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Medicine: Guidelines for Admission

Overview

What is Medicine?

The Otago Medical School medical degree (MB ChB) prepares students to graduate as doctors committed to the provision of high-quality, patient-centred, evidence-based medical care within the New Zealand health care system and wherever they practise. Students will graduate with the professional, clinical, biomedical and psychosocial foundations to practise collaboratively as doctors, and to undertake further training in any field of medicine. If you are considering a career in medicine, you should be skilled in communication, understanding people, critical and scientific reasoning, and be prepared for lifelong learning to maintain your practising standards.
 
The Otago Medical School delivers a socially accountable education programme that emphasises graduate commitment to improving the health of individuals and communities, to equitable health outcomes and to the Treaty of Waitangi.
 
The University of Otago medical degree (the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery; MB ChB) takes five years from admission after either First Year Health Sciences (undertaken in Dunedin) or a prior undergraduate degree. The first two years of the programme (Early Learning in Medicine) take place in Dunedin; from fourth year, the class is split across Dunedin, Christchurch and Wellington for the three clinically-based Advanced Learning in Medicine years.

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Entry requirements

The Medical Admissions Committee considers applications from candidates in the following categories:

University of Otago Health Sciences First Year (HSFY) category

To be considered for admission in the HSFY category an applicant must be enrolled in HSFY at Otago and pass all the papers prescribed for HSFY at first attempt, with a minimum of 70% in each paper.

Applicants will also be required to have passed the HSFY English Diagnostic Test or have passed ENGL 126.

An applicant must have a current UCAT result and achieved a score in all five of the UCAT sections at a threshold level determined annually by the Medical Admissions Committee.

Selection for applicants who have met these criteria will be based on their academic score.

Scoring Example HSFY Category (PDF 50 KB)

When applying for Medicine a candidate may apply once only using this category.

HSFY category checklist

Graduate category

From 2020, admissions scoring for the Graduate admissions category will change.

Information about the changes to scoring for admission categories

To be considered for admission in the Graduate category, applicants must have completed, normally in the minimum academic time and within three years of the date of application, the requirements of a first degree awarded by a university in New Zealand.

Applicants must have a current UCAT result and achieved a score in all five of the UCAT sections at a threshold level determined annually by the Medical Admissions Committee.

Selection for applicants who reach the UCAT threshold is competitive according to the weighted academic score, see scoring example.

All applicants in the Graduate category are ranked on the basis of a score derived from the grades achieved in:

  • A bachelor's degree,
    or
  • A bachelor's honours degree,
    or
  • A bachelor's degree, followed by a postgraduate diploma

No preference is given to degree qualification or major subject.

The qualifying degree is the first university degree awarded to the applicant.

The score for candidates applying in 2019 for entry in 2020 is based on the following:


  • Papers are given a weighted academic score and are ranked

  • The best 120 points of papers are used in each year of academic study

The final year of study will be scored using only those papers at 200-level or above (i.e. no 100-level papers taken in the final year of study will be scored).

Please refer to the scoring example below or contact the Health Sciences Admissions Office for further details.

Due to the scoring system for admission to Medicine, we are not able to score papers that have a pass / fail grade, nor are we able to score aegrotat passes.

It is to every applicant's advantage to ensure that each year of study has at least 120 points. A weighting factor is applied for each year of university study.

The weighting factors for a three-year degree see the first year score multiplied by 0.5, the second year score by 1.0 and the third year score by 1.5. Thus a paper score for each paper is generated in the following way: grade point value × number of points × weighting (see example below).

Scoring Example – Graduate category (PDF 50 KB)

Applicants who are offered a place in second-year Medicine, and are missing the First Year papers (or their equivalent) listed in the MB ChB Schedule, will be required to undertake a prescribed course of study. When the Medical Admissions Committee offer a place, applicants will be advised which papers they must complete, as well as the grades that must be attained in order to be eligible to be admitted to the second year of Medicine.

Applications must be received within three years of completion of the qualifying degree. Normally, the date of completion will be taken as the end of the teaching period in which the final paper or papers included in the programme are undertaken. Repeat applications within the eligibility period are allowed.

For further information on previous years cutting marks please contact: health-sciences@otago.ac.nz

Graduate category checklist

Alternative category

The purpose of the Alternative Category is to attract a range of academically suitable applicants with broad life experiences, skills and perspectives to the medical programme. This increased diversity will help ensure that each graduating class shall better mirror and understand contemporary New Zealand society, and be best placed to contribute across the full spectrum of community medical needs in New Zealand.

Admission for Medicine in the Alternative category for 2020 opens 1 April 2019 and closes on 1 May 2019.

This category for application for admission to second-year Medicine is open to allied health professionals and other graduates.

To be considered for admission under the Alternative category, an applicant must be a domestic student and:

  • Hold a degree from a New Zealand university, and no longer be eligible under the Graduate category;
    or
  • Have completed a degree at an overseas university at a standard of at least NZQF Level 7 no less than three years prior to application;
    or
  • Hold a master's or doctoral degree;
    or
  • Demonstrate health-related professional experience in a relevant field to a standard acceptable to the Medical Admissions Committee

Applicants seeking admission to Medicine with health-related professional experience will be required to demonstrate academic and/or professional experience in the relevant field, to a standard acceptable to the Medical Admissions Committee, as part of the selection process. Allied health professionals are recommended to have not less than five years' experience in their chosen profession(s), and preferably at least two years in New Zealand.

International applicants are not considered under the Alternative category.

Qualifications that applicants wish to be considered as part of their application must be completed (with results available by 1 May in the year of application) and a full academic transcript must be provided before an application can be processed.

Applicants will be required to provide the names and contact details of three referees (both professional and character), who will be contacted only if an applicant is selected for interview.

Please note that references are confidential and will not be released to the applicant.

Candidate selection is a two-stage process. Candidates are selected for interview based on academic achievements, statement of interest, and CV. Not all applicants will be selected for interview.

At interview, topics covered include:

  • Academic achievement
  • Other achievements
  • Commitment to a career change
  • Communication skills
  • Knowledge of the New Zealand health system
  • Understanding of the profession

Interviews take place in Dunedin approximately eight weeks from the closing date. Notification is via your eVision account. Applicants need to ensure that they are available to attend for interview if invited, as the Interview Panel will not reschedule their dates.

A candidate may apply once only using this category.

  • If an application is submitted, but subsequently cancelled by an applicant before 11pm (New Zealand time) on 10 May 2019, an application in a later year will be permitted.

The final outcome of applications will be confirmed by 11pm (New Zealand Time) 30 August 2019.

Applicants who are offered a place in second-year Medicine and are missing more than one of the First Year papers (or their equivalent) listed in the MB ChB Schedule, may be required to undertake a prescribed course of study. When the Medical Admissions Committee offer a place, applicants will be advised which papers they must complete, as well as the grades that must be attained in order to be eligible to be admitted to the second year of Medicine.

The Medical Admissions Committee will not enter into any correspondence regarding application outcome or interview.

Alternative category checklist

Sub-categories

The Mirror on Society Selection Policy (MoS) is designed to ensure that the Division of Health Sciences promotes and facilitates academic equity for Māori students, and for students from other under-represented MoS category groups, who have the potential to succeed academically, and who have applied via the application process.

Applicants may also be considered in one or more of the following sub-categories:

  • Māori
  • Indigenous Pacific (see note)
  • Socioeconomic
  • Refugee
  • Rural

An applicant in either the Māori, or Indigenous Pacific or both of these sub-categories requires verification of ancestry by the University. You can apply for verification of ancestry from the 'My details' section of your eVision portal, and we would encourage you to request this as soon as possible if you are intending to apply for the health sciences professional programmes, to minimise delays in processing your application.

Applicants will also need to provide a written statement describing their commitment to Māori and/or Pacific health.

Note: An application via the Indigenous Pacific sub-category requires verification of ancestry for one or more of the following Pacific nations:

  • American Samoa
  • Cook Islands
  • Federated States of Micronesia
  • Fiji
  • French Polynesia
  • Hawaii
  • Kiribati
  • Marshall Islands
  • New Caledonia
  • Niue
  • Palau
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Rapanui (Easter Island)
  • Rotuma
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tokelau
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • Vanuatu
  • Wallis and Futuna

Māori sub-category

Applicants wishing to be considered under the Māori sub-category must indicate this at the time of application by ticking the Māori sub-category box in the online application. Using the form below, applicants will also be required to complete and upload a written personal supporting statement.

Māori – Supporting Statement form (PDF 56 KB)

In order to be eligible for the Māori sub-category your ancestry needs to be verified by the University. You can apply for verification of ancestry from the 'My details' section of your eVision portal.

Successful applicants from the Māori sub-category are required to attend a mihiwhakatau (greeting) at the commencement of classes in Dunedin. Whānau are welcome and encouraged to attend.

It is recommended that students wishing to apply under the Māori sub-category attend a relevant information session held by the Division of Health Science Māori Health Workforce Development Unit (MHWDU) and/or contact the MHWDU to arrange a meeting with staff or for further information:

Email mhwdu@otago.ac.nz

Pacific sub-category

Applicants wishing to be considered under the NZRIPO sub-category must indicate this at the time of application by ticking the NZRIPO sub-category box on the application form. Using the form below, applicants will also be required to complete and upload:

  1. An endorsement of Pacific Island Heritage
    and
  2. A written personal supporting statement outlining your commitment to Pacific health

New Zealand Resident Indigenous Pacific Origins (NZRIPO) endorsement and statement form (PDF 56 KB)

In order to be eligible for the Pacific sub-category your ancestry needs to be verified by the University. You can apply for verification of ancestry from the 'My details' section of your eVision portal.

Successful applicants from the Pacific sub-category are expected to be connected and contribute to the Health Sciences Pacific support network.

It is highly recommended that students wishing to apply under the NZRIPO sub-category contact the staff in the Pacific Islands Research and Student Support Unit, in the Office of the Associate Dean (Pacific):

Email pirssu@otago.ac.nz

Socioeconomic sub-category

In order to apply under the Socioeconomic sub-category, candidates for admission must have attended a decile 1 – 3 secondary school during Years 11, 12 and 13.

Deciles are a measure of the socioeconomic position of a school’s student community relative to other schools throughout the country.

Decile 1 schools are the 10% of schools with the highest proportion of students from low socioeconomic communities, whereas decile 10 schools are the 10% of schools with the lowest proportion of these students.

The Socioeconomic sub-category is only available to domestic students who have completed their Years 11, 12 and 13 in New Zealand within the last 5 years and who are applying via the Health Sciences First Year category.

Applicants wishing to apply under the Socioeconomic sub-category must indicate this at the time of application by ticking the Low Socioeconomic sub-category box in the online application and provide the following supporting information:

  • An official letter from your secondary school/s (decile 1-3) confirming enrolment in years 11, 12 and 13.

Refugee sub-category

In order to apply under the Refugee sub-category, candidates for admission must have themselves or parents/primary guardian(s) been granted refugee status in New Zealand.

Applicants wishing to apply under the Refugee sub-category must indicate this at the time of application by ticking the Refugee sub-category box in the online application.

If you are applying as a person with Refugee status you must provide the following supporting information:

Certified copies of your Certificate of Identity or your passport confirming refugee status and Permanent Residency.
or
A letter from Immigration New Zealand confirming your status as a permanent resident, obtained on the basis of being resettled in New Zealand as a refugee. This should include your full legal name, date of birth and date of residency
or
A letter from Immigration New Zealand confirming that you have refugee status and that you have applied for residence. This should include your full legal name and date of birth.


If you are applying from a refugee background, that is if your parents/primary guardian(s) have been granted New Zealand Residency as refugees, you will need to provide:

1. Documentation from your parents/primary guardian(s) confirming their status as Permanent Residents who have been granted NZ residency via their refugee status.
and
2. A document that confirms they are your parents/primary guardian(s), e.g. birth certificate, joint passport, adoption papers.

New Zealand Rural Origins sub-category

The New Zealand Government has agreed to fund extra places in the programme targeting those from rural backgrounds seeking medical careers in rural practice.

In order to apply in the New Zealand Rural Origins sub-category, candidates for admission must:

  • Have undertaken a minimum of four years of their pre-tertiary education at a school in a rural area of New Zealand
    or
  • Have resided in a rural area of New Zealand for a minimum of four consecutive years following the completion of their secondary education
    or
  • Have undertaken a combination of pre-tertiary education at a school in a rural area of New Zealand and residence in a rural area of New Zealand, for a minimum of four consecutive years

Applicants wishing to have their New Zealand Rural Origins status considered with their application must indicate this at the time of application by ticking the New Zealand Rural Origins sub-category box in the online application.

Applicants must provide the following supporting information:

either

  • An official letter from the pre-tertiary regional / rural education institution they attended, outlining:
    1. The duration of their study
      and
    2. The physical location of the institute

or

  • A statutory declaration, made before an authorised person, confirming residency of four years or more in a rural location (this declaration must specify which years are being claimed as the four qualifying years). A statutory declaration can be used for your residential address only. It cannot be used to confirm school attendance.

An authorised person is a person listed in the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957 as able to take declarations. This person could be a:

Students within New Zealand may wish to check the Yellow Pages for a list of Justices of the Peace in their area. Students from remote areas who do not have access to anyone in the approved categories should contact AskOtago for advice.

The University utilises Statistics New Zealand's Urban / Rural Profile Classification to define rural. For the purposes of this policy, students will be eligible if their address on which the rural sub-category application is based on, is classified as one of the following:

  • Satellite urban community
  • Independent urban community
  • Rural area with high urban influence
  • Rural area with moderate urban influence
  • Rural area with low urban influence
  • Highly rural / remote area

The Statistics New Zealand website has information on these rural categories.

Students who selected the New Zealand Rural Origins sub-category on their application for entry to Medicine may be required to participate in the Year 5 Rural Medical Immersion Programme.

Students will not be bonded after graduation nor will the inclusion of the rural training increase the length of the programme.

Preliminary eligibility assessment

Using the spreadsheet below, you can undertake an informal check of your eligibility for the rural origins sub-category by matching, at an area unit level, the rural location you will use for application purposes.

It is important to note that this should be considered as a guide only. The address you supply with your application will be officially geo-coded by a specialist GIS company. This will occur by an automated geocoding process that records the latitude and longitude information for address records and matches this against the Statistics New Zealand Urban / Rural classification system. This process determines final eligibility.

You are strongly encouraged to contact the Health Sciences Admissions Office prior to applications closing if you have any questions regarding your eligibility for the Rural Origins sub-category.

Urban rural profile categories spreadsheet (PDF 240 KB)

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Application process

Online application and enrolment

New and returning students are required to complete their application through eVision, which combines both your admissions and enrolment into the University of Otago, and your programme application.

HSFY category and Graduate category applicants should apply in the first instance to the 'Health Sciences Undergraduate Professional Programmes' and then select 'Medicine' from the list.

Alternative category applicants should apply directly to 'Medicine Alternative'.

If you have any questions regarding your application please contact AskOtago:

Tel 0800 80 80 98 (from within New Zealand)
Tel +64 3 479 7000 (from overseas)
Email ask@otago.ac.nz
facebook.com/otagouniversity
Ask Otago: Frequently asked questions

Supporting documentation

For details regarding other required documentation, consult the appropriate checklist available at the end of each main category of admission section.

Application deadlines

Applications for entry in 2020 close on 1 May 2019 (Alternative category) and 15 September 2019 (HSFY and Graduate categories).

Outcome of application

You will be advised of the outcome of your application no later than:

  • HSFY category: 20 December 2019
  • Graduate category: 20 December 2019
  • Alternative category: 30 August 2019

If you have a question regarding your application, you are able to contact us at:

Email healthsciences.application@otago.ac.nz

All correspondence must include your Otago student ID number.

Accepting or declining offers

If offered a place, applicants will be advised on the deadline for accepting or declining the offer.

Please think carefully before making your decision; once you have declined your offer there is no opportunity to have the offer reinstated.

What is the waiting list?

If your Outcome of Application indicates that you have been placed on the waiting list, you will be contacted should a place become available. Waiting lists are programme-specific and you may not ask to be included on any waiting list other than the one(s) specified.

You can be offered a place from a waiting list right up to the time classes begin. Therefore, you should make sure that you continue your enrolment process for any alternative programme of study you may be considering.

Deferral of entry

Successful candidates may request to defer their entry to the following academic year.

Requests will be considered only on the basis of serious medical grounds or other exceptional circumstances.

Candidates that are approved deferral will be required to provide evidence that they are able to resume study.

To apply for a deferral of entry please complete and return the deferral form (PDF 130 KB)

Deferrals will only be granted for a maximum period of one academic year.

Applicants must have their personal and financial affairs in order when they apply so that if their application is successful, they are able to take up a place at the start of the first semester.

English language requirements

Admission to the programme shall be subject to applicants meeting an English language requirement as determined by the Medical Admissions Committee, dependent on the category under which the application is made.

International students

International students are defined as all those students who require a student visa to study in New Zealand. In any given year, a limited number of places in the second year Medicine may be available to international students in the HSFY and Graduate categories. To be eligible to apply for admission to Medicine, international students must have completed all necessary prerequisites at a minimum standard, which is determined on a yearly basis.

Should an international student's residency status change prior to notification of the application outcome, he or she must notify the Health Sciences Admissions Office immediately and will have to compete for admission with other domestic students.

Important dates

  • Online application closing date:
    • HSFY category: 15 September 2019
    • Graduate category: 15 September 2019
    • Alternative category: 1 May 2019
  • Outcome of Application sent out by:
    • HSFY category: 20 December 2019
    • Graduate category: 20 December 2019
    • Alternative category: 30 August 2019
  • Accepting or declining first round offers:
    • HSFY category: 3 January 2020
    • Graduate category: 3 January 2020
  • Health Sciences Admissions Office closed: 24 December 2019 to 2 January 2020
  • Medicine second year compulsory orientation: date to be confirmed
  • Medicine second year classes commence: date to be confirmed

Introductory classes are compulsory. Students who fail to attend classes on the start date risk losing their place.

Health and disabilities

Please contact the University of Otago's Manager of Disability Information and Support, or the Health Sciences Admissions Office, if you have a health condition and/or disability that may affect whether or not you are able to meet the requirements of the programme or obtain professional registration.

Any applicant who has a mental or physical condition that could adversely affect their fitness to practice or is found to have failed to declare a condition may be declined admission to the programme by the Medical Admissions Committee on the recommendation of the Health and Conduct Review Group. Any offer of admission made before responses to medical requests or requests for information regarding an applicants health status have been received is conditional on the information received confirming the applicant’s suitability for admission.

Criminal offences

Any applicant who is, or has been, the subject of criminal convictions, or is, or has been, subject to disciplinary proceedings of a tertiary institution or professional body, or is found to have failed to declare a matter may be declined admission to the programme by the Medical Admissions Committee on the recommendation of the Health and Conduct Review Group. Any offer of admission made before responses to requests for information regarding an applicant's past conduct have been received is conditional on the information received confirming the applicant's suitability for admission.

As some convictions may prohibit registration, applicants are advised to consult the regulations of the registering professional body:

All applicants must consent to verification from the New Zealand Police and Department of Courts that there are no undeclared criminal charges or convictions.

Health and Conduct Review Group

The Health and Conduct Review Group considers a student's suitability for admission to a Health Sciences Professional Programme in regards to fitness to practice issues.

Health and Conduct Review Group – Terms of Reference (PDF 65 KB)
Health and Conduct Procedure (PDF 160 KB)

Vulnerable Children Act 2014

The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 is aimed at providing better protection for vulnerable children. One of the ways it aims to do this, is by introducing 'safety checking'.

If you will work with vulnerable children—as part of a specified organisation that provides regulated services—the Act requires you to be 'safety checked' at least once every three years.

The safety check involves:

  • Identify verification
  • New Zealand Police vetting
  • Reference checking
  • An interview
  • A risk assessment

Applicants who enter the programme will receive further information regarding the timing of these checks.

Further information

University of Otago Child Protection Policy
Oranga Tamariki (Ministry for Children website)
Vulnerable Children Act requirements (Oranga Tamariki website)

Culturally-sensitive issues

All students must participate in laboratory, practical and clinical activities, including those that may be unusual in some cultures. In the professional programmes, some aspects of the teaching will require individuals to practise certain techniques on each other that may involve partially undressing or body contact with other students. Training occurs under close supervision and all students are required to participate, as it is essential for their acquisition of clinical skills.

First aid certificate

All candidates who accept a place into Medicine must have a certified copy of an appropriate New Zealand first aid certificate before the start of the programme.

Applicants must gain this qualification through an NZQA-registered training provider who is authorised to assess NZQA first aid standards.

The certificate should include at least NZQA Standard 6401 and 6402, but students are recommended to obtain a qualification which includes the higher NZQA Standard 6400.

The following are a selection of recommended training courses:

Immunity status

All applicants who are offered and accept a place to the second year of Medicine will be required to provide evidence of their serology status.

Because of the nature of their practice, health professionals are required to take steps to ensure they neither acquire infections from their patients nor transmit infections to patients.

Immunity testing arrangements will be made known during December, preceding the start of the programme.

Please refer to the Infectious Diseases Policy for Health Professional Students (PDF 510 KB) for further details regarding immunity status.

Domestic place numbers

The maximum number of domestic student places available across all admissions categories for 2020 are 282.

Special examinations and adjusted paper marks

Applications from students sitting special examinations will be placed on hold until the special examination results are released. Once you receive your special examination results you must immediately advise the Health Sciences Admissions Office to ensure the processing of your application is completed.

As we do not receive special examination results automatically, it is applicants' responsibility to inform us of the results of special examinations, or adjusted paper marks, as soon as they become available.

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Programme content

https://www.otago.ac.nz/medicine/about/programme-structure/index.html

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Careers

https://www.otago.ac.nz/medicine/prospective-students/otago658414.html

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Regulations

Regulations for the Degrees of Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MB ChB)

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Disclaimer

The University of Otago makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information provided on its web pages. However the matters covered, including the availability and structure of courses, are subject to regular review and no warranty or representation can be provided regarding the accuracy of such information, and the University does not accept liability for any losses or damage arising directly or indirectly from reliance on the information.

While the University of Otago takes all due care in implementing the regulations, policies, and procedures that relate to the admissions process, it reserves the right to correct any administrative errors that may occur.