BlogUniversityPros and Cons of Medicine at USYD

Pros and Cons of Medicine at USYD

Now we’ve got all the facts straight, let’s get personal with studying Medicine at USYD!

We’ve invited Hogan Wang, a second year postgraduate in the Bachelor of Science/Doctor of Medicine pathway at USYD to share his unique take on this degree — including honest opinions, experiences and advice for all the exciting and less exciting parts about studying Medicine at USYD.

Let’s check out what he has to say! 

Why should you study a Medicine degree at USYD?
Top 3 Pros of a Medical Degree
Top 3 Cons of a Medical Degree
Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make
Things to Know Before Starting USYD Medicine
What Makes this Degree Different
Motivations for Studying USYD Medicine
Potential Career Paths

Why should you study Medicine at USYD? 

Medicine USYD - Student Quote

USYD’s Bachelor of Science/Doctor of Medicine promises you a spot in medical school without having to apply as a postgraduate! Ah, that’s a relief!

Furthermore, with over 40 science majors to choose from, USYD’s Bachelor of Science counterpart gives you the freedom to explore what you’re passionate about before committing to medical school.

If you choose Medicine related majors such as anatomy, immunology and physiology, it can prepare you with the foundational knowledge and research skills used to navigate through the Doctor of Medicine program better, giving you a head start! 

USYD’s medical degree is also one of the most reputable in Australia, coming in 2nd in Australia and 18th in the world under the 2020 QS ranking! 

Top 3 Pros of USYD’s Medical degree

#1: High amount of clinical time 

USYD’s Doctor of Medicine program now provides extra clinical time compared to its previous years! “As of 2020, USYD has redesigned their Doctor of Medicine curriculum,” Hogan says. “It used to be two years pre-clinical and two years clinical, but that’s now changed to one year pre-clinical and three years clinical.” 

Hogan explains that with this new curriculum, Doctor of Medicine postgraduates will only need to go to on-campus classes for 4 days a week and clinical school once a week in their first year. Between their second and fourth year, they essentially work full-time at clinical school. 

“This means that you get an additional year of clinical exposure!” Hogan says. “For most students, this is very useful, applicable and valuable for their future jobs as an intern because you learn things like procedural skills, communication skills and bedside manners to interact with patients, their families, other doctors, nurses and other allied health.” 

It doesn’t end there! Hogan says the extra clinical year allows you time to figure out which area of medicine you’d like to specialise in by your final year, “You get more elective terms throughout that final year to choose what blocks you want to spend your time in. For example, if you’re into surgery, you can choose to do more clinical time into surgery.”

#2: High cohort diversity 

USYD’s Medical degree is filled with students from diverse backgrounds because USYD’s Doctor of Medicine course does not require a prerequisite degree to be eligible for enrolment.

“So when you get into the postgraduate component, you end up with a very diverse cohort — people who not only come from a science background but also arts, finance…that is also across a wide range of ages as well,” Hogan says.

Due to its diversity, Hogan adds that USYD’s Medical cohort provides a “large breadth of experience that is very unique!” 

“Sometimes, that does translate into learning from your peers,” Hogan notes. “Some of my peers have been nurses and physios so their experience has been very helpful in certain areas like rheumatology where physios with prior experience can teach you as their fellow student.”

#3: A holistic picture of Medicine 

USYD really stresses the importance of understanding health as a holistic system to help you tackle complex, real life problems from multiple disciplinary perspectives. USYD’s SLICE program in the second year of the Doctor of Medicine degree allows you to explore the work of allied health members whom you will be collaborating with in the future! 

SLICE is teaching that happens across the allied health spaces in the community,” Hogan explains. “In addition to spending your regular time at your allocated hospital, you will be spending time at rehab hospitals, physio clinics, dietary clinics, pharmacies and more!” 

“This allows a greater understanding of how the system as a whole works, not just how care is delivered at the bedside at a specific hospital,” Hogan says. “So you get a better appreciation for when a patient leaves a hospital, what sort of services does that patient need to access and how is the continuity of care streamlined across those services.” 

Ultimately, this allows you to explore medical practices beyond just the hospital!

Top 3 Cons of USYD’s Medical degree

#1: Duration of Degree 

Unlike other Medical pathways, the combined Bachelor of Science/Doctor of Medicine program at USYD is one of the longer ones. “The combined degree is 7 years in total,” Hogan says. “Compared to undergraduate programs that are typically five to six years, the Bachelor of Science/Doctor of Medicine program is one or two years longer than that.”

However, Hogan says that this is ultimately beneficial in enriching the breadth and depth of your knowledge for the long term. “At the end of the day, one or two years does not make that much of a difference for a career that lasts for 40 year plus,” Hogan admits.

“I really enjoyed my undergraduate degree — I took subjects in immunology and finance so that breadth of knowledge definitely outweighs the time,” he adds.

#2: Clinical school locations 

USYD is known for its world class teaching hospitals, located at 7 different campuses that are spread across New South Wales! However, there are times where you do not get your first preference of clinical school and this may have implications for your transit plans.

As Hogan explains, “This means that you might have a long travel time to the clinical school, especially if you live in the city and have to travel to somewhere like Westmead that is far for a lot of students.” 

That being said, Hogan praises that the quality of teaching from these hospitals are exceptional and worth the ride! Furthermore, Hogan reveals that “students typically move to be closer to these hospitals in groups, so you’re always surrounded by peers and friends!”

Hogan also reassures that “being allocated to a hospital that is far from your residence usually only happens to a minority of students. Most students get their first or second pick but always a minority students don’t because of the selection process.” 

#3: Large volume of strenuous assessments 

The assessments in USYD’s Doctor of Medicine program are highly taxing compared to its Bachelor of Science counterpart. “The first undergraduate degree is very in line with the rest of university but the Medicine postgraduate assessment has changed since the new curriculum,” Hogan explains.  

Previously, the Doctor of Medicine’s first and second year were assessed on a pass/fail basis with barrier exams that you need to pass or else you have to redo the entire year. As of 2020, these assessments are now replaced with continuous programmatic assessments.

Hogan says that now, “You will be assessed throughout the year — and there are a lot of assessments! There is a sort of quiz or report you will need to do every week. So, every week you have something due.” 

Hogan explains that this is on top of 4 big exams that are spread out through the year. “This can be quite stressful for a lot of students especially if you fall behind, where it is very hard to catch up with those assessments,” he says. 

Even so, Hogan supposes that this is better than the previous curriculum as “there is no single exam that you have to pass. If you fail an exam, there are mediation pathways to help you learn the content and get assessed again rather than repeat a part of or the entire year. This is actually better for long-term learning as you learn to understand rather than cram information.” 

Hogan reassures that “there are tutors to help you with parts of the program that you may be struggling with. So even though there are a lot of assessments, there are a lot of support networks in place for those who need it!” 

Any regrets? 

“I don’t think I have any regrets choosing this degree,” Hogan says. “I have known from a young age that medicine is something that I wanted to do. The University of Sydney is an excellent university with fantastic teaching at hospitals. If I have my time over, I wouldn’t hesitate to choose the University of Sydney over other universities based in Sydney and perhaps across Australia.”

What do you wish you had known before starting USYD Medicine? 

#1: Studying Medicine is not a sprint, it’s a marathon 

“I wish I had known how much of a marathon studying Medicine is,” Hogan says. “It is a pathway that requires a lot of endurance not only throughout the degree but also throughout your career as a medical professional.”

Hogan explains that studying medicine is only the first step to becoming a fully qualified and experienced doctor. “ I have learnt that the next assessment I might have is not the be all or end all of my medical learning. This is a lifelong journey and university is only the start of the journey.”

Hogan also warns that burnout is very common for those who work themselves too hard. “If you treat the next assessment as the most important thing in your life, you will get burnt out,” he says.

“It is unfortunately very common with medical students and professionals. If you don’t manage burnout properly, it can lead to damaging things to your life and career.”  

#2: Prioritise other things in life besides Medicine too

“Because it’s a long career, it is very easy to get trapped into thinking that Medicine is all your life,” Hogan cautions. “There is so much knowledge and content out there that you can learn that it is impossible for you to learn it all. “

Hogan admits that his consultants teach him that, “There is way too much for someone to learn over the course of four years and trying to learn all that will mean you will have to sacrifice other things in life like your family, friends, sports and hobbies.” 

“So, you don’t have to know everything in your early years! It’s more important to have the other aspects of life that are really important to you and not let Medicine take over your life,” Hogan advises. “Of course, there are certain times where you really need to study hard but it only becomes a problem when you treat your whole life or career as always studying 24/7.” 

What makes this degree different from the ones offered at other universities? 

#1: Guaranteed pathway

USYD is one of the few universities that provides a guaranteed pathway into the Doctor of Medicine program! As Hogan says, “The University of Sydney is the only one in New South Wales that offers a guaranteed route into the Doctor of Medicine program for high school leavers.” 

#2: Extra clinical experience 

With the new curriculum, USYD provides an extra year of clinical experience unlike other universities, teaching more via practical experience rather than just theory! 

“USYD provides you with additional clinical hours you don’t really see at other universities,” Hogan adds. “It really gives you more targeted time to focus on areas of medicine that you are interested in so you come out being more prepared for what your career might end up looking like!”

What inspired you to choose USYD Medicine?

“I’ve known I wanted to study medicine since I was a kid,” Hogan says. “As a kid, I grew up with a lot of my family being involved in medicine, so everyone except my mom was in medicine. This meant that from a young age I’ve been taught the values that would make a good doctor such as good communication, compassion, humility and always wanting to keep learning.”

“I wouldn’t say that just because I was surrounded by medicine that I fell into it. It was more so I wanted a career where I can be my true self and live with those values I grew up with. Medicine really fit that bill for me,” Hogan says. 

“It was a really big privilege to step into the hospital and be able to hear the stories of patients and their family who open up to you — that is a very rare experience so it is less of a job, and more of a lifestyle,” Hogan recalls.

“It is more of a position in the community that you are fulfilling. It goes beyond the traditional label of a job because of the additional trust the public puts in you. I thought that was highly appealing and rewarding.”

As for the university choice, Hogan says, “I knew that the University of Sydney has an excellent level of teaching and good opportunities for research especially at the undergraduate and postgraduate level. Throughout the program, you are encouraged to be active in the community, and USYD has a lot of leading researchers in the world. The talent of people at USYD definitely made it an attractive option.” 

What are the possible career paths?

Medicine USYD - Careers

As USYD ingrains a holistic portrait of medicine and healthcare, it opens up a limitless scope of possible career paths that extend beyond the hospital environment. Here are some interesting career paths you may be interested in: 

  • Administration 
  • Education
  • Pharmaceutical 
  • Industry 
  • General practitioner/specialist 
  • Communications 
  • Research 

Looking for the top 5 medical schools in Australia? Check out the list here!

Kate Lynn Law graduated in 2017 with an all rounders HSC award and an ATAR of 97.65. Passionate about mentoring, she enjoys working with high school students to improve their academic, work and life skills in preparation for the HSC and what comes next. An avid blogger, Kate had administered a creative writing page for over 2000 people since 2013, writing to an international audience since her early teenage years.

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