Healthcare & Medical
Medical practitioners diagnose physical and mental illnesses, prescribe medication and treatment, and refer patients to other specialists.
Post-graduate qualification + professional registration
What does a Medical Practitioner do?
Medical practitioners diagnose and treat physical and mental illness, disease and infection, prescribe medications and treatment and refer patients to other specialists where necessary. Medical practitioners are commonly known as medical specialists. Specialist medical practitioners include allergists, cardiologists, dermatologists, emergency medicine specialists, gynaecologists, obstetricians, paediatricians, pathologists and respiratory specialists.
As a medical practitioner, you might:
- examine the patient to make a diagnosis
- record the patient's medical information
- prescribe medication or administer treatments
- order laboratory tests, X-rays and other diagnostic images and procedures
- examine the results of tests and diagnostic images
- refer the patient to other medical specialists for further diagnosis if necessary
- encourage the prevention of diseases and disorders by advising patients on diet, exercise, hygiene and general health
- provide pre-natal and post-natal care.
Key skills and interests
To become a medical practitioner, you would need:
- a commitment to caring for others
- practical skills for examining patients and performing clinical procedures
- an interest and ability in science, medicine, anatomy and physiology
- good communication skills and the ability to explain choices to patients
- the ability to put people at their ease and inspire trust and confidence
- high ethical standards.
Working hours and conditions
In a full-time role in a hospital, you would generally work a standard number of hours per week. Many medical practitioners have their own consulting rooms, and also consult with their patients when they are in hospital. This generally requires you to work longer hours, including early mornings, evenings and weekends.
You may have to work as part of an on-call roster, depending on your role. most medical practitioners would work full-time.
You would be based in a hospital or private consulting rooms, which you may share with other medical practitioners in the same specialty. You may see patients in your consulting room on set days, and work in hospitals on other days.
You would travel a lot between your consulting rooms and hospitals or other medical facilities.
How to become an Medical Practitioner?
Entry Level Education
Medical practitioners are specialist medical doctors with medical degrees and a number of years of additional post graduate training. To become a medical doctor you have to complete a medical degree. English, mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics would be appropriate subjects to study prior to university. Some universities offer medicine as a double degree and may have additional prerequisites.
Entry into medical degrees is highly competitive and is based on academic results, 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 doctor by completing a relevant bachelor’s degree, followed by a postgraduate qualification in medicine. Postgraduate course entry also requires successful performance in the Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT) and a score resulting from a semi-structured interview.
After completing your medical degree, you receive provisional registration and enter the workforce as an intern or postgraduate year 1 (PGY1) doctor. This part of your training lasts for 12 months, and is undertaken in a public hospital. When you successfully complete your internship you receive general medical registration through the Medical Board of Australia (MBA).
Entry to the various specialisations requires postgraduate study, experience in approved hospitals and passing examinations. Upon successful completion of a recognised medical specialty training program you will be awarded a fellowship of the appropriate college. Specialist training programs and examinations are administered by these colleges. You are then also entitled to an unrestricted Medicare provider number, which enables you to practise medicine independently in your chosen field, anywhere in Australia.
Employment of specialist medical practitioners is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations.
Job growth will occur because of the continued expansion of healthcare-related industries.
The growing and aging population is expected to drive overall growth in the demand for medical services as consumers continue to seek and need higher levels of care.
The strong demand for medical practitioners is somewhat limited by the number of places available in medical degrees at universities.