What’s the difference between direct entry and provisional entry?

‘Direct entry’ into a medical program means that you start studying medicine from the very beginning of the course: you don’t need to fulfil any additional requirements later on in order to continue progressing through the course and eventually graduate with a medical degree. (For this reason, it’s also known as ‘non-conditional entry.’)

On the other hand, ‘provisional entry’ means that you WILL need to fulfil some additional requirements during the course in order to be eligible to finish the program and graduate with a medical degree. In practice, provisional-entry programs are usually made up of a predetermined set of courses that you need to complete (for example, a Bachelor of Medical Science + a Doctor of Medicine), where you’re only allowed to progress to the medical course (the Doctor of Medicine) if you maintain a particular GPA during the first course (the Bachelor of Medical Science). As suggested by the name ‘provisional entry’, this means that getting into one of these programs doesn’t actually guarantee that you’ll be able to graduate with a medical degree—it’s conditional on your performance during the program, which makes it a much riskier option when you’re trying to become a doctor. If you don’t meet the conditions during the provisional-entry program, you won’t be able to continue on and complete the medical degree.

Another downside to provisional-entry programs is that unless the bachelor’s degree is custom-designed to prepare you for the medical degree, it may not even be very helpful to your development as an aspiring medical professional. Completing a bachelor’s degree costs extra time and money, as well as lots of extra effort, and it’s not necessarily even a qualification that you really want or need to obtain. The worst part is that it costs you time that you could have spent practising as a doctor: by the time you graduate, a student who applied for direct entry at the same time as you, and hence graduated 2 years earlier, could already have up to 2 years of professional experience practising as a doctor. There are clearly a lot of disadvantages for provisional-entry programs: forfeiting up to around $140,000 of income, learning less, going through more stress, and having up to 2 years less medical experience.

So while you can apply for both direct-entry and provisional-entry programs to give yourself a higher chance of getting an offer, it’s best to prioritise direct-entry programs.

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