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The UCAT Situational Judgement section tests similar skills to the medical interview. Unlike the other parts of the UCAT exam, the Situational Judgement subtest analyses your ability to handle potentially difficult situations. This is an excellent foundation with which to begin your medical interview preparation.
You don’t want to significantly disrupt your UCAT preparation with these recommendations but it is worth briefly considering the following:
When you look at a Situational Judgement question, think about further questions you might be asked if the scenario was posed to you in a medical interview setting. UCAT Situational Judgement scenarios are very possible in an MMI (Multiple Mini Interview) situation in which they will be assessing your ability to respond appropriately, amongst a myriad of other skills.
For the interview, you will need to have a certain depth to your responses ranging from compassion to realism. The interviewers appreciate a reasoned argument that acknowledges all potential points of view. While the UCAT Situational Judgement subtest has much less of this depth, it does test your ability to act appropriately. It is important not to equate the interview with being a Situational Judgement test, however, the enormous number of UCAT Situational Judgement questions available to you on MedEntry’s online platform are an excellent set of resources that mimic a certain style of medical interview question.
The unsung aspect of numerous medical interviews is the understanding of modern, topical issues. In both the MMI format and the panel interview format there is a very real possibility of being asked about issues in today’s society. Interestingly, these are not necessarily related to the field of medicine. In recent years, topics have included refugees, vaccines, euthanasia, universal healthcare and freedom of speech.
Doctors are intrinsically leaders of our society; people come to learn from them, be healed by them and be comforted by them. It is an enormous amount of responsibility to be placed on any one person, yet it is simply the reality of our vocation. One of these responsibilities is to be literate in the problems facing our society and to be capable of responding appropriately with reason and compassion. So the place of ‘political’ questions in the medical interview is very pertinent.
Closer to the medical interviews you may end up doing more specific research. However, a very simple way to start your medical entry preparation early is to start reading the news and familiarising yourself with the issues surrounding our society.
This is simply a fantastic idea. Perhaps it’s immodest to say so but it is such an easy way to improve that virtually no one employs. Everyone seems to forget that interviews are a very practice-able skill. Arguably the most easily practiced, in fact, of all the aspects of medical entry. Furthermore, it is highly likely that there are numerous people around you who have experience in giving interviews. These are resources you simply must use. Whether it be teachers, headmasters, heads of faculty, housemasters or any other official in your academic, professional or even personal spheres, you will be surprised how many of them will be happy to help you.
Politely ask them if they could spare 15 minutes to do a mock medical interview. You can provide the questions, but many of them will not need them as they’ll have a good idea of how medical interviews work. If you contact them early enough they will definitely be able to find time for you, be it in a week or a month.
The benefits of doing this are enormous. Not only will you obtain great practice talking formally, in an interview format, but you will obtain useful advice on how to improve your technique, from people who may have conducted hundreds of interviews in the past.
If you can make time for it, start looking at past questions early. This will prepare you well for medical interviews. You can find many past questions as free resources all over the internet. Some universities even release medical interview questions they’ve asked in the past. You can certainly gain access to a great quantity of quality questions from the MedEntry UCAT courses and medical interview courses.
Your approach to these questions is important and should be varied. As indicated in tip 3 above you should definitely have someone ask you them in a proper interview situation. In addition to this, you might take notes on the major themes of these questions or simply read through them and think about how you might respond.
For panel style interviews, there are numerous questions that come up frequently. With regular exposure you can prepare a honed response that will be impressive and above the innate response of someone who has just heard the question for the first time.
For MMIs, the sub-themes of prompts are often similar and certain themes pop up every year. When looking at past MMI prompts you should be considering the major themes, the types of questions that might be asked, the various arguments that could be raised and how you could succinctly respond with breadth and distinction.
This serves a psychological purpose as much as an educational one. Once you have enrolled in a medical interview course or a UCAT preparation course with medical interview resources, there is no longer a barrier between you and your capacity to prepare for medical interviews. Furthermore, students often leave their medical interview preparation to the last minute, however, if you have the resources at hand, you can remind yourself of the need to practice regularly.
Doing little bits of preparation regularly and starting early in the year is really quite simple and very achievable for even the hardest working student. So perhaps you can try and employ some of these tips, semi-regularly, from early on in the year. If you do I promise that you will be more prepared than the vast majority of students for the medical interview.
Written by Jeremy, who is currently studying medicine at Monash University.