Become a Doctor

We understand how confused and anxious students can be as they consider a career in medicine. Right now, you’re probably being swamped with well-intentioned advice and overwhelmed by detailed resources. Sometimes the best place to start is a simple, linear path that provides all the key checkpoints.

Let’s focus on the major decisions and events so you can manage your time and resources, always ensuring you have the best preparation for each stage of the journey.

As parents, we understand how anxious you must be. The UCAT exam, university applications and interview process put students and parents under enormous pressure. MedEntry’s goal is to remove that pressure by preparing students and parents.

You can help your son or daughter through this process in many ways. The information on this page will help you cut through the jargon to quickly gain an understanding of a doctor’s typical career path. Once you’re confident with the basics of medical entry, we welcome you to access our Free Resources and learn how MedEntry guides students to a successful career in medicine.

Steps to becoming a doctor

Consider where you will study

Studying Medicine in NZ

There are two universities which offer medicine in New Zealand: Auckland University and Otago University. You will be required to undertake one year of university studies before you can apply to study medicine in New Zealand. You must complete all the necessary core units and papers, earn the minimum GPA score and sit for the UCAT - an exam specifically designed to help universities find candidates with the right skills and qualities for a career in medicine.

There are several options for your first year of university studies:

  • Auckland University: Health Sciences or Biomedical Science
  • Otago University: Health Sciences First Year (HSFY)

It cannot hurt your chances to apply to both Auckland University and Otago University, and you will be guaranteed entrance into your first year of university studies if you meet the required NCEA/CIE/IB points. For guidance on which university and medical school to choose, check out our blog.

Studying Medicine in Australia

There is another major pathway into medicine, and it’s surprising that more New Zealand students do not consider it: applying to study medicine in Australia. We understand that many students would like to stay close to family and friends, but as New Zealand’s medical entry experts, it’s MedEntry’s job to present every option that can help you build a successful career.

There are several advantages to applying to study medicine in Australia:

  • You can kickstart your medical career a year early (as you can apply straight out of year 13) without added uncertainty
  • You can apply to 21 universities in Australia dramatically increasing your chances of getting into medicine. (This is in comparison to New Zealand where you can apply to first year at both Auckland and Otago, but medicine at only one university.)
  • You can apply to medical schools more than once (unlike at Auckland and Otago)
  • You can choose from a broad range of internationally renowned medical schools and enjoy domestic status

Unfortunately, misinformation from Otago and Auckland universities means that many students are not even aware of this pathway.

Read about studying medicine in Australia

Learn about the career

Is medicine right for you? If you’re reading this, you probably already believe you have the work ethic and ability to score well in exams and gain admission to a medical school. But before you make one of the most important decisions of your life, you need to have a realistic idea of what to expect.

Aptitude

The entry criteria for medicine are designed to ensure students possess the right qualities. Your academic score / GPA will measure your academic abilities and proficiency in core subjects. The UCAT tests cognitive and emotional reasoning skills, as well as your ability to perform under extreme pressure. Interviews assess your ability to lead, work within a team and empathise with patients. These are all skills that are required as a doctor.

Passion

Few people succeed in any career without passion. Yes, medicine is an incredibly interesting subject to study, but you also need a genuine interest. There’s no better way to develop your passion than to research the careers of medical practitioners and read about their journey. Our own Head of Education, Dr Ray Boyapati shares some of his experiences and passion in our free Bootcamp video.

Commitment

Be realistic about the commitment you’ll be making. Medicine is a career that involves lifelong learning. In addition to 6-8 years of university studies, it can take four to ten years of supervised training to be able to get the license to practice independently as a specialist doctor.

Then the real commitment begins. Most people understand the rewards but it’s difficult to get a realistic idea of the challenges of medicine. Being responsible for people’s health requires commitment and sacrifice.

Understanding

Before you make a decision to study medicine, we highly recommend that you speak to as many practising physicians as possible, read case studies, and carefully research the medical entry process.

Our Head of Education, Dr Ray Boyapati, provides virtual work experience through his Doctor Chats with Dr Ray series on Instagram TV.

Sit the UCAT

Most students with their eye on a career in medicine understand the hard work, dedication and practice required to succeed in exams. They understand how to answer technical questions based on lessons and texts.

But the UCAT is nothing like the exams you’re accustomed to. That’s why many overconfident students who sit for the test unprepared not only fail the exam but also fail to finish it. The UCAT is designed by universities to find the students who possess specific mental abilities considered important in medicine. The unorthodox questioning and time pressure make it one of the most difficult obstacles on the path to a career in medicine.

But with the right preparation, strategy and practice, students can ace the UCAT. They can enter their dream course with ease, and sometimes even gain scholarships. Smart students begin their preparation well in advance of the UCAT, which occurs in July-August each year. With regular practice, most MedEntry students excel in the 225-question exam.

New Zealand students have a significant advantage in that they can sit UCAT in year 13, which has several advantages.

Need information on registration, cost and how to prepare? Visit the UCAT page.

Apply to Medicine

Applying to Medicine in NZ

Once you have enrolled in and begun your first year of university study at either Auckland University or Otago University, you can apply to study medicine in your second year. You should apply to medicine via the relevant university website in semester one of your first year of university. This is the major application, with high levels of competition for places. For more information, check out our blogs on how to apply to medicine at Auckland and Otago.

Auckland University and Otago University apply their own weight to each entry requirement (academic score, UCAT and interviews), so make sure you understand how that affects your eligibility. Before applying, make sure you have the most up-to-date information by contacting the admissions officer of each course you’re interested in.

Applying to Medicine in Australia

When applying to Australia, you’ll need to apply for medicine via the relevant Tertiary Admissions Centre (each state has its own). Applications normally close in late September each year. MedEntry recommends applying to as many medical schools as possible - this is because the subjective nature of interviews means there is no guarantee of entry into one particular university.

Read Our Free University Admission Guide

Succeed in the Interview

Auckland University medicine and Otago Dentistry require candidates to succeed in an interview. Interviews allow universities to look for ideal personal qualities in each prospective student.

It’s important to understand that your interview is not a casual chat or a general ‘getting to know you’ process. You cannot ‘wing it’ or rely on charm. You are competing against other applicants, and just like any other competition, those who prepare and train for the event are generally the winners.

Given the huge amount of work required to get to this point of the journey, it’s understandable that students can feel particularly anxious about a face-to-face interview. Fortunately, there are specific and effective ways to prepare. With the right techniques and strategy, students can walk into their interview feeling relaxed and confident.

MedEntry provides the resources, training, strategies and personal guidance to help students impress universities and gain admission into their dream course. We also provide free basic information that answers many frequently asked questions about interviews.

Medical Interviews & MMI

Get into Medicine and Become A Doctor

Medicine requires the highest levels of due diligence by all governing bodies. That’s why it takes at least four additional years of supervised practice after medical school before you can practice medicine independently. The early years of a graduate’s career are spent practicing medicine as an intern, Resident Medical Officer and finally, as a Registrar in their chosen area of specialty.

If you’re sitting at your laptop considering the daunting years of study, training and learning ahead of you, there’s plenty of upside. Few doctors will talk in anything less than glowing terms of their career in medicine. It’s a stressful and challenging career but one that offers unique benefits.

Medicine is intellectually stimulating, offers very high job security, excellent remuneration and the experience of improving lives every day. It’s a life of constant learning, tight regulations, late nights, early mornings and personal sacrifices. But the increasing number of students applying for medical schools each year and the increasing competitiveness of getting into medical schools is proof that medicine is, and will continue to be, one of the most desirable careers in New Zealand.

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