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Resident medical officer

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Summary of occupation

A resident medical officer is a medical practitioner who works for public hospitals to gain clinical experience after their first year internship. They work under the supervision of medical professionals to diagnose, treat and prevent chronic and life-threatening diseases and injuries.

Most doctors spend two to three years working as a resident in different hospital departments, before beginning specialist training.

ANZSCO description: Diagnoses, treats and prevents human physical and mental disorders and injuries under the supervision of medical specialists or senior general practitioners. Registration or licensing is required.
Alternative names: Doctor, Medical practitioner
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A resident medical officer needs:

  • the ability to cope with the physical and psychological demands of the job
  • to work well under pressure, and in emergency situations
  • to be able to exercise high ethical standards
  • excellent communication and people skills
  • the ability to make quick decisions and to multitask
  • a high degree of motivation and self-discipline.
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Working conditions

Resident medical officers work in hospital departments where they may give patients intravenous fluids, request diagnostic investigations, and prescribe and monitor medications for patients on their ward. They may be required to wear safety clothing and must ensure that their instruments are kept sterile.

Resident medical officers usually work long shifts, odd hours and weekends. They work in various departments in hospitals around the State, usually on a rotation basis.

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Salary details

​Resident medical officers can expect to earn between $1 588 and $1 921 per week ($82 557 to $99 893 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience.

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Tools and technologies

​Resident medical officers may use instruments such as stethoscopes, thermometers, defibrillators and electrocardiogram machines. They also administer injections, perform catheter insertions and apply plaster casts. They wear sterile gloves, masks, caps and gowns when performing procedures. They regularly use computers to maintain client records and consult pharmaceutical manuals, and use pagers when on duty.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

​To become a resident medical officer, you must first become a qualified medical doctor.

Postgraduate courses in medicine are offered by the University of Notre Dame and the University of Western Australia. These degrees usually take four years to complete. Entry requirements include completion of a bachelor degree in any discipline. You must also sit the Graduate Australian Medical Schools Admissions Test (GAMSAT) and attend an interview at your chosen institution. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

On completion of the postgraduate medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for one year (internship) to gain general registration as a medical doctor with the Medical Board of Australia. Once registered as a medical doctor, you must apply to the Postgraduate Medical Council of Western Australia for a registered medical officer position in the Western Australian Health Service.

As a resident medical officer, you may choose to train in a field that is related to a specialisation in which you wish to work, for example, emergency medicine or paediatrics, or you may choose to rotate through several fields of medicine before you decide on a specialist field.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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