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Moving to another state to study medicine

Moving interstate to study medicine

by , 29 April, 2016
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Given the number of graduate medical places available and the location of medical schools in Australia, most people will have considered the prospect of moving interstate to study medicine.  Of course for some people, this isn’t possible, so this blog is more for those who are either hell bent on, or just considering the possibility of, moving interstate to study medicine. If you're not sure, ask yourself what you'd prefer; no offer and try again next year, or an offer from an interstate med school only. If think you'd prefer the second option, then it's probably worth putting down some extra preferences when you apply. 

As with all important life decisions, the value of a list of pros & cons should not be underestimated!  Here are a few things to consider:


Pros

  • Broadening your chances of admission
  • Rising cut-off scores (i.e. get in while you can, where you can).
  • An exciting (or terrifying – see cons list) change.
  • If going rural – cheaper cost of living!
  • Getting used to moving around – vocational (and increasingly prevocational) training will generally require you to do rotations away from your usual hospital (and possibly far enough away that you’ll want to consider moving) in addition to spending time in rural areas.


Cons

  • The cost – this is a big one.  If you’re currently living at home and being supported by parents, moving interstate will most likely mean becoming financially independent.  If, on the other hand you’re already living independently, there’s still the relocation cost (and if you’ve accumulated appliances and furnishings this can be significant).  It’s also worth noting that the cost goes further than just relocating as you’ll probably want to visit home regularly, particularly for special events.
  • Leaving your support network behind.
  • Missing out on stuff – this one sucks.  You’ll either face spending a small fortune travelling back home for every special event, or accept that you can’t make it back for everything.  Sometimes, even if you want to, your academic schedule will dictate otherwise.
  • Dropping in priority order for intern allocation – this is important to think about.  Realistically, you will be looking at completing your internship and residency in the state that you graduate, so don’t bank on being able to come home in 4 years time.  You may also find that getting onto a training program back home is more difficult because you don’t have local references, from known referees.

If you’ve never ‘flown the coop’ before, and the idea of moving interstate to study medicine seems terrifying, here’s something to bear in mind. In my experience, if you speak to a number of people who have moved interstate (or even overseas) for study or for their career, the overwhelming majority will say that it was a good experience. It’s quite rare to speak to someone who’s in their 30s or 40s and have them say, “I lived in [insert interstate city of choice here] for 5 years when I was younger, but I really wish I’d stayed at home instead and never travelled”. Life is what you make of it, and while you may leave some friends behind (for a period), you’ll undoubtedly make many new ones that will enrich your life. You may leave the comfort of your old room at your parents’ place, but that shared house with other med students will be a great experience.

If you want to look at your options & where you could potentially study, PostgradAustralia is a great platform that allows you to explore, compare and apply for different medical specialities around Australia.

Ultimately it depends on your own personal attitudes towards these things and where you priorities lie, but it is important to think about all this stuff if you’re considering a long-term relocation.  So read up on each uni, chat to current students, talk to your friends, family and partner and if in doubt, draw up a list of pros & cons!