As a medical doctor and previous medical student, this time of the year is always an important one. Potential medical students have their interviews with medical schools coming up, and they await entry into the medical profession. As other prospective graduate students may be considering for next year, a move interstate could certainly be a strong possibility for future medical students. Indeed, with the increasing competitiveness of medical entry, and the wide spread of medical schools across the country, it has become very normal for students to move interstate to follow their dream. For many students this will be the first time that they have had to either move such a great distance; or it may even be the first time they’ve moved out of home. For some (such as it was for myself), this will be an extremely liberating process where you will taste freedom as if it was a succulent nectarine on a warm summer’s day, for others it might be very scary, and filled with nervous trepidation.
There are many things to keep in mind when you’re moving, in general, and especially when you are moving to an unfamiliar area. As such, I’d like to try to help you out with some tips and pieces of advice regarding an interstate move as a graduate student – though this certainly does have a focus on medical school students. Here are some handy tips and hints to think about whilst you plan and contemplate your move for either later this year, or very early next year!
It is very important to take note of what your course structure will be over your degree – i.e. the theory/clinical split. Finding out at what point in your degree the content transforms to adopt a major clinical focus will be very important. This is because in your clinical years, you will find yourself based at hospitals and other health practices, and generally NOT the university or medical school. Although it may not be a huge consideration when you initially move down, if you are looking for long-term stability or hate moving, it might not be the best idea to stay in an on-campus college – as you might have a painful commute to your clinical hospital in 1- or 2-years’ time. Indeed, many students actually will have to move again to a rural area in order to do their clinical, practicum placements – so this can be an important consideration.
Probably self-explanatory but be very mindful of the price you’re paying for rent in graduate/medical school. Although many medical students can, and do, hold jobs – this is not the case for everyone, and you may find that the hours and study requirements in the course are prohibitive for a casual job. Having said that, there are many graduate students who need to work in order to survive, which definitely included myself, and so I strongly believe that it is very manageable to juggle the medical degree and casual job(s). However, a great portion of students will rely purely on Centrelink payments, so make sure you don’t end up spending most of that in rent each fortnight, or it could make medical school very miserable. Indeed, finances were the major concern of mine in medical school, and as Centrelink support is minimal at best, you might find yourself needing a casual job in order to meet course and study costs.
This one might be a bit tricky if you don’t know anyone where you are moving to, but not entirely impossible – I recommend that it is a very good idea to try to live with fellow graduate/medical students. There will be no one else except other graduate/medical students who understand the horrors you will end up going through on a daily basis. Having other like-minded individuals around, going through the same study-hell as you, will assist greatly with support and ensuring you take some collegiate breaks! Older medical students will also most likely have great notes and textbooks for you to get a hand on!
If you can, it is really worthwhile living near where you will be studying throughout graduate/medical school. This may be the medical school, or a hospital, or both. You will find that many a long night will be had in a hospital or at the medical school, and not having to drive 30 minutes or so after will be a blessing. The most fun I had in medical school was the walks to and from university, as there would often be a big group of us making the trek!
Although offering just a few snippets into some (hopefully!) useful insights into the graduate/medical school move, we hope that it has stimulated your thoughts towards a holistic consideration of the big event. It’s not just about what type of house you’re in, or how nice – you need to consider location, price, housemates, how easy it is to maintain, contract length, and the distance from your teaching facility. These are very standard considerations, but there are often some unique issues about graduate/medical school that get thrown in the mix, which makes a decision a bit more difficult!
Elliot DE is a current PhD Candidate, Medical Doctor & Law Graduate. He is also a Humanities Tutor at GradReady Preparation Courses.