Vocational Selective

About the Program

The Vocational Selective (VS) is a unique aspect of the Melbourne Medical School's Doctor of Medicine (MD) course. As part of the MD's capstone subject, Transition to Practice, the 4-week Vocational Selective is intended to provide students with an opportunity to explore an area of medical practice of interest to them and which they might consider as a possible vocation. Students are encouraged to think carefully about the selective they choose, while also being open to a range of possibilities.

As with the Scholarly Selective that precedes it, the Vocational Selective is a formal part of the curriculum that carries expectations of the activities the student will undertake under supervision. The Vocational Selective is conducted within the Melbourne Medical School's network of clinical placement sites, however students and supervisors are encouraged to look beyond the usual range of intern settings. As much as possible, the student should experience the vocation in much the same way as a Fellow of that discipline.

Students might choose to add a clinical perspective to their research activities by undertaking a Vocational Selective in the same discipline in which they undertook their Scholarly Selective. Others might choose a discipline or context in which they feel they have unmet learning needs. Still others might choose a clinical area about which they are uncertain, as much to exclude it from their vocational considerations as to include it. However, students should not become so fixated on securing a selective in a particular sub-specialty (or at a particular location with a particular supervisor) that they narrow their choices unreasonably.

The 2017 Vocational Selective dates are as follows:
Sequence 1: August 7 – September 1
Sequence 2: September 4 – 29

Sequence 3: October 2 – 27

Example Weekly Schedules

Some examples of what a week during a Vocational Selective might look like.

Surgery placement

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Supervisor Ms Yellow (Lead) Mr Orange Mr Orange Ms Yellow Mr Orange Ms Yellow
AM Northern Hospital OPD Epping Rooms Bacchus Marsh Theatre & Wards Epping Rooms Grand Rounds & Wards John Fawkner Theatre (optional)
PM NH Wards Student Self-Study Bacchus Marsh Rooms Student Self-Study Year 2 MD Teaching  

General Practice Placement

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Supervisor Dr Green (Lead) Dr Green Dr Green Dr Brown Dr Green Dr Brown
AM Clinic Clinic Home / Nursing Home visits Clinic Well-Woman Clinic (Prac Nurse) Clinic (Optional)
PM Clinic Student Self-study Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Student Self-Study Clinic Clinic (Optional)

Paediatrics placement

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Supervisor Dr Blue (Lead) Dr Blue Dr Blue Dr Blue Dr Blue N/A
AM Ward Rounds & Admissions General Unit OPD Private Consulting Suite Ward Round & Failure to Thrive OPD Hume Community Clinic N/A
PM Ward Work inc. MD3 Teaching Ward Rounds Student Self-Study Ward Work or Endoscopy List Student Self-Study Rumbalara Aboriginal Health Service N/A

It is encouraged that Thursday afternoons be non-scheduled time so that students may gather to discuss their experiences and to collaborate on learning tasks, although this will not be possible in all situations. At least one other session per week should be non-scheduled time.

Being a Supervisor

Medical practitioners who are associated with Melbourne Medical School as clinical teachers are very much encouraged to propose a 4-week Vocational Selective for MD students to undertake towards the end of their course. Alternatively, students may approach clinical teachers with whom they have an existing mentoring connection and propose their own selective. You should not feel compelled to agree.

Supervisor-initiated Vocational Selectives allow clinicians to offer students an insight into their particular discipline. As students preference their selectives, most will be particularly interested in the supervisor's clinical discipline and participate enthusiastically in all aspects of it. Supervisors are encouraged to consider taking two or more students at a time to allow peer support and reflection. Selectives may be proposed by individual supervisors or by groups (such as a hospital clinical unit, a general practice clinic, or a group of specialists) but one supervisor must be nominated as the lead.

General expectations of supervisors during the 4-week Vocational Selective are to:

  • introduce the student to the many facets of their clinical discipline
  • involve the student in their clinical practice at an appropriate level
  • discuss cases and professional issues as with any other junior colleague
  • complete a brief appraisal form at the end of the selective and discuss it with the student.

Students are expected to make a useful contribution to the supervisor's professional role and to develop and complete a small quality assurance project to assist the supervisor in their work.

Please refer to the Vocational Selective Guidelines [PDF, 287.91 KB] This document will be used by the Vocational Selectives Committee, if required, to ensure that proposed selectives align with the intentions of the term. A brief online module to assist supervisors in planning a suitable Vocational Selective is available below.

Supervisor information module

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a payment to supervisors?

General Practitioners will receive the usual PIP teaching payment through Medicare. Otherwise, there is no payment directly to supervisors.

Can I take my student/s to my other workplaces?

Yes. Supervisors are encouraged to allow their students to experience the full breadth of the discipline, in public settings and/or private.

Is the student indemnified during patient contacts outside the public hospital system?

Yes. The University's insurance policy provides indemnity to students (and their supervisors) whilst under supervision as part of a recognised activity, which the Vocational Selective is. Students are also encouraged to take out a (free-of-charge) policy with the medical defense organisation of their choice. More information regarding the University's insurance coverage can be found here.

Can students be co-supervised through a unit or clinic?

Yes, but one clinician must be named as the principal supervisor.

Can more than one student undertake the same selective at the same time?

Yes. Supervisors are encouraged to take more than one student if possible to allow peer learning to occur.

How is the Vocational Selective different to the MD course's Trainee Internship (TI) term?

Although both terms are 4 weeks and are taken sequentially, each gives the student a different perspective on being a doctor. In the TI, students are rehearsing the intern role; whereas in the Vocational Selective, students are looking at the years beyond that one, to sample a career or specialisation of interest to them.

Can I involve my student/s in my other professional duties, such as teaching, research, advocacy etc?

Absolutely. The intent is to introduce students to the many facets of your discipline, emphasising those not visible during internship. However, it is required that a significant majority of the week is spent having patient contact in clinical settings relevant to the discipline.

We have been asked to leave the students free on Thursday afternoons. What if that's a prime time for learning activities in my discipline?

While it is desired to have the students free to congregate and share their learning on this one afternoon, it is not always going to be feasible. Supervisors should judge the value of the learning activity that would be missed.

I would like to offer a Vocational Selective placement but currently do not have an appointment at the university. Can I still participate?

If you have an appointment at a University of Melbourne affiliated hospital, or a Department or Academic Centre of the Melbourne Medical School, you can participate. If you don't have a University appointment or work at an affiliated hospital, please contact vocationalselective-info@unimelb.edu.au to discuss the available options for your participation.

I have a question not covered above – where can I get an answer?

Any queries can be directed to vocationalselective-info@unimelb.edu.au