The “Alternatives to Medicine” section will be running a discussion for members fortnightly. Gulls and I will be running these and we welcome you to contribute your thoughts and opinions. If you have any ideas for future discussions please contact us.
+ Please note that we’ve only completed one year in one degree at one university- Hutcherson and I are not entirely knowledgeable. Especially for this reason, we’d like to invite all of you to discuss your back up plans and your thoughts. Any tips and suggestions are much appreciated and would benefit anyone and everyone who have been forced to seek an alternative route. We call upon those particularly who have completed more than one year in an alternative degree or degrees.
NOTE:While this is a discussion thread and debates may inevitably arise, there is no room for flaming, douchebaggery and the like.
Discussion Topic 1 # : The Back Up Plan
It is that time of the year again where we sit and wait for offers to come out on an online computer system. When that day finally arrives, you log in and might find yourself disappointed. Instead of getting that dream course you have been working hard for, you get a lower preference. Welcome to the Back Up Plan. A common pathway that many people take. Now there are 4 main options that you can take to reach that course you desire.
+ Study an undergraduate degree for one year and apply as a non-standard the next year (while possibly redoing UMAT)
+ Take a Gap year, relax, earn some money, redo UMAT etc
+ Repeat Year 12 (and possibly UMAT, too)
+ Graduate-entry pathway
The most common back up courses I have noticed for those Medicine and Dentistry hopefuls tend be from the following: Science, Biomedical Science, Pharmacy, Optometry, Physiotherapy, Oral Health, Nursing etc
Many of you will be first-timers and so before we provide you with our own experiences, here are some FAQs.
A few FAQs, some of which can be found in the stickies of the relevant subforum.
Q: What kind of degree is necessary?
A: Please note that you do not have to choose a science or health related degree. Contrary to popular belief, unless explicitly stated by the university, there are no preferences as to which degree has a better chance of being accepted. The degree is not part of the selection criteria, the grades you obtain from it are.
Q: How important is your GPA/WAM?
A: For non-standards your GPA/WAM is very important. As a non-standard or graduate-entry applicant most universities have a gpa cutoff between 5-6 (Credit-Distinction). This is high and cannot be achieved on intelligence alone. For some undergrad universities, the higher your gpa is the better. Considering many of us are taking this route because we didn’t do so well in the UMAT, it is essential you score high in this criteria. Is it possible? With diligence, commitment, determination, organisation etc. it most definitely is.
Q: What should I choose?
A:Read on for more but generally it’s best to choose something you enjoy and found you were good at because you will tend to be more successful in such an area. To find out more about different courses either ring up the admissions office at the uni and ask for suggestions (I did this) after telling them your likes and dislikes, or check the course profiles on the uni’s site. Ultimately the decision is up to you and if you find you don’t like your course you can always internally transfer. We would like to hear what you think, in this thread.
For undergrad courses that accept non-standard applicants, please see below for which universities. Depending on how many semesters you’ve completed at uni, some unis might take your ATAR into consideration.:
[box= Where can I apply as a non-standard?]+Non-standard Applicants:http://www.medstudentsonline.com.au/showthread.php?11141-Non-Standard-Entry&highlight=standard
+Graduate-entry applicants: http://www.medstudentsonline.com.au/showthread.php?6029-Graduate-entry-universities&highlight=standard
Where can I apply as a non-standard? (underlined are unis that require competitive gpas ie. not cut offs
–UWA– dent and med (no longer applicable after 2011 as both courses are going the grad-entry route)
–UAdel– dent and med (for med, need to be studying course at the university to be eligible as non-standard)
–JCU– dent and med
–La Trobe– dent
–Otago– med and dent (special conditions apply for non NZ)
–Auckland– med (special conditions apply for non NZ)
[box= Additional Info. for Graduate Entry Med]+Graduate-entry applicants: http://www.medstudentsonline.com.au/showthread.php?6029-Graduate-entry-universities&highlight=standard
+ How gpa for each year is weighed for each uni, click here.
+ For a table on each unis’ requirements including gpa, gamsat and interview and additional info, click here.
Some of our experiences-
[box= My experiences: Why Pharmacy?]When I didn’t get into dentistry the first time, I needed to consider a course I would enjoy to study for a year or two until I successfully transferred. I wanted a course that would be as close as possible to dentistry and medicine. So why Pharmacy?
Pros:I wanted to study something that provided a health professional aspect, one on one patient contact and allowed me to learn medical conditions. I also wanted to study a course that would give me good preparation for GAMSAT, if I had to go postgrad. With these factors in mind, it all came down to pharmacy. Pharmacy focuses on medications and how our body reacts to them internally (Pharmacology & Physiology). The course also focuses on common medical conditions and the best course of action for that patient.
What I also liked about pharmacy is that I was able to do all my chemistry and biology with first year dentistry students, which would enable me to gain credit transfer. Pharmacy allowed me to understand the process and format of dental prescriptions and how local anesthetics work within our bodies. It also gave me an advantage for interviews, since we had to learn ethics for health professionals and how to approach a variety of scenarios in a professional and appropriate manner with patient.
Cons: The disadvantages to pharmacy are that some of the content can get boring and dull since first year is all theory. Working in a community pharmacy is terrible in my opinion. But hospital pharmacy is amazing and interested me quite a lot since you focus more on the patient, conditions and work on the wards. Pharmacy is a career/ profession I can’t see myself enjoying to my full potential , since my heart is set on dentistry. But I may grow to love it in second year. We shall see and find out. Overall, I recommend you to choose a back up plan you will enjoy but can also get a high GPA in. All I can say is that Dentistry is my passion and always will be. I will keep trying to transfer until I succeed.
My experiences with Biomedical Science, essentially a science
As many of you probably are, I was unfamiliar with the concept of university and its subjects, the mechanics, the lifestyle and essential study ethics. I also wasn’t aware that to apply as a non-standard I didn’t necessarily have to study a science degree.
Due to my unfamiliarity and ever present disappointment, reading through the Med Sci threads on MSO I found I was afraid of the flexibility that Adv. Science or a general science degree would provide- I wanted my classes set for the most part. I have many other reasons for choosing Biomed including wanting to be close to the med folks at Grifftih, having to choose degrees that were offered at the Brisbane campus (booo Health Science at GC only!).
Having said that, Biomedicine was not my first choice, Herbal medicine was. I did however like that Biomedicine is practically identical to the MedSci course that Griffith provisional have to undertake in 2 years intensive mode before heading onto grad med. I also didn’t mind that the majority of the degree cohort are fellow med hopefuls. Hah.
Now I am contemplating transferring to a degree that has more flexibility- I adore Biochemistry and while Biomedicine has a fair share, I also want to get into the nitty gritty of Chemistry. By choosing a Science and then majoring in one of the many areas on offer, I get to choose some extra science courses that I would get to enjoy. Like Organic Chemistry![/box]
Pointers for Sciences
Here are some pointers because it is often debatable whether a characteristic is a positive or a negative, depending on the person. We know that many do not enjoy Chemistry, but gulls does.
+Firstly, ditch the belief that you are above everyone else in these degrees. When at uni, it’s diligence that will get you through, not smarts. Sure, you may find the degree easy, you may find that first year is mostly a repeat or you’re cruising through. Do not, however, fall into the trap of then letting yourself go. You may well find that your gpa is not only sinking but jeopardizing your chances as a non-standard.
+Depending on which sciences you are experienced in, first year first semester and probably second semester, too, tend to be repeat. If you found you enjoyed and were an active participant in science classes, chances are you will ease into a science degree.
+Biology and Chemistry enthusiasts– you will most probably enjoy a Health, medical or biomedical degree. There is little to no focus on Physics and Mathsin these degrees. Isn’t that great?! You may have a math unit, depending on the uni, but it mostly ends up being statistics or ( grade 12 math.)
+ If you’re a physics and/or Math enthusiast, usually a bachelor in science where you can choose to major in either of these or have the flexibility to choose will be suitable.
+ If you want to avoid Chemistry as much as possible, Health, Medical and possibly Biomedical sciences are ideal. Since all the sciences overlap, no area is entirely escapable. At least, not for the first year in sciences.
+ If you haven’t done biology before, that’s fine. I did Biology SL in IB so a fair share of the content taught was new to me, but repeat for others. You will be caught up.
+ I also like that we don’t have a lot of essays and have more, straightforward practicals. For someone who struggles with essay writing, I find that rather convenient for my gpa. However, in preparation for the GAMSAT, this probably isn’t such a brilliant point.
+ There are some accelerated science degrees with honours all in the 3 years, rather than having to take an extra year for honours.
+ Many people who had no prior experience in Chemistry or Physicsstruggled during these classes. However, the success rate was equal in both experienced and the inexperienced. In fact, one lecturer mentioned that the inexperienced tended to be more successful because they actually bothered with the classes.
+ You will end up covering some content that has little to no significance in your chosen career path. This isn’t necessarily a negative. I thoroughly enjoyed being lectured by different researchers about their own areas including plant science and forensics.
Now it’s your turn. Please keep in mind everyone has unique experiences to share; there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong.
What’s your ideal back up plan? Why?
– If you’ve started on your alternate route, what are the positive and negative experiences you’ve had? -Are there any unique opportunities you’ve been provided with that you wouldn’t otherwise have gotten to experience?
-Which course do you think is the best for a preliminary degree? Why?
NOTE: IB students and credit transfer
You may be able to use your IB subjects for prior credit so you don’t have to do some of the subjects required in your degrees- this’ll make your semester lighter or can accelerate your degree. For more information, check ‘credit transfer’ sections of your prospective university’s website or call the university for more information. Such subjects are usually found in first year, mostly in first semester.