View Full Version : Advices for Sydney and Flinders prospective students

03-15-2003, 02:45 PM
Additional Information from a 3rd Year Student
by Casimer (Login Casimer)

Here is some additional information I put up on a website if entering first year students are interested:


Posted on Jan 16, 2002, 5:40 PM
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Need Advice from current SYDNEY student
by Chris Rogers (Login Chrisrogers1) [email protected]

I was wondering about the program, such as difficulty.
Recommended textbooks and readings.
Also, wondering about a good place to live.
I will be starting this year.
Thank you.

Posted on Jan 9, 2002, 5:43 AM
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Third Year Student at Sydney
by Caimer (Login Casimer)

Hi, just randomly going through sites to study for the USMLE and I found your message so I'll do the best I can to answer some of your questions.

1) Difficulty surprise!! the first exams that "count" aren't until the end of second year. This is because of the faculty's desire to make sure everyone has enough catch-up time -- especially those from non-bioscience backgrounds. It isn't until after you sit and pass these exams will you appreciate their wisdom, but there are things called "formatives" which are held: mid-year of first and second years, and end of year first year. These formatives closely resemble the "summative" or "barrier" exam at the end of second year so hopefully the exam won't be too much of a shock. Therefore you might find the hardest part about the course is finding motivation to learn and study effectively throughout the first two years. The second hardest part of the course is getting a feel for how much you should know, as a lot of the course is geared towards independent active learning. While lectures may spike your interest in a topic, you probably will have to sit down and read to fully understand it. The course does come with prescribed learning topics (available online or hardcopies can be bought at the bookstore) about a page or two detailing a specific aspect of medicine like "Causes of Syncope." which are of varying quality so eventually you will have to read something in a textbook. Knowing how much you have to delve into a specific topic is a skill that you will learn by the end of your first year. Be warned -- you will feel like you have no idea what or how much to study for the first 20 weeks of the course, but you will eventually learn the invaluable skill of "knowing what you need to know." So in essence the difficulty is there, but it isn't really in the subject matter it is more about management of time, organization (AN ABSOLUTE MUST), and good study habits. And yes, there will be times when you read something in a pathology textbook and go "wha?," but in time the medical jargon will become clear and the abilities that took you this far will eventually help you make sense of what you read.

2) Recommended texts.. hmm.. well let's see.. The best recommendation is not to buy anything in the US as the exchange rate here even for textbooks is usually cheaper. I was told by previous students the typical "wait and see" approach which is very helpful for the optional textbooks, but there are textbooks that you really can't be without.

Basic Clinical Science Textbooks:

The Sydney course is extremely focused on physiology and pathophysiology, which is really lucky since the majority of the USMLE is on these two topics!

For physiology there are three textbooks and you will have to look at them to decide. But you must buy at least one physiology book! One is an undergraduate physiology book that my friend hates (I like the pretty diagrams) it is:

Sherwood: Human Physiology

The other book that both my friend and I love is (much more medically relevant and therefore harder to read)

Guyton: Textbook of Medical Physiology

The last physiology book is very difficult to read, and I find a snooze-fest. I use it as a textbook of last resort if the other two don't have what I'm looking for.

Berne: Physiology

Now to the Pathology.. This is an interesting subject, and the books are extremely beautifully done graphically. Unfortunately there is no happy medium between the two available choices. One book is extremely detailed to the point of inaccessibility for many first year students, and the other is a trimmed down version which in my opinion lacks some of the course material. I bought the more complex book and while in the beginning it took me about 3 hours to read 3 pages with my trusty medical dictionary I now can read it with relative ease and am glad I bought the more advanced version.. The two books are:

Cotran: Robbins Pathologic Basis of Disease (the more complete book)

*****: Basic Pathology

(don't be deceived they are basically the same book, just Basic Pathology has a lot removed from it)

Now, if you have never done immunology I would suggest investing in an immunology textbook and read the first 3 or 4 chapters fairly early on in the course it will make things MUCH easier. The immunology textbook I like is:

Abbas: Cellular & Molecular Immunology While this doesn't have everything; I find the beginning chapters are much better written than:

Roitt: Immunology This is the "standard" textbook as it is in our PBL rooms, but for some reason I'm not a fan...

Geneneral Medicine textbooks.. Hmm well everyone told me to buy this fairly early on, but I have to say I didn't use it as much as my other textbooks. I would say wait and look at the available options when you start the course, and then check out one you like from the library and then see if you use it. I think these are much more useful in more clinical stages of the course as they are very succinct in their descriptions of disease.

Anatomy.. hmm.. well yes we do anatomy, but it isn't anything like the US, and the AMA seems to agree with Sydney because anatomy is a "low yield" subject on the USMLE Step 1. (Meaning many other topics are tested with a much greater frequency). But you will need to buy an anatomy atlas or maybe you can get your hands on an illegal copy of an atlas on CD ask around.. As for an anatomy textbook you might want to buy Moore: clinically oriented anatomy, but you might not. I have it, but the anatomy outlines we get in the course are really well done and I find if I sit with the course's anatomy guide and an atlas I learn a lot more than if I read Moore.

Lastly, A MUST!! A good medical dictionary. I would suggest CD version as you can just type in the word and get an instant answer instead of looking through a huge book. The downside is that most computers aren't as portable as a physical dictionary, although most medical dictionaries are very large.

Clinical Days:

Talley: Clinical Examination.. this is imperative for your clinical school days

There are tons of other textbooks that you can buy depending on your inclination and financial situation. There are must have textbooks for neuroscience but that is second year so you don't have to worry for now. There are also textbooks in topics that aren't covered well in the first two years of the Sydney course, but are "high yield" topics on the USMLE Step 1. For example, microbiology is tested very frequently as well as pharmacology. These topics you have to independently study for the USMLE.

3) Housing

Hmm depending on your clinical school, your living area could vary dramatically although for the first two years of the course you spend 4 days at the University which is in Camperdown, and 1 day at clinical school. There are usually good apartments in Glebe (very close to the University campus) and if you want communal living the International House is quite cheap and you don't have to worry about making meals. Other than that, as a general rule the farther west you go, the cheaper the rent will be. I would also try to find a place that is close to a train station if far away from the university as that makes it much easier to get to your clinical school and university. Also if you want to live with someone else you might try to use the university housing service, which is free to current students, they also will help if you want to live alone.

Well I hope this has helped. The university should really do more for international students studying medicine, but it seems like their philosophy is "let them be surprised when they get here." I really like this course and Sydney and I hope you do too!


Posted on Jan 16, 2002, 2:32 PM
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Thank you
by Chris Rogers (Login Chrisrogers1)

Thank you for your advise, it is very helpful.

All the best in studying for the USMLEs.
Also, what field of medicine are you going towards?


Posted on Jan 16, 2002, 7:58 PM
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More Stuff
by Casimer (Login Casimer)

You are very welcome!! Everyone that decides to go to a foriegn medical school should be given an award!! It is much more difficult than one might think as you are dealing with two major stressors:

1) Transitioning to medical school
2) Adjusting to a foriegn country

Australia is much less like the USA as people may think. Here is a not so great guide to studying in Australiaa:


Just copy the link and paste it in the address window..


As for the field of medicine I am aiming for I have really no clue!!

Posted on Jan 22, 2002, 3:11 AM
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Med interview at Sydney
by Jessica (Login caljay96) [email protected]

Hi Casimer-- Since you are there I was just wondering what you could tell me about the USyd med interview. I have an interview on Sept 6th, and am really excited, but can't seem to find much about the Oz process. Also, do you know anything about heading back to the US for residency? Do Oz graduates need to go the 5th Pathway route? Thanks, Jess.

Posted on Aug 31, 2002, 4:21 PM
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attn: Flinders Students
by Jabroni (Login OzDoc)

Hi, I would just like to know where the rest of the students starting at Flinders this February are from.
I guess I'll start the list and let you all know I'm from New Jersey.

Posted on Dec 29, 2001, 7:22 PM
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Attention: Kimberli Cox ...... or anyone else for that matter
by AussieMD (Login Man-0)

You said this in a past post:

"With that said, there were many places who chose NOT to interview me - either because they required the ECFMG certificate (which you are unable to get until you graduate and I was unwilling to take a year off)"

I was wondering how you were able to secure a residency position if the NRMP says specifically on it's requirements:

"Students or graduates of foreign medical schools who are not confirmed by ECFMG as having passed examinations necessary for ECFMG certification will be withdrawn automatically by the NRMP"

Am I missing a loop-hole somewhere? I'm sorry if you have explained this before and I missed during my browsing.


Posted on Dec 4, 2001, 7:15 PM
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re: attention
by pinoymax (Login pinoymax)

i think what dr. cox meant was this; in order to get ecfmg certification you have to complete the csa, usmle's 1 and 2 and the toefl, now there are some residency programs that will grant you an interview with the understanding that you will complete all the requirements for ecfmg certification before the start of the program i.e sometime before june or july of the succeeding year, however, there are those other programs that require you to already be ecfmg certified before you can get an interview.

note: the interviews usually take place in the year preceding the intended residency year. this means that if you(an IMG) intend to apply to one of those residencies that requires ecfmg certification then you will have to complete the ecfmg requirements at least eight months before you graduate, or you can complete the ecfmg requirements upon graduation and then wait a year for the next match. i think it would be a lot better to do what dr. cox did.

Posted on Dec 5, 2001, 12:19 AM
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Thanks for clearing that up
by AussieMD (Login Man-0)

Posted on Dec 6, 2001, 4:04 PM
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Re: re: attention
by Kimberli Cox (Login kimberlicox)

Just an additional thought after rereading your post:

To participate in the NRMP AFTER Rank Order List Day (usually mid Feb) you must have completed all the exams toward the certificate (ie, only lacking diploma for certification and/.or the actual certificate) - this is what I did. You can apply and stay in the match without the certificate - you are right, if you do not have all the exams passed by ROL day you will be automatically withdrawn and be forced to find a position outside of the match.

Hope this helps.

Posted on Dec 9, 2001, 2:20 PM
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by Kimberli Cox (Login kimberlicox)

pinoymax is absolutely correct - I was referring to the fact that some programs required the ECFMG certificate to APPLY, not to start the program and I was not intending to take a year off before starting residency.

To participate in the NRMP, you must have completed the EXAMS required for the ECFMG certificate, but do not have to have the certificate itself (which requires that you have graduated and submitted your diploma). To START a residency program you must have the certificate proper, not a problem since we graduated in December. However, programs which required the certificate (presumably because they did not trust that you would be awarded the certificate - an inanity in my book, because if you proved you've passed all the exams, have attended a respected school and have a Dean's Letter which states you WILL be graduating, getting the certificate is a formality and shouldn't be an issue) would have required me to graduate before application. As pinoymax points out, since we graduate in December Down Under and the deadline for most match programs is at the beginning of November, you must apply AFTER you graduate if you choose to apply to programs which require the certificate.

Hope this explains things.

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