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Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

University of Sydney Master of Physiotherapy student talks about her placement in Vietnam

In November 2016, Master of Physiotherapy student Rachel Haines travelled to Vietnam for a four-week student placement with the Học Mãi foundation, along with 20 other medicine and allied health students from the University of Sydney.

On her return, Rachel wrote about her adventures in and around the Bach Mai Hospital. Here’s what she has to say about her student placement.

My heart is pounding as I make my way from Hanoi Airport to my hotel in the front passenger seat of a car that is speeding along a highway and darting haphazardly through traffic, at times centimetres away from a collision. Looking into the distance through the hazy air I can see the bright lights of Hanoi city looming closer and the reality of living and working in a foreign country for a month slowly begins to dawn on me….

University of Sydney Master of Physiotherapy student talks about her placement in Vietnam

Rachel Haines working at Bach Mai Hospital (Photo: University of Sydney)

Rachel’s #USydonTour experience

Xin chao! My name is Rachel Haines and I am a second-year Master of Physiotherapy student at the University of Sydney. I recently completed a four-week physiotherapy placement at the Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam, with the Học Mãi foundation.

Học Mãi is a non-for-profit foundation of the University of Sydney dedicated to improving healthcare in Vietnam through education and research. The foundation provides a range of opportunities for healthcare leadership and education. I was fortunate enough to be part of the important work they do through Học Mãi’s student exchange program.

I found out about Học Mãi soon after I started the Master of Physiotherapy at the University of Sydney, a degree that ignites my passion for making a profound impact on the lives of others through physiotherapy. The idea of an overseas placement was exciting and would provide me with a unique experience that would help me grow both professionally and personally.

While on student placement in Vietnam I was required to work at the Bach Mai Hospital from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday. I was based mostly in the Rehabilitation Department where the majority of patients were recovering from recent traumatic brain injuries, strokes or spinal cord injuries. I also got to spend some time in the Respiratory Department and at the National Hospital of Paediatrics where I worked with patients suffering from conditions such as bronchiectasis and cerebral palsy.

The highlight of my practical experience was spending two weeks working with a woman who was born with deformed feet and had recently suffered a spinal cord injury. She was initially only able to stand for one minute and 43 seconds, but by her final session she was able to stand for three minutes and 30 seconds. I got to train her balance, coordination and strength and it was personally very rewarding to see a patient improve so much and be satisfied with my work.

During my free time, I travelled around Vietnam and immersed myself in a culture so different to my own. I visited the spectacular cities of Hoi An, Sa Pa and went on a cruise through Ha Long Bay, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. I also had time to sight see the city of Hanoi and found historic temples, explored Hoa La Prison, visited the oldest university in Vietnam, watched a traditional water puppet show, played some street games with the locals and so much more.

The Vietnamese healthcare system is very different to Australia’s, and Vietnamese patients have a different understanding of health literacy and expectations of health professionals compared to patients in Australia. A core concept that I’ve learnt through the Master of Physiotherapy is that patients have the best outcomes when an active treatment approach that accommodates individual patient preferences is taken. However, the majority of the physiotherapy interventions I observed in Vietnam and took part in were passive with little patient input.

Patients in Vietnam undertake a lot of whole task practice such as walking and moving from sitting to standing, whereas in Australia there is more of an emphasis on partial practice. I do not think that one approach is necessarily better than the other, but it is interesting to note the differences in treatment choices.

My experiences in Vietnam challenged some of my beliefs about service delivery of physiotherapy to patients. At times the language barrier and cultural differences were challenging, but I was always surrounded by the friendliest and most accommodating local people and felt constantly supported by the Hoc Mai and University of Sydney team back home, which made the whole experience so much more enjoyable.

Last year, my first year of the degree, was a massive learning curve for me as physiotherapy consists of a unique combination of theoretical concepts in addition to practical skills to become proficient. To get this far has taken a lot of hard work and many hours in the library.

This year will mark my second and final year of the Master of Physiotherapy. I am looking forward to practical placements where I can further adapt the skills and knowledge I’ve learnt. At the end of my degree I hope to use my skills in a rural location and make a difference to people who don’t have regular access to physiotherapy services.

My placement in Vietnam was very fulfilling both personally and professionally as I worked with patients, many of whom turned out to be from rural areas and who benefited from the skills that I had learned in Australia. I gained an understanding and appreciation of a culture and healthcare system very different to the one I have experienced in Australia, and have subsequently become a more rounded and globally conscious physiotherapy student.

Travelling abroad as part of a university degree is one of the most enriching and worthwhile opportunities on offer to students. It is a gateway to all sorts of experiences, friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.

By Rachel Haines GEM2 Physio

University of Sydney’s Master of Physiotherapy

The University of Sydney offers a two year, graduate-entry physiotherapy program, which is intended for students coming from an undergraduate degree in a related field and who wish to gain the requirements to become a physiotherapist. Coursework throughout this program builds on the major areas of the profession, such as musculoskeletal, cardiopulmonary and neurological physiotherapy, as well as looking at the profession in its societal context.

Program: Master of Physiotherapy
Location: Lidcombe, (suburb of Sydney), New South Wales
Duration: 2 years
Semester intake: March each year
Application deadline: September 29, 2017. Applications are usually assessed on a rolling basis (as they are received). The sooner you apply the better.

Entry Requirements

To be eligible to apply, you must have the following:

1. Completed an undergraduate degree from a recognized university.

2. Have achieved a minimum cumulative GPA of 4.5, which is approximately equivalent to a credit average or better. A credit average at the University of Sydney is between a 65–74%. Your grades assessed for admission are based on your highest-ranked university degree.

3. Have completed undergraduate studies in the following prerequisite areas:

  • Human Anatomy
  • Human Physiology
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Neuroscience
  • Psychology

Apply to the University of Sydney Physiotherapy School!


Would you like more information about the Master of Physiotherapy program at Sydney Uni? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Physiotherapy Schools Admissions Officer Krista McVeigh at krista@oztrekk.com.

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

JCU marine biology student explains how to get volunteer experience while studying in Australia

Remember JCU marine biology student Kessia? Well, she’s back with more great advice. This time, Kessia chats about gaining valuable volunteer experience while you are studying in Australia!

When I first started uni, all the lecturers encouraged us to get volunteering experience. Lots of emphasis was put on it and we were told how this was the way to get a job in the future. Volunteering allows you to put into practice what you have learned in your lectures to the real-world situations.

JCU marine biology student: How to get volunteer experience while studying

Volunteering with the Australian Marine Conservation Society on Magnetic Island (Photo: JCU)

I’ve put together a few tips on how to get volunteering, more specifically in the science field.

  1. Talk to your lecturers

This is the best way to get your first volunteering experience. If you are interested in a particular field, then talk to the lecturer and ask if they can point you in the right direction in terms of volunteering. You never know, they might have some opportunity for you. In first year, it is sometimes intimidating to go up and talk to the lecturer in a class of 100 students. But do not let the class size stop you. Most lecturers will appreciate your interest in their field of study and will be happy to give you advice.

  1. Join the volunteer list at JCU

There is a database for students willing to volunteer for PhD candidates who might need a hand. Once you join the email list, you will receive emails from students who are looking for a couple of hands to help collect data on the field or help with laboratory work and so on. Some of my friends have been able to go on trips such as collecting seagrass for dugong surveys, or collecting water samples from Ross River.  I have had the opportunity to deploy underwater cameras around Hinchinbrook Island. It was definitely a rewarding experience, one that I will do again if I get the chance.

  1. Join the Facebook group

Each college at JCU has a Facebook group. For example, for marine biologists and other environmental courses, the JCU College of Biological, Marine & Environmental Sciences (BioMES) has a Facebook page where students sometimes post about volunteering or job opportunities. You can find come precious information on this group about lots of things. I highly recommend joining the group related to your faculty.

  1. TropWater

The group offers internships to students for a semester in different fields, including aquaculture, mangrove habitats, wetlands, etc. TropWater applications are due a semester before. It offers hands-on experience and you get to work with people who are experts in their field.

  1. Research facilities

James Cook University has a several research facilities on campus including MACRO which works with macroalgae; MARFU, the aquarium complex; MBD, the microalgae site; or EGRU, Geology Research Centre among others. If you talk to the right people, you can get volunteering opportunities at those research centres which are right on campus. From feeding fish, to laboratory work, to cleaning tanks, there is a lot you can learn at those facilities. Even more so, you can volunteer at the Orpheus Island research centre and while helping with cleaning duties, you can spend the rest of your day snorkeling in the amazing protected marine park. You would be required to be on the island for a week or so but it is worth it. Don’t forget to get yourself an Orpheus shirt so you can brag about it to your friends.

  1. Other organisations

There are various other organisations you can volunteer with, including the Australian Marine Conservation Society, an amazing organisation that sensitizes the public on how human-induced impacts on the reef such as coal mining.

  • Australian Marine Conservation Society on Magnetic Island
  • Conservation Volunteers Australia
  • NQ Dry Tropics – helps with beach clean-ups
  • Reek Check Australia – they offer training programs on how to collect data on the reef
  • Australian Institute of Marine Science – A government organisation that runs several research experiments on the Great Barrier Reef. You would need a supervisor/lecturer willing to sponsor your volunteering there.
  • Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
  • Reef HQ

From my own experience, I have found volunteering very rewarding and have learnt a lot in different fields. Talking to people in the field and seeing what it means to apply all I learnt in classes is eye-opening. Do not be discouraged if you find it hard to get any volunteering in the first few years. The more you talk to lecturers or other students, the easier you will find volunteering opportunities. Ask questions! Even if it is not related to your field of interest, having skills and experience in different fields can be beneficial for when you are applying for a job later. The more volunteering you do, the more experience and knowledge you will acquire. This is the hands-on stuff you will need for a job! So, go out there and take the opportunities given to you.

Read Kessia’s other blog, 5 reasons to study marine biology at James Cook University

Marine biology at JCU

Think you might be interested in marine biology? JCU’s location in the tropics allows students and research staff ready access to a wide variety of tropical marine systems including coral reefs, tropical estuaries, mangrove habitats and seagrass beds. Links between research and teaching programs ensure that students are at the cutting edge of marine research.

Program: Master of Science (Marine Biology and Ecology)
Location: Townsville, Queensland
Duration: 1.5 years
Semester intakes: July or February
Application deadline: June 29 and January 30 each year
Entry requirements: Completion of a recognised, appropriate undergraduate degree attaining a minimum of 65% or equivalent prior learning including appropriate professional experience.

Apply to the Master of Science at James Cook University!


Are you interested in studying marine biology at James Cook University? Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com for more information!

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

5 reasons to study pharmacy at the University of Sydney

Why should you study pharmacy with Australia’s first pharmacy school? The university asked their current students and alumni why they chose to study pharmacy at the University of Sydney. Here are their top 5 reasons to study pharmacy at Sydney Uni.

1. Diverse range of career opportunities

“I love the different opportunities that the degree offers its graduates—the ability to move from one specialty to another, industry positions and extensive research and teaching opportunities.” – Reham Raid Mansour Soro, MPharm first-year student

5 reasons to study pharmacy at the University of Sydney

Learn more about studying pharmacy at Sydney (Photo: University of Sydney)

Most people assume that there is only one career outcome when you study pharmacy: to become a pharmacist. But studying a pharmacy degree can lead to more than simply becoming a pharmacist. Pharmacists are an important part of the healthcare system. Their skills and knowledge can be applied across a range of careers, allowing for employment opportunities in

  • community pharmacy
  • hospital pharmacy
  • academic or research institutions
  • pharmaceutical industry in a wide range of roles from marketing, business development or finance to compliance and drug development.

Take Abbie Lawrie, Bachelor of Pharmacy graduate from 2009 who is now working for GlaxoSmithKline:

“Working in finance for GSK has allowed me to combine my pharmacy background with my interest in finance and business. I chose to work in the “business side” of healthcare because of the opportunities it has provided me to work internationally, experience different roles and positively impact people’s lives on a large scale.”

2. Placement opportunities

“As a student at the University of Sydney I have had the privilege of working in city, metropolitan and rural community pharmacies as well as clinical placement in a pharmaceutical company. I would say that clinical placement was the most valuable part of my degree, thanks to the great support and guidance I received from my preceptor. It’s so satisfying to go to work in the afternoon and apply the skills and knowledge I had only just learned that morning during class.” – Ardi Mirzaei, BPharm 2013

To prepare you for the workforce, the Faculty of Pharmacy offers students a range of clinical and rural work placements. Clinical placements are important to put theory into practice in community, hospital, rural or industrial settings. All pharmacy students undertake clinical placements during their degree, and are encouraged to consider a rural placement as part of their clinical training.

This helps you stand out from your peers when you are starting to look for career opportunities after your studies.

3. Unique curriculum with a focus on practical experience underpinned by world-class research

“The Bachelor of Pharmacy is so much more than being a specialist in medications and drugs. You gather skills to educate people on medication, you collaborate with doctors to ensure patients get the best care, you tell patients key things to look out for and do what you can to help each and every patient in the community.”- Matthew Huang, BPharm fourth year student

You will learn from world-leading academics that teach a unique course curriculum focused on all practical and theoretical areas of pharmacy to prepare you for the workforce. The Faculty of Pharmacy is ranked 16th in the QS World University Rankings by Subject for pharmacy and pharmacology and has a proven record in teaching and learning excellence.

“My positive experience undertaking research during my undergraduate honours year encouraged me to pursue further studies in pharmaceutical research. I have always been fascinated with the human body but what really inspired me was trying to find a way to improve quality of life.” Samuel Ho, BPharm 2011 / PhD 2016

Research at the Faculty of Pharmacy is focused on improving health outcomes in cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, health services and patient safety, mental health and respiratory disease.

4. Professional network and support

“The Faculty of Pharmacy has a great sense of community. You are taught by academics with backgrounds from all different fields of pharmacy. The staff were supportive and always available to help. The structure of the course meant that there were lots of opportunities to learn about different career pathways available after graduation through clinical placements and careers events.”- Cassandra Cameron, MPharm 2013

Faculty staff are dedicated to supporting the learning opportunities of all pharmacy students. As a pharmacy student, not only will you be part of a cohesive and supportive cohort, you will also receive support from world-leading academics in deciding on career pathways, clinical placements research opportunities and general guidance throughout your degree.

The Sydney University Pharmacy Association (SUPA) is one of the larger student societies on campus, organising regular academic, professional and social activities. SUPA members also gain membership to the National Australian Pharmacy Students Association (NAPSA).

5. Make a difference in the healthcare system

“I chose pharmacy because I want to equip myself with the knowledge and skills required to make a meaningful contribution to the Australian healthcare system. The course combines my interest in chemistry and mathematics with my passion to address social and health-related challenges.” – Melissa Barakat, BPharm 2015

A career in pharmacy means making a difference to the Australian healthcare system. Whether you are working directly with patients and their families in community pharmacy or in a hospital setting or research in an academic or professional institution, your career will have a meaningful impact on Australian healthcare.

How can you pursue a career in pharmacy?

The Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Sydney is consistently ranked among the world’s best for teaching and education. With more than 100 years of experience in delivering world-class professional pharmacy education, Sydney graduates are sought after both nationally and internationally.

The University of Sydney Faculty of Pharmacy offers the Bachelor of Pharmacy, which covers the study of the chemical, physical, pharmaceutical, and pharmacological properties of medicinal substances and the application of these in the pharmacy profession. The clinical experience program in the Bachelor of Pharmacy reflects the contemporary health care environment. Students undertake weekly visits to community pharmacies during their third year. Students also have a one week block placement in third year and at least a further two weeks in fourth year. By the end of their fourth year, all students have had at least three one week placement blocks in clinical experience, as well as the series of community pharmacy visits. The one week block placements are carried out at hospital and community pharmacies, and include opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry, professional organisations and in rural health settings.

Program: Bachelor of Pharmacy
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intake: March
Duration: 4 years
Application deadline: Candidates are encouraged to apply a minimum of three months prior to the program start date.

Apply to the University of Sydney Pharmacy School!


Find out how you can study pharmacy at the University of Sydney. Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Pharmacy Schools Admissions Officer Krista McVeigh at krista@oztrekk.com.

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

UQ occupational therapy graduate shares how his unexpected hobby helped his career

UQ occupational therapy graduate Lachlan graduated in 2016. He recently commenced working with the RISC Association, where he assists people with severe and multiple disabilities to develop independence and belonging through socialisation and recreation in the community. In the future, Lachlan hopes to pursue further opportunities for occupational therapy research, particularly in the area of sensory modulation. Here is Lachlan’s story!

“Finishing my occupational therapy degree was not the most important thing that happened to me last year.” Perhaps not the best opening line to use at my first professional job interview, but I stick by what I said.

Last year I took up piano lessons, which turned out to be the most valuable learning curve during 2016. This was something that I had wanted to do for years; however, only recently had I plucked up the courage to become an adult beginner—which was slightly terrifying for me.

UQ occupational therapy graduate shares how his unexpected hobby helped his career

UQ Occupational Therapy graduate Lachlan K (Photo: UQ)

I like to think that my lecturers at UQ would not have been disheartened by my claim because the piano lessons proved to me exactly why occupational therapists are so crucial in our community. My love of practicing and wanting to improve really showed to me how important it is for individuals to have the freedom and physical ability to follow our passions, hobbies, and daily tasks. This is exactly what underpins the core value of what we as occupational therapists strive to achieve through our profession.

For me, the significance I place on my weekly piano lessons is a reflection of what I learnt as an occupational therapy student. The activities each of us participate in on a regular basis express who we are. I learnt, as an occupational therapist, that we have the opportunity to help our clients participate in activities that are uniquely important to them. By working together, we can draw on their strengths to overcome barriers and help them create meaning and purpose in their everyday lives.

To be honest, when I first started my degree I assumed that studying occupational therapy meant I would basically be a physiotherapist with a more confusing title. However, within a few short weeks, I realised I was training in exactly the right profession.

When I graduated, I had a wealth of theoretical knowledge (primarily in the form of frameworks, definitions and models) and a growing body of clinical experience. I have countless memories from my two years studying my Masters, but there is one in particular that encapsulates what I love about this profession.

Last year, I was on a ten-week placement at a rural hospital, where a key component of my role was working with adults undergoing rehabilitation following a stroke. Together, we set goals and worked towards re-engaging in the activities they found important. In a hospital this can be challenging, we tried to find ways to simulate a home environment to practice cooking and a supermarket environment to practice shopping. One of my older clients was experiencing a homonymous hemianopia following his stroke—in other words, he could not see anything in his left field of vision. While talking to him, I found out that he was a musician and playing piano was extremely important to him.

His hemianopia presented many challenges for piano playing as it meant that he would often read only the right side of the sheet music (which lead to some abstract interpretations of classic songs) and he was prone to ignoring the left half of the piano. We worked together with my supervisor and developed strategies to support his playing. For example, by drawing a line with a coloured highlighter on the left side of the page, he found it easier to remember to scan all the way to the left before reading the next line of his music.

On the ward, we were lucky to have an electric piano in the dining room and each day we would practice just before lunch. When he was playing, we would often have nursing staff stop by the room simply to watch and listen as he played and sung. After we finished our sessions together, I would often walk past the dining room to see him still playing 20 minutes later, still surrounded by a small crowd. He expressed how much it meant to him to be able to do something “normal” after such a challenging event, not to mention the effect that his playing had on the collective mood in our ward. It clearly had an effect on me too, as here I am a year later on my own piano journey.

About the UQ Occupational Therapy program

The UQ occupational therapy program program equips graduate-entry students with the theoretical knowledge, clinical skills and professional attributes necessary for a career in occupational therapy.  In addition to a focus on clinical occupational therapy practice, emphasis is placed on the use of prior skills and knowledge to enhance the effectiveness of occupational therapy practice; and the development of advanced adult learning skills for ongoing professional development.

Program: Master of Occupational Therapy Studies
Location: Brisbane, Queensland
Next available intake: July 2018
Duration: 2.5 years
Application deadline: February 27, 2018

Apply to the UQ Occupational Therapy School!


Do you have any questions about studying at UQ Occupational Therapy School? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Occupational Therapy Schools Admissions Officer Krista McVeigh at krista@oztrekk.com for more information!

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Can you work and study in Australia at the same time?

So you want a job while studying?

Meet Sydney Jones, a JCU marine science student, originally from Texas. As an international student in Australia, Sydney has invaluable insight about what it’s like to study—and work—in Australia. Here are some tips from Sydney:

Can you work and study in Australia at the same time?

JCU Marine Science student Sydney Jones (Photo: JCU)

Whether you just need a bit of extra spending money or want professional experience, getting and having a job in Townsville, while you’re studying, may be more difficult than you think. It is difficult because of a couple of reasons.

  • As you are a student studies come first and it makes you less available
  • More than likely you don’t have a car and on campus jobs are scarce
  • Since the minimum wage is high employers expect more from you, especially when it comes to prior experience

While getting a job is difficult, it is not impossible. When my parents allowed me to come to school here there were a couple of conditions. One condition was that I needed to get a job and the other condition was that I could never get a car. Well, after my first semester I realized that getting a job was going to be difficult without a form of transportation and I got a car and a job. Now I know people who don’t have cars and have lived here without one for years and held jobs, but it is just something you need to consider and be realistic about. Also, while I’m thinking about it, if you think you can come here and find a babysitting gig I am sorry to tell you that it is incredibly rare for opportunities like that to come up. There is not a culture here of babysitting like there is in other places.

Alright now onto the advice:

  1. Know your work rights based on the visa you have: This is so important. If you violate the terms, your visa can be canceled and you will have your butt on a plane home in no time.
  2. Have a resume and cover letter prepared to give to employers: Make sure you look at resources online as to what Australian employers expect from a cover letter and resume as it is not universal.
  3. Follow up with businesses where you have dropped your resume off: Even stopping in to say hey might make the difference. A lot of people I know have gotten their jobs because they made a connection with one of the employees. Businesses want to know that you can work well with the rest of the staff and is someone that is easy to get along with.
  4. If you are granted an interview know what the business does and be ready to talk about it: I was surprised when I had my first interview and I got asked specific questions about the restaurant, I still go the job but I was thrown off initially as I just accepted it as a student entry level job.
  5. Use websites as well as just walking into businesses: Websites such as indeed, seek, JCU’s Career hub and spotjobs are useful especially in finding jobs for events such as Groovin the Moo, V8s, the races or for Cowboys games.
  6. Check out the JCU career center: The Careers and Employment center is located at the JCU library and the website also has a lot of awesome resources for students to use.

Before you go on your job hunt and just in general cause it’s awesome check out insiderguides.com.au for some great articles written specifically for International students. Alright so one last piece of advice I can give is to just be realistic and willing to put in the work to get and have a job here, it is a very rewarding experience. Happy job hunting!

Work rights while studying in Australia

You are allowed, as part of your student visa, to work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight (every 2 weeks) during semester, and unlimited work rights during semester break. These monies earned are not to be your only source of income for tuition or living expenses, and some students find it difficult to have time for a job due to the university course workload. Balance is everything!

Spouses or common-law partners (dependents) can either work part time or full time, depending on the type of student visa you have.

If you are a postgraduate research student, you can work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight during any preliminary courses you undertake. If you have commenced your masters by research or doctoral degree in Australia, there is no limit on the number of hours you may work.


Find out more about James Cook University and about how you can study in Australia!

Monday, April 24th, 2017

University of Sydney veterinary students enjoy exchange in Indonesia

Story by Sydney Veterinary School student

In February 2017, three students, Lidya, Jonathon and myself spent one month at the University Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta Indonesia as a part of our final year veterinary intern rotations. This counted towards the public health component of our final year. It was interesting to be able to see the different diseases and different approaches employed in Indonesia. It was also great to be able to travel and see the sights during our down time.

We were greeted at the airport by our student buddies Stella, Nendis and Adretta who took us to our accommodation on campus, and continued to show us around and take care of us throughout the month.

University of Sydney veterinary students enjoy exchange in Indonesia

Sydney vet students’ exchange in Indonesia (Photo credit: University of Sydney)

Our first week was spent in the reproductive unit on campus, where we were involved in activities such as ultrasound of small animals, rectal palpation of small holder cattle farmer animals, and a visit to the AI cattle semen collection and processing laboratory.

Our second week involved internal medicine, where we learned about public health concerns in Indonesia such as rabies and anthrax. We also accompanied students in treating small animals in the clinic, had classes on reptile handling and visited the local zoo for a behind the scenes tour of the facility, quarantine and clinic area as well as exhibits.

After this we spent a few days at the government lab responsible for investigating disease outbreaks. We visited farms where sudden deaths had occurred such as a quail farm with suspected avian influenza, a goat farm where the goats had died from herbicide poisoning in the grass, and a calf rearing farm where the calves suffered from poor growth and sporadic deaths, likely due to poor nutrition and parasite burden. We also toured the lab and saw the facilities where virology, microbiology and chemical testing occurs.

After this we visited Lombok island where we saw the wet market and poultry farms and slaughter. This was very different to meat slaughter and distribution in Australia. We also volunteered with Lombok animal rescue where we assisted in castration of stray dogs.

In our final week we were involved in the parasitology and pathology laboratories, working with students in performing post mortems, blood smears, blood tests, and microscopic parasite identification. We also assisted in testing mosquito resistance to different pesticides.

Alongside the official activities, in our time off we visited some great tourist attractions including Borobudur temple, Taman Sari Water Castle, Pindul cave, the volcano Mt Merapi, scuba diving in the Gili islands and Marioboro shopping street. Before my placement commence I also spent a week in Bali and a week in Kalimantan at Tanjung Puting national park, observing orangutans in the wild at Camp Leakey.

Indonesia has so much variety to offer, and this has proved to be one of the most varied placements I have had, and has allowed many interesting learning opportunities, not only about veterinary medicine, but about Indonesia and international public health.

This exchange program was led by Prof Agung Budiyanto at University Gadjah Mada and A/Prof Jenny-Ann Toribio at the University of Sydney. Accommodation was kindly provided at the Faculty Guest House by UGM Dean Joko Prastowo.

Veterinary Medicine at the University of Sydney

The Sydney DVM program encourages enrolment of students from diverse backgrounds and aims to help them achieve their goals to become veterinary medical professionals in the global community. Teaching is research-driven to ensure students learn from the latest developments and advances in evidence-based practice, veterinary science research, animal behaviour and welfare science and veterinary public health.

Year 4 is a capstone experience combining intramural (in University Veterinary Teaching Hospitals) and extramural (in industry and private veterinary practices) placements. These extramural placements may be taken at any approved Australian or international industry or private veterinary practice. These placements enable students to gain workplace experience in a broad range of small animal, large animal and industry situations in preparation for introduction to the workforce following graduation.

Program: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intake: March
Program duration: 4 years
Application deadline: TBA. For the 2017 intake, the deadline was September 14, 2016.

Apply to the Sydney Veterinary School!


Discover more about Sydney Veterinary School. Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Veterinary Schools Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com.

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

5 reasons to study marine biology at James Cook University

Here’s a James Cook University Student Blog about studying marine biology, and why JCU is such a fantastic choice!

Before I came to university, I had a hard time deciding which university to choose. Making a list and weighing all the advantages and disadvantages helped me to make my decision and I surely do not regret it now. Coming to JCU was the best decision I made. Here is a small list of why I think JCU is the best place in the world to study marine biology.

5 reasons to study marine biology at James Cook University

JCU marine biology student Kessia Virah-Sawmy (Photo: JCU Connect)

1. So close to the iconic Great Barrier Reef

I come from an island found in the tropics and my country is surrounded by fringing reefs. I wanted to study somewhere where I could learn about corals and reef fishes and where best to do it than right on the Great Barrier Reef, the largest reef on the planet and a world heritage. The location of the GBR was the main reason why I chose JCU. With the reef right at their doorstep, researchers and students at JCU can work very closely on coral reefs.

Being in the tropics also means that Townsville has hot summers and nice (not-so-cold) winters. It is like summer all year round which is very similar to my tropical home. It was thus not a problem for me to adapt to this new environment.

2. Best facilities and lecturers

Studying marine biology at JCU means that you have access to a wide number of facilities from live specimens in practical classes to research facilities in both marine biology and aquaculture. JCU has a marine research station on Orpheus island which is located just off the coast of Ingham, about 2 hours North of Townsville. With accommodation and research facilities on the island, students can go on the island for specific classes to study the incredible marine life that surrounds the island.

James Cook University is highly recognised in terms of research done in the marine field including coral reef research, shark research or fisheries work. For the past years that I have been at JCU, I have had the great privilege of having lecturers who are experts in their field and who are eager and passionate to pass on their knowledge to the next generation. It is always great to hear about their experience and how they became who they are today. It gives us a sense of pride when we read a paper written by one of our lecturers or seeing them on the news. The JCU lecturers are world-known scientists who work with different research bodies such as the ARC (Australian Research Council) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies or the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

5 reasons to study marine biology at James Cook University

Diving is a given at JCU (Photo: JCU Connect)

3. Incredible field trips

As soon as I started first year, the lecturers were already getting us excited about field trips. Field trips are by far the most exciting part about studying marine biology. From going up Castle hill to look at rocks, to going down to the strand to count snails, or visiting fish farms, to snorkelling for hours around Orpheus island, I have been able to go on some incredible field trips so far.

Field trips makes the course even more interesting. You look forward to this one weekend where you get to spend 2 days on an island surrounded by the most beautiful coral reefs where you snorkel for hours and hours without getting tired of it. Or you get excited when you get to discover the breathtaking North Queensland while visiting fish farms. There are quite a few classes that have field trips to Orpheus island such as MB3160- Evolution and Ecology of Reef fishes, MB3190- Coral Reef Ecology, MB3210- Life History and Evolution of Reef Corals, MB3300- Coral Reef Ecosystems and EV3406- Coral Reef Geomorphology. I also enjoyed the AQ2002- Introduction to Tropical Aquaculture class where we got to visit different aquaculture farms in North Queensland.

4. Diving opportunities

The Great Barrier Reef offers amazing diving opportunities. From shallow reef diving off Cairns to the world-known shipwreck dive of Yongala, there is lots to see and discover. I had the chance to do get my Advanced PADI open water course on a liveaboard on the GBR. It was the best experience ever! We were able to dive with sharks, turtles and rays and see some amazing corals.

5 reasons to study marine biology at James Cook University

The iconic Great Barrier Reef (Photo: JCU Connect)

The JCU Dive Club also offers a number of trips throughout the semester ranging from day trips to 10-day trips on the reef. It is one of the most famous and active clubs on campus. They also offer courses such as Open divers, Advanced Divers, Rescue divers or CPR and First Aid courses.

5. Meeting people from all over the world

JCU is well known for marine studies and therefore attracts students from all over the world. I am not lying when I say that most of my classmates are international students. From Asia, to Europe, to the USA, to Africa, I have met people from all over the place. It is great to see how multicultural the campus is. As an international, this provides a welcoming environment where you learn to accept each other’s culture. I have developed close and strong friendships with different people and I can’t wait to travel the world and visit all of them.

I have also met some amazing Australian people who are always so eager to make us discover their culture which is mainly Barbies and a “cool” attitude. They are by far the most welcoming people I have ever met. A few months in the country and the Aussies will have already taught you how to speak Australian, which is basically just shortening every word.

There are so many more reasons to why I chose JCU but those are my top 5. JCU is recognised worldwide as one of the best in marine research, more specifically in Coral Reef research and Tropical Aquaculture. Many of my friends back home were sceptic as to why I would come all the way to far North Queensland to study Marine Biology. Well now I can tell them that it is the best decision I have made and I would not have chosen a different university.

Story by Kessia Virah-Sawmy via JCU Connect

Master of Science in Marine Biology and Ecology

JCU is the leading education and research institution for Marine Biology in the Tropics. JCU’s unique location enables students from Australia and overseas to study in a diverse physical environment unparalleled by any university in the world.

The postgraduate degree program in Marine Biology and Ecology is internationally recognised. We focus on developing career professionals who can address the grand challenges for marine and coastal ecosystems, particularly in the tropical Asia-Pacific region. You will be researching and tackling issues such as

  • Climate change, ecosystem resilience and adaptation
  • Ecosystem restoration
  • Environmental and ecological sustainability
  • Biodiversity and conservation challenges for marine organisms and ecosystems
  • Sustainable marine resource management
  • Global and regional food security
  • Sustainable livelihoods for coastal and island based societies.

Program: Master of Science (Marine Biology and Ecology)
Location: Townsville, Queensland
Duration: 1.5 years
Semester intakes: February and July
Application deadline: January 30 and June 29 each year
Entry requirements: Completion of a recognised, appropriate undergraduate degree attaining a minimum of 65% or equivalent prior learning including appropriate professional experience.

Apply to the Master of Science at James Cook University!


Are you interested in studying marine biology at James Cook University? Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com for more information!

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Studying at UQ Pharmacy is more than just counting pills

Studying pharmacy is more than just counting pills. Meet current UQ Pharmacy student, Sakina, who applied through OzTREKK in 2013. In Part 1 of his blog, Sakina offers advice for anyone considering studying pharmacy in Australia.

My name is Sakina. I am currently in my third year of pharmacy at UQ. I was born and raised in Canada and made my big move to Australia two and a half years ago. I am a chemistry nerd at heart so pharmacy seemed the best fitting career for me. I aim to be a high achiever but I don’t like to get consumed by classes or work, so in my downtime, I love to explore the outdoors such as going on hikes, to the beach, traveling, going on road trips, and hanging with friends. Fashion is another passion of mine so that is another aspect of my life that I really want to continue to develop.

Studying at UQ Pharmacy is more than just counting pills

Former OzTREKK student Sakina enjoying the UQ Bachelor of Pharmacy program (Photo credit: UQ)

I have found that sometimes uni students become so obsessed with their grades and results that they forget to focus their attention on the key experiences which are designed to develop them into a valued professional.

When you first come to uni you realise very quickly that university and high school are two completely different beasts. There are a range of changes which make them so vastly different and it can feel intimidating at first, but trust me when I say this: you can achieve anything you put your mind to. Patience and hard work are some of the key elements which will help you to achieve your goals. Regardless of the field of study you are in, communication and social skills are essential when it comes to life in general, so best to get good at this early on. These are the factors which many students forget about. They think that achieving straight high distinctions will lead to their future success, when in reality it really doesn’t guarantee anything.

Pharmacy is one of those fields where these skills are more essential than you may think. Regardless of whether you choose to become a hospital or community pharmacist, you will be communicating with patients on a daily basis. It is important that you learn how to communicate with patients in the most simplistic, informative, and non-frightening manner, especially when it comes to medication administration and usage. As a healthcare professional, patient care should be at the core of your profession, which is why the UQ Pharmacy program places so much emphasis on this.

Stay tuned for part 2 of Sakina’s story: Placements

Are you interested in studying pharmacy at the University of Queensland?

Program: Bachelor of Pharmacy
Location: Brisbane, Queensland
Semester intake: February
Duration: 3–4 years, depending on candidate’s education background
Application deadline: Generally November 29 each year; however, late applications may be accepted.

Entry Requirements

Applicants are required to have completed their high school diploma. Applicants should have completed Grade 12 English, Chemistry and Math to meet program prerequisites. If you have commenced or completed a university degree or any post-secondary studies, your most recent studies will be assessed in terms of your grades. If you have not completed the necessary prerequisite subjects in your post-secondary studies, your high school transcripts will then be assessed for prerequisite subjects.

Apply to the University of Queensland Pharmacy School!


Learn more about UQ Pharmacy School. Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Pharmacy Schools Admissions Officer Krista McVeigh at krista@oztrekk.com.

Monday, February 6th, 2017

UQ Medicine graduate shares 9 things he wishes he’d been told as a med student

Hailing from Canada, Shaun completed his medical degree at UQ before undertaking his fellowship at the University of Toronto and his residency with University of Calgary. He currently works full time as a Queensland Health registrar within intensive care and in his spare time he works for House Call Doctor— a 100% bulk-billed, after-hours, home GP service operating in Queensland. If you’d like to hear firsthand from a Canadian who is now practicing medicine in Australia, check out Shaun’s advice!

UQ Medicine graduate shares 9 things he wishes he'd been told as a med student

Canadian Shaun Hosein, now practicing in Australia! (Photo credit: UQ)

1. Study medicine for the right reasons.
Medicine is a highly rewarding career that has many opportunities in various sub-specialty fields. However it is a long road, requires intensive study, and at times can seem impossible. It is not a decision to be made lightly, and there are times I wish I could fix that leaky pipe in my kitchen. I chose medicine, because it not only helps people, but I enjoy thinking on my feet and problem solving. Reflecting a bit more, it has also developed my personal ethics and communication skills.

2. For international medicine students, you can’t beat UQ for education and lifestyle.
UQ is constantly improving their medicine course which I feel is important when choosing a university and medical school. When I was applying they were very approachable and efficient throughout the application process.  The case-based learning style made me nervous, but I think it is the best way to learn and study medicine. Brisbane is also an amazing city, it has the best climate of all Australian cities (none of this “four seasons in one day” stuff). Plus the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast are about an hour away! Perfect study and lifestyle balance.

3. Studying internationally is incredible, but it can be difficult when you return home.
I have spoken to numerous potential Canadian medical school candidates over the years, and my advice is the same. Studying medicine at UQ was a life-changing event for me, and provided me unique opportunities in an amazing country. I won’t lie—you will find it challenging being away from home, and to be honest, getting back into the Canadian system is difficult. UQ does facilitate opportunities to make this process easier, but it is still a challenge. Be prepared to finish internship training in Australia before considering the road back or please at least obtain and maintain general registration with AHPRA.

4. There are pros and cons to working in different health systems, so consider what’s important to you.
I can only speak in relation to the Canadian and Australian healthcare systems, but in my honest experience you get paid more, will have better shifts and rosters, and overall better work-life balance in Australia.  On the other hand, internship training is structured better in Canada: training is slightly shorter and there are no primary exams, but the programs are very difficult to get accepted into.

5. In medicine, you can have a “typical routine” but you’ll never have a “typical day.”
I currently work for Queensland Health and for House Call Doctor when I have extra time in the evenings, usually on nights off, or weekends. Being a home GP after-hours is very flexible and works well with my schedule. Working with House Call Doctor means I get to visit a wide variety of patients who need urgent after-hours care, treating everything from acute cold and flus to more serious conditions, such as gastro, home accidents or chronic illness. You really never know what kind of patients you’ll treat!

6. Sometimes taking the road less travelled will put you on the right path.
I always wanted to work in primary care, but it was quite difficult to get any experience and determine if it suited me. House Call Doctor has given me this experience but it’s also shown me another side to medical practice. I honestly feel after-hours care is becoming its own sub-specialty of medicine. I enjoy it because it allows me to have a simple chat with patients, to see children or speak with a young mum. It is very rewarding, and not something I could have experienced working in the adult system alone.

7. As a student, it’s easy to get run down from all that studying (and perhaps socialising). When you do get sick there are probably more healthcare options available to you than you think.
House Call Doctor offers 100% bulk-billed home GP visits to anyone with a Medicare or DVA (Department of Veteran’s Affair) Card.  Having a GP visit your home can be particularly useful in acute medical situations that don’t warrant an emergency department response, but can’t wait until normal clinic hours. House Call Doctor visits a wide cross-section of patients, including students living in shared accommodation. International students can also take advantage of the after-hours medical care, rebated if they travelling with BUPA, NIB, Allianz or Medibank insurance. For more information you can visit www.housecalldoctor.com.au, or you can phone the after-hours line on 13 55 66 to book an appointment.

8. Support networks and technology are invaluable for international students.
Having a strong family and supportive Australian peer group is extremely important throughout your medical degree. At the same time, don’t underestimate the impact of technology. Skype, FaceTime, and WhatsApp will ensure you can easily stay in touch with loved ones back home.

9. Your medical degree can take you anywhere and you’re likely to end up somewhere completely different to where you thought you would.
I have worked in numerous medical fields, and I have definitely not taken a straight path. Initially I was very keen on critical care (ICU), but when I worked in Haiti post-earthquake and again in Africa I got a better understanding of health and the need for public health medicine and primary care. I have since completed Canadian postgraduate training in public health medicine, and am now working towards translating my qualification here in Australia. I also have a public health interest in illicit substance abuse and drug use patterns and am completing a fellowship in toxicology. I tell everyone, especially medical students, to never discount the idea of being a GP; I’m still considering it, if I get time.

About the UQ Medical School Program

The UQ Medical School conducts a four-year, graduate-entry medical program, the Doctor of Medicine (MD). The School of Medicine is a leading provider of medical education and research in Australia, and with the country’s largest medical degree program, they are the major single contributor to Queensland’s junior medical workforce.

Program: Doctor of Medicine (MD)
Location: Brisbane, Queensland
Semester intake: January
Duration: 4 years
Application deadline: Applications are assessed on a rolling admissions (first come, first served) basis. It is recommended that applicants apply as early as possible to increase their chances of timely assessment. This program can fill quickly!

Apply to the UQ School of Medicine!


Find out more about the UQ School of Medicine. Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Medical Schools Admissions Officer Courtney Frank at courtney@oztrekk.com, or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

UQ pharmacy student’s community placement

The UQ Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours) is one of Australia’s most comprehensive and well-respected pharmacy degrees, both domestically and internationally, and offers intensive pharmacy placements so students can get fully prepared for their career in pharmacy. Here, a current UQ Pharmacy student talks about the community placement experience.

I have had three blocks of placements (over the course of the past three years) while undertaking the Bachelor of Pharmacy, and I have learnt many different things from each experience. I hope that this post helps anyone thinking about studying pharmacy to have a slight insight into the degree, and helps those already enrolled in the program to prepare for their first placement.

UQ pharmacy student's community pharmacy placement

Study at UQ Pharmacy School

As a first-year pharmacy student, I wasn’t quite sure why we needed to do a community placement in the first place. Since then the answers have become quite obvious. Community placement gave me an insight into the operations and running of a small business and got me familiar with the daily practices of a pharmacy. This was particularly helpful as it was segmented throughout my degree and in plenty of time for my final intern year (which all students must complete after graduation). The experience also helped me to plan my study more effectively and assisted me in making career decisions, e.g., whether to be a community or hospital pharmacist. After my very positive placement experiences in community pharmacies, I have now decided to pursue this career avenue.

How to prepare for your first placement?

When on placement, you must be aware and switched on at all times. An attendance sheet must be signed by your preceptor (supervisor) after each placement, so it is important to try to impress them with your professionalism and pharmacy knowledge. You will be taking notes on every patient case that you observe; therefore, remember to pack a good pen (possibly a backup too), your attendance sheets, and your pharmacy student badge. For your second year you will also have to remember your graduated descriptor tools; however, you won’t need these in the first year. These tools allow your preceptor to grade your performance and enables open communication and advice between the two of you. It’s actually quite fun when you get to this stage and start to discuss your performance and things which you could improve on, with a graduated professional. Often the things that you feel like you are doing wrong, do not look the same (or as bad) for others. This feedback really helps shape and improve your placement performance.

What do you do on placement?

On your very first day on placement you will be required to observe and answer a list of questions provided by your course coordinator. These questions prompt your thoughts and help you to familiarise yourself with the business and how to deal with customer interactions. They may also teach you some of the basics including compounding medicine and using the cashier machine. Try to soak up as much experience and knowledge as possible in your four-hour shift. The time seems to fly past!

On your second placement (which is in second year, second semester) you will be required to get much more involved in the customer interactions, you may even handle some of the customer cases in regard to over-the-counter medications (either from direct-product request cases or symptom-based cases). Try to write down or remember each of your cases after your shift. These examples will be useful for your weekly reflective diary. Each year your responsibilities will grow and by year three you will be required to dispense a number of scripts and be confident with your patient interactions.

How to find a placement location?

In most cases for first-year students the placement locations will be arranged by the UQ Pharmacy administration. Or, if you have a specific pharmacy in mind, you can be proactive and find your placement site yourself. If you are planning to find it yourself, I would recommend you to search for the pharmacies nearest to your house, or at least those you can reach easily through public transport. Make sure you also take into consideration the services they provide, such as compounding, dose administration aids and any specialty services. Remember to take into account the business environment in which it operates. If it’s a busy pharmacy you may get to learn more and receive more opportunities to learn.

Choose the pharmacy that fits your preferences, then approach the manager in person to politely ask about their placement opportunities. Be prepared with your resume, university timetable and preceptor introduction letter (provided by the school). This will make you look organised and professional. This preparation will give you practice for your future placements, which must be found yourself. My suggestion is to not put all your eggs in one basket by only approaching one pharmacy. Many students are looking for placements and it takes them some time to filter through the students. Visit as many pharmacies as you can and put your best foot forward (including dressing smartly) to give a good first impression and increase your chances of being chosen.

What happens if you mess up on placement?

Mistakes do happen, which is why it is important to wear your student placement badge. This allows customers to be aware that you are still studying and are not completely armed with the knowledge and skills of a qualified professional.  Often this makes customers much more forgiving and considerate if you do make a mistake. If there is something you are not sure of then don’t freak out. Apologise and get help from one of the other pharmacy professionals. Make sure you listen to how they deal with the problem in order to learn from the experience and get it right next time around. Don’t be shy to speak out and ask the other staff members lots of questions on placement. You will learn much more from them than from reading a book or studying your lecture notes.

Do placements lead to paid jobs?

Many of my friends got hired by their preceptors and started to work part-time in the pharmacies whilst finishing their degree. If you are hoping for the same result then I would suggest you to try to go on placement at the big franchise pharmacies like Chemist Warehouse or Terry White Chemist. They will have greater job opportunities due to their many locations.

Finally, double-check everything before you go for your first day on placement: badge, attendance sheets, and pens. The last thing you want is to look disorganised on your first day. Most importantly, enjoy the experience and learn as much as you can. The skills you learn during this time will be the backbone of your future career as a pharmacist.

Story via UQ School of Pharmacy
Meet the author

Hi, my name is Pei Sin. I am in my third year of the Bachelor of Pharmacy at UQ. I am originally from Malaysia and am enjoying my time studying in Australia. I am a creative person so in my downtime, outside of uni, I enjoy painting, sketching and drawing. If I can find the time amongst study I also am a big fan of crime and investigations shows like NCIS, CIS and Bones—I definitely get a kick out of it when they mention chemical/medical terms which I understand.

UQ Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours)

The UQ Bachelor of Pharmacy program prepares graduates for the contemporary role of the pharmacist in society, ensuring that patients optimize medication usage. Initial courses on chemical, physical and biological studies lead to professional specialties in later years. Practical and clinical science studies begin in first year, providing students with a strong background in professional practice.

Program: Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours)
Location: Brisbane, Queensland
Semester intake: February
Duration: 4 years

Apply to the University of Queensland Pharmacy School!


Learn more about UQ Pharmacy! Krista McVeigh is OzTREKK’s Australian Pharmacy Schools Admissions Officer. Contact Krista at 1-866-698-7355 or krista@oztrekk.com.