A guide to medical fellowship in Australia & New Zealand

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A medical fellowship is an advanced training program that follows the completion of residency, providing doctors with the opportunity to specialise in a particular area of medicine. In Australia and New Zealand, fellowships represent an important step for medical professionals aiming to become consultant doctors.

Specialty training ranges from three to seven years, depending on the field. Registrars, or trainee specialist doctors, undergo rigorous training under the close supervision of fully qualified specialists.

This article outlines the pathway to fellowship, providing insights into the application process, types of fellowships available, and the challenges and rewards that come with these programs.

Understanding medical fellowships in Australia and New Zealand:

What is a medical fellowship?

A medical fellowship allows doctors to gain specialised training in a field of their choice after completing their basic medical degree and residency. These programs typically range from one to three years and are often highly competitive. Fellowships involve intensive clinical or research work, offering deeper knowledge and more refined skills in areas such as Cardiology, Oncology, Paediatric Surgery, or nNeurology.

What is the purpose of a medical fellowship?

Fellowships provide the chance to enhance clinical skills, contribute to research, and improve patient care in a specialised context. For many doctors, a fellowship is a pathway to further academic achievements, increased job opportunities, higher remuneration, and the prestige associated with being a specialist.

Fellowship pathways in Australia and New Zealand

Entry requirements: In both Australia and New Zealand, entering a fellowship program generally requires:

The application process:

  • Choosing a specialty: The first step is deciding which area of medicine you wish to specialise in. This decision should be influenced by personal interest, career goals, and the demand for specialists in that field.
  • Finding a program: Once you've chosen your specialty, the next step is to find available fellowship programs. This can be done through hospital websites, medical societies, or academic institutions.
  • Application: Applications typically require detailed documentation, including a CV, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Some programs also require an interview.
  • Acceptance and enrollment: Successful applicants will receive an offer to join the fellowship program, usually starting at the beginning of the academic year.
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Medical specialties in Australasia:

You;ll find below a list of medical specialties in Australia and New Zealand. In alphabetical order.

Find a full list of Australasian specialist medical colleges here on the Australian Medical Council website as well as information more about subspecialisation.

Types of fellowships:

  • Clinical Fellowships: Focus on patient care in a specialised area. These are highly structured with rotations across various departments.
  • Research Fellowships: Involve conducting medical research under the supervision of experienced mentors. These are common in university hospitals and research institutes.
  • Teaching Fellowships: Combine clinical duties with teaching responsibilities, helping train future generations of doctors.

Challenges and rewards:


  • Competitiveness: Gaining a place in a fellowship program is highly competitive.
  • Intensity: The workload in a fellowship can be intense, with long hours and significant responsibilities.
  • Adaptability: Adapting to a highly specialised field requires constant learning and staying updated with the latest advancements.


  • Expertise: completing a fellowship provides unmatched expertise in a specialised area.
  • Career opportunities: Fellows often have better career prospects, including leadership positions and consultant roles.
  • Financial benefits: Specialists generally earn more than their non-specialised counterparts.

What is a medical fellowship salary?

In Australia and New Zealand, the salary for a fellow doctor varies widely depending on the specialty, region, and type of employment. In Australia, fellows can expect to earn between AUD $150,000 and $300,000 per year. In New Zealand, the range is slightly lower, typically from NZD $130,000 to $250,000 annually. These figures reflect base salaries and can increase significantly with overtime, on-call payments, and additional benefits. Both countries offer competitive compensation packages to attract and retain skilled specialists, with incentives for those willing to work in rural or remote areas.

For an indepth exploration by specialty check out these articles:

Living and working in Australia and New Zealand

Both countries offer an excellent quality of life, beautiful landscapes, and a multicultural environment which makes them attractive destinations for medical professionals worldwide. The healthcare systems are well-regulated and funded, providing a stable environment for professional growth.

The benefits of locuming as a new fellow

Locuming as a new fellow offers distinct advantages. It provides flexibility, allowing you to explore different healthcare settings and refine your clinical interests without long-term commitments. Working with an agency streamlines the administrative aspects, from credential verification to contract negotiation, freeing you to focus on gaining valuable clinical experience. This setup is ideal for new fellows looking to expand their professional network, explore different medical practices, and achieve a balanced work-life integration while advancing their careers.

Securing a fellowship in Australia or New Zealand is a significant achievement that sets a medical professional on a path to becoming a leader in their field. While the journey is challenging, the skills acquired and the doors that open as a result are well worth the effort. For those looking to excel in the medical field, pursuing a fellowship is a great step towards a fulfilling career.

Jordy Black
08 July 2024Article by Jordy BlackMedrecruit Editor