UPM medical student life~ All about my preparation to medical elective program in Melbourne

So this is going to be an academic writing, just to provide some of the information about doing a clinical elective program in Melbourne as a medical student. FYI, we have a elective program in the end of 4th year, provided we passed all the end posting exams. Fail any one of the 4 major exam, we will be prohibited from going to elective for remedial exam. So for my fellow juniors, please study hard during 4th year and enjoy it to the maximum during your elective.

our hospital for elective posting. It looks so grand isnt it.

this is a picture of Puffing Billy train in Melbourne
  1. Pick a location
    it is very important on which place you would wish to have for your elective placement. For example, if you wish to save money, then local placement would be advisable, even posted to Sabah and sarawak will not cost you more than RM2k for total budget. What is the advantage for doing elective placement in local other than saving money?
    well it is the best time to polish up the clerking and physical examination skill in local hospital, as in overseas, most of us are just observing student, we did not get the chance to approach patient individually in the ward. However, I advise to pick up some of the famous hospital with speciality such as Institusi Jantung Negara for more variety of cardio cases. The fees is just RM10 per student. Oh yeah, no fees is charge for doing elective in local hospital

    How about overseas? It depends on what is our target in overseas, more in travelling or study. If travelling, Taiwan will be a good choice as the spending wasnt that much ( RM5K in total according to my frens), it is always the favorite hotspot for chinese students to have elective there becoz of the socio-background. But bare in mind, although they are doing teaching in English occasionally, the native are speaking in Chinese. In another word, might not learn much from the elective program. I omitted Taiwan from my list due to the weather. It is summer over there during my elective period, and for GOD sake I have enough with this bloody hot weather in Malaysia. And I want to get out from my comfort zone, so I aim for western country.

    at the very first moment, I wish to go to New Zealand for my elective, and I am looking at University of Otago, campus in Wellington. The fees was like RM3k, and the flight ticket for two ways was RM5k. I was like, okay, this is totally out of my budget. BTW I thought of doing elective in Europe before, like Crezh republic as my fren is doing her medical degree there, but I could not get sufficient information. USA need TOELF for the english qualification, Im just too lazy to get that exam for an elective program. ( He applied but got rejected at last, not sure what is the exact reason, but probably they are not really accepting Malaysia students lol)

    At that point, I did thinking of doing it locally, but my senior just gave me another hope when she did her elective in Australia. She studied for 4 weeks time in University of New South Wales, Sydney, and according to her, everything was perfect. Friendly staff, advanced technology, great working environment. actually melbourne is in my 2nd wishlist after New Zealand, so after discussing with my parents, and they support me, so why not I give it a try?

    And I started to do research on elective program in Australia. I don wish to go to Sydney becoz the living cost over is too high. Then I aim between Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide. Perth university did not offer elective program during my elective period, and University of Adelaide want me to make full payment of about RM1.5k first, without guarantee that I will get a placement for my elective.

    Then, here comes the second step
  2. Do some research on the universities/hospital in that area
    So Melbourne is aimed, and I start to find hospitals and universities which offers elective program for medical students. Some of the hospitals stated that they only accept final year student, which put me into dilemma as I am in btw of the year during my elective program haha. I found this website CLICK HERE which is very helpful during my research. I did this right after my professional 2 exam. It is advisable to make the placement as early as possible.application letter to the university/hospital
  3. About application and placement confirmation from the university/hospital
    I sent our resume (CV) and application letters to few hospitals~ Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH), Austin Health, Western Hospital, Northern Hospital, and St.Vincent Hospital. There are many more hospitals available, but I just contact few of these. Among these hospital, Austin Health gave me the fastest feedback that they can accommodate 4 of us for elective program, and they can arrange rooms for us in their hostel- Medical Student Quarter. The payment fees for Austin Health is AUD 110 per week, and minimum for 4 weeks duration. We are taking 4 weeks duration, so the fees is AUD 440 in total, equivalent to RM1300 approximately.

    For RMH, I really wish to get it becoz it is near to central business district, so it is really ease us for travelling around after class. Imagine you just enjoy the sunshine after class in the beautiful garden in the middle of city, that is really amazing. and there is free tram service in CBD, so I could save up a lot of transportation fees. But too bad RMH was fully booked that time... Same goes to Western Hospital which cant accommodate 4 students at the same time ( but one of my fren applied and get the placement a month after our application, as she is going solo). St. Vincent and Northern Hospital did not give me much feedback, so after discussion we decided to take Austin Health ( we had no choice in fact Xp). 

    We need to send our application form from Austin Health in email and hardcopy ( which costs us RM6 for the postage fees). One thing for our concern is about the location of Austin Health, it is located in the sub-urban area, zone 2 in the train service in Heidelberg. At first we are quite worry about it, becoz we had no idea on what is going to happen in sub-urb area! but thanks GOD it turns to be something fantastic with our choice with Austin Health. For more information about doing elective in Austin Health, CLICK HERE

    just for more information, the fees for RMH is AUD 400 for 4 weeks, western hospital is AUD 100 for each week. Another fren of us got the offer from Monash University, doing her elective in Box Hill, Melbourne, her cost is AUD 1100.

    So, without any further delay, we got our placement confirmation from Austin soon we submit our application letter, and out of so many posting, we got 4 choices to be chosen from, which are general surgery, age care ( geriatric), liver transplantation, and cardiac surgery. I took liver transplantation under supervision of Prof Robert Jones, who is a very kind and helpful professor. Will write more on my elective experience soon ^^ . Oh ya, I got the placement in June 2014, and my elective period is June 2015 to July 2015. Melbourne is a hotspot for elective program for elective student, so a year ahead application is kind of mandatory.
  4. recommendation letter from Dean in your own university
    So after confirmation form overseas university, next is our recommendation letter and inform our own university about the placement. And this is the most annoying part due to the efficiency of the office. Can you just imagine it took me 6 months time to get a letter from Dean, just becoz the office is not well-prepared to arrange for our elective yet? I had to explained to Austin that I will have the elective letter earliest by December, luckily Austin is okay with it. For UPM students, we need to print out the application form from our university ( will be provided with the webpage by UPM admin), our insurance form, a form to JPA and BHEP.
    Don ever think of getting sponsorship from JPA, they wont give us a single cent. That is the reason why i don even bother to write a letter to JPA, informing that I am going overseas for elective.

    the most irritating part of getting the recommendation letter? well after I received it in December, the office only gives me the date of 3 weeks elective posting, while I need to complete 4 weeks in Austin. So I request for the correction of the duration from the person in charge, and she said she will do it for me as long as I passed 2 of my major posting. Okay, in January, I passed the exam, and the PIC ( person in charge) said that she cant do anything becoz she did not want to get trouble from the academic bla bla.  the worst, she even said : Australia tak akan pentingkan ni. Fuck you, for serious, you are the only one not taking it seriously, while I had to explain to Austin regarding the duration.

    In short, UPM officers, please do your job properly and stop taking gaji buta. I am enough of it, especially when you cant even tell me when will I start my next semester.
  5. fees payment
    after placement confirmed with Austin, we had to pay our fees via bank draft in 2 weeks time. We did this in CIMB office in our UPM campus, the total fees is about RM1270, plus with the currency rate and the service charge, it was about RM1300. It is not cheap, but trust me it is worth. I really learn a lot of new knowledge over here, and get to know the latest technology.
  6. insurance, sponsorship, medical check, police check, immigration visa
    So there is a bunch of form to be filled in with UPM for our overseas elective, especially the insurance and sponsorship with JPA. but as I mentioned before, I don even give it a shit. I just fill it up becoz I need to. The best part with overseas elective is we can settle everything via email. and the procedure is quite easy and smooth; while those who are doing local, they need to call up the hospital to get a seat, and check their arrival of confirmation letter with UPM.

    Western Hospital and Monash Hospital both require a medical check report, they need to know the vaccination status for specifically, Hep B and MMR. my senior who did her elective in Sydney even need to make a police check report to make sure she did not commit any crime in Malaysia before. The medical check is costing quite an amount of money, and what make us feel lucky.... Austin does not require all these documents from us, which means we had a quite easy job after the placement confirm. We no need to show our immunisation status, police check etc. and this is the reason for me to feel like I must recommend Austin Health to my juniors for their elective posting in the coming future!

    for the immigration visa, we can take the ETA online, valid for 3 months entry in Australia, costing about AUD 20. But, we find a travel agent to make it for us, and it took us about 2 weeks time for the application, costing only RM30 each. My fren contact KLANG VALLEY TRAVEL & TOUR agency to do the visa. So what I need to do is just give the money and passport, things will then be settled. easy job once again. Please take note that it is a visiting visa, can be use for short term educational purpose, but we are not allowed to take any job over here.
  7. Book flight ticket
    Then next, book for flight ticket. We are looking on AirAsia and Malaysia airlines for the flight ticket, and we end up with Air Asia, with RM1400 for to and fro from KL to Melbourne, with 30kg luggage quota, no meal is included. I advice to take for Malaysia Airline, with RM100 difference, but it comes with meal and comfortable seats. I quite regret for not taking Malaysia Airline when i felt Im going to get DVT anytime on the plane during my flight from KL to Melbourne. And since I was taking a night flight, it was quite torturing for me as I could not sleep comfortably in the plane.

    So just keep ur eyes open wide for the deals of cheap flight tickets to Melbourne.
  8. settle accommodation
    Accommodation is a big deal in Melbourne, becoz the rental fees is expensive for a house, or even a room here. it would be nice if you have someone here around, who can provide you the room to sleep near your hospital. Accommodation is all about convenience. For example, we got hostel in Medical Student Quarter for Austin health, and so far as I know, Austin Health is the only hospital in Melbourne who provides hostel for elective student, and the hostel is just like 2 mins walk to hospital. Imagine how blissful it is when we do not need to wake up that early in the morning for 9am class in this cold winter!
    the fees for Austin Medical student quarter is aint expensive too, the charge is at AUD 150 per week, and AUD 20 per day. Surprise to us, we got it for free for the last 3 days in the hostel. We are moving out from hostel into a house opposite the Austin Health in our last 3 days, charging us at AUD 25 per night per person. We are satisfied with our accommodation, just we wish to have a short stay in Aussie house. The designs of the houses here are just too awesome with backyard, we cant really wait to have it.

    Medical student quarter in Austin Hospital provides a comfort bed, with pillows, blanket and fresh towel as well. It is quite spacious for one person, the bed is about single queen size I guess. We got 2 tables, a chair, a sofa, a heater/air-conditioner in the room, as well as our individual water tap and basin ( this is the best! ) We have a wardrobe on our own as well, with hangers. The floor is carpet, so we need to vacuum them, if we wish to do so. We have a common room in the each floor, which is the kitchen, with the basic utilities provided such as pan, stoves ( in 2nd floor), microwave, oven, toaster, kettle and fridge in each floor. bread, cereals, milk and butter are provided by Austin, so we save quite some money from the breakfast! In Australia, we can drink the tap water directly. Don forget we have 2 common room at the 2nd floor as well, one room with ping pong table ( comes with ping pong ball and the racket as well) and a room with TV, sofas, poker cards! woohoo. Wifi is provided for free in the hostel, and the speed is really fast enough haha.

    Oh yeah, Burgundy street ( the main street in Heidelberg) is just few minutes away from our hostel, maybe a 10 minutes walk. There are plenty of restaurant along the street, with laundry service as well, the well-known supermarket COLES just at the end of the street. there is two parks: Heidelberg Park and Main Yarra Trail, suitable for some brisk walking and jogging in the evening. Heidelberg railway station just 5 minutes walk away from our hostel, so it is super convenient for us. We had nothing more to complain for it.

    For Monash University elective, my fren stayed in a hostel in Boxhill, but it is much expensive than ours. It is a house with 46 rooms, the house environment is beautiful but the rooms are small. In short, Im satisfied with my accommodation hehe.

    The last day in Melbourne, we are going to stay in YHA Melbourne Central, so it will ease us for sight-seeing, shopping and to catch the bus to airport in the early morning. The price is AUD32 per night for a 8 person dorm.
  9. Set up the budgetbudget is very important for us, as the living cost in Melbourne is not cheap at all. Basically this is how I categorised my budget: - Flight ticket with Air Asia to and fro from KL to Melbourne with 30kg luggage: RM1400- Fees payment to Austin Health : RM1300 ( include service fees) - Hostel fees for Austin medical student quarter : RM 1300- rental fees for a house in Yarra street heidelberg: RM300- transportation fees with MYKI and simcard with Optus: AUD 350 ( RM1000) - food and beverage with budget of AUD 10 for each meal : AUD 30 per day, AUD 900 for 30   days ( RM2600)
    - tours and entertainment fees. We take tour to mornington peninsula, yarra valley, great ocean road, philip island, lake mountain. and extra to grampian national park for me. budget : AUD 1000 ( RM3000)
    total budget: RM10000
  10. study hard for exam and prepare to fly!
    Last but not least, really need to study very hard for all the exams! pass paediatric, psychiatric and O&G and you are ready to fly for the elective. This process is the hardest of all, especially when our total budget is about RM10k, we cant afford for any failure in between. Thanks GOD, all of us pass our exams successfully and now we are having and enjoying so much fun in Melbourne. Melbourne is really a great place for elective, and with its Western culture background, we felt excited to experience every single moment with it. Dreams come true! no word can describe our feelings ever better than this. 
This is the interior view of the room in Medical student quarter Austin health. Small, cozy, tidy. and my room got beautiful view when wake up in the morning hehe

the cancer research centre of Austin Health which is just next to the hostel, it is link to the main building of Austin Tower. Trust me, Austin Hospital is like a maze inside, and I get lost quite a few times in the hospital hehe. Austin Tower is the new building with 10 floor

and this is our Austin Tower, where we have our study in. Inside the hospital is just too awesome, especially their student room. they have special rooms for students, with lockers, bathroom, toilets, kitchen, sofa, snooker table ( get jealous), and a bed for on call! this is how people treat their students. They don have something like hierarchy in the hospital, unlike us, sometimes we are even worse than cockroaches in the hospital when we are in Malaysia.  

This is Boxhill hospital under Monash University elective posting. Boxhill area is famous with cheap groceries and asian food. 

the beautiful night view of Melbourne city~ 
so it is time to say goodnight, as it is almost 12am here in Melbourne. Good night thursday, hello Friday ^^ 

For those who wish to have elective experience in South Africa, you may kindly visit our senior's blog page over HERE. All the best and have a great application 

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  1. Hi,
    Just wanted to ask how long did it take for Austin to reply after you send in your application request?
    We sent our letter and CVs few days ago, and we got an automated reply of their blocked dates, but our elective duration is not within those days.
    But after that we got no more updates on how to apply for placement. Just wondering how long it may take before we get the application procedure from them or if they have slots available for us. Thanks!

    1. Hi, it took me about 4 days time in average for the reply. Sometimes it may up to a week. If it toom you too long, maybe you can send it for the second time as sometimes, the email might accidentally classified as " junk"
      Hope you have a smooth application process =))

  2. Hey ! Lovely read :) How did you find the house for accommodation? An online listing? How far was it from the hospital ? and did they provide wifi?

  3. Hi. What an amazing blog! :) i wanted to ask you the procedure for the application. I submitted the application and they responded saying they needed immunization declaration to process with my application. So does that mean there are available placements at my required dates? Bte i am applying in October 2017 for an elective placement in June 2018. What are my chances? Will appreciate a reply from you, thank youu :)

  4. Hi Celine, I’m a year 4 medical student and also planning to travelling to Australia for electives and I too stumble across Austin Health. May I ask if you had any hands-on opportunity, and what was the teaching method (with other students fr Austin health?). In fact, I have so much more questions hoping you could let me know more about your learning experiences there. Thank you 🥹🙏🏻