Interviews

‘So why do you want to do medicine?’

This is the ‘where do you see yourself in 5 years time?’ question of all medical school interviews.

As I speak, universities are sending out interview offers to hopeful candidates. Interviews are scary, especially since you’ve spent the best part of a year applying. On the plus side, this is the final hurdle. So to help you, I have some tips to try and calm some of those pre-interview nerves.

Type of Interview

Know the type of interview before you start preparing. Most universities prefer to use the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) process as this is able to test the applicant in many areas during a short period of time. Needless to say, these interviews tend to me more stressful as you have to be able to know a little about everything (a bit like medicine). However, they are short. Most stations are between 5-8 minutes depending on the university.

The other type of interview is the Panel Interview. Panel interviews are generally easier to prepare for and allows the interviewer to gauge an accurate bearing of the applicant. Unlike MMIs, you generally can’t mess up. A mess up in an MMI may affect your score for that station, but there will often be 6/7 more stations to make up for the mistake. Panel’s are slightly less forgiving and a mistake can haunt the interview. If you think you are more of a chatty people person, panel’s tend to be stronger where as MMIs test your ability to be succinct and think on your feet.

Acting

Most MMIs for now contain an acting station. This is based around breaking bad news. As part of the GMC guidelines, they have recognised this is something all medical students should be able to do.

My advice here is to be sincere. The actors will often have a basic script which enables them to respond to what you say and your body language. I have known full-blown arguments to break out in this station.

Accept the fault. Don’t try to make an excuse for what happened, this looks bad. Apologise (throughout) and come up with ways in which you can fix this. The scenarios are non-medical (so no knowledge required – you’re applying to do medicine, not doing it already), often a pet which died while you were looking after it or a missed dinner reservation. If you are doing well the actor may accept your resolution or may make the scenario more difficult (e.g. the pet was brought during their kids cancer treatment).

You can move heaven and earth to come to a resolution. This doesn’t mean jump straight to the most erroneous option, but means you can be a bit creative along the way.

Preparation

Look into the university; what do they offer? what teaching style do they use (PBL or seminars)? what is the structure of the course? how do they teach anatomy? Show them you’ve researched the place at which you want to study, but don’t list reasons, show how this relates to you and your decision.

Ethics. There will always be an ethics question from euthanasia to organ donation to homeopathy. My big tip here: Look up the 4 pillars of ethics and apply these to your answer.

Work experience. Most of your questions will about why you want to do medicine or what drove you to this decision? Whenever using work experience as an answer, reflect on what you learnt and how this affected you.

How much medical knowledge you know will not help you. You’re applying to go to medical school, it’s pointless if you know most of the information before starting!

Finally, DON’T LEARN ANSWERS!!!

Have a template in your head which you can use but it is so obvious when someone has simply recited an answer. Most MMIs now will ask the basic questions in slightly modified way to see if you simply recite or actually answer the question.

Nerves

Nerves are a big part of any interview. There will always be the person who is relaxed and wants to chat beforehand. There will also be the one boasting about which surgeon they shadowed for experience. The only person who determines the outcome of that interview is you! Take deep breaths, you’ve come this far therefore, on paper, they want you. Most interviews will have a warm up question to get you going.

The interviewers know how stressful the environment is at interview. They will understand if you draw a mind blank, or mess up some words. It shows you’re human and will rarely affect the outcome.

 

I wish you all the best with interviews. If you have any specific questions regarding interviews, visit the contact page.

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The Saturday Escape

I think this must be the first day since I’ve moved to med school that I have managed to escape. To put that into perspective, i’m closer to starting second year than I am to the start of the year.

So where did I escape to??

The local park.

Yep that’s right. A 20 minute walk to a local park.

The Escape
Sometimes all you need is a little escape from reality.

Yet it did what it was meant to. I walked around (spent 3 hours just walking about this park), lapping the lake, eating ice cream (with sunglasses on, and yes I know it’s only just the start of march!) and a bit of reading. Today; I did nothing, and it was the best nothing I’ve done in a long time.

It’s important to look after yourself once in a while, something I know I’m terrible at. If you don’t look after yourself, you can’t be there when others need your help. Find something that interests you, calms you or makes you laugh. Clear your head, then, and only then, will you be able to fully commit yourself to your stresses.

IT’S FRIDAY!!!

Well won’t you look at that, it’s the weekend! Another eventful week has passed but today was a pretty standard friday.

Lecture first thing on embryology of the musculoskeletal system (a lot less interesting than it sounds). This was followed by PBL (case based learning). Our case for this week is a 16yo male who tripped and fell over during national qualifiers for the 800m. Funnily enough, he sprained his ankle (who would have guessed!). Next week our cases all turn towards GI, cause if there’s one thing every medical student is desperate to learn, it’s the Bristol Stool Scale….

We finished today with some clinical skills, examining knees and ankles, both joints I have had numerous problems with in the past (never broken bones, only seem to tear ligaments and tendons), so this session was quite familiar following trips to A&E.

So that was my week (i’ll continue to sunday to make it 7 days). I hope it gave a small glimpse into life as a graduate entry medical student. It just so happened it coincided with the last week of a module when things are winding down slightly.

Rest well and enjoy your weekend!

What an interesting world

So here is the Thursday edition of life of a med student. Guess what, there is actually something to talk about.

Today was GP placement day which meant actually interacting with patients (the whole reason we want to go into medicine). I’m always dumbfounded by the shear difference in people and how they view disease.

The majority of patients, in one form or another, have a mental health issue. Yet no single case is the same. Each has a story to tell, how things have affected them in certain ways, how they’ve coped with such stresses and how they made it to where they are now. I’m very fortunate that they allow me to be part of their life story, to hear them at their most vulnerable. While most patients will come in with a mission of what they want sorted, beneath each symptoms is a story of how it developed, how it came to be and how it led to an anxious wait in a GP surgery waiting room.

As a first year (all be it graduate) medical student, I cannot thank these people enough for their allowance in letting me sit in on their appointments. Often things that even family members will have little knowledge about and that means something special to me. Some will say it’ll wear off as you go through med school and a career in medicine, but realistically, every patient you see, chat to or examine will teach you something new.

 

As for the rest of the day…revision, feedback and pub. No more needs to be said.

Happy Hump Day

It’s that time of the week where the weekend is in sight. Also that time of year where everyone is waking from their pancake comas form the night before.

I always love the end of a module, the timetable thins out into nothingness, everyone (tends to) get more relaxed (especially as we don’t have an exam on it for another 8 weeks!!) and we look forward to the next module. The joys that will be the GI tract.

Today was a simple day. 9am start, anatomy workshop on the leg and foot (which naturally overran by 20 minutes – yes there was a pun in there) and that was it. So I decided to head over to the main campus and have a walk around in the glorious early March sun.

Tomorrow will be another interesting day. It’s GP placement day. *One of* the only chances to go out on clinical placement (for now) and actually practice our clinical skills on real patients. The only problem is the patient’s never have a problem which requires you to actually practice what you want – typical.

That means an early start and a lot of coffee which will go cold by the end of the first consultation.

The evening will probably be taken up with revision for our clinical skills exam next week (AHHHH HELP) and revision of this module (may as well start early). Now it’s time for bed!

Tuesday’s gone

So what’s a Tuesday like in the life of a medic. Nice.

Double PBL (Problem based learning – we look at cases and work through them systematically to formulate a diagnosis) and an afternoon off*.

* off means we have nothing scheduled. Most of us remain in uni until 5pm regardless, just to do work and revision for the upcoming clinical exams, there is no such thing as time off.

Today is the last day of Feb, and I have never been so happy to see the back of a month in a very long time. Tomorrow is a new day and a new month. Not that I would have noticed if it wasn’t for a calendar.

Happy Shrove Tuesday everyone, enjoy your pancakes!!

Monday Monday…

Hey look at that, monday is finished!!

Just a typical day of lectures for myself today. Some rather interesting, others, less so (I could use them to help insomnia patients get to sleep).

Ok, yeah the weekend is finished and we have to get on with work. However, I’m starting to remember why I wanted to go into medicine. While life may be chucking all it can at me, I love the course, something vital if you want to survive in such an environment.

See you tomorrow!!