much easier to find.

But when push comes to shove, scholarship for the PhD really just comes down to a combination of luck and how stubborn you are. I had found a few projects that were being offered alongside full-scholarship, but I just wasn't interested in any of them. Some people pursue a PhD project, perhaps ever so slightly divergent from their career goals, based merely on the financial feasibility of it and/or sholarship having been available; although the latter are obviously important considerations, I found pretty much the exact project/advisor I was looking for that coincides with my career goals in plastic surgery, and to me, that's greater luck than having found scholarship (and no I'm not just making an optimistic rationalization).

Secondly, I noticed your status lists you as an MD/PhD student. If I were to attend QSM, it would be with the hopes of pursuing the same degree. On their site, it seems as though, and correct me if I'm wrong, that you must be accepted into the MBBS program before applying to do the PhD work. Is there no direct entry path for the MD/PhD program?

That is correct. You enroll as MBBS and then search for an advisor during your first or second year of the program. At that point, you contact the graduate school (not the med school) and tell them you're a medical student interested in the combined MBBS/PhD (aka MD/PhD), and then they send you an invitation to apply.

I had met with several advisors during my first year of medicine until I had found the one that was right for me. I told the graduate school I was interested and they sent me an invite at the end of first-year. I was accepted into the PhD early during second-year.

Let me make a point clear: there is no such thing as a combined MBBS/PhD "program" at UQ. The two degrees are completely independent of one another. In other words, while I'm working on my PhD, I am on leave of absence from the SoM and am enrolled at the graduate school. When I finish the PhD, I will re-enter third-year medicine at the SoM. The MBBS/PhD isn't offered by the SoM; two different UQ schools offer both degrees separately.

Lastly, what all requirements did you have to meet with an American degree, since we don't have what they list as the required "honours degree", in order to gain admittance. I would love to hear more about your personal experience with research there and the PhD program in general if you ever have the time. Thanks!

I had a four-year biochemistry & molecular biology degree from the States. Because 95+% of Bachelor degrees in Australia are 3-yrs, and the 4th honours year is optional, I was surprised to find that, when I arrived in Australia, I held an honours degree. That being said, it's not the length of the degree that's important as much as it is your previous research experience. You need to submit a CV to the graduate school as part of your application for the PhD. On the CV, you need to include research. This helps big-time. I personally hadn't had any published research at the time I applied for the PhD, but I believe I still got in because I was fortunate to have received ridiculous recommendations from doctors I knew in the United States, whom I had worked with prior to having moved to Australia. So yeah, just get good recs.

Hope all of that helps,
 

pitman

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I know there is an obligation to sign a contract in Australia, and that there is also a contractual obligation to fulfil your residency match in the US.
What are the implications of not fulfilling your residency match?

I've never heard of this. Do you mean a contract that says you'll stay for all your pre-vocational training? That doesn't exist as far as I know, and it wouldn't make much sense since you're not applying for residency (specialty) training but just internship (and then the following year for just that RMO year). Then, once you're a registrar in a specialty training college (akin to being a resident), there is also no binding contract -- registars drop out of and switch training colleges all the time.

Certainly there's a 1-year work contract with Queensland Health though (I think it may be 2 years in some other states). And if you get state-sponsorship in Qld to get a fast-tracked permanent residency visa after finishing internship, you do check a box that says you agree you'll stay in Qld for 2 years, but that's unenforceable (according to the federal dept of immigration, who would be the only agency able to enforce such a requirement).
 

pitman

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Correction: the latest news is that there may be a return-of-service requirement for former int'ls, at least for some of the additional spots created for next year (is this what you meant, Blackdots? In which case, damn! you're on the ball, as it's moving fast). This the latest for Queensland (58 spots for the current 76 spotless int'ls):

"Queensland Health (QH) will be recruiting an additional 18 interns to commence in 2013 in response to acceptance of the Commonwealth offer to fund an additional 40 interns in Queensland provided QH funded an additional 18.

All 18 interns will be recruited from the pool of Queensland International Full Fee Paying (IFFP) medical graduates who have not yet received an intern offer for 2013.

QH is considering options for a return of service obligation from the 18 additional interns. The Commonwealth will most likely seek a return of service from the 40 intern positions they are funding for 2013.

There are currently 76 priority four candidates who have not yet been offered an internship with QH for the 2013 clinical year. Priority four candidates are medical graduates of Queensland universities who are overseas permanent residents or overseas citizens, other than New Zealand citizens and are permitted to remain in Australia for internship."

(http://www.amaq.com.au/gdesign/9801_on/spot1.html)
 

apr27

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@Phloston Very insightful posts, man! As someone coming from the States, making a move to Australia as opposed to just going to Caribbean feels like a tough decision. In all honesty though, I'm very concerned about my current application to medical school as I don't think I'm a "competitive" applicant and the rejections just keep piling on. Thus, the prospect of applying to Caribbean or Australia is becoming ever more enticing.

So, did you have any qualms about your move to Australia and how did you overcome them? I'm just worried about not putting myself in a good position to match into a competitive or to come back to the states. Are my concerns just very superficial?

Thanks,

apr
 

shan564

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Congrats man. Great score. I'm sure you're stoked.
 

asimhaqq00

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I'm a third-year at UQ and am one of the three Americans (40 total) in my cohort who's not in Ochsner (i.e. I'm doing the full degree in Australia).

Cons:

The teaching here during the first two years is not satisfactory. That's just my opinion. There are plenty who are content with the program, but I also think most people are just oblivious or myopic as it is.

I expected a lot more hands-on anatomy/histology assessment during my first-year, and the program severely lacks that. The written assessment is also very minimal (equivalent to my undergrad university's physiology exams) such that many who pass still don't know that much.

The program also literally does not teach microbiology, pharmacology or biochemistry beyond a mere ostensible and/or cursory level.

Every student who comes here goes through a "realization" phase during mid-semester first-year where he or she becomes aware of the lack of guidance in the program.

A subtle cultural difference between America and Australia that has taken me some time to realize: Australians, in general, take greater umbrage to challenges/debates within the classroom. My classmates never pushed me to learn or grow. They would just seem to get offended if I questioned them to elaborate on what they knew. They were mostly very passive and decorous (like furniture), but not challenging whatsoever- very banal. This really bothered me because I wanted my classmates to push me to a level that probably could not be achieved by independent studying alone. At many times, I had felt I was at the wrong school and conveyed this by not displaying the greatest patience with some of my colleagues; this repetitive process during second-year was exasperating.

PBL/CBL (problem-/peer-based learning / case-based learning) during second-year, at times, can be very insipid and dragging. It adheres to a very fixed, focus-question-based learning style that doesn't really help anyone substance-wise. Since you're with the same group of nine other students all year (and meeting with them twice per week), although important personal-professional relationships can be developed, if you get a bad group, you're screwed, and PBL seriously can be the biggest waste of time, especially when you have other things to learn/do outside of class (i.e. the USMLE!).

Pros:

UQ offers a 6-year MD-PhD program. It entails two full-time PhD years intercalated between MS2 and -3. There is also part-time PhD work during MS3 (and 4 if necessary). In contrast (and as far as I'm aware), the overwhelming majority of programs out there are 7-9 years in length. Needless to say, I'm glad I have the option to get it done in 6, rather than to have it drag on for 8 or 9 years. Finding an advisor is super-easy, and there are quite a few UQ-affiliated research institutions to scope out.

Ironically, the weak program actually becomes advantageous when you begin prep for the USMLE. I was glad that I didn't have to deal with [too many] onerous requirements during my second-year because I was able to accelerate my external USMLE focus. This has carried into my third-year, and I will be sitting the exam in December. Since UQ doesn't teach micro, pharm or biochem, I've relied heavily on FA, QBanks and other external resources to improve these areas, blind as to the nature of the extent of my learning because I was never assessed by my school on these topics. Shockingly, micro, biochem and pharm have become among my strongest subjects so far, and I attribute that to "over-compensation" with respect to my school's deficits; no other conclusion could be a possibility.

There is also record of some of the world's highest USMLE scores having come from this school (once again, strongly due to external "over-compensation"). And when I say high, I mean really ridiculously, unnecessarily high.

There is a physiology professor during first-year, Terry Tunny, who is phenomenal. If only the entire staff/administration paralleled his excellence..

Clinical coaching during second-year is in the hospital wards and hands-on (mostly what you make of it).

I had the opportunity to do a two-month colonoscopy training course (on a $70,000 piece of vinyl). This actually helped me learn quite a bit, and I also got paid to do it.

There is an OSCE-exam at the end of second-year that mimics Step-2CS of the USMLE in some ways. This at least ensures a degree of practical competency before progressing to third-year.

The one-month elective at the end of first-year, where you work full-time in a hospital/clinic anywhere in the world, in any field or specialty, is A+++ (of course some people don't have the best time on theirs, but that's the exception rather than the rule). People tend to go international. I know many who went to Africa, the islands or wherever. I chose to stay local (for financial reasons) and worked in the obstetrics OT in Brisbane. I would literally scrub-in to assist with hysterectomies and Cesarean sections. I even helped with a natural birth. Compared to some of my friends who go to school in the States, they were blown away that I had had this experience this early on.

You can take advantage of being a med student and contact local surgeons/specialists to get "in" with them at your leisure. As I mentioned above, I did my one-month elective full-time in obstetrics, but I had actually been working with the same surgeon once per week for half of the year prior, just because I took the initiative to make contacts. Some of the other students in my program were amazed that I would leave class early to go help with a C-section, but meanwhile, if they had merely gone out of their way to contact whomever, they could have been in the same position. The same goes for the wards. You don't have to be shy and just show up when clinical coaching happens once per week. You can walk in whenever and see patients / do exams. Perhaps the flexibility is just as strong at other med schools, but I'm simply citing that as an absolute fact of this school regardless.

David Wilkinson, the dean, is extremely amiable and personable. I've met with him a few times, and it's been very evident to me each time exactly how and why he's dean.

Pathology is taught well during second-year, despite the lack of adequate assessment. I've read on other forums/websites, etc., that there are two types of med schools: those that teach path well and those that teach pharm well. UQ is definitely the former. I didn't come out of second-year feeling as though I was well-rounded. I came out feeling like I was supposed to be a pathologist or something (that's also probably because I had read Robbin's and BRS Pathology and had done an obscene number of path questions from various resources).

Brisbane is an awesome location. The backpacker-feeling north and south of here is phenomenal. The idea of being in Australia is exactly as it sounds. It's exotic. It's fun. It's the time of your life when you're in your 20s. I will forever be glad that I made my life more exciting by having come here.

At the end of the day, regardless of the pros/cons of the UQ program, you're only as good of a doctor as you choose to be. No program nor anyone around you, in the long-term, will or can dictate that. The drive to learn comes from within you, and that will get you anywhere in this world.

If you apply to UQ (or UQ-Ochsner), good luck. I hope my pithy statements here have been of at least minimal assistance.

I was wondering if as a international student if it was a requirement to pass the australian boards in order to graduate as it is in america?
 

shan564

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I was wondering if as a international student if it was a requirement to pass the australian boards in order to graduate as it is in america?

You just have to pass your med school exams. I don't know about other places, but at USyd, we had final exams at the end of 4th year that were definitely more comprehensive than USMLE Step 2CK. But they weren't as stressful, since you don't really need a high score like you do on the American boards.
 

Pollux

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Some people have PMed me about wanting me to post my board score on this thread. Well anyway, just got the result back.

USMLE Step1 = 262

Congratulations, Phloston! I think you beat me hands down in terms of your dedication to preparing for this exam.

I noticed that you wrote your Step 1 Thoughts and Experience too. 26 Pages!? It's like you're writing a book, man. ;)
 

shan564

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Congratulations, Phloston! I think you beat me hands down in terms of your dedication to preparing for this exam.

I noticed that you wrote your Step 1 Thoughts and Experience too. 26 Pages!? It's like you're writing a book, man. ;)

Hey, it's Pollux! Dude, you're like a celebrity around these parts. I should have tracked you down while I was on the interview trail...
 

periodicmesa

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I'm a third-year at UQ and am one of the three Americans (40 total) in my cohort who's not in Ochsner (i.e. I'm doing the full degree in Australia).

Cons:

The teaching here during the first two years is not satisfactory. That's just my opinion. There are plenty who are content with the program, but I also think most people are just oblivious or myopic as it is.

I expected a lot more hands-on anatomy/histology assessment during my first-year, and the program severely lacks that. The written assessment is also very minimal (equivalent to my undergrad university's physiology exams) such that many who pass still don't know that much.

The program also literally does not teach microbiology, pharmacology or biochemistry beyond a mere ostensible and/or cursory level.

Every student who comes here goes through a "realization" phase during mid-semester first-year where he or she becomes aware of the lack of guidance in the program.

A subtle cultural difference between America and Australia that has taken me some time to realize: Australians, in general, take greater umbrage to challenges/debates within the classroom. My classmates never pushed me to learn or grow. They would just seem to get offended if I questioned them to elaborate on what they knew. They were mostly very passive and decorous (like furniture), but not challenging whatsoever- very banal. This really bothered me because I wanted my classmates to push me to a level that probably could not be achieved by independent studying alone. At many times, I had felt I was at the wrong school and conveyed this by not displaying the greatest patience with some of my colleagues; this repetitive process during second-year was exasperating.

PBL/CBL (problem-/peer-based learning / case-based learning) during second-year, at times, can be very insipid and dragging. It adheres to a very fixed, focus-question-based learning style that doesn't really help anyone substance-wise. Since you're with the same group of nine other students all year (and meeting with them twice per week), although important personal-professional relationships can be developed, if you get a bad group, you're screwed, and PBL seriously can be the biggest waste of time, especially when you have other things to learn/do outside of class (i.e. the USMLE!).

Pros:

UQ offers a 6-year MD-PhD program. It entails two full-time PhD years intercalated between MS2 and -3. There is also part-time PhD work during MS3 (and 4 if necessary). In contrast (and as far as I'm aware), the overwhelming majority of programs out there are 7-9 years in length. Needless to say, I'm glad I have the option to get it done in 6, rather than to have it drag on for 8 or 9 years. Finding an advisor is super-easy, and there are quite a few UQ-affiliated research institutions to scope out.

Ironically, the weak program actually becomes advantageous when you begin prep for the USMLE. I was glad that I didn't have to deal with [too many] onerous requirements during my second-year because I was able to accelerate my external USMLE focus. This has carried into my third-year, and I will be sitting the exam in December. Since UQ doesn't teach micro, pharm or biochem, I've relied heavily on FA, QBanks and other external resources to improve these areas, blind as to the nature of the extent of my learning because I was never assessed by my school on these topics. Shockingly, micro, biochem and pharm have become among my strongest subjects so far, and I attribute that to "over-compensation" with respect to my school's deficits; no other conclusion could be a possibility.

There is also record of some of the world's highest USMLE scores having come from this school (once again, strongly due to external "over-compensation"). And when I say high, I mean really ridiculously, unnecessarily high.

There is a physiology professor during first-year, Terry Tunny, who is phenomenal. If only the entire staff/administration paralleled his excellence..

Clinical coaching during second-year is in the hospital wards and hands-on (mostly what you make of it).

I had the opportunity to do a two-month colonoscopy training course (on a $70,000 piece of vinyl). This actually helped me learn quite a bit, and I also got paid to do it.

There is an OSCE-exam at the end of second-year that mimics Step-2CS of the USMLE in some ways. This at least ensures a degree of practical competency before progressing to third-year.

The one-month elective at the end of first-year, where you work full-time in a hospital/clinic anywhere in the world, in any field or specialty, is A+++ (of course some people don't have the best time on theirs, but that's the exception rather than the rule). People tend to go international. I know many who went to Africa, the islands or wherever. I chose to stay local (for financial reasons) and worked in the obstetrics OT in Brisbane. I would literally scrub-in to assist with hysterectomies and Cesarean sections. I even helped with a natural birth. Compared to some of my friends who go to school in the States, they were blown away that I had had this experience this early on.

You can take advantage of being a med student and contact local surgeons/specialists to get "in" with them at your leisure. As I mentioned above, I did my one-month elective full-time in obstetrics, but I had actually been working with the same surgeon once per week for half of the year prior, just because I took the initiative to make contacts. Some of the other students in my program were amazed that I would leave class early to go help with a C-section, but meanwhile, if they had merely gone out of their way to contact whomever, they could have been in the same position. The same goes for the wards. You don't have to be shy and just show up when clinical coaching happens once per week. You can walk in whenever and see patients / do exams. Perhaps the flexibility is just as strong at other med schools, but I'm simply citing that as an absolute fact of this school regardless.

David Wilkinson, the dean, is extremely amiable and personable. I've met with him a few times, and it's been very evident to me each time exactly how and why he's dean.

Pathology is taught well during second-year, despite the lack of adequate assessment. I've read on other forums/websites, etc., that there are two types of med schools: those that teach path well and those that teach pharm well. UQ is definitely the former. I didn't come out of second-year feeling as though I was well-rounded. I came out feeling like I was supposed to be a pathologist or something (that's also probably because I had read Robbin's and BRS Pathology and had done an obscene number of path questions from various resources).

Brisbane is an awesome location. The backpacker-feeling north and south of here is phenomenal. The idea of being in Australia is exactly as it sounds. It's exotic. It's fun. It's the time of your life when you're in your 20s. I will forever be glad that I made my life more exciting by having come here.

At the end of the day, regardless of the pros/cons of the UQ program, you're only as good of a doctor as you choose to be. No program nor anyone around you, in the long-term, will or can dictate that. The drive to learn comes from within you, and that will get you anywhere in this world.

If you apply to UQ (or UQ-Ochsner), good luck. I hope my pithy statements here have been of at least minimal assistance.


i can think of a million and one questions to this response. it is the first (seemingly) objective knowledge on the UQ-Ochsner program findable via google, quite thorough. i thank you for that.

i am bewildered slightly why you begin with the CONS, making a full fledged assault on the program, followed by the excellent PROS and your eventual declaration that you have no regrets in choosing the program.

since i personally have been accepted into both UQ-Ochsner and a few American schools and need to make a decision quick, i'll ask what i can immediately think of:

if UQ is a pathology (vs. pharmacology) school, is the basis of pharm still taught? i.e. classes of drugs and their mechanisms?

what is it with UQ-Ochsner and their record for ridiculously high USMLE scores? i realize you stated self-over preparation may be the reason but this still seems a mystery.

thanks.
 

Phloston

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if UQ is a pathology (vs. pharmacology) school, is the basis of pharm still taught? i.e. classes of drugs and their mechanisms?

Coverage of pharmacology is very cursory through random lectures during MS1/2, but the school doesn't assess you on it. I learned all of my pharm while studying for the Step1 after I had already finished MS2.

what is it with UQ-Ochsner and their record for ridiculously high USMLE scores? i realize you stated self-over preparation may be the reason but this still seems a mystery.

thanks.

UQ-O, overall, does not have high USMLE scores. Cohort averages are roughly 210-220 (as far as I'm aware from previous years), whereas the US/Canadian average is now 227 (up from 224 just a year ago).

By high scores, I wasn't referring to the average of the UQ-O cohort overall. UQ had an esteemed student (Pollux, who's posted above in this thread) in 2008, before the UQ-O program even existed, who scored at roughly the 1 in 10,000 level (in 2009, there were 26651 people who applied to the match).
 

shan564

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At Australian med schools in general, you're likely to find that "average" USMLE scores aren't that meaningful because of selection bias. "Average" students don't usually take the USMLE at Australian schools... most students (including most Americans) decide to stay in Australia for a variety of reasons - it's easier to stay than to leave, people have developed a life in Aus with a significant other, etc... but I'd say that a major reason is that people don't feel prepared for the USMLE, so they keep putting it off and never end up taking it... in the end, most of the below-average students don't take the exam, thereby driving up the average. In America, everybody has to take it, regardless of how unprepared you feel.

I think that you might be referring to a mention in a previous thread that UQ had some really high Step 1 average. If I remember correctly, only 3 people took the exam that year, one of whom was Pollux. It's reasonable to assume that the 3 people who took the exam were 3 of the people who were most prepared for the exam.
 

thomas pynchon

Full Member
Dec 10, 2013
19
2
'A subtle cultural difference between America and Australia that has taken me some time to realize: Australians, in general, take greater umbrage to challenges/debates within the classroom. My classmates never pushed me to learn or grow. They would just seem to get offended if I questioned them to elaborate on what they knew. They were mostly very passive and decorous (like furniture), but not challenging whatsoever- very banal. This really bothered me because I wanted my classmates to push me to a level that probably could not be achieved by independent studying alone. At many times, I had felt I was at the wrong school and conveyed this by not displaying the greatest patience with some of my colleagues; this repetitive process during second-year was exasperating.'

This is pretty much exactly what happens in Australia. Everything is very team oriented and if you make any attempt at having any integrity or personal pride it's viewed as some sort of subversive tactic, and then they will go on about how 'All Americans are....' etc etc so there's really no way to win with them.
 
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