5th Year is arguably the hardest year in Medicine, but at the same time it is the most exciting and interesting. Students are based in Townsville, Cairns, Mackay or Darwin for their 5th and 6th year. The year begins in early January. Townsville, Mackay and Cairns have 6 six-week rotations with a two-week break in between each second rotation. Darwin is a bit different and begins with a 20 week term, then a 12-week term and an 8-week term. Be prepared to be at the hospital every day of the week, and to be quite tired on weekends…

For Townsville, Mackay and Cairns, the terms are:

  • Adult Health 1 (Internal Medicine)
  • Adult Health 2 (Surgery)
  • Child and Adolescent Health (Paediatrics)
  • Reproductive and Neonatal Health (Obstetrics and Gynaecology)
  • Mental Health (Psychiatry)
  • General Practice (GP)

Depending on your site, you will experience different things. The common feature across all sites is that students are allocated to a discipline team (for example, Internal Medicine Team A or the ‘Pink’ Acute Mental Health team) and are expected to participate in the clinical activities undertaken by their team. This includes ward rounds, clinic attendance, operating theatres, on call and attending certain meetings and grand rounds. Each student will have vastly different experiences, so it is all about what you pick up by turning up every day. Some things are ‘bread and butter’, like appendicitis in surgery or schizophrenia in mental health, whilst others will be ‘just for your interest sake’. Approach this year as the year you learn to be a doctor, not just learn to pass exams.

Each term has its own assessment, with particular emphasis on case reports, case presentations and observed clinical examinations. End of Year Examinations consist of written papers and an OSCE.  On top of the expected clinical workload of your discipline’s team, each term has its own tutorials and lectures.

There is a week of Whole of Year lectures before each second term video conferenced between sites.

Overall, 5th year is an exciting year with a heavy workload. The study consists of everything you’ve learnt over the last 5 years. You are assessed for your fitness to be an intern basically. Despite how hard the year is study wise, and the 7:30am ward rounds on surgery term, the year is brightened up with incredible experiences such as catching babies, assisting in theatre, visiting new wards, learning things you’ve never learnt before and meeting some incredible doctors.

Truth is, if you’ve made it this far – you’re on the home stretch. Keep up the hard work and enjoy what is an amazing year! This is your last year with exams!!!


Recommended Textbooks:
Every book you’ve accumulated this far, but something succinct like Toronto Notes is good. Using a Medicine textbook like Davidsons is quite good, don’t forget Oxford for handy little facts on ward rounds, and make sure you still know Talley like the back of your hand. Each term has its prescribed textbook, but it’s an investment to purchase 5 books in a year, and let’s face it – most of us won’t use the psychiatry textbook again – consider borrowing from the library. Re-use your 4th year notes, but delete the pathology and replace with management.

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