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Medical Practitioner

Year 12 Preferred University Course Subject Prerequisites Experience Needed

Also known as Doctor, General Practitioner, GP and Medical Specialist.

Medical practitioners diagnose physical and mental illnesses, disorders and injuries, and prescribe medications and treatment to promote or restore good health.

Medical practitioners are involved in a wide range of activities, including consultations, attending emergencies, performing operations and arranging medical investigations.

When caring for patients, medical practitioners work with many other health professionals.

They may also participate in and undertake research.

Medical practitioners sometimes have to deal with unpleasant conditions due to a patient's illness or injury.

Adopting strict hygiene practices is important.

Depending on their area of specialisation, medical practitioners may have to work long, demanding and irregular hours. This may include working on weekends and at night or being on call 24 hours a day.


    Medical practitioners may perform the following tasks:

  • examine the patient to determine the nature of the disorder or illness and record the patient's medical information
  • order, perform and analyse laboratory tests, X-rays and other diagnostic images and procedures
  • provide overall care for patients and prescribe and administer treatments, medications and other remedial measures
  • aid in the prevention of diseases and disorders by advising patients on diet, exercise, hygiene and general health
  • prescribe and administer medication and inoculate patients to prevent infectious or contagious diseases
  • provide pre-natal and post-natal care
  • report births, deaths and notifiable diseases to government authorities
  • arrange for patients to be admitted to hospital
  • refer patients to other medical specialists and exchange relevant medical details


  • good communication skills
  • self-confidence
  • able to exercise high ethical standards
  • able to relate to people
  • compassionate towards others
  • enjoy working with people
  • able to cope with the physical demands of the job
  • a high degree of motivation and self-discipline
Good Outlook
Good Outlook for this career!

Interest Area

Helping/Community Service Influencing/Personal Contact Medical


A medical practitioner may specialise in:

Addiction Medicine - deals with general issues of harm associated with the non-medical use of drugs. Addiction medicine includes the prevention of harm related to the use of non-medical drugs, management of acute drug-related problems, and rehabilitation of people who have become dependent on drugs.

Anaesthesia - the practice of administering medications to patients to block the feeling of pain and other sensations, or that produce a deep state of unconsciousness that allows medical and surgical procedures to be undertaken.

Dermatology - the treatment of skin diseases such as eczema, acne, skin infections and psoriasis, using techniques such as ultraviolet light therapy, photodynamic therapy and laser treatment. Dermatologists also detect and treat skin cancers.

Emergency Medicine - involves diagnosing and managing serious and life-threatening health problems in patients of all ages using a wide range of medical and surgical skills, as well as resuscitation techniques.

General Practice - the provision of health care to individuals and families in their communities. General practitioners coordinate the care of patients, provide advice and education on health care and refer patients to other specialists where necessary. General practitioners are often the first point of contact in matters of personal health.

Intensive Care Medicine - diagnosing and administering intensive medical care for critically ill patients, often through the use of organ support systems. Intensive care medicine includes the assessment, resuscitation and ongoing management of critically ill patients.

Medical Administration - the process of managing departments or organisations responsible for health service delivery. Medical administrators control administrative operations, such as budget planning and purchasing, service and facility planning, or operational policy development.

Obstetrics and Gynaecology - the provision of medical care before, during and after childbirth. Gynaecology specialists diagnose, treat and assist in the prevention of disorders of the female reproductive system.

Occupational and Environmental Medicine - an area focused on the effects of work on health and health on work. Occupational and environmental medicine includes the prevention, research and investigation of workplace and environmental hazards that may cause an adverse impact on human health.

Ophthalmology - the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, injuries and deficiencies of the eye.

Paediatrics and Child Health - the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of children from birth to early adolescence.

Pain Medicine - focuses on the evaluation, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of persons in pain.

Palliative Medicine - the study and management of patients with active, progressive, far advanced disease, for whom the prognosis is limited and the focus of care is the quality of life.

Pathology - the use of laboratory procedures to identify and diagnose the presence and stages of diseases and possible sources of infection in body tissues, fluids, secretions and other specimens.

Physician - specialisation in one of many branches of medicine, such as allergy, cardiology (treatment of heart disease), geriatrics (diagnoses and treatment of diseases affecting elderly people), haematology (treatment of diseases of the blood and blood forming tissues), internal medicine, neurology, or rheumatology (treatment of arthritis).

Psychiatry - deals with the diagnosis and treatment of mental, emotional and behavioural disorders.

Public Health Medicine - an area of medicine concerning the health and care of populations. Public health medicine involves the promotion of health and the prevention of disease, illness and injury, the assessment of a community's health needs, and the provision of services to communities.

Radiation Oncology - using radiation to treat patients diagnosed with cancer and other diseases.

Radiology - the diagnosis and treatment of diseases using radiant energies such as X-rays, ultrasound, gamma rays and radio waves.

Rehabilitation Medicine - concerned with the diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of adults and children with limited function as a consequence of disease, injury, impairment and/or disability.

Sexual Health Medicine - the promotion of sexual health in the community, identifying and minimising the impact of sexual health problems through education, behaviour change, targeted medical screening, diagnostic testing and research.

Sport and Exercise Medicine - the promotion of health through increased use of exercise and physical activity. Sport and exercise physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions and injuries, and provide advice about safe exercise methods in order to prevent or treat illness.

Surgery - surgeons may specialise in many areas such as cancer surgery, ophthalmology, orthopaedic surgery (bones and joints), otorhinolaryngology (ear, nose and throat), and plastic and reconstructive surgery.


Year 12 Preferred University Course Subject Prerequisites Experience Needed

To become a medical practitioner you usually have to study medicine at university. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your HSC/ACT Year 12 with particularly good results. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics are normally required.

Some universities offer medicine as a double degree and may have additional prerequisites. A number of universities in Australia offer degrees in medicine.

Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information as requirements may change.

Entry into these courses is highly competitive and is based on a combination of academic achievement, performance on the Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test (UMAT) and a structured interview. The UMAT is a written test that assesses non-academic personal qualities.

Alternatively, you can become a medical practitioner by completing a relevant bachelor degree, followed by a postgraduate qualification in medicine. Entry into the graduate entry courses is based on prior completion of a bachelor degree, performance in the Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT) and a score resulting from a semi-structured interview. Studies in behavioural, social, biological and physical sciences, and humanities are likely to enhance performance in the test, and are offered at most universities.

Additional Information

    Following completion of any of the above courses, graduates must undertake one year of full-time employment (internship) at a recognised teaching hospital to be able to gain full registration as a medical practitioner with the Medical Board of Australia. Prior to commencing clinical placements, students will be required to obtain a Working with Children Check (NSW) or a Working with Vulnerable People Check (ACT), undergo a National Police Check and provide a schedule of immunisations.

    It is a legal requirement for graduates to be registered with the Medical Board of Australia before being able to practise as a medical practitioner in any state or territory in Australia. For full details, visit their website.

    Entry to the various specialisations requires postgraduate study, experience in approved hospitals and the passing of examinations leading to membership of the appropriate professional college. Specialist training programmes and examinations are administered by these colleges.

    Training standards for general practitioners are set by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. To become a general practitioner, you must become a fellow of the college. To become a fellow, you must complete an additional three years of general practice training following the intern year and pass an exam. Rural practice incorporates a further year of special rural skills training.


Medical practitioners may work in private practice on their own, in partnership with another medical practitioner, in a group practice, in community health centres and in public hospitals. They work in cities, suburbs and rural towns.

Opportunities for medical graduates depend on a variety of factors, including birth and death rates, population levels and movements, changing patterns of illness and injury, technological advances in health care, the trend towards preventative medicine and the cost of treatment and health insurance to the patient. While most city areas and major towns are well supplied with medical practitioners, there are shortages in some city areas and in rural and remote locations.

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More Information - External Links

Job Outlook for Medical Practitioner Medical Board of Australia Australian Medical Council Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Medical Council of NSW

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