It is often the small, insignificant details you remember about an event that makes it stick out in your memory. For many years down the line you’ll reminisce about these small, insignificant details and depending on how the rest of the event played out, you’ll either smile when you remember it or frown. Medical school interviews are somewhat like that. The date is known for at least a couple of weeks before hand. We spend the first week or so running around like headless chickens, not sure whether we should be ecstatic or anxious. The next phase is when we actually plan and do some preparation. And then the day comes. From experience, interviews are not pleasant. They’re not supposed to be. But going in with your best foot forward is placing the odds in your favour.
Yesterday felt like de ja vu. And not the nice kind when you grin and go ‘hey I’ve done this exact thing before and I totally know what’s happening next and this makes me super excited’ but the kind where you go ‘I’ve done this before. It was bad. How can I escape?’
Why might you ask? Well. I was helping out with medical school interviews yesterday at my university. Same set up, same admissions team, same sort of questions and believe it or not it was the same room too. Except, this time I was the one scaring the living daylights out of the applicants. Okay it wasn’t that terrible and actually my own interview wasn’t that terrible either. I suppose that’s what I would say in retrospect, considering I got into medical school. And I suppose if you’d asked me last year how I was feeling I’d have a very different opinion.
But that’s hindsight for you.
What I think was clear from observing the different candidates was that there is no clear factor that ensures or guarantees a place at medical school.
Is there a particular personality that gets in? Or is it the attitude and hardwork? Or is it simple a matter of luck and circumstances? Most likely that it is a combination of all three.
There is no doubt that interviews are looking for a particular type of student. Medical schools want students who can make good doctors and provide excellent clinical care to the future patients. My advise: Be the person they are looking for. And if medicine is truly a career for you many of these ‘qualities’ would come naturally to you anyway. I’m not going to harp on about what makes a good doctor because we all know that. If you’re unsure have a read of ‘Tomorrow’s Doctors’ and the ‘Good Medical Practice’
Take the interview seriously. Its your one and only opportunity to convince the admissions team that you are the student they are looking for. Be confident in yourself. Sell yourself but don’t be arrogant. And the trick to not being arrogant is to stick to facts and not exaggerate. For example if you helped in a team and resolved an argument, explain what happened, what you did and what the results was.
Structure your answers in your head. Stick to a few points for each type of question. Read up on controversial or heavily ethics based topics: abortion, euthanasia, competency, capacity and consent. Make sure you’ve brushed up on your basic sciences and are aware of current research and the biggest developments in medicine over the last 100 years.
Finally, be proud. You’ve managed to get this far! It is an accomplishment indeed. You’re almost there. Wear clothes you are comfortable in and remember – they picked you to come for an interview. They believe you have the potential to be a doctor. Put trust in that. The medical school is only looking for the best so that the society has a pick of the best doctors. Be that best that they are looking for.
P.S- As it is the festive season, if you’re celebrating have a wonderful christmas and a Happy New Year to all. May 2016 keep you in good health and laughter.