How do I choose the right medical/dental school for me?

There are a lot of factors to consider here, but the most critical things to think about when making your decision are location, duration, cost, and the nature of the program.

First of all, it’s important to not be too picky. At the end of the day, every medical and dental school has been accredited to issue recognised degrees, meaning they all have the potential to produce graduates that can be good doctors and dentists. There aren’t any massive advantages to be had from going to one particular university over another—so you should focus on picking the university that you’re most interested in and that runs its program in the way you prefer (and that gives you opportunities in early years to become the best doctor/dentist possible). If you’re looking to apply for medicine, just remember this: hospitals care less about which university you’ve graduated from, and more about how competent you are.

Now let’s dive into the considerations that we mentioned at the start.

Location: This is a pretty straightforward one. Are you willing to relocate and live independently, away from your family?

Duration: Some courses are around 5 years long, while others can take up to 7 years. Make sure to check the length of the courses you’re interested in so that you’re prepared for what you’re signing up for!

Cost: Depending on the university you’re applying for, a medical degree can cost you from $10,000/year to around $100,000/year (and that’s just tuition fees—if you’re moving interstate to study, then you’ll also need to consider accommodation expenses!). So take some time to check the university fees and figure out your budget before selecting a medical/dental school.

The nature of the program: Two points here.

First, you need to be aware that some programs have a purely ‘academic’ focus for the first few years of the course, while others introduce students to clinical settings from the very first week of the course. (If you want to know more about how a particular university’s program works, the best way to find out is to just call them up and ask.) If you prefer hands-on learning over theory, or vice versa, this will be an important factor for you to consider.

Second, some programs start teaching you medicine straightaway (i.e. direct-entry) and allow you to complete the whole course and graduate without needing to meet any extra requirements later on (i.e. non-conditional), while others may require you to complete an undergraduate degree first (i.e. non-direct-entry) and meet additional academic criteria before you’re allowed into the ‘medicine’ part of the program (i.e. provisional). It’s critical that you know what type of program you’re applying for—read our answer to this article for a full explanation about this.

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