The Medicine Portfolio in Australia is an important part of the application process at some medical school programs. A medicine portfolio is sometimes required to apply to the top medical schools in Australia, and usually contains a comprehensive look at an applicant’s background and experience, including a medical school personal statement. Personal statements for Australian med schools may look a bit different than US and Canadian students are used to, but they serve the same purpose. In this blog, we’ll review what the medicine portfolio is, which Australian med programs require it, what to include in one and some examples to help guide you.
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What is a Medicine Portfolio?
A medicine portfolio is a required part of the medical school application for select universities in Australia. A medicine portfolio is essentially a CV or a medical school resume of sorts, a complete look at a student’s background, interests, life experiences and job history. It gives admissions boards at Australian universities a holistic, qualitative look at prospective applicants to help them make decisions on admissions. A medicine portfolio is a tool you’ll use to prove to Australian medical schools why you should be selected for admissions, and how you will contribute to their programs and the field of medicine as a future physician.
The medicine portfolio is a highly structured document containing various different components, depending on the school applied to. The most important part of the medicine portfolio is the medicine personal statement. This is normally a required part of the overall portfolio, while some other parts may be optional, depending on the program. If you’ve never written a personal statement for medical school, consider looking at some samples to give you an idea how they’re structured and written.
How Competitive are Medical Schools in Australia?
If you’re planning to apply to med schools in Australia, chances are you will need to complete and submit a medicine portfolio as part of your application. Domestic students can apply through GEMSAS and submit their portfolio as well. International students are likely to be asked to submit a medicine portfolio in Australia as well, especially at schools like the University of Notre Dame or the University of Wollongong, both of which require the medicine portfolio to be considered for admission.
The University of Wollongong, considered a top-ranking school around the world, has a fairly competitive acceptance rate of 64%. Notre Dame Australia has an acceptance rate of 66%, and the highly competitive Macquarie University in Sydney has an acceptance rate of 30%.
All of these medical school programs are highly competitive and welcome a significant number of international students each year. They also all require the medicine portfolio to be considered for an admission interview or final admission.
So, crafting an excellent medicine portfolio is not only a must; it can increase your chances of acceptance quite a bit. These schools are looking for more than high grades and test scores—they want students who will make positive and meaningful contributions to medicine. And they want students to be able to prove their worth in the medical field.
Want to see an overview of some key points we include in this blog? This infographic is for you:
Australian Medical Schools that Require a Medicine Portfolio
While only a select few of the medical school programs in Australia require a full medicine portfolio, many of them are highly competitive and popular choices for domestic and international students alike. Many universities in Australia also require students to at the very least submit a personal statement with their application, to give the admissions committee some personal insight into the student’s motivations and passion for medicine.
Even though the medicine portfolio is not a required component, it is recommended to prepare one anyways if you are serious about getting into the program of your choice. A medicine portfolio is a comprehensive look at your personal background, so fill it with as much evidence as you can that you possess the qualities and experience these schools are looking for.
#1 University of Wollongong
The University of Wollongong requires students to submit a medical portfolio or admissions portfolio. As part of your portfolio, you will be asked to highlight any achievements, acquired skills, leadership and collaborative teamwork qualities that relate to your motivation to study medicine. You’ll also want to demonstrate a strong work ethic and a commitment to serving the community. In particular, the university wants to see students who have a passion for serving rural, regional, and remote communities in Australia or abroad. If your background, work experience or passions lie in serving remote, rural and underserved communities or people, definitely make this the focus of your medicine portfolio. In your personal statement, talk about any experiences you have working, volunteering or living in rural communities and how it sparked an interest in medicine.
Keep in mind the acceptance rate at the University of Wollongong:
#2 Macquarie University
Domestic and international applicants to Macquarie University med program are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application package. The school does not require a full medicine portfolio, but students will need to answer a set of 3 questions in their personal statement, related to the medical program. Unfortunately, the school does not release these questions ahead of application season.
After the application is submitted, the personal statement will be marked as either satisfactory or unsatisfactory. If it has been marked satisfactory, students may be asked to attend an interview at the school, so the admissions board can ask further questions about an applicant’s personal background and experiences. Make sure you know how to prepare for a medical school interview and practice with common medical school interview questions.
Keep in mind the acceptance rate at Macquarie University:
#3 University of Notre Dame Australia
Applicants to the University of Notre Dame Australia need to submit two applications. The first is the GEMSAS online application, and the second if the Notre Dame medicine portfolio. Unlike other medical schools, this medicine portfolio has very specific medical school requirements and structure, and the school provides students with a comprehensive guide in order to prepare it.
The Notre Dame medicine portfolio requires students to submit answers describing their personal experiences relating to leadership skills, service to community and other academic and life achievements. Applicants are given space to write a maximum of 80 words (480 characters) on each topic, giving four relevant examples. You’ll also need to provide a contact or referee for each experience, start and end dates and any organizational information necessary. While these are not exactly medical school recommendation letters, make sure your referees can speak highly of your involvement.
Keep in mind the acceptance rate at the University of Notre Dame Australia:
#4 University of Sydney School of Medicine
Applicants to the University of Sydney School of Medicine can expect to submit a personal statement to be considered for admission. While a full medicine portfolio is not listed as required, the school states it is looking for students to demonstrate personal qualities that align with the school’s values, including integrity, compassion, curiosity, and inclusion. Students may also be invited to interview at the school to further demonstrate these qualities to the admissions board. These interviews are usually in the multiple mini interview format, so be sure to take a look at some MMI practice questions to prep.
Components of the Medicine Portfolio
The components of a medicine portfolio will vary by the program you’re applying to, but they key part of the medicine portfolio will be your answers to the questions. Some programs, like Notre Dame, will ask a different set of questions applicants are expected to answer in their personal statements, using the questions as a sort of prompt. As long as you answer the questions fully, well and within the word count, you’ll be on your way to submitting a great application.
Aside from the required personal statement, the medicine portfolio can contain any relevant information a student wants to provide to the admissions board to strengthen their candidacy. For example, an applicant’s CV or resume detailing their work history, certificates or awards, medical research undertaken as an undergraduate, any publications or medical courses, significant life achievements and any personal experiences related to their motivation to study medicine.
Some medicine portfolios also contain a table of contents to organize and structure all the relevant documents into one package. Personal experiences may also include one verifier each or letters of recommendation, but these are not always required components of the medicine portfolio. You can also include a letter of recommendation for yourself, if you have no referees to ask for letters.
Need to include letters of recommendation and looking for more info? Check out this video:
Medicine Portfolio Personal Statement Sample
No matter which school you’re applying to, it’s a good idea to start writing your personal statement for your medicine portfolio now. To help guide you, we’ve provided examples of question answers for the Notre Dame Australia medicine portfolio, and a sample for the University of Wollongong personal statement.
University of Notre Dame medicine portfolio questions and answers
The University of Notre Dame medicine portfolio requires you to fill out an online application answering different prompts and questions about your personal experiences. You’ll be required to provide four examples for each prompt, in four separate text boxes. There will also be spaces for you to fill in referee contact information and dates of each experience.
Interested in learning how the strategy "show, don't tell" can help you ace your personal statement and get you into the school of your dreams? Take a look at this video:
University of Wollongong personal statement sample
My passion for the field of medicine was inspired by an unlikely source: bats. Australia is home to over 90 species of bats, and many of these species are vulnerable or endangered due to habitat destruction, disease and human interference. My fascination with these nocturnal creatures led me to an extraordinary experience volunteering at bat sanctuary in a remote area of Queensland. My primary job was to care for the dozens of different species housed there and educate our visitors and local residents on bats.
There were two reasons my job working with bats cemented my decision to go into medicine. The first reason was simply caring for these bats. From the smallest microbats to handling the enormous flying foxes, properly tending these bats required a large amount of learned knowledge, practice and patience. Some of these bats were suffering from diseases we still don’t fully understand, while others were recovering from trauma from the recent bushfires that ravaged Australia, destroying the homes of so many animals. It was remarkable to me how similar bats’ plights can be to humans. Like us, they experience grief, and pain and loss. They are individuals, and each ‘patient’ under my care had specific needs and handling. I had volunteered for this position because, like many like-minded individuals, I wanted to do my part to help and I couldn’t pass up such a unique, enriching experience. What I didn’t expect was how my experiences at a bat sanctuary would mirror my ultimate desire to treat and care for human patients. Treating the bats with empathy and understanding, to me, is no different than treating sick human patients.
The second way my position influenced me to pursue my dream of becoming a doctor was the people. I worked with a team of incredible, dedicated people at the bat sanctuary, but more than that, I met and interacted with dozens of the local farmers and townspeople, as well as visitors from out of town, too. It was always a privilege to teach out-of-towners about the various species and their status on the endangered species list. To talk about bat behaviour, care and conservation.
But more rewarding was working with the local farmers to find a way for them to live harmoniously with bats. Many bat species are considered pests by local farmers, because of their love of fruit, or because bats have a habit of getting stuck in farm equipment or trapped in barns with other animals. Part of our conservation efforts included persuading farmers to treat bats not as pests but as partners. One of the ways we did so was through building bat homes in areas where bats like to hunt but won’t get into trouble. I helped many farmers with quick builds in their pastures, to encourage bats to rest there instead of in barns, and to attract the species of bats who enjoy crunching down on the insect pests that bother farmers as well.
Working alongside these farmers, to change how they view the so-called ‘pests’ and to find solutions that prevent harm to the bats and farmers’ livelihoods, was an illuminating experience for me. It helped me to develop my problem-solving and interpersonal skills, both of which I will need as a doctor treating patients, working with them to find a solution to their problems.
My passion for animal care and conservation has prepared me to take the next step towards becoming a physician. It has changed my perspective in ways I didn’t expect and made me realize what connections exist between the field of medicine and so many others. Medicine is a complex field and requires even an even more complex blend of knowledge, skill and awareness. I feel that working in a far-off bat sanctuary in a remote part of the country has given me a solid foundation to build on as I make my debut in medicine.
1. What is a medicine portfolio for med school?
A medicine portfolio is a required part of the admissions process for some medical schools in Australia. A medicine portfolio is a kind of resume of a student’s qualifications, personal experiences and qualities.
2. Which med schools in Australia require a medicine portfolio?
A select few of the top universities in Australia require the medicine portfolio, including Macquarie University and University of Notre Dame Australia.
3. What components are there in a medicine portfolio?
A medicine portfolio usually contains a personal statement, student CV or resume, any awards or certificates and significant achievements in medicine or life achievements the student wants to highlight in their application.
4. How do I prepare a medicine portfolio?
To prepare a strong medicine portfolio, it’s most important to follow the instructions from the chosen school, answer all the application questions and provide as much evidence as possible to support your candidacy for admission.
5. Is a personal statement required for a medicine portfolio?
Usually, yes, the personal statement is a required part of the medicine portfolio, and the most important part.
6. Do I need a medicine portfolio to apply?
Some schools require the medicine portfolio as part of the application process, but not every medical school in Australia does. Some schools ask only for a personal statement and consider the medicine portfolio an optional part.
7. What questions do I need to answer in my medicine portfolio?
Each med school program will ask its own set of questions for students to answer in their medicine portfolio. Unfortunately, these are not made available before application time.
8. What should I include in my medicine portfolio?
Include relevant personal examples of your leadership, teamwork, community service and passion for medicine in your medicine portfolio. If you volunteered to run a rural blood drive, describe the experience. Did you work as a medical researcher and help publish your findings? Include this in your portfolio.
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