It’s that time of the year again. The time when each of the States and Territories in Australia opens up the process of applications for medical internships for the following year. For four years I was responsible for running the largest Intern application system in Australia for 4 years. The NSW Intern application system. So I’d like to share with this year’s medical graduates some of the wisdom I gained from that experience.
(Disclaimer: All information here has been sourced in good faith but things do change so you should always do your own due diligence in such matters, we are providing this information to aid you in your application but take no responsibility for any outcomes)
Intern applications and allocations are coordinated across Australia so that every State and Territory opens and closes their systems at the same time and makes offers at the same times. The key things that all medical graduates should consider in preparing their medical internship application for 2019 are as follows:
- Applications open on 8th May 2019.
- Applications close on 7th June 2019.
- Make sure that you have an Intern Placement Number otherwise you won’t be able to apply.
- You should research the application requirements now as there may be some “surprises”. As soon as the application system opens, register or log in and ensure that you have everything you need to complete your application.
- Understand where you sit in the priority list for any State or Territory you are applying to.
- If you will need to attend an interview. Make sure you have gotten leave from your medical school requirements to attend.
- Give yourself time to request referees, put together a CV and find other documents that you may need.
- First offers come out from 15th July 2019. So make sure that you have regular access to your email as your time for accepting offers can be quite short.
Tip #1. Your Medical Intern Placement Number.
The IPN is a unique nine-digit number that has been generated by AHPRA and has been provided to medical schools for distribution to all 2019 final year medical students. The number is used as part of the national audit process (which ensures that intern positions across the country are made available to as many applicants as possible) as well as to streamline registration.
This number is not the same number as your AHPRA registration number or student number. If you have not received you IPN you should check with your school
Tip #2. Other Things You Will Likely Need.
The majority of States and Territories require you to upload an academic transcript as proof that you are indeed a medical student.
They will also request evidence that you satisfactorily meet the AHPRA English Language requirements. This may seem a bit ridiculous given that you have been attending medical school in English for the last 4 or 5 years. But it is the law. So check whether you may need to submit an up-to-date English test result or some other form of documentary evidence such as a high school certificate.
Most States and Territories will also request a CV or Resume. For tips on your CV or Resume see our ultimate guide to CVs or watch the video below.
Some States and Territories have a CV template that they suggest that you use to fill in your information. In the case of Victoria, you are required to use this template. It’s probably fairly harmless to use the template for the other States and Territories. But if you are thinking about your future career, then nows is a good time to be designing your own CV. The risk of using the template is that you don’t stand out from other candidates.
You will need to also provide proof of your identity, citizenship, residency or visa. And if you have had a name change along the way you will probably also need to provide some documentation in relation to this.
Why All This Information?
The State and Territory bodies who administer the Intern application process have a responsibility to ensure that you are eligible to apply for provisional registration at the end of the year in order to work as an Intern. They collect this information to check that everything is in order so that you are indeed eligible to apply. Employers can get rightly annoyed when told that someone who has been allocated to work with them as an Intern will have a several-month delay whilst they resit an English language test.
However, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you are eligible for registration. So you should also be checking these things yourself.
Tip #3. Research and Apply Early.
It’s hard to fathom given the amount of communication from health departments, medical schools, and student colleagues. But every year there are a handful of medical students who forget to apply for their internship. This means having to wait another year. Don’t let that be you.
There are even more students who leave their applications to the last minute. Only to find that they are missing a vital document. For example, this could be evidence you need to substantiate that English is your first language, such as a high school certificate. Or perhaps your last name has changed whilst you have been in medical school? Or maybe you need to submit a CV with your application?
As soon as the application page opens for each State and Territory you are going to apply to make sure your register. And then go as far through the process of applying as possible so you can see if there is some sort of document you need to obtain.
Tip #4. Know Where You Sit In The Priority List.
It’s important to know where you sit in the priority list. Each State and Territory has a slightly different order but in essence, it goes something like this:
- If you are an Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident and went to Medical School in that State or Territory you are top of the list.
- If you are an Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident and went to Medical School in another State or Territory or New Zealand you are probably second.
- If you are an International student who studied Medicine in Australia you are probably next.
Priorities Within Priorities.
Some States and Territories also have priority pathways to ensure that groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and doctors who wish to work rurally or regionally can obtain their preferred placement early.
So if you are an International student and like the idea of working rurally its probably a good idea to consider a rural pathway as it will likely boost your chances of gaining an Intern position earlier in the process.
Annual Salary = $73,370
Intern Positions in South Australia are administered via SA Health Careers
Annual Salary = $71,350
In the Northern Territory Internship is organised by the Northern Territory Prevocational Medical Education Assurances Service.
New South Wales
Annual Salary = $67,950
Intern Positions in New South Wales are administered via HETI.
Annual Salary = $74,639
Intern Positions in Victoria are managed by the Postgraduate Medical Council of Victoria
Annual Salary = uncelar
The Commonwealth provides an additional Internship program for international students who study at Australian medical schools.
*Any excess posts may be applied for by other IMGs in Australia
Annual Salary = $78,749
In Western Australia Intern Applications are coordinated by the Postgraduate Medical Council of Western Australia (PMCWA).
Annual Salary = $73,306
Intern Positions in Queensland are administered via Queensland Health.
Annual Salary = $68,094
Intern Positions in ACT are administered by ACT Health.
Annual Salary = $78,749
Estimated Numbers = 310
In WA all interns are employed by a Primary Employing Health Service (PEHS).
There are 4 PEHSs and each PEHS is a major tertiary hospital in WA which have been accredited to directly employ interns and provide a high-quality intern training program.
Each PEHS holds an information night.
You can also choose to work as a rural intern by applying to work through Western Australia Country Health Service.
The process is coordinated by the Postgraduate Medical Council of Western Australia but you apply through the WA Jobs site and selection occurs through panels representing each of the PEHSs.
As part of your application, you need to provide a cover letter and CV and will require a range of other documents as well as to nominate 3 referees.
If successful you will receive a contract for 3 years.
Annual Salary = $71,350
Estimated Number = 50
The NT Prevocational Medical Assurance Services (PMAS) conducts a central review of eligible applicants and all intern positions are allocated within the two NT Health Services:
- Top End Health Service (TEHS) – Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH)
- Central Australia Health Service (CAHS) – Alice Springs Hospital (ASH)
Eligible applicants are allocated intern positions in line with the Northern Territory category groups. Within the relevant category groups, applicants are allocated to their highest possible Health Service preference, pending availability of a position.
Overall the intern allocation process is based on an applicant’s category group, Health Service preference, and the number of positions available in each health service.
The two NT Health Services are responsible for selecting applicants and making their offers of employment, applicants are advised via email. The Health Service responsible for making the offer of employment will after receiving an acceptance from an applicant arrange an employment contract for an Internship position within their health service to be provided prior to commencing the internship.
Annual Salary = $73,370
Estimated Number = 260
SA Health Careers conducts the annual Intern application process in South Australia.
There are 3 Adelaide-based Local Health Networks and one small Country Health Network (based at Mt Gambier & Whyalla) to which you can apply for the priority Rural Intern pathway.
The Rural Intern Pathway is a strength-based recruitment process for applicants who are interested in undertaking their internship (and potentially subsequent years) in rural hospitals within Country Health SA (CHSA). Rural intern positions provide broad opportunities in unique settings and are best suited for medical graduates with a history of living or working in rural areas or a desire to commence a career in the country.
Intern Allocation Priorities:
- Category 1 Australian Citizens, Australian Permanent Residents and New Zealand Citizens
1.1: Medical graduates from a South Australian university who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI)
1.2: Medical graduates from a South Australian university – Commonwealth-supported (HECS-HELP) or SA Bonded Medical Scholarship Scheme (SABMSS)
1.3: Medical graduates from a South Australian university – full-fee paying
- Category 2 Australian Citizens, Australian Permanent Residents and New Zealand Citizens
2.1: Medical graduates from an interstate or New Zealand university who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (ATSI)
2.2: Medical graduates from interstate or New Zealand university who completed Year 12 in South Australia
2.3: Medical graduates from an interstate or New Zealand university
2.4: Medical graduates from an overseas university who completed Year 12 in South Australia
2.5: Medical graduates from an overseas university
- Category 3 Australian Temporary Residents and New Zealand Permanent Residents
3.1: Medical Students from a South Australian University
- Category 4 Australian Temporary Residents and New Zealand Permanent Residents
4.1: Medical graduates from an interstate or New Zealand University
- Category 5 Australian Temporary Residents and New Zealand Permanent Residents
5.1: Medical graduates who have spent two or more semesters in an overseas campus of an Australian or New Zealand University (eg Monash Sunway campus, UQ New Orleans campus)
5.2: Medical graduates of an overseas university
South Australia is one of few States that specifically permits medical graduates from other countries to apply for internship positions. But they are at the very bottom of the priority list.
If you are not a South Australian medical student, in order to apply for an internship in South Australia you will need to provide a certificate confirming that you have completed the SA Health online electronic medical record (Sunrise EMR & PAS) training.
Annual Salary = $73,306
Estimated Numbers = 840
Queensland Health conducts the annual intern allocation process in Queensland.
Interns can be allocated to one of 19 hospitals.
An interesting aspect of the Queensland application portal is that you can see a live indication of where other applicants have preferenced other hospitals. This is presumably designed to encourage medical students to consider other hospitals and get the student group itself to work out the allocation.
I have no indication whether it’s a useful process or not. If you know anything about this. Leave a comment below.
Intern Allocation Priorities:
Medical graduates of Queensland universities who are Australia/New Zealand citizens or Australian permanent residents; and
- are seeking an internship commencing in the year immediately following graduation; OR
- received Review Committee approval from a previous campaign to defer commencement of internship
Medical graduates of Australian (interstate) or New Zealand universities who are Australian/New Zealand citizens or Australian permanent residents;
Medical graduates of Queensland universities who are Australian/New Zealand citizens or Australian permanent residents who do not meet the criteria outlined in Group A
Medical graduates of Australian (Queensland or interstate) or New Zealand universities who are NOT Australian / New Zealand citizens or Australian permanent residents who:
- currently hold a visa that allows them to work in Australia; OR
- will need to obtain a visa to work in Australia
Medical graduates of Australian University campuses outside of Australia accredited by the Australian Medical Council.
Medical graduates of international universities who have not completed an internship in Australia or another country and have either:
- obtained the AMC Certificate (and are eligible for provisional registration)
- successfully completed the AMC MCQ (multiple choice questionnaire) (and are eligible for limited registration)
The Queensland Rural Generalist Pathway (QRGP) offers graduating medical students the opportunity to explore a wide variety of clinical training and develop the advanced skill set required to support the health needs of rural communities. It’s a priority pathway that you can opt for first.
If you are not interested in the Rural Generalist pathway then you need to work out which category you are in.
New South Wales.
Annual Salary = $67,950
Estimated Numbers = 1000
The Health Education & Training Institute runs the countries largest Intern application process. Offering over 1,000 internships.
Interns can be allocated to one of 15 networks of hospitals. The offer is for a 2-year contract to cover both internship and residency.
You have the option of applying through one of 4 pathways:
- Aboriginal Recruitment Pathway
- Rural Preferential Pathway
- Regional Allocation Pathway
- Optimised (or Main) Pathway
Only applicants who go through the Rural Preferential Pathway need to submit a CV and attend an interview. All other pathways are based on applications only.
Intern Placement Priorities:
Priority 1 – Medical graduates of NSW universities who are Australian/New Zealand citizens or Australian permanent residents (Commonwealth Supported Place and Domestic Full Fee paying).
This priority category is guaranteed an intern position in NSW.
Priority 2 – Medical graduates of interstate or New Zealand universities who completed Year 12 studies in NSW who are Australian/New Zealand citizens or Australian permanent residents (Commonwealth Supported Place, Domestic Full Fee paying or NZ equivalent).
Priority 3 – Medical graduates of interstate or New Zealand universities who completed Year 12 studies outside of NSW who are Australian/New Zealand citizens or Australian permanent residents (Commonwealth Supported Place, Domestic Full Fee paying or NZ equivalent).
Priority 4 – Medical graduates of NSW universities who are not Australian/New Zealand citizens or Australian permanent residents and who hold a visa that allows them to work or are able to obtain a visa to work.
Priority 5 – Medical graduates of interstate or New Zealand universities who are not Australian/New Zealand citizens or Australian permanent residents and who hold a visa that allows them to work or are able to obtain a visa to work in Australia.
Priority 6 – Medical graduates of Australian Medical Council accredited universities with campuses that are located outside of Australia or New Zealand who are not Australian/New Zealand citizens or Australian permanent residents and who hold a visa that allows them to work or are able to obtain a visa to work in Australia.
Australian Capital Territory.
Annual Salary = $68,094
Estimated Numbers = 95
(6 of these positions are normally guaranteed to NSW medical students)
If you want to apply for an internship position in the Australian Capital Territory you do so via the ACT Health Recruitment page.
Most of your time is spent at the Canberra Hospital. But ACT is interesting as it is one of the few chances you may have as an Intern to work in 2 separate States and Territories. Rotations may include secondments to Calvary Public Hospital, Goulburn Base Hospital, and South East Regional Hospital (SERH) at Bega.
Other details are limited at this stage.
Annual Salary = $74,639
Estimated numbers = 820
Internship in Victoria works around a computer matching system which is administered by the Postgraduate Medical Council of Victoria.
Once you have submitted all your details and preferences the match informs the various hospitals and health networks who then conduct a selection process. Some but not all hospitals and networks perform interviews. Your selection may just be based on where you sit on the priority list plus your CV and referee reports.
Interns can be allocated to one of 22 hospitals and networks. This includes a small number of community-based internships where the focus is more on community-based models of care, including working in primary care and smaller hospitals.
Intern Placement Priorities:
Priority Group 1 – Australian permanent residents or citizens and New Zealand citizens graduating from Victorian medical schools including CSP and domestic full fee-paying students (i.e. graduates of University of Melbourne, Monash University, Deakin University and University of Notre Dame: Melbourne & Ballarat Clinical Schools).
Priority Group 2 – Australian temporary resident graduates of Victorian medical schools Interstate Special Consideration candidates (approved by DHHS)
Priority Group 3 – Australian permanent resident graduates of interstate or New Zealand universities (including previous residents of Victoria); Australian temporary resident graduates of interstate universities; New Zealand temporary resident graduates of New Zealand universities; and Graduates from an overseas campus of an Australian/New Zealand University accredited by the Australian Medical Council (e.g. Monash University – Sunway Campus, Malaysia)
Annual Salary = $68,936
Estimated Number = 90.
Internships are coordinated in Tasmania via the Department of Health and Human Services.
All applicants are required to apply online. As part of your application you are asked to preference all of the 3 available sites:
- North West Region
Candidates need to attach a CV/Resume and any other relevant information to their application and must arrange completion of two electronic referee reports:
One (1) referee that is employed in a clinical role (Clinical Academic) with the University where you are studying/or studied medicine and is aware of your studies in the past 12-24 months; AND
One (1) that is – a senior clinician (>4 years’ experience post general registration) who has observed you (you have worked with) during your clinical placements in the past 12-24 months, and can comment on your suitability for hospital-based practice.
Intern Placement Priorities:
The Tasmanian Health Service currently gives priority, in order, to:
- Australian permanent resident Tasmanian-trained Australian Government supported and full-fee paying medical graduates.
- Australian temporary resident Tasmanian-trained full-fee paying medical graduates.
- Australian permanent resident interstate-trained Australian Government supported and full-fee paying medical graduates.
- Australian temporary resident interstate-trained full-fee paying medical graduates.
- Medical graduates of an Australian Medical Council accredited overseas University.
Selection occurs via face-to-face interviews. Following the interview, successful applicants will be placed in an order of merit with applicant performance at the interview accounting for 70% of the overall score, and each referee report accounting for 15% of the overall score. Vacant positions are offered in order of merit and the Tasmanian Health Service Priority Placement Framework.
Tip #5. Commonwealth Program.
Annual Salary = uncertain.
Likely to be based on the Award for the State that you are working in.
Number = up to 115.
The Commonwealth Internship Program is my final tip.
This is because it is a program that runs separately and in addition to the State and Territory internship programs. And you may have not been informed of its existence OR thought to apply for it.
The main function of this program over the years has been to provide additional opportunities for international students studying Medicine in Australia a chance to complete their internship. This is done by tendering to various private hospitals for additional intern positions.
The program has been retitled this year as the Junior Doctor Training Program Private Hospital Stream and there will be a total of up to 115 positions on offer.
Normally there is not as much information about the program available until a mad flurry at the end of the year. And 2019 seems to be no different. They are still sorting out which hospitals will provide internships. After which there will probably be some information about how to apply.
For now, we know that the eligibility requirements are that you must either be an international full fee-paying medical graduate from an onshore Australian medical school. This is Priority One. If not all positions are filled by priority one medical graduates then the private hospitals may then recruit other medical graduates who are eligible for provisional registration. This is the Priority Two category.
Eligibility Requirements for Intern (PGY 1) Junior Doctor Training Places under the Junior Doctor Training Program Private Hospital Stream
Under the PHS, participating private hospitals must prioritize international full fee-paying medical graduates from onshore Australian medical schools (Priority One). Should these places not be filled, private hospitals may then recruit other medical graduates eligible for provisional registration (Priority Two).
This means that the Commonwealth Scheme provides one of the few opportunities for IMGs who are applying via the standard pathway process to gain an internship position in Australia.
To do so you will need to have met the Medical Board of Australia provisional registration requirements as a medical practitioner. And also have met the English language proficiency requirements for registration purposes. And commit to obtaining an appropriate visa to work in Australia during the internship year.
Private Hospitals participating in delivering the Private Hospital Stream in 2019 are:
- Mater Health Services North Queensland Limited
- Mercy Health and Aged Care Central QLD
- MQ Health (Macquarie University Hospital)
- St John of God Health Care Inc.
- St Vincent’s Private Hospital Limited
- St Vincent’s Private Hospital Sydney
- Ramsay Health Care
- Greenslopes Private Hospital
- Joondalup Hospital
How To Decide?
There are lots of considerations when it comes to putting in your Intern application. Everyone is a bit different. Some graduates feel like they would like to be close to home and family whilst going through their transition to Intern. Others see it as a chance to get away and explore a new place and location. And then others focus on the long-term career prospects of certain locations.
I think this last consideration is a little overrated for most. You can generally experience a wide range of medicine in your first couple of years of medicine after graduation and there is scant evidence that this affects your prospects of applying for specialty training posts.
That being said if you have an interest in anything other than Medicine, Surgery or Emergency Medicine as a future career you should probably investigate whether this particular specialty is offered at the hospitals or networks to which you apply.
Unfortunately, the internship model in Australia is quite antiquated and we have used the experience as a proxy for competency. The result has been the mandating of the 3 core terms for internship of Medicine, Surgery, and Emergency Medicine. There is really no solid educational basis for this approach and one of the unfortunate outcomes is that all the other specialties get squeezed out and few interns get to experience psychiatry, general practice, obstetrics, paediatrics, pathology etc… which ultimately does have an effect on recruitment to these specialties.
So the basic message is this. If you are really dead set keen on doing radiology as a career you should try to track down the very few locations that might offer this rotation to either interns or residents.
Each year the Australian Medical Students’ Association produces a very useful Intern Guide with lots of information about the composition of intern training networks across the country. We are currently waiting on the 2019 version. But here’s a link to the 2018 version.
Question: What If I Have Special Circumstances Which Make It Hard For Me To Work In Certain Places?
Answer: All States and Territories Have processes for considering special circumstances. Some of the types of circumstances that are generally approved are: where you may have certain health conditions that mean you need to be close to certain hospitals or specialists; where you have dependents, such as young children, and are unable to relocate due to care arrangements; and where you and your partner want to work as doctors in the same location.
Generally, requests to stay in certain locations, for reasons such as work commitments of partners or needs of school aged children are not granted.
Question: I Have Received My Intern Offer. But I Would Like to Defer It. Is This Possible?
Answer: This will partly depend on how long you wish to defer for.
If you just wish to defer for a a few months. Once you have your offer and are in discussions with your new employer make enquiries. It may be possible to negotiate a later start with your employer. Most employers will generally prefer that you start on time, so that you are not out of sync with your colleagues. But there might be some advantage for the employer in you attending orientation but then starting a bit later as it will probably help them to fill out roster gaps.
On the other hand. If you wish to defer for a complete year. Then you will need to check the policy of the State or Territory that has provided you an Intern offer. In some cases (for example Victoria) you will be permitted to defer and your place will be held for you the following year. In most other cases you will need to reapply the following year and check whether your priority status has altered. In most cases you have the same priority status.
Also bear in mind that it is unclear how long you can defer commencing your internship. However, the Medical Board of Australia expects that once you have commenced your internship you will have completed this process within 3 years.
Question: I Am a Doctor With a Medical Degree From Outside Of Australia. Can I Apply For Internship?
Answer: Unless you obtained your medical degree from a New Zealand Medical School. Then the brief answer to this question is no.
I would love to stop there. And I really think you should as well. But there are rare circumstances where you may be able to obtain an internship with a medical degree from outside of Australia. But the Medical Board of Australia strongly advises against this option and so do I. For good reasons. Firstly the whole Australian medical internship system is designed to ensure that Australian medical graduates are able to undertake an internship. Not for overseas graduates. Secondly (and as a result of the first point) it is very rare to be offered the chance.
Some States and Territories will not even consider an application from an IMG for internship. Others will only do so in limited circumstances, for example, the Northern Territory will accept applications from IMGs who may have done a medical student elective or clinical observership in the Northern Territory and who have experience in rural, remote and indigenous health locations. But even then these applicants are at the bottom of the priority list for obtaining an internship. South Australia will accept applications. But again you are bottom of the list. Queensland will also accept applicants, but only if you have never worked as a doctor. And again you are bottom of the list.
A final note on this question is that the majority of IMGs who do obtain a medical internship position each year in Australia generally have Australian citizenship or permanent residency.
Question: I Have Heard That Some Graduates Miss Out On Internship. Is This True?
Answer: Whilst it is theoretically a possibility that some medical graduates miss out on Internship according to information provided by HETI for the most recent year of intern applications no-one was actually left at the end of the process without an offer.
Only Australian citizens and permanent residents are guaranteed an intern position under the COAG agreement. However, there are generally enough intern positions available for those students who have come to Australia to study medicine and the Commonwealth Private Hospital program offers additional spaces for those that may miss out.
That being said. It is also clear that many graduates choose to drop out of the application process themselves. So not everyone who applies gets an offer. The assumption is that some graduates take up similar intern opportunities in other countries upon graduation.
(Disclaimer: all information here has been sourced in good faith but things do change so you should always do your own due diligence in such matters, we are providing this information to aid you in your application but take no responsibility for any outcomes)
We’d welcome feedback from any Intern programs in relation to the accuracy of the above information.