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Sep 14, 2005
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Im a US med student who will be on clincal rotation in surgical derm oncology at the RPA through the University of Sydney. (My last rotation before graduation!!!)

I was wondering if anyone could give me an idea of any differences on Aussie wards compared to the US or anything I really need to know. I gather from reading previous threads that there seems to less direct patient care responsibility for med students.

Before leaving I am doing a few weeks in Renal Transplantation to knock the rust off my surgical and ICU managment skills.

Any advice would be appreciated!


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I'm currently an intern in newcastle,australia, but I did a lot of my med student placements at RPA - not in surg oncology, but I have heard good reports. I really don't know much about US school's expectations of med students, but judging by previous threads I would say students have MUCH LESS patient care responsibility in Australia. In fact, I'd say just about no responsibility at all, apart from turning up ;)

Seriously, though, the team will most likely be pleased if you'd LIKE to take a more active role...you'd pretty much have to run most management plans by the resident, instead of making independant decisions. It's just that direct patient care isn't usually EXPECTED/REQUIRED of med students generally.

Another small point about RPA is that the University of Sydney (where I went to med school) changed its curriculum over the last few years, so RPA is a good place to hear consultants complaining about how med students don't know any basic anatomy/pharmacology/pathology/etc unlike the good old days...:sleep: Of course, in some cases, the expections are so low people are easily impressed ;)

Anyway, good luck...I'm sure you'll have a great time!


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Like what aussiegirl said, med students in Australia do not directly take on any responsibilities for patients. They are expected to tag along with interns/residents and learn by assisting and observing.

That said, consultants ('attendings'), registrars ('senior residents'), and residents alike really enjoy having students around, and will be glad to answer your questions and give you advice. Although most Aussie students do standard 8 hour days (even during surgical terms), nobody will stop you from doing more. I recently pulled a double (nearly 24 hours; surgical registrars often work 12 hour shifts) during my acute surgery week, and gained valuable experience from it.

On the US Allo/clinical residency forum, I hear stories about how med students get treated badly and get assigned scut work. You will not experience this in an Australian hospital. In my experience, I was treated much more like a colleague, even by senior trainees - who went out of their way to give me 30-40 min tutorials on various subjects.

You will find that the atmosphere around the hospital is much more relaxed than in the US, and such is the Aussie way. Interns work 50-55 hours a week, and are quite approachable.

Hope you enjoy your time down under ;)


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Attendings in the US tend to do more direct teaching with med students than consultants in Australia.

The US environment tends to be more 'academic' in general and informal teaching is more frequent from residents than those in Australia.

The trade-off is that more is expected of you where in Australia, extra time spent (which in many cases is just being there for 5 hours a day) are automatic brownie points.
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