How to become a Doctor in New Zealand

Here are the essential things to know on How to become a Doctor in New Zealand

Doctors across the world have one story to tell. It is the very same one we can affirm, ‘it is rigorous’.

Those in the game are like a train on the move. It does not become less complex and this is so for a reason.

Introduction to How to become a Doctor in New Zealand

A public speaker knows the strings to pull to get people to stay motivated, magicians could pull a few tricks and get thunderous applause. But medicine is not an ‘abracadabra zone’. It is serious business.

It is therefore imperative to critically examine your abilities, weigh your finances and find out what the profession entails.

A lot of people travel across the world for a motley of reasons; business, family, tourism, education, health, etc.

I would like to take you through New Zealand and everything you would need, to become a Doctor in NZ.

New Zealand has over 5million people living within its territory. With a 4.1% rate of unemployment, it is apparent that the country’s economy is rock solid. The US dollar (1 dollar) is equivalent to the 1.464 New Zealand dollars. That’s a bonus, right?

It is home to many beautiful places and things, all the more, it is a very secure place to live in. Plus it has one of the best healthcare systems in the world.

New Zealand has just two medical faculties, so it’s either ‘A’ or ‘B’, no ‘C’. Just ‘A’ and ‘B’. In other words, only two universities can certify a degree in medicine in NZ. They are the University of Auckland and the University of Otago. These institutions have registration processes, which is peculiar to them.

University of Auckland

The University of Auckland offers a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB), for a duration of six years. You can apply as an undergraduate through BHSc or BSc at the University of Auckland. This is strictly for first-year students. There is also the graduate entry-level.

University of Otago

To acquire the MBChB degree at the University of Otago, you must complete the Health Science First Year (HSFY), after which, the journey to completing your degree in medicine and surgery will be five years.

It is important to note that there are other requirements that should be met to be considered in these institutions. These, we will be discussed subsequently.

How can I become a Doctor in New Zealand?

If you are just fresh out of high school or you would like to study medicine, then pay attention. There are key subjects for each course, it is believed that these subjects will provide the basic or background knowledge of the course. Subjects like Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math, and English.

So the first step in becoming a doctor in New Zealand is to graduate from high school with good grades in those key subjects.

Apply for Medical School

It is practically impossible to become a doctor without first attending medical school. There are two Universities in New Zealand that award a bachelor’s degree in medicine – the University of Auckland and the University of Otago, as stated above.

A prerequisite for admission into the University of Otago is the compulsory enrollment into Otago’s Health Sciences First Year (HSFY) and one must pass all papers in one sitting, with a minimum of 70% in each paper. Applicants are also expected to have passed HSFY English Diagnostic Test or ENGL 126.

International students, in the same manner, are expected to have completed relevant studies in health sciences. Including, registering for the Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test (UMAT) is also sacrosanct.

Studying medicine in New Zealand takes a period of six years to complete. The six years is a cluster of theories, practical, clinical rotation, and the like. These activities would determine if some students will be dropped off before the final year.

Be proficient in the use of English

Amongst the three languages spoken in New Zealand, English is the most commonly spoken. The English language is widely accepted as the medium of communication.

So you are definitely at your A’ game if you can speak English fluently. As a doctor, especially doctors from countries where English is not spoken frequently, this would be a major limitation. As patients are best communicated in English in NZ.

Foreigners, who are not conversant with the English language will be required to sit for and pass the IELTS or the OET before they can apply for a job as a doctor in New Zealand.

Apply to be a House Officer

Your application for the house officer position can only kick start, halfway through your sixth year in medical school. As the house officer, you become the least in the doctor’s register. Meaning, you will be the very least.

Your responsibilities may include writing notes, filling out blood tests, and reporting to the senior doctors. Most definitely, you will enjoy the privilege of talking to a lot of patients.

In New Zealand, the House officer position is controlled by a system called ACE.

Of course, the house officer position begins with:

  • ranking all the District Health Boards (DHBs), you would prefer.
  • ACE sends your application materials to the DHBs you have selected.
  • DHBs rank their applicants according to their preferences.

Get registered under the New Zealand medical council

To practice medicine in New Zealand, you need to get licensing from the Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ). The registration will commence with taking and passing the New Zealand Registration Examination (NZREX).

The MCNZ authorizes qualified medical personnel to begin their practice. Without certification from the MCNZ, you will not be able to practice in New Zealand.

Find a job

If you must work, then you must find one. Getting the license to practice is by far the first step to realizing your dream.

MCNZ licensing does not set you up for a job automatically. But it definitely raises the possibilities. It might interest you to know that NZ recruits about 1500 doctors. So there is always a vacuum to be filled.

You might want to ask other questions like;

  1. Do I need to sit for UMAT?
  2. What do I need to know about NZREX?
  3. What’s the cost of living in New Zealand?
  • Do I need to sit for UMAT?

So there is a lot of contention about this, given that there is a similar acronym – UCAT. The UMAT stands for the Undergraduate Medical and Health Sciences Admission Test and it was an entry requirement until it was replaced with the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT).

The UCAT assesses general skills and abilities that have been developed over time by the applicant. It does not test for academic knowledge after all.

In New Zealand, the UCAT is only applicable to students who have secured admission into the university, unlike in Australia where the UCAT is taken before entry into the university.

Although the UCAT is not mandatory. It is mandatory for applicants who wish to study at the University of Auckland, save for international graduates who are applying through the graduate entry-level. Even if UCAT has not been made compulsory, it still does not mean that applicants cannot or should not sit for it.

  • What do I need to know about NZREX?

The New Zealand Registration Examination (NZREX) is an initiative of the NZMC. It is a self-assessment tool required to ascertain the standard of an applicant who wishes to practice medicine.

A pass in the NZREX clinical is valid for 5years and as such affirms that the applicant is qualified or meets the standard requirements.

To apply for the NZREX clinical, you must;

  • Hold a primary medical qualification, obtained from medical schools listed in the World Directory of medical schools.
  • meet the English language requirements for NZREX clinical
  • Have sat for and passed any of these within a period of five years; PLAB test, Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQT), Australian Medical Council MCQ, and the United States Licensing Examination (USMLE).

The good news is that you can sit for the NZREX clinical as many times as possible. However, you must meet the requirements.

  • What’s the cost of living in New Zealand?

 One question kept recurring as I wrote. The question of the cost of living. I think the same applies to you. New Zealand is by far an expensive place to live in.

Cities like Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch are grossly expensive to live in. These cities happen to be more promising as they are the heart of New Zealand’s commercial activities. Eventually, people would want to live in them.

The average monthly living cost for a person in NZ is between 3,000 and 4,000 NZD and for a family of four, it could be averaged between 6,000 and 8,000 NZD.

However, New Zealand offers suitable working conditions and with their unemployment rate falling to 4.1%, you can be sure that the odds are in your favor.

Final thoughts How to become a Doctor in New Zealand

It is totally difficult to ignore the price of becoming a registered and known doctor. The price is worth it if you would ask me.

The building would have never become without the laying of bricks, bit by bit. The little step we take will become a journey someday.

If you would like to learn more, do well to leave us a comment below.


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