Moving Interstate to Study Medicine
09 October, 2020
We are now at a crucial point of the year, where many of you have either just sat interviews (most virtually!) or you have them coming up, and offers will be released shortly (or have been released!). Then, the next big decision is whether you are going to move interstate for medical school. It is becoming more and more common for medical students to move interstate to study, due to the competitiveness of medical school entry. This can be a very daunting experience, especially for those of you who have not yet moved out of home, but also, it can be equally liberating.
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This blog discusses some of the important factors to consider when you are moving interstate, and will provide some tips and pieces of advice regarding an interstate move. The first point to cover here, and an important feature of considering the inter-state medical school move, is the course structure of the degree. Finding out at what point in your degree the content transforms to adopt a major clinical focus will be very important. This is because in your clinical years, you will find yourself based at hospitals and other health practices, and generally NOT the university or medical school. It is vitally important to find this out – as, for example, at UQ, you might move to study in Brisbane, but then shortly be moved to the Ipswich campus (a few hours outside Brisbane).
The second point, and arguably the most important, is finances. The aspect of financial survival that is probably the most important is the cost of rent while you study. Although many medical students can, and do, hold jobs – this is not the case for everyone, and you may find that the hours and study requirements in the course are prohibitive for a casual job. Having said that, there are many medical students who need to work in order to survive, which definitely included myself, and so I strongly believe that it is very manageable to juggle the medical degree and casual job(s). However, a great portion of students will rely purely on Centrelink payments, so make sure you don’t end up spending most of that in rent each fortnight, or it could make medical school very miserable (although this is difficult, as Centrelink payments are practically nothing). Indeed, finances were the major concern of mine in medical school, and as Centrelink support is minimal at best, you might find yourself needing a casual job in order to meet course and study costs.
The third important point for medical students considering an interstate move is the intern possibilities following. Most states have a preference system for intern positions where those who have studied in that state get higher preferences. For example, if you move from Melbourne to Brisbane for medicine, but want to go back to Victoria for internship, you might have a hard time as you will be now approximately third on the preference list! This is a really important point to consider now, so you are not caught out much later down the line. The final point of the interstate move is a quite obvious one around transport - If you can, it is really worthwhile living near where you will be studying throughout medical school. This may be the medical school, or a hospital, or both. You will find that many a long night will be had in a hospital or at the medical school, and not having to drive 30 minutes or so after will be a blessing. The most fun I had in medical school was the walks to and from university, as there would often be a big group of us making the trek!
Although offering just a few snippets into some (hopefully!) useful insights into the medical school interstate move, we hope that it has stimulated your thoughts towards a holistic consideration of the big event. It’s not just about what type of house you’re in, or how nice – you need to consider location, price, housemates, how easy it is to maintain, contract length, and the distance from your teaching facility. These are very standard considerations, but there are often some unique issues about medical school that get thrown in the mix, which makes a decision a bit more difficult! Ultimately it depends on your own personal attitudes towards these things and where your 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!
If you still feel nervous about starting medical school, check out our next blog article: Things I wish I'd known before starting Med School. It will help you start your med school journey off on the right foot! And remember, if you've survived the GAMSAT exam, you can survive anything.