BlogUniversityWhat It’s Like Studying Medicine at USYD

What It’s Like Studying Medicine at USYD

USYD Medicine - Fact Sheet

Interested in studying Medicine at USYD which is offered through a Bachelor of Science/Doctor of Medicine? 

Luckily for you, we’ve made a summary of what sets this degree apart from other universities – highlighting its entry requirements, subjects, assessments, staff, career opportunities and more!

Let’s get into it! 

What is USYD Medicine (Bachelor of Science/Doctor of Medicine)?
Core Units and Majors
How to Get into USYD Medicine (Bachelor of Science/Doctor of Medicine)
What’s the Teaching Format?
What’s the Faculty and Culture Like?

What is USYD Medicine (Bachelor of Science/Doctor of Medicine)?

A Bachelor of Science/Doctor of Medicine at USYD is a combined degree that equips you with the foundational knowledge of science and medicine before launching you into the real world of medical practice. While its undergraduate Science degree grants you the flexibility to explore the many areas of science, its postgraduate Doctor of Medicine puts theory into practice and by the end of this degree, you will be a fully accredited practitioner under the Australian Medical Council!

Due to its 3 year Bachelor of Science bit, this is a highly flexible degree where you can explore the diverse branches of science that Sydney Uni offers before committing to 4 years of medical school.

It allows students to study what they want and figure out whether a medical career is for them while securing their place in the doctorate degree without taking the GAMSAT, UMAT or other assessment selection process for entry. Moreover, it’ll provide you with the grassroots of medical concepts that most medical schools tend to skim over!

Who should study this degree?

Anyone who has a knack for critical thinking with a passion for healthcare and medical sciences would be thrilled with this degree. If Biology, Physics and Chemistry are subjects that you enjoy, this degree will be truly insightful for you as you will learn how these sciences play out in the real human body! 

Career Prospects

Besides the fundamental scientific knowledge, research and communication skills that you develop from a Science undergraduate degree, its postgraduate component will teach you how to integrate theory into practice with relevant clinical skills, critical thinking and experience—shaping you into a well-rounded, adaptable practitioner with a strong evidence based background that the health system needs. 

USYD Medicine - Student Quote
The most common career prospects from coming out of this degree would be becoming a general practitioner or a specialist. 

Becoming a general practitioner is the shortest pathway as you only need 4 to 5 years to become a specialist consultant. Otherwise, it takes 3 to 7 years and a test to become a specialist under the training and supervision of specialist colleges such as the RACGP, RACP, RACs and so on.

Learn more about being a General Practitioner here!

On the other hand, you are not limited to this! With the extensive skills, experience and knowledge that this combine degree instills, you will also be able to embark in: 

  • Medical research 
  • Education 
  • Medical communications and administration 
  • Consultation 
  • Overseas aid work 

Core Units and Majors 

What are the Majors? 

What sets this medical pathway at Sydney Uni apart from other universities is its Bachelor of Science degree that opens up 40 science majors and shared majors from other faculties to choose from. Its flexible structure allows future medical students to experiment with what they’re interested in before devoting their studies to medicine. 

Some popular majors for people doing this combined degree include: 

  • Anatomy
  • Immunology  
  • Physiology 
  • Biology 

You can also choose other majors and minors that aren’t science related as well, including: 

  • Accounting 
  • Animal Production 
  • History 
  • Italian Studies 
  • Politics
  • And many more!

For more information about majors/minors you can choose from, check this out!

In the Doctor of Medicine at USYD however, you don’t get to choose your majors/minors as it is highly structured with units that are already predetermined for you. 

What are the core units? 

Despite the freedom in choosing your majors/minors, there are a few core subjects, known as the Medicine Foundational Knowledge units that combined degree students have to complete before finishing their Bachelor of Science: 

Year of StudySubjects
First Year- BIOL1X07: From Molecules to Ecosystems 
Second Year- PHSI2007/MEDS2001: Key Concepts in Physiology
- ANAT2011/MEDS2005: Fundamentals of Human Anatomy/Human Anatomy and Histology 
Third Year- SMTP3007: Observational Elective 

The SMTP3007: Observational Elective is compulsory and must be completed before the second semester of your third year. It requires you to do a week of volunteering at a medical or health centre of your choosing, where you have to write about a reflection of your expectations, experience and what you’ve learnt from it. 

Not to forget, this is on top of the 12 units of Mathematics that is compulsory for students to complete as part of their Bachelor of Science degree requirement. This includes Linear Algebra, Statistics and Calculus which can be done at any time during your 3 year degree. 

In the Doctor of Medicine degree, your core units have already been chosen for you. Ultimately, these core units are designed to encompass 8 key concepts in all four years of the course: 

First Year

In first year, you will be covering the basics of body systems from both science and clinical perspective to refine your clinical reasoning and practice—exploring the cardiovascular, respiratory, musculoskeletal/immunology systems as well as neurosciences, endocrine nutrition, gastroenterology, renal urology, sexual health and reproduction. 

Second Year

For the second year, students study key themes of clinical medicine as they spend half their time in one of the many clinical schools available under the Sydney Medical School, allowing students to refine their skills and apply their knowledge to real life. Based on personal experience, interest and research methods’ standards of this year, students will be given a research project that they will commence in their third year. 

Third Year

In the third year, students will start to conduct the research project that they were allocated with in the second year. These projects can range from local research projects to expansive clinical tasks, where written reports or credible articles will be produced as the final result.  

Fourth Year

The fourth year is the prime time of flexibility as you can choose to stay in the hospital or do your research project however long you want during the week. You still need to stay on top of your lectures though, which will cover the last of the 8 key concepts.  

You can find more information about core units here!

What are its internships like? 

In your Bachelor of Science degree, you’re free to do any internships that this undergraduate degree provides. You can find these at CareerHub, where many internships and work opportunities are often promoted. 

Once you’ve graduated from your Doctor of Medicine degree, you are required to do a one year internship to be registered and paid for your services. For domestic students, State Health Departments determine their internship placements and funding but this is not guaranteed for international students. 

What are clinical placements like? 

During the Bachelor of Science degree, there aren’t many built in placements unique to medical students, except for the Observational Elective. However, as you progress into the Doctor of Medicine degree, it will be compulsory for you to attend placements at general practices, surgical or hospital settings and this frequency increases each year! 

To be able to do the Observational Elective and clinical placements, you would need to complete and submit the following: 

  • First Aid Qualification 
  • NSW Ministry of Health Compliance Checking 
  • NSW Working with Children Check (WWCC)

To check out checks and clearances for the NSW Ministry of Health Clinical Checking, click here!

During your postgraduate clinical placements, you will observe what doctors do in their daily routine on a rotation to join the medical team.

You will learn how doctors interact with their patients on the ward and behind the scenes, along with practical skills like taking blood pressure, reading ECGs and diagnosing patients. Essentially, you get a front row seat to experience real medicine! 

Sydney Uni also gives you the option of experiencing medicine outside of Sydney and into the rural areas of their School of Rural Health in Dubbo or Orange. You can apply for this in your third or fourth year. 

 

How to Get into USYD Medicine (Bachelor of Science/Doctor of Medicine)

The ATAR cut off for this combined degree is 99.95. In addition to this, you will need to do a skills, qualities and scenario written examination and an interview with the Medical Faculty where they will ask questions like – why did you decide to do medicine and why did you pick Sydney Uni? 

Are there any prerequisites? 

As the Bachelor of Science degree part of this program requires you to do 12 credit points of mathematics, you will need a minimum Band 4 mathematics or Band E3 in Mathematics Extension 1 or 2. For students who are not doing the HSC, these prerequisites also apply to other curriculums which can be found here.

To maintain your place in the postgraduate Doctor of Medicine at USYD, you would need to sustain a Weighted Average Mark (WAM) of 65 and fulfil the requirements of the annual interview hosted by the Faculty of Medicine, where they will ask you questions to ensure that you are still passionate about pursuing a medical career. 

Because you’ve already secured a spot in the postgraduate Doctor of Medicine degree, you will not need to do a GAMSAT, UMAT or UCAT to get accepted into clinical school. 

Other Degree Options

If you want to explore beyond science, Sydney Uni also offers a Bachelor of Arts/Doctor of Medicine so you’re free to delve into the arts whether it be film, literature or social sciences. More information about this degree option can be found here!

Other than that, if you did not achieve the ATAR to get into this combined degree, you can always do a Bachelor of Medical Science or an undergraduate degree at USYD or at other universities and apply for the Doctor of Medicine later on. However, you do need to compete for a high Weighted Average Mark (WAM) and for distinguished results in the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) to be accepted into medical school. 

Scholarships 

Upon entering this degree, you’re automatically given a Chancellor’s Award where you can get $10,000 a year for your undergraduate degree. However, you will need to maintain a WAM of 75 to continue your eligibility for this scholarship.

Additionally, if you do well in your undergraduate years, you will receive an Academic Merit Prize of $1000 at the end of the year. 

Other than this, there are abundant scholarships for Bachelor of Science students that you can apply for according to your situation and need, which can be found here.

For Doctor of Medicine postgraduate scholarships, check them out here!

What’s the Teaching Format?

While both the Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Medicine at USYD includes lectures, tutorials and practical labs, the frequency of these classes will decrease as the hospital hours and project research time increases along with the progression of the course. These classes are structured in two semesters a year, whereby semesters run for 17 weeks, including midsem break, STUVAC and the final examination period. 

As the Bachelor of Science bit of this combined degree is just like any other science degree at Sydney Uni, you can find information about its classes under teaching format in this other article we’ve written!

Meanwhile, classes in the Doctor of Medicine are a bit different: 

USYD Medicine - Class Structure

Lectures

Lectures often last 1 to 1.5 hours and they most likely cover the 8 key concepts of the medical course, including scientific and clinical theory, practices and experiences in a class of around 100 to 200 people. These lectures are recorded online to support the senior students who are busy doing their research project or hospital work. 

Tutorials

In tutorials, you will be given a patient case where you will need to examine its medical history, symptoms and experimental results to diagnose the patient with 4 or 5 other students. You will also learn what medical tests and scans to order for your given patient, as well as how to treat them immediately and propose future and long-term adjustments to prevent the recurrence of disease. 

Labs

Labs are only available in your first year in subjects such as anatomy and pathology.

In anatomy, you get to inspect real specimens from cadavers, an exciting demonstration of the biological product of different kinds of diseases while correlating your observations to MRI and CT scans. Meanwhile in pathology, you will be looking at preserved tissues with diseases and compare them to normal specimens to understand the development and play out of disease. 

Other than these classes, you will be spending time on your research project and hospital tasks.

In your first postgraduate year, you will have 4 days of these university classes and one day of clinical school. As you move into the later stages of this course, there will be less university contact hours as you spend more hours at the hospital or doing research for your project. 

How many hours do you have to spend at university? 

Depending on your major in the Bachelor of Science degree, you will have around 6 to 7 contact hours per subject. This adds up to 24 contact hours a week if you’re studying full-time—if you’re lucky, you can even squeeze your classes into 3 or 4 days

The undergraduate degree is meant to give you more time before the doctorate degree so you can spend time on your extra-curricular activities, hobbies, exchange programs or even making new friends. Essentially, the undergraduate part of this course is meant to give you a breather before you dive head first into medical school. 

In the first year of your postgraduate degree, you will have around 10 hours of lectures and 10 to 15 hours of labs as well as tutorials per week, adding up to 30 hours per week of contact hours. This takes up 4 days of the week, with one day dedicated to hospital work. 

In your later years, classes tend to become more self-directed, as you need to do your own readings and you’re allowed to allocate your time to either university content, hospital hours or the research project. Your time at the hospital can range between one hour to 8 hours in a day, depending on your tasks. 

What are assessments like? 

Assessments in the undergraduate degree of this program are basically the same as a regular Bachelor of Science degree at Sydney Uni. More information about their assessments can be found here under “What are Assessments like?”

Doctor of Medicine Assessments

The Doctor of Medicine assessments at USYD are also very similar to what you get in your Bachelor of Science degree but you do cover more concepts! These include regular quizzes, multiple choice question examinations, practical examinations and Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).  

USYD Medicine - Assessments

Quizzes and Multiple Choice Question Exams

Regular quizzes and multiple choice question exams are carried out to help you consolidate the material you have learnt during class.

These quizzes may weigh little but they can add up over time, relieving you from a huge major assessment to complete at the end of the year. Meanwhile, multiple choice examinations can weigh more. 

Practical Exams

As labs are conducted during the first year only, practical examinations are only carried out in first year, especially in subjects like Anatomy.

An Anatomy exam during lab sessions will require you to identify what different pins on the cadaver represent as well as the pathology to answer the underlying cause of the identified disease. You will also be asked to diagnose what is wrong and what happened to the patient based on public and population health findings.

OSCE

OSCE, meanwhile, is used to assess your competency and performance as a medical practitioner. It involves examining a real patient or actor in a timed exam scenario, where you have to form a proper diagnosis.

It may sound daunting but this trains you to react appropriately to any unpredictable behaviour from the patient, refining your quick critical thinking, communication and empathetic skills as a health professional. 

What are the key skills you develop? 

USYD Medicine - Skills

The key skills ingrained by this medical degree will mould you into a credible, robust medical professional that can tackle any situation that life throws at you!

What sets USYD Medicine apart from other universities is its undergraduate Bachelor of Science degree that allows you to experience a wide range of majors/minors, extra-curricular activities, university societies as well as exchange programs for overseas study — giving you the time to explore your options while enjoying uni life! 

Also, unlike other universities that jump straight into medical subjects, Sydney Uni gives you foundational tools in science to ground your clinical reasoning and application, preparing you for an expansive range of career options from research to teaching to specialisation. 

What’s the Faculty and Culture Like?

While there are only a handful of students doing this combined degree, it is fairly easy to meet someone doing the same course as you through Sydney Uni’s active medical societies, annual meetings and shared classes in both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Moreover, the staff are super friendly and very supportive! 

University of Sydney Med - Student Quote

Culture

Medical students stay close together in a tight-knit community. Although there are many doing the Bachelor of Science degree, it isn’t difficult to find someone doing the combined degree as the Medical Faculty holds an annual meeting where you will meet friends who are doing the same program as you.

Besides this, if you take any of the popular majors/minors such as Anatomy or Physiology, you will more often than not bump into your course mates so it’s easy to maintain these friendships! 

During your Doctor of Medicine years at USYD, you will meet more course mates who come from diverse backgrounds, including older adults who have come from other disciplines including law, commerce and engineering who’ve decided to take their medical career on board. This creates more of a workplace environment than a traditional undergraduate degree, though the community is still very supportive and easy to work with as it is not as competitive in the post graduate scheme as marks aren’t as important anymore. 

Additionally, the staff are always ready to help their students in fixing their problems, connecting with one another and keeping them informed about their courses. Services at the Sydney Uni Medical School have an open door policy so you can contact them anytime!

Societies 

Luckily for you, Sydney Uni has two medical societies with resources, mentors and social events brimming with action! 

SUMS

The Sydney University Medical Society (SUMS) is Australia’s oldest medical society! Besides representing the medical cohort and proposing curriculum change, SUMS provides talks from medical professionals and health advocates from their extensive connections, updating you on the latest health news.

It also runs events like MED CAMP, the annual Med Ball and seminars to help students revise content and practice exam questions. You can always sign up to gain valuable extra-curricular experiences and meet people with the same interests as you! 

COMA

Meanwhile, the Combined Medicine Association (COMA) at Sydney Uni brings together undergraduate students doing this combined medicine program.

It carries out fortnightly lunches, fundraisers, mentoring events and guest speakers to chat about what’s happening in the medical world. It mainly supports undergraduate students through providing resources and information about this combined degree course. 

Interested in the pros and cons of this program? Check out our article 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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