The University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney have announced a new condition under the MD Rural Pathway for 2022 entry. The two medical schools now require students to submit a personal statement for entry into their medical program.

This article will focus on UniMelb, Deakin and USyd’s eligibility requirements for the Rural Medicine Pathway and provide a few tips on approaching the personal statement to increase your chances of gaining admission into either university.

But before we dive in, we must get a grasp on the relevance of rural medical courses and their significance in Australia. 

Why Is Rural Medicine Important?

How many doctors do you think are in rural Australia? Not many. It’s long been recognized that there’s a chronic shortage of doctors in these rural areas. Therefore, the Australian Department of Health has invested in rural medical education to increase the proportion of rural students entering medical schools. The idea is that more students coming from rural areas can mean more doctors servicing those same areas. Hence the Rural Medicine Pathway is designed to streamline rural health training for students entering postgraduate medicine programs.

Many Australian medical schools offer the Doctor of Medicine Rural Pathway that allows students to undertake a medical profession within the rural landscape. This pathway offers exclusive opportunities for students to undergo extended rural training in internships and clinical ward experiences. These regions are deeply affected by the doctor shortage. As a doctor, your medical practice can make a significant difference in their lives - amplifying the number of lives you can change for the better.

So how can you determine whether you are a rural student or not? You are deemed eligible to apply for the Rural Medicine Course provided:

  1. You come from a rural background.
  2. You have spent  time training in a rural workforce

It is important to note that  International students are not allowed to apply via the Rural Pathway. They must follow the guidelines set out for Direct Entry Pathway (undergraduate medicine) or Graduate Entry Pathway (postgraduate medicine).

University of Melbourne Rural Medical Pathway

UniMelb is committed to improving rural health facilities in Victoria. Its Melbourne Medical School offers a Rural Entry Pathway for the Doctor of Medicine program and provides all the medical training for the course within rural Victoria. 

UniMelb’s Doctor of Medicine Rural Pathway Application Form for the 2022 Intake is readily available on the university's official website. Students keen to invest in a medical degree that require them to commit to practicing medicine in rural settings and becoming a part of the rural and regional Australian workforce can apply via the Rural Pathway. 

Up to 15 Bonded Medical Places (BMP) are available for students with a completed undergraduate degree and clear demonstration of their rural origins. The Australian Government backs the BMP scheme and aims to increase Australian trained doctors and practice within workforce shortages, particularly in Australia's rural and remote areas.

Eligibility For Rural Medicine Pathway at UniMelb

It is vital to check whether or not you are eligible for the Doctor of Medicine Rural Pathway. You must be one of the following:

  • An Australian¬†
  • An Australian permanent resident
  • A holder of a permanent Australian humanitarian visa

You may be eligible for this pathway if you have lived in an AGS-RA 2-5 region for five years or more, consecutively or ten years cumulatively since birth. 

NOTE: The ASGS-RA is a geographical classification tool developed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The RAs (Remoteness Areas) categories are defined based on the region's remoteness - a physical distance of the remote area from the nearest urban centre based on population size.

UniMelb Rural Entry Application Process

Now that you have a comprehensive overview of whether or not you are eligible to apply via the UniMelb rural pathway to medicine, the university requires you to follow these three steps to be considered for admission:

  1. Submit an MD Rural Pathway application form via Formstack no later than 31 May 2022
  2. Submit official transcripts of recently completed studies
  3.  If currently completing your studies, provide your semester one results and your enrolled subjects in semester two at the university - submit your current study transcripts no later than 19mid week of July 2022.

UniMelb also accepts a My eQuals link for all your academic transcripts. 

If you have completed your studies or are currently enrolled in a course within the University of Melbourne, you are not expected to upload any transcripts as the university will access your results through their system.

Students eligible to apply through the MD Rural Pathway need not apply via the GEMSAS nor sit the GAMSAT entrance exam. However, if you have already applied via GEMSAS and have listed UniMelb as one of your potential med school preferences, then you must follow the instructions laid out by the GEMSAS Consortium and email a copy of your rurality evidence along with the GEMSAS Rural coversheet.

The University of Melbourne requires you to provide evidence of rurality by applying for the Graduate Access Melbourne application (GAM). The information is available on the university's website. 

You are required to select 'yes' under the Rural or Isolated Background category and explicitly list your rural residency. Following this step, you must send an email with the rurality evidential documents to the university.

UniMelb Personal Statement for MD Rural Pathway

UniMelb has divided the selection process into two parts:

  • Part A includes personal information such as your name as per official documents, home address, email address, citizenship, and primary language spoken at home.
  • Part B is the latest addition required to enter via the MD Rural Pathway. If you choose this entry pathway, you must draft a Personal Statement or, in the case of UniMelb, answer two Rurality Statements with each statement limited to 700 characters.¬†

The questions for these statements are as follows:

Q1. Describe ONE community that you identify with. NOTE: A community may be defined by a place or by its people. Please include your regional and/or rural community.

A1. It is your responsibility to make the answer personal, direct, and unique. Depict the real 'you and don't rip off information from the internet. Speak more openly about your community and use appropriate phrases to define your community.

Q2. Explain ways in which you connect with the community you described in Question 1. 

A2. In this question, you must be brief and present short anecdotes that reflect the community's values, and in turn, it speaks volumes about you as well. Describe real-life scenarios that portray your relationship with the community. Real-life scenarios are accounted to have more credibility and have a greater impact on your Personal Statement.

Kindly note that the University will decline any additional statements or related information.

Once you receive a medical interview offer, your statements will be the foundation to inform the interview questions. The university may also incorporate de-identified responses for evaluation to improve the selection into medicine.

University of Sydney Rural Medical Pathway 

The UYSD MD program is offered in two streams for 2022: the Dubbo Stream-based in central-western NSW and the Metropolitan Stream-based in Sydney.

Dubbo Stream MD Program

The Australian Government Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network (MDMSN) took up an initiative to develop the Dubbo Stream by establishing five satellite medical programs in rural regions of Victoria and NSW. The MDMSN intends to provide students with a broader understanding of rural life, the health of rural families, the delivery of rural and remote health services, and encouraging more students to consider a medical career in rural or remote regions.

Students must have a valid GPA and GAMSAT score (mentioned in the next section) and demonstrate a genuine interest in improving health in rural and regional areas if they desire to enter the MD Dubbo Stream. Hence the university demands a personal statement for entry via this stream.

Students eligible for a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) are allowed to choose the Dubbo Stream. Up to 24 students in each cohort under this stream will receive the chance to undertake remote clinical ward placements in Western and Far West NSW. If you choose the Dubbo Stream, you will receive mentoring from senior clinical staff and benefit significantly from meaningful research that aims to help rural and remote communities.

The difference between the Dubbo Stream and the Rural Origin Facilitated Pathway is that the selection process for the Dubbo stream depends on a student's genuine interest, intention, and aptitude to practice medicine in rural and regional areas of Australia. However, for the latter, the student must come from a rural background to be eligible for this entry pathway. 

Eligibility For USYD Rural Medical Entry

The Rural Origin Facilitated Entry Scheme is designed for domestic students who can provide valid documents supporting their rurality. If you wish to apply via the USYD Rural Med Pathway, you must certify that you belong to a place of  'Rural Origin.' The Government defines 'Rural Origin' as a place of residence for any five consecutive years or at least ten cumulative years since birth, as per the Australian Statistical Geography Standard - Remoteness Areas (ASGS - RA) 2- 5.

Students applying via the Rural Origin Facilitated Entry Scheme must provide written confirmation from a medical practitioner, dentist, lawyer, school principal, or employer that they have lived in the rural region for the specified period. The university will strictly decline written confirmation from family members of the students. Students, however, are given a second opportunity to resubmit supporting documentation if they fail to meet the requirements.

The admission criteria for students entering via the USYD Rural Med Entry is as follows:

  • Minimum 4.5 or greater GPA score from any key bachelor's degree as calculated by the Universities Admissions Criteria (UAC)
  • A valid GAMSAT score of at least 50 in each section

Students must upload relevant rurality documents to the Sydney Student portal at the time of application. The offers for students will occur in the following sequence: starting with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants and Australian rural/regional applicants with the highest-ranked scores, based on personal statements and, if required, an additional interview. Following this, students that opted for the Dubbo stream will receive offers.

UYSD Rural Entry Application Process

All domestic applicants must follow these three simple steps to gain admissions at the USYD MD program:

  1. Apply online for a QAS via the UAC within a specified period during the time of application
  2. Submit an online MD application directly to the University website
  3. Meet all the GPA and GAMSAT threshold scores and be ranked accordingly to complete an online confirmation page

USYD Personal Statement for MD Rural Pathway

The Dubbo Stream expects a personal statement from each student that exclusively focuses on academic and non-academic achievements, pursuits, and goals. You must also include your aspirations and talk about your passion for practicing medicine within rural/and or regional areas in Australia.

The USYD provides a template to follow which has well-articulated questions uniformly for all the students. Students entering the Dubbo Stream must complete the Personal Statement Template to be considered for admission to the MD program. 

We at Fraser’s will provide the three different questions that will be presented to you and offer advice on how best to approach them:

Q1. The MD Program in Dubbo will take 24 students each year.  This is a small number - most Australian medical schools have more than 100 students each year.  If you enter the MD Program in Dubbo, you will be with 23 others for much of the time over a four-year period.  

What do you think might be some of the positive aspects of being in a small cohort, and what might be some of the downsides or difficulties?  (Up to 250 words)

A1. It is best to focus on your initiatives and self-growth while attempting this question. A simple and straightforward answer to this question would be to present the advantages of learning within a small group: learning from peers, more student-teacher interaction, and so on. While speaking about the disadvantages, don’t try to be overly optimistic; instead, list out a few possible scenarios you may encounter, such as - heavy competition, pressure to succeed constantly, etc.

Q2. We expect that students in the Dubbo MD Program will become part of the Dubbo community and also participate in community activities when on rotations to towns such as Broken Hill and Bourke.  These activities might include sports, community fund-raising, music, and visits to schools to talk about health careers.  What involvement do you have, or have you had, with your community, and what is your experience of community activities? (Up to 250 words)

A2. This is your opportunity to shine. Clearly state all the community-related activities you have indulged in and make credible points towards your success rate at these activities.

Q3. We anticipate that most students who enrol in the Dubbo MD Program will be interested in rural and/or remote health care, possibly planning a career in a rural or remote area.  What has attracted you to apply for the Dubbo MD Program? Assuming that you complete the MD Program and postgraduate training for general practice or a specialty, where do you imagine yourself living and practicing?  (Up to 200 words)

A3. This question needs to be answered with immense background research and understanding of the functionalities of rural regions. Don’t try to be over-smart or overcompensate. Instead, clearly state the reason behind choosing a region and how your postgraduate practice will benefit this region. The rule is to keep the statements highly personal, solid, and straightforward. It is imperative to stick to the word limit and answer questions with a clear state of mind. However, remember that Fraser’s Team only gives you a gist of writing personal statements, and your exact approach may be different.

Medicine Rural Training Stream: Doctor of Medicine at Deakin

Medical schools in Australia are invariably on the lookout to bridge the workforce gap of medical practitioners between metropolitan and rural healthcare settings. From 2022 onwards, Deakin University has deemed it fit to begin its ‚ÄėRural Training Stream (RTS)‚Äô, which prioritises the admission of capable students from rural and regional sectors of Australia into the Doctor of Medicine (MD) program.

The initial phase of applications involving entry requirements for the Doctor of Medicine Rural stream is relatively similar to the Deakin standard graduate entry stream. However, the latter stages of the applications are notably different, which we will lay out for you in this article.

Doctor of Medicine Deakin Rural Placements

The new rural stream has close to 30 places for rural applicants in each academic cycle, selecting for those who are interested in undertaking clinical practice in a rural area after graduation. 

Rural applicants who have entered the MD course through the RTS will undergo clinical training in rural regions during their third and fourth years. Years 1 and 2, on the other hand, will be undertaken by rural students at the Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus alongside students who gained entry through the standard route. 

Eligibility for Entry into Rural Training Stream

The Deakin Graduate Entry Medicine Stream is open to domestic and international students. In contrast, the Deakin Rural Training Stream (RTS) is exclusively available to domestic applicants who can prove that they fall under the Deakin’s rural residency Modified Monash (M) category MM2 - MM 7.

The RTS admission process is carried out on a tiered priority system basis, which aligns an applicant’s profile with their rural residency. The final medical places are released to rural applicants in the following order: Tier 1 (First), Tier 2 (Second) and finally if there are remaining spots to Tier 3 (Third). These nominated tiers are defined as follows:

  1. Tier 1: Deakin’s rural footprint  
  2. Tier 2: MM 2-7 in Rural Victoria.
  3. Tier 3: MM 2-7 in other areas of Rural Australia.

Each applicant applying through this stream is first evaluated based on their rural residency profile. It is mandatory that the applicant has lived in one of the three aforementioned nominated tiers for at least ten years cumulatively or any five years consecutively since birth.

What is the Deakin Tier 1 Rural Footprint?

Tier 1 Deakin Rural Footprint encompasses all Western Victorian Primary Health Network locations. This classification is known as the MM3-MM6 that includes large, medium and small towns as well as remote communities. The MM2 is integrated into this classification and comprises the regional centres, and their surrounds. On a side note, Ballarat is a chosen location for one of Deakin’s rural clinical schools, so there is a high chance you may receive your clinical training at this location!

Bear in mind that some of the MM1 and MM2 locations within the Western Victorian Primary Health Network region, and MM3 and MM4 areas within the Bellarine Peninsula are excluded from Tier 1.

To understand if you are eligible for Deakin Rural Tier 1 status, ask yourself:

  1. Is your rural location classified explicitly within the Western Victoria Primary Health Network?
  2. Is your rural location anywhere within the MM3-MM6, the MM2 or the surrounding Ballarat locations?
  3. Can you provide evidence of residing in the mentioned locations after birth for five consecutive years and ten cumulative years?

If your response to the three questions is a BIG yes, you are eligible for Tier 1, Deakin Rural Footprint of the RTS program.

Note that locations within Tiers 2 and 3 can be found through the official ‚ÄėHealth Workforce Locator‚Äô website, a government-run site to help you identify your rural area or await further information from Deakin.

Deakin Medicine Rural Entry Requirements

In addition to the tiered priority system, the Deakin Rural Training Stream (RTS) entry has an additional written application stage. The contents of this written application should express your commitment and connection to the rural community.

Aside from these additional hurdles, you will still need to satisfy the following:

  1. Complete a recognised bachelor’s degree or postgraduate degree with a weighted GPA of at least 5.
  2. Sit and pass the GAMSAT with a minimum score of 50 in each of the three sections.
  3. Your GAMSAT + GPA scores are used to rank you for an MMI medical interview.

Like most postgraduate medical schools, for entry into the RTS program in 2023, medical interviews will be conducted in September.

The final medical offer is ranked on your GPA (25%) + GAMSAT (25%) + weighting for RTS written application + other adjustments if applicable + MMI interview performance (50%).

Deakin Rural Health: Written Statement

The special requirement of submitting a written application for the Deakin Rural Entry Stream is a singular opportunity for rural applicants to demonstrate their connection to the rural community and give a commitment to completing four clinical semesters, during Years 3 and 4 in rural and regional Victoria. 

How Do You Apply to the Deakin Rural Training Stream?

In order to be considered for a medical place through the RTS, applicants must preference Deakin University in the first place on their GEMSAS application.

The Deakin Rural Training Stream is a fantastic opportunity for students who wish to make a striking difference in the rural parts of Australia. The following list of Deakin Clinical schools across Victoria provide quality state-of-the-art medical facilities to train RTS students to become able future doctors. 

As an RTS student, you will be allotted to one of the three clinical facilities through a preferencing process in your pre-clinical years. 

  1. The Warrnambool Clinical School
  2. Ballarat Clinical School; and
  3. The Rural Community Clinical School (RCCS)

The application form to enter via the Deakin Rural Training Stream can be submitted through the GEMSAS consortium, similar to the application process that the other graduate-entry universities follow. Applications for the rural program are open from 2 May, and the closing date is on 31 May 2022. 

The Deakin Medicine RTS initiative encourages rural applicants to actively participate in quality care for every patient and understand the factors responsible for persisting rural health issues. The clinical training in Years 3 and 4 is hands-on and prepares all RTS students for their internship years.

What Next?


Now that you have read the Rural Medical Programs available at these universities check out our detailed application guide for applying via the Graduate Entry Program at UniMelb , Deakin and USYD.