Medicine Interview Questions & Answers

Welcome to our database of real Medicine interview questions with answers, updated for 2019 entry. We will be updating this database throughout the year by adding new Medicine interview questions and answers.

In this database we cover Medicine interview questions based upon traditional interview questions. We cover MMI interview questions and answers in our separate MMI Questions Database 

The Medicine interview questions and answers are organised into themes. For each medical school interview question, we explain what examiners are trying to assess. We then cover how to approach answering each Medicine interview question and advise on common mistakes to avoid in your answer. Finally, we provide examples of competent answers to each medical school interview question.

MEDICINE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT YOUR MOTIVATION TO STUDY MEDICINE AND BECOME A DOCTOR

Common variations: Why do you want to be a doctor? What interests you about Medicine?

Note: If you are a graduate or mature student then see our blog on how to answer this Medicine interview question coming from these backgrounds.

  What is this Medicine interview question trying to assess?

  • You Motivations – That your motivations to study Medicine are based on a realistic understanding of a medical career, are well thought out, and sustained over a long period instead of being a phase which may pass. That your motivations are based on research and work experience and not just a strong desire to study Medicine. Candidates with these qualities are far more likely to successfully complete a Medicine degree (which is longer than most other degrees) and have a successful career in this challenging profession. This is why admissions tutors need to examine your motivations in such depth.
  • Your Communication Skills – All Medicine interview questions are assessing this, but this Medicine interview question specifically requires you to be able to fashion many different reasons and events into a single coherent answer. How well can you tell a story? How convincing and genuine is your answer? Do you come across as motivated and committed? You may also have to answer followup questions which will allow interviewers to see if you can think on the spot and handle some scrutiny.

How to approach answering this Medicine interview question

The first thing to do is to clarify in your own mind why you want to study Medicine. Only then can you think about preparing an answer for this common Medicine interview question. There are likely many scattered reasons in your mind that you have not yet fully formed into an answer. However, your eventual answer to this common Medicine interview question should focus on several main reasons which you talk about in more detail, instead of a huge list of reasons which you only spend a few seconds discussing. Once you know the main points you want to convey you can then start thinking of finding the right words.

Common reasons why people want to study Medicine/ become a doctor include:

  • An interest in Science, the human body, diseases, public & global health etc.

  • An interest in a particular condition, e.g. cancer or a speciality, e.g. psychiatry which then led to a wider interest in Medicine.

  • Wanting to contribute to science/research/public health/global health.

  • Wanting a job which helps people and makes a difference to their lives/ to society

  • A dynamic profession, constantly evolving, requiring constant life-long learning.

  • A career which means you will need and learn many skills and have knowledge from many disciplines, as well as the chance to work in and alongside many different disciplines.

  • A challenging, exciting, interesting, varied job. There are many careers within Medicine, and the training involves a wide exposure to these varied disciplines.

  • A stable, well respected, well-paid career with excellent career progression and job prospects nationally and internationally.

  • A degree (and later a profession) which incorporates elements from Medicine, Surgery, the Sciences, Pharmacology, Psychology, Sociology, Epidemiology, communication skills, human factors, management, teaching, research and more.

  • A very interesting, intellectually demanding and varied undergraduate degree with excellent graduate prospects in the UK and internationally.

You should sound personal. Do not just describe reasons why Medicine is a good career, instead describe how these reasons relate to you specifically and why Medicine is a good fit for you. However, you do not need to find unique anecdotes or very original ideas for wanting to study Medicine. An excellent answer can include very typical reasons delivered well. If you have an early experience which made you want to study Medicine, then you can consider including it, and this is often a good way to start your answer, but do not force one. The main things you need convey in this Medicine interview question answer are that you have solid reasons to study Medicine, are suited to it, you have confirmed this with experience and research and are well motivated.

Be smart about what you decide to include in your answer to this common medical school interview question. Use it as an opportunity to sell yourself and bring up your strengths. Make sure you briefly cover some of your work experience, your strengths and your achievements in your answer. You will only get time to touch upon them in your answer. These can be explored in more depth later in your interview. Giving examples makes your statements sound more credible instead of sounding like a collection of unsubstantiated claims. By talking about certain experiences, you can also to some extent control the direction of the interview. This is by making it more likely that interviewers will ask you follow up questions about topics that you have raised and are therefore more comfortable with compared to the interviewer being able to ask you a question about any random topic.

Common Mistakes to avoid when answering this Medicine interview question

Covering too many points – In your answer, you should cover several points in detail, instead of many little points briefly. Remember, your aim in answering any Medicine interview question is to give an effective answer and not to simply state everything that you know about a topic. To give an effective answer, you must be selective.

Trying too hard to be original – You do not need to force a unique story or event which made you want to be a doctor. If you are going to use a personal story, make sure you can justify why it makes you want to be a doctor. Saying something like you had a relative with a condition or went to hospital once is only half a story – what specifically did it stir inside you? Many people care for sick relatives without wanting to become a doctor. Why did a hospital experience as a child make you want to be a doctor, but a visit to the dentist did not make you want to be a dentist?

Grand claims for why you want to be a doctor – avoid language such as you were born to be a doctor, Medicine is your calling etc. These sound incredibly cliched and are also difficult to back up. They add little to your overall position so are in a sense wasted words. Use the limited time that you have at your disposal to answer Medicine interview questions to instead include claims which are easier to back up and add to your position.

Sounding rehearsed – this is inevitably a Medicine interview question that everyone rehearses for, and your interviewers know this. However, avoid sounding robotic. Instead try to show your enthusiasm and passion (you do not need to go over the top, especially if this is not in your nature). Remember, the content of your speech is only one component of an effective answer. How well you deliver it is the other. Also make sure your speech has natural pauses.

Answering the wrong question – As this is such a commonly anticipated Medicine interview question it is very easy for candidates to not pick up that the interviewer has asked a slight variation to this question. This is a common pitfall as candidates have practiced certain questions so much and are nervous so can easily jump the gun when they hear a few keywords which makes them think that they are being asked a question that they have previously heard. A useful tip for answering all Medicine interview questions, including this one, is to give a slight pause before speaking instead of immediately answering. This will give you a second to gather your thoughts. Additionally, it will make you appear more relaxed and make your answers sound less scripted then if you immediately reeled off a lengthy continuous answer. Clarify a question before you answer it if you have not understood it.

Common variations & related questions:

  • Why do you want to be a doctor and not a Physician Associate/ physiotherapist/optometrist or another healthcare professional?
  • Have you considered being a Physician Associate or Advanced Nurse Practitioner? (particularly if you are applying as a graduate or come from an existing healthcare background)
  • A physiotherapist or an optometrist study the human body in detail and treat patients, so why not study something like physiotherapy?

  What is the Medicine interview question trying to assess?

  • This medical school interview question may be asked as a follow up to “why do you want to be a doctor/study Medicine?” If this is the case, then it does not mean that your first answer was not adequate. Usually, this question is asked to probe your motivations for wanting to study Medicine further. It tests your understanding of what a career in Medince entails and your knowledge of similar careers.
  • Your knowledge and understanding of these things show admissions tutors if your motivation to study Medicine is based on realistic ideas about being a doctor and also proves that you are motivated as you have done your research on other careers. This is important for interview tutors to establish as candidates with a realistic understanding of what a medical career entails and who are well motivated are more likely to succeed in this challenging degree and profession.
  • Admissions tutors will want to see that you can handle this Medicine interview question diplomatically. That you can highlight why you want to study Medicine without being dismissive of other careers.

How to approach answering this Medicine interview question

To answer this medical school interview question and related questions, it is important to have the following key background knowledge:

  • Other healthcare professions share similarities to Medicine (e.g. a physiotherapist uses scientific expertise to diagnose and manage conditions). These professions also require and attract people with similar characteristics to doctors (e.g. a caring nature, good communication skills, an interest in Science and people).
  • The “scope of practice” (i.e. what is considered within their normal job role and what they are allowed to do) of other healthcare professionals is constantly expanding so that their roles are increasingly sharing more in common with doctors. One reason for this is because there is a shortage of doctors and the government has realised that it is possible for other people to do certain things which doctors traditionally have done if these people are given the appropriate training.
  • For example, an Advanced Nurse Practitioner’s (ANP) role can include undertaking the following tasks independently, which doctors can do: assessing a patient (e.g. by history & examination); ordering investigations (e.g. X-rays, blood tests etc.) and interpreting the results; making a diagnosis; commencing a management plan including prescribing medication; and referring patients for further treatment or discharging them.
  • However, ANP’s do this within a clearly defined scope of practice agreed with their employer, and the level of complexity that they deal with is usually less than that of a doctor. Often their roles are heavily protocol driven, leaving less scope for making decisions outside of these protocols. Additionally, ANP’s are usually highly specialised to one field, e.g. a respiratory ANP, an Emergency Medicine ANP and they work within that field only. A doctor will have more general training in all areas of Medicine, and their scope of practice will be far wider, as will their ability to specailse in a wider range of fields. A further point is that these roles are limited and not all nurses can attain them. They will need to meet certain criteria and hold certain qualifications and then undergo further training to become an ANP.
  • Another role you should know about is that of Physician Associates (PA). This is a relatively new role in the UK, that is already well established in the USA where over 100,000 PA’s work. Physician Associates work alongside doctors in hospitals and GP practices. Currently, they work under the direct supervision of a doctor but can work autonomously with the appropriate support. They will work within a scope of practice that can include taking medical histories; performing certain examinations; performing certain procedures, e.g. inserting cannulas and taking blood; and interpreting some investigations. The role is constantly evolving and expanding, and it is expected that in the future they may be able to prescribe some medications and order a wider range of investigations (they cannot currently prescribe or order investigations involving ionising radiation, e.g. X-rays, CT scans etc.) Physician Associates are usually graduates in Science or health-related fields that have undertaken Physician Associate training which typically involves completing a 2 year post graduate course.

With the above knowledge, here are some things to consider in your answer to this Medicine interview question:

  • You should highlight the similarities between these different careers and Medicine and how they all play an important role in reaching successful outcomes for patients.
  • You should state that you have considered other careers (if this is the case).
  • You should state your case for why you wish to be a doctor instead of these other careers.
  • You could also include in your answer that you look forward to working with these different healthcare professionals, perhaps sharing some experiences you had during your work experience.
  • Avoid the common mistakes in answering this Medicine interview question which we list below.

Common Mistakes to avoid when answering this Medicine interview question

Being dismissive, condescending or rude about other professions – There can be other healthcare professionals such as nurses on the interview panels. More importantly, this is a bad attitude for a future doctor to take.

Having a poor knowledge of what other healthcare professions do – For example not knowing that some nurses and other healthcare professionals can prescribe medications or that nurses also lead teams, make important decisions, have management roles, require excellent communication and interpersonal skills etc. Or not knowing that there are advanced roles which allow nurses to independently; diagnose, order and interpret investigations, treat patients and further refer them or discharge them.

Stating that being a doctor is better than the other roles – Different professions involve different roles and are suited to different people. They share similarities to Medicine and the common theme of working towards successful outcomes for patients.

Stating that doctors have the biggest impact on patients – choose your words carefully. Nurses and other healthcare professions have an integral role in patient care. Often, they are the people who get to spend the most time with patients, often far more so than doctors, and they are often the ones to identify the earliest changes in patients.

Common variations: Do you have a backup if you do not gain any offers to study Medicine?

What is the Medicine interview question trying to assess?

  • That you have strong commitment and motivation to study Medicine but are realistic.
  • That you have a pragmatic approach to dealing with adversity and failure. That you learn lessons from these situations and use them to improve instead of letting these situations overcome you.

How to approach answering this Medicine interview question

Your approach to answering this Medicine interview question would depend on your situation.

1) If this is the first time you are applying to Medicine

The panel will have serious doubts over your commitment to study Medicine if you are considering abandoning your ambition to become a doctor if you fail at this hypothetical first set back. Your answer to this Medicine interview question should show that you will assess why you failed, learn from this, strengthen your application and then try again. This will usually be by taking a gap year to strengthen your application, but it also could be by applying to study a related course with a view to then studying Medicine. Pursuing an entirely different career after a single failed attempt would indicate a poor ambition to study Medicine, but it may be an option in the scenario described below where you have applied multiple times.

2) If you have applied to study Medicine before

You must give a pragmatic explanation of what you intend to do. You cannot realistically tell the panel that you are going to keep applying until you finally reach retirement age.

Your main sensible options would include:

  1. Strengthening your application and applying again – is this realistic if this is the seventh time you are applying?
  2. Deciding to study a degree related to Medicine or healthcare. This could be with the view of possibly then applying to study Medicine, e.g. as a graduate. This may not be a sensible option if you already hold a related degree.
  3. Deciding to study an entirely different degree or take a different career course. If you already hold a degree in a differing discipline or work in an alternative career, then you may wish to return to that area. This can be a very risky strategy for your answer because if you execute it poorly then you can cast doubts on how committed you are to study Medicine. Generally, if possible try and relate Medicine and the different career by saying how it will allow you to exercise similar values that you hoped to gain from being a doctor. For example, by becoming a teacher, you can work closely with others, stimulate yourself intellectually, use your communication and interpersonal skills and can have a strong impact on people’s lives.

Common Mistakes to avoid when answering this Medicine interview question

Not showing that you learn from setbacks or adversity. It is no good saying that you would simply apply again until you get a place. You must state how you will assess why you were unsuccessful, make a plan to address these issues and then apply again.

MEDICINE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF MEDICAL SCHOOL

Related Medicine interview questions:

The following two questions are similar but require your answer to focus more on the curriculum aspect of what appeals to you about the medical school:

  • “What can you tell us about our course structure and why does it appeal to you?”
  • “What can you tell me about our curriculum?”

  What is this Medicine interview question trying to assess?

  1. That your decision to study here is based on research.
  2. That it is based on an awareness of what kinds of environment suit you.
  3. That this medical school is well suited to you.

How to approach answering this Medicine interview question

Your goal when answering this Medicine interview question is to try and cover all three of the above points. The goal is not to tell interviewers how amazing their medical school is or that it is the best. This is a common misunderstanding that candidates have.

You will cover point 1 by talking about the medical school. If you have attended open days and spoken to existing students, include this in your answer. To make sure your answer covers points 2 and 3, at least some of your reasons for wanting to study at a particular medical school must be related back to you. This means that you should not just state facts about the medical school, e.g. early patient contact, an integrated curriculum etc. – you must state why these things are personally good for you or why they would personally help you become a good doctor.

To give a strong answer, you can shift the focus of some of the reasons so that they show how you can offer the medical school something through your contribution. However, be very careful not to do so in an arrogant matter. An example of something a candidate could say is; “From speaking to current students at the open day, I learned that the medical school has an active Medics Rugby team. It really appeals to me that this includes playing with other medical schools in both home and away matches. I played rugby at county level and would be keen to get involved in this as I think it would be a great opportunity to…”. If you cannot do this, you can state somewhere in your answer that you feel that the medical school will provide an environment that you would thrive in and that you also hope to contribute back to the medical school.

Here are some things to consider when deciding on your reasons for wishing to study at a medical school. Remember that your final answer should include several reasons in further detail and then perhaps a small list of other points, rather than just a long list of things which you only cover briefly

Course:

  • Integrated versus non-integrated/traditional curriculums (we cover the differences in subsequent questions in this section).
  • Learning styles employed PBL, EBL, traditional methods, e.g. heavily lecture/tutorial/ seminar based, use of small group teaching, the amount of self-directed learning. Again, we cover these different teaching methods in subsequent questions in this section of questions.
  • Size – student numbers, staff to student ratios, diversity or students.
  • Anatomy teaching – use of dissection, resources etc.
  • Early patient contact – almost all medical schools now offer this, even traditional courses. The main difference now is how much is provided and how much of a feature is early patient contact in the curriculum.
  • The opportunity to intercalate and the range of intercalated degrees on offer.
  • Electives and other opportunities to study abroad or learn foreign languages, e.g. virtually all schools have electives. Some have additional chances to work abroad Manchester medical school offer a European Languages programmes which delivers further medical teaching in a European Language and medical placements abroad.
  • Medical school specific points – e.g. Leicester medical school integrate iPads into the curriculum (as do others) and teach students about digital consultations. This is a forward-thinking approach which considers the changing nature of healthcare.
  • Feedback –Student satisfaction surveys and feedback from students.

University & Location:

  • The city and what living there will offer you – this is often asked as a standalone Medicine interview question, which surprisingly many candidates have not prepared for.
  • A large or diverse city may be beneficial to your medical training as it increases your exposure to conditions and situations, e.g. substance misuse, knife crime etc.
  • The local hospitals – e.g. is it a major trauma centre that would, therefore, deal with serious injuries, e.g. major road traffic incidents, gunshot injuries? Smaller hospitals (for example district general hospital’s) would not see these patients as they would be diverted to the relevant hospitals. However, district general hospitals are sometimes viewed by students and doctors as being able to provide more hands-on teaching and more opportunities for students to practice skills compared to large teaching hospitals. This is because there are fewer students compared to the number of patients and fewer students “competing” for the same learning opportunities/practising skills than you would find in teaching hospitals. Most medical school placements will involve a mix of large teaching hospital placements and district general hospital placements, and you can mention this in your medical school interview answer as a positive.
  • Campus vs city university.
  • Facilities of the wider university and the extracurricular activities on offer.

Points which are not relevant for most candidate’s answers:

  • Career prospects – most candidates should not cite this in their response. However, it may be a point for some international candidates to include. Unlike many other non-Medicine degrees; which UK medical school you graduated from will play little role in your UK career prospects. For starters, it plays no role in applying to the foundation programme which provides medical school graduates their first two years of jobs in the NHS.
  • Quality of the medical school – All UK medical schools produce competent doctors and are quality assured by the GMC. The prestige, history or prominence in a field (e.g. research) of a medical school may be an element in a candidate’s answer. Certainly, the way the course is taught, and the facilities of a medical school are good topics to be discussed. However, the quality of a medical school isn’t relevant for most candidates to include in their answers as all UK medical schools are of excellent quality. It may be a point that international candidates wish to cover as the quality of UK medical schools may be a motivating factor for them.

Common Mistakes to avoid when answering this Medicine interview question

  • The wrong approach – commonly this is whereby candidates think that this question is about telling interviewers how amazing their medical school is or how it is the best. Instead, the correct approach is to make sure your answer covers the three points interviewers are trying to assess from your response that we described earlier.
  • Covering too many reasons – talk about a few reasons well, (and then perhaps a small list) instead of covering a long list of reasons only briefly.
  • Rambling – make sure that you do not ramble. Give a focused answer with a clear beginning and end (rambling often leads to candidates not being sure when to stop talking, so their answer fizzles out with no definite ending).
  • Non-personal answers – candidates commonly state facts about the medical school, e.g. it uses dissection or employs PBL without relating why these things would be good for them.

Related Medicine interview questions:

“What are the pros and cons of studying Medicine at this medical school?”

“Is there are anything about this medical school that you do not like?”

What is this Medicine interview question trying to assess?

This medical school interview question is trying to assess:

  1. That your decision to study at this medical school is well researched, i.e. you know about different course structures.
  2. That you have self-insight and an awareness of what kinds of learning environments suit you.
  3. That this medical school is well suited to you.
  4. That you can answer these types of questions diplomatically.

How to approach answering this Medicine interview question

This Medicine interview question has two parts: what appeals to you and is there anything that does not appeal to you. The first part is easy to answer, and we cover the things you could include in the Medicine interview question, “why do you want to study Medicine at this medical school?”. Regarding the second part of this Medicine interview question, “is there anything that does not appeal to you?”, three main approaches can be taken:

Approach one: List things you don’t like including significant reasons – this isn’t really an option as it raises the issue of why are you applying here when you have other options?

Approach two: List something minor which will not have a significant impact and state how you will overcome this issue – this is an option but be careful with your words. Your approach should be to put a positive spin on the issue by stating what you will do to counter this negative or why it is not a significant issue. You could mention things such as the general disadvantages of PBL, e.g. from your research you are aware PBL can result in some gaps in knowledge but that you will be mindful of this to try and combat it. Also, you are aware from speaking to students that there are wrap up lectures at the end of each PBL case. This answer makes you sound like you have done your research.

Approach three: A neutral answer, stating that there are no significant issues – this is a safe answer although it does not particularly add anything to your application. Make sure that you do not merely state that there is nothing wrong. That would sound unusual and is too brief an answer. You need to elaborate a little more on your answer, e.g. by stating that all medical schools will inevitably have some issues, but overall there aren’t any significant issues that you have identified from your research, reading up about the curriculum, attending open days and from speaking to students. You feel that if any issues do arise you will overcome them.

Related Medicine interview questions:

  • “Why do you want to live and study in this city?”
  • “What are some pros and cons of this city?”
  • “What are some pros and cons of living in your current city?” – A Medicine interview question like this is a good way for interviewers to learn more about you and to ask a question that is less anticipated by candidates. For example, this Medicine interview question was asked at a Leicester Medical School MMI interview station which included a broad range of questions, many of which did not appear obviously related to Medicine but still tests a candidates communication and interpersonal skills.

What is this Medicine interview question trying to assess?

This medical school interview question is trying to assess:

  1. That your decision to study at this medical school is based on research.
  2. That you have an awareness of what kinds of environment suit you.
  3. That this medical school and city are well suited to you.
  4. More about you as a person – what kind of things interest you, are you well rounded?

How to approach answering this Medicine interview question

When answering this and other related medical school interview questions, you should select a few points about the city and the university and discuss these well instead of listing many things briefly. This will also help you avoid waffling. Crucially, to address points 2,3 and 4 in your answer, you must not only list pros and cons but also relate them back to you by explaining why they are good for you.

Your answer should include things about generally living in that city and what that city has to offer. You should also include a few points about how the city will affect your medical training. Regarding the latter, a few things to consider include:

  • A large or diverse city may be advantageous in your medical training as it increases your exposure to conditions and situations, e.g. substance misuse, knife crime etc.
  • The local hospitals – e.g. is it a major trauma centre that would, therefore, deal with serious injuries, e.g. major road traffic incidents, gunshot injuries? Smaller hospitals (for example district general hospital’s) would not see these patients as they would be diverted to the relevant hospitals. However, district general hospitals are sometimes viewed by students and doctors as being able to provide more hands-on teaching and more opportunities for students to practice skills compared to large teaching hospitals. This is because there are fewer students compared to the number of patients and fewer students “competing” for the same learning opportunities/practising skills than you would find in teaching hospitals. Most medical school placements will involve a mix of large teaching hospital placements and district general hospital placements, and you can mention this in your medical school interview answer as a positive.
  • Facilities of the wider university and the extracurricular activities on offer.

Related Medicine interview questions: A question could directly ask you what the differences are between an integrated and a non-integrated (traditional) medical school curriculum and/or the pros and cons of each approach. Alternatively, you may be asked different questions but ones that still require a knowledge of the two types of course. For example, “why does our curriculum/medical school appeal to you?” “what can you tell us about our curriculum?” and so on. 

What is this Medicine interview question trying to assess?

This question is trying to assess:

  1. That your decision to study at this medical school is well researched, i.e., you know about different course structures.
  2. That you have an awareness of what kinds of learning environments suit you and can express these thoughts clearly.
  3. That this medical school is well suited to you.

How to approach answering this Medicine interview question

Answering this medical school interview question or related questions requires some basic knowledge about integrated and non-integrated (traditional) curriculums which we provide below. To address point 2 in the above list of what interviewers are looking for, when framing an answer, relate these points back to you, i.e. do not just list the advantages of a particular approach but explain why they are well suited to you.

Introduction to integrated and non-integrated (traditional) course structures

Medical school courses are divided into two main course structures: either integrated or non-integrated (traditional) courses. Whether a course is integrated or non-integrated (traditional) does not tell you what teaching style that medical school employs, e.g. PBL, EBL, primarily lecture-based, seminars etc. The teaching style used is a separate matter to the course structure, which we cover in later questions. To complicate things, some people do categorise medical schools into either being traditional, non-integrated, PBL, systems-based medical schools and so on. However, strictly speaking, the first distinction to be made is if the medical school course structure is an integrated or a non-integrated (traditional) one. PBL, lecture-based, systems based etc. refers to the teaching style employed, not the course structure.

Integrated courses

Integrated courses are the most common curriculum structure for UK medical schools and the approach that the GMC recommend to medical schools. Medical Sciences (e.g. anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, or in other words the body in its healthy normal state) are integrated/taught alongside Clinical Medicine (learning about the body in a state of disease and through observing patients). This is instead of the non-integrated approach where there is a clear distinction between the early years of the course where preclinical Medicine is taught and then the final years where Clinical Medicine is taught.

For example, in an integrated curriculum, your current teaching topic for the next few weeks may be the cardiovascular system. Alternatively, the current case for the week/two weeks etc. is one where a patient has had a heart attack. In both scenarios, this will involve learning pre-clinical topics such as the anatomy and physiology of the heart. At the same time, you will also learn about the Clinical Medicine side, e.g. about the diseases of the cardiovascular system, the pharmacology behind treating cardiac disease, the history and examination of the cardiac system, and so on. Integrated courses tend to be holistic in their approach. If the case of the week was about a person with a heart attack, this would probably involve learning about how the disease affects the patient’s life and their family (driving, returning to work after a heart attack, depression etc.), medico-legal issues, ethics (should smokers be charged for their treatment?), disease prevention and health promotion.

Non-integrated (traditional) courses

These courses are now a minority in the UK with Oxbridge being two prominent schools that still use this approach. There are two very distinct phases. A preclinical phase (usually the first two or three years) and a clinical phase (usually the last three years). Contrast this to the integrated approach which teaches these at the same time. The preclinical phase focuses on the medical sciences such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry. These are taught as separate disciplines, unlike integrated approaches which combine them. Most of the time, they are not taught in the context of patients which again is the opposite of an integrated approach. In the later years of the course, during the clinical phase, the focus changes to diseases and studying patients. In the past students would not even see any patients for their preclinical years although this has now changed. Traditional courses still have early patient contact although usually much less than integrated courses.

Advantages of an Integrated Curriculum

  • Integrated approaches tend to reduce the amount of factual content that must be learnt to practice Medicine, particularly of the basic medical Sciences. Medicine is enormously more complex and continually evolving compared to the years where traditional courses were the norm. Students need to be able to learn the skills of lifelong learning, independent learning and further specialising further down their career rather than trying to learn everything in medical school which is not remotely possible.
  • Students can appreciate how the different medical sciences they are taught relate to each other as they are taught side by side, unlike in non-integrated courses where each subject, e.g. anatomy, biochemistry is taught as separate disciplines and not in the context of real patients.
  • Many students will find that they learn better and retain more if they understand the context of what they are learning, i.e. how the different sciences, e.g. anatomy, physiology etc. relate to each other and how they relate to how patients present.
  • Integrated courses tend to feature earlier patient contact and tend to take a more holistic approach when learning about cases, e.g. looking at a patient’s lifestyle, socioeconomic background etc.
  • Many students are motivated by the early patient contact and by relating what they are learning to clinical practice. Often these candidates would become bored or unfulfilled from a non-integrated course.

Disadvantages of an integrated curriculum

  • A non-integrated course usually gives candidates a stronger base in the Scientific disciplines which underpin Medicine, e.g. anatomy, physiology, biochemistry etc. They will tend to go into further depth in each of these disciplines.
  • This can be particularly useful for students interested in Academic Medicine or research. However, students in integrated courses who wish to study things further can either do so on their own or through intercalation, where they undertake an extra year to gain an additional degree.
  • Some students may prefer the more rigid and separate discipline structure of a non-integrated (traditional) course.
  • Some students may wish to see patients later on after acquiring more experience studying Medicine in the early pre-clinical years.

Common Mistakes to avoid when answering this Medicine interview question

  • Non-personalised answers – do not just reel off a long list of pros and cons – how do these relate to you? How do they suit your learning style?
  • Covering too many reasons – talk about a few reasons well, (and then perhaps a small list) instead of covering a long list of reasons only briefly.
  • Rambling – make sure that you do not ramble. Give a focused answer with a clear beginning and end (rambling often leads to candidates not being sure when to stop talking, so their answer fizzles out with no definite ending).

Related Medicine interview questions:

  • “Can you tell me more about the PBL process?”
  • “What have you done to confirm that the PBL process will suit you?”
  • Other questions may not directly ask you about PBL, but a knowledge of the process is still required to answer the question, e.g. “what appeals to you about our curriculum?”, “how is our curriculum suited to you?”

What is this Medicine interview question trying to assess?

This medical school interview question is trying to assess:

  1. That your decision to study at this medical school is well researched, i.e. you know about different teaching styles.
  2. That you have self-insight and an awareness of what kinds of learning environments suit you and you can express these thoughts clearly.
  3. That this medical school is well suited to you.

How to approach answering this Medicine interview question

There is a core knowledge about PBL that you must possess to answer these kinds of questions, which we cover in this section. Armed with this knowledge, make sure that you then tailor your answer to what you are specifically asked. e.g. If you are asked, “what have you done to confirm that you are well suited to the PBL process?” – You would not answer the question identically to “what are the advantages and disadvantages of PBL?”. To answer both questions, you need the same core knowledge but must apply this knowledge differently to form an answer. In both cases, you should try to make your answers personal. e.g. you should not just reel off a list of pros and cons of PBL – you should state how these relate to you and make PBL suitable (or not) for you.

What is PBL?

Problem Based Learning (PBL) is a teaching method first used in Medicine in Canada and then adopted by many UK medical schools. How much PBL is used depends on the medical school. PBL can almost be thought of as the opposite approach to traditional lecture-based courses where you are told what to learn. Instead, PBL involves setting your own learning objectives, with guidance. A typical method for a PBL case would include:

  1. Working in groups of typically 8-12 students and with one trained facilitator, you would be presented with a written case or problem. e.g. a case about a patient who has developed depression following a stroke.
  2. Usually, someone volunteers to be a chairperson and someone else acts as a scribe.
  3. Based on the case, the group would decide on learning objectives, e.g. “to read up on the neurotransmitters involved in depression.” The cases are purposefully written to trigger specific learning objectives and points of discussion. They also tend to be quite holistic, e.g. they may bring up psychosocial issues, medico-legal issues, ethical issues.
  4. Students will agree on the group learning objectives. The scribe will note these down.
  5. Students will then meet up in, e.g. one week and discuss what they have learned. During this time, they would have had lectures, seminars and other teaching sessions to teach them things related to this case as well as their own self-directed study.
  6. Depending on the medical school there may be a wrap-up lecture at the end of the final learning session related to the case to cover key points and to ensure that candidates are clear on what they should have learned. The medical school may also distribute what the model learning objectives should be so students can compare the learning objectives that they set.

You can see that this PBL process contrasts with traditional approaches where lectures, seminars, etc. would be “spoon feeding” the curriculum to students. Note, that seminars and tutorials in traditional courses often are highly interactive processes, but the point remains that students in traditional courses are more passively told what to learn compared to the PBL process where students learn the skill of identifying what they need to learn (with guidance). This is excellent preparation for a career in Medicine which requires lifelong learning and the ability to determine your own learning needs and knowing how to pursue these.

Important points and common misconceptions about PBL

  • A major misconception about PBL is thinking that students are left alone to do all the work. This is not true. PBL courses will have lectures, seminars, tutorials, group sessions and so on which will be based on the current case. In general, PBL courses will have far fewer lectures (and these may even be non-compulsory) than traditional based courses and much more time for “self-directed learning”.
  • Clearly, PBL is a far more self-directed approach to lecture-based teaching where information is more spoon-fed. However, in PBL you are certainly not left alone with no guidance. The cases are designed in a way to prompt certain discussion points and learning objectives. The medical school will have learning objectives that they expect you to derive from each case. You will have a facilitator who will make sure you are on the right track and have identified the correct learning objectives. Many medical schools have wrap-up lectures after the final session of the case ends and will also release the learning objectives to students at that time too. Students do initially commonly find that they are not sure how much depth to learn topics in, as the lecturer isn’t just spoon-feeding them information, but they will usually get a good feel for this within a few cases.

How much PBL do different medical schools use?

The amount of PBL in a curriculum depends on the medical school. In some schools such as Manchester Medical School, it is a fundamental part of the course where other teachings, e.g. lectures, seminars are heavily focused around the current PBL case. In other medical schools, it is only used in a few instances. Knowledge of how prominent PBL is in a medical school will be useful when answering Medicine interview questions at that school.

Advantages of PBL

  • Students learn about Medicine in the context of realistic clinical scenarios.
  • PBL involves much more student participation from group members compared to the passive nature of lectures. As a result, participants will develop skills in communication, teamwork and leadership.
  • Medicine requires lifelong learning. It requires the ability to identify one’s learning needs and then knowing how to pursue these. The PBL process helps students develop this skill.
  • PBL cases tend to be holistic and raise issues such as patient understanding, patient choice, health inequality, medical ethics etc. The PBL format provides an excellent venue to debate these issues and hear multiple perspectives.
  • PBL allows for a much more self-directed approach to learning. Typically, in PBL focused courses, fewer things are timetabled than in lecture-based courses, and sometimes lectures are optional. This gives students much more flexibility in choosing how to spend their time and how to study. They can often find in the early years that they will have more free time in the day to get involved in other university activities.
  • Typically, PBL groups are kept for a semester, fostering a team spirit and students often become friends.

Disadvantages of PBL

  • Although facilitators are well trained, your experience of PBL will depend on the quality of your facilitator and the other members of the groups.
  • Some students may not be suited to self-directed learning and may prefer receiving a more didactic education.
  • Students may feel uneasy relying on setting their own learning objectives. It can be uncertain if you have the right learning objectives or how much detail you should study a topic in. With time most candidates get a feel for this. Also, medical schools can do things to reduce this such as providing the learning objectives after you complete the cases, providing more formal supplementary teaching early on and other initiatives. Also, the facilitator is there to make sure that the group is staying in the right direction. Particularly early on they will take a more active role.

Common Mistakes to avoid when answering this Medicine interview question

  • Non-personal answers – make sure you do not reel off lists of pros and cons. How do these points relate back to you? How do they suit you?
  • Covering too many reasons – talk about a few reasons well, (and then perhaps a small list) instead of covering a long list of reasons only briefly.
  • Rambling – make sure that you do not ramble. Give a focused answer with a clear beginning and end (rambling often leads to candidates not being sure when to stop talking, so their answer fizzles out with no definite ending).

Related Medicine interview questions: “What appeals to you about our curriculum?”

What is this Medicine interview question trying to assess?

This medical school interview question is trying to assess:

  1. That your decision to study at this medical school is well researched, i.e. you know about different courses.
  2. That you have self-insight and an awareness of what kinds of learning environments suit you and can clearly express these thoughts.
  3. That this medical school is well suited to you.

How to approach answering this Medicine interview question

This a simple factual question that involves knowing the points we cover below. You may be asked a slightly different question, e.g. “how does our medical school curriculum suit you? Why not a PBL course?” etc. If this is the case, it still requires the same knowledge that we cover below, simply adjust your answer accordingly. Additionally, remember to always personalise your answers – do not just reel off a list of pros and cons. How do these features relate to you? Why do they suit your learning style?

Lectures in medical school

All medical schools will feature lectures as well as other teaching methods such as tutorials. In lecture-based courses, lectures are a heavily used method of delivering the curriculum as a pose to PBL-based courses where PBL is the primary method of delivering the curriculum. Lecture-based courses can be part of either an integrated course structure or a non-integrated (traditional) course structure (we cover what these are in other questions in this section). However, integrated courses are not usually heavily lecture-based; instead it is traditional courses which are lecture based.

Advantages of Lecture based approaches to teaching Medicine

  • Delivers the curriculum in a structured and systematic way (this is assuming that the medical school does a good job of designing the curriculum)
  • Lecture-based courses tend to have a traditional (non-integrated) course structure, although some integrated courses can be heavily lecture based. If delivered in a traditional course structure, advantages would include: appealing to students who want a more significant study of Science before seeing patients and a stronger grounding in the basic medical sciences (e.g. anatomy, physiology etc.)

Disadvantages of Lecture based approaches to teaching Medicine

  • Lecture-based curriculums have a clear structure that “spoon-feeds” the curriculum. This is in the sense that, although tutorials, seminars and even lectures can be very interactive, you are still told what to learn at these events. In a PBL approach, the focus is more on the student to identify their own learning needs with guidance. This has the advantage of preparing students for a career in Medicine which involves lifelong learning and the ability to identify one’s learning needs and then being able to know how to pursue these needs.
  • With potentially hundreds of students in a lecture theatre, it can be challenging to ask questions or interact with the lecturers and other students.
  • Lecture-based curriculums tend to mean that a student’s weekly timetable is heavy. PBL courses have much more free time in the early years of studying Medicine so candidates can plan how to use their own time without being tied down to as many mandatory teaching sessions. This can often allow them to participate in general university activities during the day.
  • Many students will simply find lectures incredibly dull or struggle to maintain attention.
  • If a lecture-based course is part of a traditional (non-integrated) course, this will mean that there is no patient contact for an extended period. Many students will not find this style of learning appealing.

Common Mistakes to avoid when answering this Medicine interview question

  • Non-personal answers – make sure you do not reel of lists of pros and cons. How do these relate back to you? Why do they suit you?
  • Covering too many reasons – talk about a few reasons well, (and then perhaps a small list) instead of covering a long list of reasons only briefly.
  • Rambling – make sure that you do not ramble. Give a focused answer with a clear beginning and end (rambling often leads to candidates not being sure when to stop talking, so their answer fizzles out with no definite ending).

MEDICINE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT MEDICAL ETHICS AND CRITICAL THINKING

What is this Medicine interview question trying to assess?

Medicine interview ethics questions are not a test to see if you “know” the right answer (often there is none) or a piece of legislation (you will learn these in medical school anyway). Instead of rushing to give the solution, your answer must take the long way around so that you can show interviewers:

  • That you have the right attitudes to become a doctor and can recognise that different situations may evoke ethical and other considerations.
  • Your thought process – can you see things from multiple perspectives and appreciate varying opinions?
  • Your communication skills – can you sum up the different arguments as part of a concise well-structured answer?
  • You may be asked follow-up questions which will test if you can defend your opinions and handle some pressure from interviewers.
  • Your insight and background knowledge of medicine – medicine interview ethical questions often provide an excellent chance to demonstrate to interviewers that you are well read. You can mention an article or some ethical guidance that you have read (e.g. GMC’s “Good Medical Practice” – which is the core guidance of what behaviours and values all registered doctors should follow), or something you have seen during your work experience. If you can mention these in your answer, it shows interviewers you have done your research and have background knowledge and insight into medicine.

How to approach answering this Medicine interview question

Don’t fall into the trap of focusing your answer to this medicine interview question on just the legal issue of can a 14-year-old girl consent to an abortion. Make sure your response also incorporates the importance of trust and communication between doctors and patients. You can see this in the included example of a competent answer to this medicine interview question below. Before this, we cover some background information which will also help you to answer other medicine interview questions dealing with issues of consent and young people.

Can a 14-year-old consent to an abortion herself?

The answer is yes given specific criteria are met.

Consent for under 16’s – Gillick Competence and the Fraser Guidelines

Consent can only be taken from patients who have the capacity to make decisions. In the UK, everyone over the age of 16 is automatically presumed to have the capacity to make decisions about their medical treatment unless proven otherwise. As this child is under 16, it is not automatically assumed she has the capacity to make decisions about her medical treatment. People under 16 can still give consent to their own treatment providing they can demonstrate sufficient maturity and intelligence to understand and appraise the nature and implications of the treatment, including the risks and alternative courses of actions. This is known as Gillick Competence.

Gillick Competence and the Fraser Guidelines are sometimes used interchangeably despite being two distinct things. The Fraser Guidelines are specifically for matters relating to young people making decisions about matters of sexual health such as contraception, abortions and STIs. Gillick Competence is also about a child’s ability to consent but is not limited to matters of sexual health. We are using the term Gillick Competence as it is easier to use this in all situations instead of learning in which situations Fraser Guidelines could be applied instead.

Do parents have to be involved? When Can Confidentiality be broken?

The following applies to medical care in general and not just the issue of abortion: If the young person has Gillick Competence, then she can consent to an abortion, and she would be entitled to patient confidentiality. Her parents would not be informed even if they ask the doctor to be. However, the doctor where appropriate should try to encourage her to involve her parents. The doctor must try to learn more about the patient’s views and explore why she does not want to involve her parents and if she considered what will happen if she does. The doctor also must consider if the patient has been raped, abused or has an older partner. In some situations, the doctor may need to break patient confidentiality in the case of minors as there is an underlying duty to protect them which may necessitate this. For example, if the child is at risk of serious harm, has been abused etc. This could involve the police or social services being involved. It is usually much better for doctors to inform the patient of this before they do it. This is likely to result in a much better outcome and preserve patient trust and cooperation then if the patient feels that the doctors are imposing their will.

What if the girl was under 13?

Gillick competence and the Fraser guidelines do not have a lower age limit. However, it would rarely be safe or appropriate for someone under 13 years of age to consent to treatment without parental involvement. When it comes to sexual health, people under 13 are not legally able to consent to sexual activity, and therefore any information regarding the person being sexually active would need to be acted on, regardless of the results of the Gillick test.

An example of a competent answer to this Medicine interview question

“Firstly, I would try to build a rapport with the patient and encourage her to feel comfortable explaining the situation. Her trust is crucial to reaching a successful outcome. I would explore further why she does not want to involve her parents and if she has considered what could happen if she does and if she does not. Perhaps there are underlying issues at home.

Being under 16, I would establish if she has Gillick competence and is able to make decisions about her care. If she has, then it is possible to proceed without her parent’s involvement, but I would still encourage her to do so or request permission to inform them on her behalf. I would need to help her in considering the many issues surrounding the abortion, the consequences of her decisions and how she plans to proceed afterwards. She could likely benefit from counselling or a youth worker.

 I would also need to establish if there is any possibility of rape, abuse or exploitation, in which cases the police or social services may need to be involved. I may have professional and legal obligations in involving these external agencies, but again it is vital to try and secure her cooperation as not to be perceived as forcing my will on her. There would be other issues too such as STI screening, sexual health and further education to prevent this from happening again.”

Common Mistakes to avoid when answering this Medicine interview question

Note for anti-abortion applicants – Doctors do not have to perform abortions in the UK. However, they must not let their personal beliefs affect how they treat patients. This means that they must inform patients of another doctor or service they can seek and in a way that is non-judgemental or discriminatory. If you are against abortions, it is okay to mention this in your answer, but really this medicine interview question is not a test of your personal beliefs. Instead, it sees if you are aware of the different issues at play, so it would be better to focus more on these rather than your own beliefs.

Jumping straight into an answer – This does not let you demonstrate your ability to see things from multiple perspectives or your communication skills. Your answer should include the reasoning behind your opinions.

Buckling at the first sign of resistance – Interviewers will commonly play devil’s advocate, challenging your answers and seeing how you deal with their further questioning. Be prepared to defend your opinions. This must be done appropriately as you do not want to come across as bigoted or inflexible. Be open and respectful of different viewpoints. If something the panel says makes you realise you were actually wrong earlier, then acknowledge this and do not try to cover it up. Trying to cover up your mistakes is a very bad trait for someone who wants to be a doctor.

Related medicine interview questions: Below, we also cover three other scenarios: the patient is unconscious, the patient is a child refusing the procedures & the patient is a child whose parent is refusing the procedure.

What is this Medicine interview question trying to assess?

This is a well-known and commonly asked medicine interview question. Interviewers are looking for the same things that they seek in all ethical questions. Medicine interview ethics questions are not a test to see if you “know” the right answer (and often there is none) or a piece of legislation (you will learn these in medical school anyway). Instead of rushing to give a solution, your answer needs to take the long way around so that you can show interviewers:

  • That you have the right attitudes to become a doctor and can recognise that different situations may evoke ethical and other considerations. In this question, do you appreciate the duty of care doctors can sometimes conflict with respecting a patient’s autonomy?
  • Your thought process – can you see things from multiple perspectives and appreciate varying opinions?
  • Your communication skills – can you sum up the different arguments as part of a concise well-structured answer?
  • You may be asked follow-up questions which will test if you can defend your opinions and handle some pressure from interviewers.
  • Your insight and background knowledge of medicine – medicine interview ethical questions often provide an excellent chance to demonstrate to interviewers that you are well read. You can mention an article or some ethical guidance that you have read (e.g. GMC’s “Good Medical Practice” – which is the core guidance of what behaviours and values all registered doctors should follow), or something you have seen during your work experience. If you can mention these in your answer, it shows interviewers you have done your research and have background knowledge and insight into medicine.

How to approach answering this Medicine interview question

There are an estimated 140,000 Jehovah’s witnesses in the UK. Jehovah’s witnesses are not opposed to modern medicine, however, since 1945 they have refused various types of blood transfusion and blood products due to religious reasons. A good answer to this medicine interview question is written below. You can see how the approach is to give a balanced answer which demonstrates awareness of the different ethical considerations and perspectives a situation like this evokes.

An example of a competent answer to this Medicine interview question

“In this situation, there is a conflict between, as a doctor having a duty to preserve the life and well-being of a patient versus respecting the patient’s autonomy to make their own decisions about what happens to their body. Autonomy is a right patients have even if doctors perceive their decisions to be unwise.

To balance these, I would begin by trying to explore with the patient in a non-judgemental manner why they do not want to receive the blood transfusion. I would explore if they fully understand the procedure; the rationale behind its use; the consequences of refusing it and the alternatives. From the question, it appears that this is due to religious reasons, but there could still be other factors at play such as misunderstanding the procedure or any concerns about safety such as acquiring a blood-borne infection like HIV. I would consider if the patient has the capacity to make the decision. This would involve making sure that their decisions are without any pressure or coercion from others such as family. I’d also consider if the car crash itself has had any effect on their capacity to make this decision.

I would, of course, involve my seniors in this process and multiple perspectives would be good for a situation like this. As a doctor, it would be my duty to make sure that the patient is aware of all the facts surrounding the need for the procedure and the consequences of not proceeding. I would do this in a non-judgemental and respectful way and would see if any reasonable steps could be taken to aid the patient’s decision, perhaps they could gain further advice from a religious official, or they would be willing to accept an alternative course of action. Ultimately, if the patient has the capacity and understands the consequences of their decision than, I would have to respect this.”

Answering related Medicine interview questions

What if the patient is unconscious?

The important thing is not to make the mistake of forming assumptions about the patient, i.e. assuming that just because they are a Jehovah’s witness that they do not want blood transfusions. Many Jehovah’s Witnesses carry a signed and witnessed advance-decision card expressing their wishes in emergencies. The card explicitly refuses most types of blood transfusions. Healthcare staff must respect the wishes of patients expressed in an advance-decision document that is correctly signed and witnessed unless the doctor has good reason to believe that the patient has changed their wishes since signing the document.

Emergency situations are different as it is often not appropriate or possible to delay taking immediate action to try and ascertain a patient’s wishes if they are not already known. For example, an unconscious patient could severely deteriorate as you try to verify from relatives if they have made an advance directive. GMC guidance states “In an emergency, you can provide treatment that is immediately necessary to save life or prevent deterioration in health without consent” (Personal Beliefs and Medical Practice, paragraph 27 [GMC, 2013]). You should act in the patient’s best interest. Of course, if the matter is not urgent and you have time, then you must take steps to make sure you are complying with patient wishes.

What if the patient was a child who refused a lifesaving blood transfusion?

In UK law, 16 or 17-year-olds are presumed, like adults, to have the capacity to consent to most medical treatments (children under this age can also consent to treatment if they have a sufficient level of competency to understand the issues involved, frequently referred to as “Gillick Competence”). However, unlike adults, their refusal of treatment can, in some situations be overridden by someone with parental responsibility or a court. This is because there is an overriding duty to act in the best interests of a child. This would include circumstances where refusal could lead to death, severe permanent injury or irreversible mental or physical harm.

Just because a parent consents to a treatment that a child (who does not have the capacity to make decisions) does not want, that does not mean that the treatment has to occur. The doctors must weigh up the benefits and harms of imposing a treatment that is against a child’s wishes, even if it the action is in their best interests. However, this would not be an issue in this case as the blood transfusion is life-saving.

What if a parent is refusing a blood transfusion for their child

If the child has capacity, then you can accept their consent and proceed. You need to use good communication as the parent will likely not be happy about this. If the child does not have capacity and both parents are refusing to give consent, then this is a complicated situation. In emergencies, you could act in the patient’s best interest against the wishes of the parent but must be able to defend your actions and this becomes a legal issue. In non-emergency situations, you have more time to discuss matters and come to an agreement. This could involve applying for various court orders to override parental consent.

Common Mistakes to avoid when answering this Medicine interview question

Jumping straight into an answer – This does not let you demonstrate your ability to see things from multiple perspectives or your communication skills. Your answer should include the reasoning behind your opinions.

Buckling at the first sign of resistance – Interviewers will commonly play devil’s advocate, challenging your answers and seeing how you deal with their further questioning. Be prepared to defend your opinions. This must be done appropriately as you do not want to come across as bigoted or inflexible. Be open and respectful of different viewpoints. If something the panel says makes you realise you were actually wrong earlier, then acknowledge this and do not try to cover it up. Trying to cover up your mistakes is a very bad trait for someone who wants to be a doctor.

What is this Medicine interview question trying to assess?

Medicine interview ethics questions are not a test to see if you “know” the right answer (and often there is none) or a piece of legislation (you will learn these in medical school anyway). Instead of rushing to give a solution, your answer needs to take the long way around so that you can show interviewers:

  • That you have the right attitudes to become a doctor and can recognise that different situations may evoke ethical and other considerations. In this question, do you appreciate why integrity is essential for doctors?
  • Your thought process – can you see things from multiple perspectives and appreciate varying opinions?
  • Your communication skills – can you sum up the different arguments as part of a concise well-structured answer?
  • You may be asked follow-up questions which will test if you can defend your opinions and handle some pressure from interviewers.
  • Your insight and background knowledge of medicine – medicine interview ethical questions often provide an excellent chance to demonstrate to interviewers that you are well read. You can mention an article or some ethical guidance that you have read (e.g. GMC’s “Good Medical Practice” – which is the core guidance of what behaviours and values all registered doctors should follow), or something you have seen during your work experience. If you can mention these in your answer, it shows interviewers you have done your research and have background knowledge and insight into medicine.

How to approach answering this Medicine interview question

Many medicine interview ethical questions can be argued either way. However, medicine interview questions like this do have a correct answer, as stating that doctors should not be honest and open about their mistakes is an inappropriate position to hold. However, to demonstrate the skills listed in the previous heading, your answer cannot end at “yes they should be honest and here is why” but must contain an awareness of both sides of the argument and contain your overall opinion. If you can, give a real-life example you saw in your work experience, that would help your answer stand out and show that you can relate theoretical situations to real world scenarios. This medicine interview question gives you a good chance to mention the GMC guidance “Good Medical Practice”, by stating that you are aware that being open and honest about making mistakes is an important part of being a doctor and you have read about this in the GMC guidance, “Good Medical Practice”.

Under the domain, “maintaining trust”, “Good Medical Practice” states:

“You must be open and honest with patients if things go wrong. If a patient under your care has suffered harm or distress, you should:

A) put matters right (if that is possible)

B) offer an apology

C) explain fully and promptly what has happened and the likely short-term and long-term effects.”

The duty of Candour: The GMC also have a document of guidance entitled “The Professional Duty of Candour”. Candour is the quality of being open and honest. This guidance is not essential reading but is useful to briefly read if you have time as this type of guidance gives you further insight into the kinds of attitudes and behaviours expected of doctors (and will also help you in SJT type questions in the UKCAT). In summary, a duty of candour to patients is a professional obligation, and for more severe instances of harm, it has been made a contractual obligation for all NHS workers. You do not need to know all the details, but you can state in your answer that you have read about healthcare professionals requiring a duty of candour and are aware that the NHS has made this a contractual obligation in more severe cases of harm.

Advantages of being upfront about mistakes

  • Can prevent further harm.
  • It is often easier to correct matters quickly if you are upfront early on.
  • Doing so may make you more trustworthy amongst both patients and colleagues.
  • Being open and honest creates a culture of working to improve things, where people can learn lessons from mistakes and avoid them from reoccurring. If people hide their mistakes, this culture cannot develop.
  • Good medical practice states, “You must make sure that your conduct justifies your patients’ trust in you and the public’s trust in the profession” If doctors are viewed as a trustworthy profession, this helps both patients and doctors.

Disadvantages of being upfront about mistakes

  • Patients and colleagues may have a lower opinion of you (e.g. your competence) or of the GP surgery/hospital.
  • Patients opinion of the medical profession may be lowered.
  • Revealing mistakes may open you up to complaints, disciplinary action, litigation etc.

Common Mistakes to avoid when answering this Medicine interview question

Not considering the other side of the argument in your answer – in all medicine interview ethical questions including this one, give both sides and also your overall opinion.

Buckling at the first sign of resistance – Interviewers will commonly play devil’s advocate and challenge your answers. Be prepared to defend your opinions. This must be done appropriately as you do not want to come across as bigoted or inflexible. Be open and respectful of different viewpoints. If something the panel says makes you realise you were actually wrong earlier, then acknowledge this and do not try to cover it up. Trying to cover up your mistakes is a very bad trait for someone who wants to be a doctor.

What is this Medicine interview question trying to assess?

Medicine interview ethics questions are not a test to see if you “know” the right answer (and often there is none) or a piece of legislation (you will learn these in medical school anyway). Instead of rushing to give a solution, your answer needs to take the long way around so that you can show interviewers:

  • That you have the right attitudes to become a doctor and can recognise that different situations may evoke ethical and other considerations. In this question, do you appreciate ethical principles such as autonomy, justice, the implications that people’s actions have on wider society etc.?
  • Your thought process – can you see things from multiple perspectives and appreciate varying opinions?
  • Your communication skills – can you sum up the different arguments as part of a concise well-structured answer?
  • You may be asked follow-up questions which will test if you can defend your opinions and handle some pressure from interviewers.
  • Your insight and background knowledge of medicine – medicine interview ethical questions often provide an excellent chance to demonstrate to interviewers that you are well read. You can mention an article or some ethical guidance that you have read (e.g. GMC’s “Good Medical Practice” – which is the core guidance of what behaviours and values all registered doctors should follow), or something you have seen during your work experience. If you can mention these in your answer, it shows interviewers you have done your research and have background knowledge and insight into medicine.

How to approach answering this Medicine interview question

This medicine interview question does not have a right or wrong answer; either viewpoint is valid. Like with answering all ethical medicine interview questions, you must show that you understand differing perspectives which are discussed below. You should select a few, critically evaluate them and then give an overall opinion.

Arguments for allowing tobacco sales

  • People have a right to make lifestyle choices (the problem with this argument is that many things are made illegal, so governments remove people’s choice frequently)
  • There is a massive demand for tobacco products that will not vanish just because they are made illegal. Making it illegal will lead to a proliferation of a black market to meet this demand (and this would fund criminal activity). Cigarette manufacture and sales would no longer be regulated and have minimum safety and quality standards. This would likely lead to low-quality unregulated products that are even more harmful to people’s health than properly produced cigarettes.
  • Additionally, the government would lose the large amounts of revenue it receives from taxation of tobacco products and also from taxing the profits of tobacco companies.
  • The tobaccos industry employ many people, who in turn spend their wages in the economy and also pay taxes.
  • If tobacco is made illegal, what next? Unhealthy food, sugary drinks, caffeine? – This is the “slippery slope” argument which is often used in ethical debates.

Arguments for not allowing tobacco sales 

  • According to the NHS, Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable deaths in England, accounting for more than 80,000 deaths each year. One in two smokers will die from a smoking-related disease. This, of course, has a significant effect on society and places a considerable strain on the NHS’s resources.
  • Non-smokers are affected in the form of passive smoking. Although banned in many public places, non-smokers including babies and children are affected in homes, cars and outdoor spaces, e.g. near entrances to buildings where smokers congregate.
  • Tobacco causes a large amount of litter, e.g. cigarette butts.

A middle ground; reducing tobacco consumption:

An argument could be made that instead of an outright ban, taking measures to reduce smoking is a better approach. This still gives people the freedom to smoke but makes it less likely that they will do so. It makes it harder for tobacco companies to promote smoking and makes it easier for people to quit. Measures which are currently implemented include:

  • Severely restricting or banning the marketing of tobacco products, e.g. advertising, sponsorship etc.
  • Severely limiting packaging and branding abilities that can make cigarettes more appealing or that can create brand awareness (one reason smoking is so prevalent is because it has had such a rich history of heavy marketing which has employed all sorts of psychological tricks and marketing strategies. Before being banned, some of the most prolific advertisements and campaigns were related to smoking. Tobacco companies have done an excellent job of making a product that is very harmful, expensive, often inconvenient, addictive and makes you and your clothes smell, still appear desirable to so many people.)
  • Adding distasteful health warnings on packaging.
  • Public health campaigns to raise awareness of the effects of smoking
  • Funding for smoking cessation services.
  • Banning smoking in public places, which reverses the normalisation of smoking in society and how easy a habit it is to maintain, and hugely reduces the effects of passive smoking.

Common Mistakes to avoid when answering this Medicine interview question

Sitting too much on the fence – you should offer some analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of both perspectives and finally an overall answer.

 

Buckling at the first sign of resistance – Interviewers will commonly play devil’s advocate, challenging your answers and seeing how you deal with their further questioning. Be prepared to defend your opinions. This must be done appropriately as you do not want to come across as bigoted or inflexible. Be open and respectful of different viewpoints. If something the panel says makes you realise you were actually wrong earlier, then acknowledge this and do not try to cover it up. Trying to cover up your mistakes is a very bad trait for someone who wants to be a doctor.

MEDICINE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT YOUR INSIGHT INTO MEDICINE

What is this Medicine interview question trying to assess?

This is a simple factual medicine interview questions designed to assess your background knowledge about medical issues. Having a background knowledge implies that your decision to study medicine is a well-informed one based on research, not merely a burning desire, and that your motivations are genuine. Additionally, you can demonstrate your explanation skills.

How to approach answering this Medicine interview question

If you look below at the example answer to this medical school interview question, you can see how the candidate words their answer in a way that hints at his/her knowledge, e.g. by briefly bringing up NICE and mentions their wider reading even though these were not part of the question. A medicine interview is like a driving test; you must make your skills obvious to the examiners.

Example of a competent answer to this Medicine interview question

“My understanding is that postcode lottery refers to the provision of services being different based on where you live. In medicine, this would refer to medical care being different based on where you live, as different areas are under different health authorities. I regularly read articles on health in newspapers and other media, and it is a term I have come across many times. I have found that cancer drugs and IVF access particularly evoke strong responses from the public.

I understand that one of the reasons NICE was set up was to try and address this issue by providing national guidelines which could help to reduce variations in care. The postcode lottery remains an issue, however even today. Differences in healthcare provision can sometimes be justified by different localities trying to cater to the needs of their specific population, but there are also unwarranted differences too.”

Common Mistakes to avoid when answering this Medicine interview question

Panicking if you do not know the answer – Interviewers do not expect you to know everything and understand that you are nervous. Where not knowing something becomes a real problem is if you become flustered or show no self-awareness that you do not know something, as this reflects poorly on your character. However, if you can stay calm in such situations and say that you do not know the answer and that it is something you will go and learn about after the interview, then this should not be a significant problem.

What is this Medicine interview question trying to assess?

This is a simple factual medicine interview questions designed to assess your background knowledge about medical issues. Having a background knowledge implies that your decision to study medicine is a well-informed one based on research, not merely a burning desire, and that your motivations are genuine. Additionally, you can demonstrate your explanation skills.

How to approach answering this Medicine interview question

Firstly, we discuss the background information you need to answer this medical school interview question and then we will consider some advice on how to make your answer stand out.

Background information

Informed consent is the process for getting permission before performing a healthcare intervention on a person, or for disclosing personal information. It is an important part of medical ethics and international human rights law.

For a patient to give informed consent about any procedure, three things must apply about their consent. If any are missing it is not valid informed consent:

  • It must be voluntary – Their decision to consent or not consent must be free from coercion by medical staff, family, friends and others.
  • It must be an informed decision – They must have the necessary information to make an informed choice, e.g. benefits and risks, the consequences of not receiving treatment, alternatives etc. This must be in a format that they understand. They could defer this decision to the doctor and ask them to decide on their behalf, but they must understand the implications of this.
  • They must have the capacity to make decisions – Consent can only be taken from patients who have the capacity to make decisions. In the UK, everyone over the age of 16 is presumed to have the capacity to make decisions about their medical treatment unless proven otherwise.

Patients under the age of 16 can still consent to most types of treatment if they are determined to have “Gillick Competence” whereby they can demonstrate enough maturity and intelligence to understand and appraise the nature and implications of the treatment, including the risks and alternative courses of actions. We cover this in more depth also and discuss in what situation can a young person’s consent or non-consent be overridden in two questions in the medical ethics questions and answers section. Firstly the medicine interview question about a 14-year-old girl seeking an abortion and also in the question about the Jehovah’s Witness who refuses a blood transfusion (specifically under the subsection “what would happen if the patient was a child?”).

How to make your answer to this medicine interview question stand out

After succinctly explaining informed consent, if you can think of an example you saw in your work experience, it could help to make your answer stand out and show that you can relate ethical guidance to real-world situations. It certainly does not have to be an exciting story as there are many routine examples of behaviours that you saw during your work experience that you could use:

  • Witnessing doctors explaining medical concepts in simplified ways that patients could understand without sounding patronising.
  • Witnessing how doctors would use diagrams and leaflets to aid understanding.
  • Witnessing doctors employing “shared decision making”, for example, a GP involving a patient in decision making by explaining all the options and giving them leaflets to help them come to a decision.
  • Witnessing how a doctor would ask what a patient already knows about a medication before the doctor prescribed it for the first time so that the doctor could gauge a patients base understanding.
  • Witnessing how doctors would ask if patients had any questions and would check their understanding during a consultation.

Common Mistakes to avoid when answering this Medicine interview question

Panicking if you do not know the answer – Interviewers do not expect you to know everything and understand that you are nervous. Where not knowing something becomes a real problem is if you become flustered or show no self-awareness that you do not know something, as this reflects poorly on your character. However, if you can stay calm in such situations and say that you do not know the answer and that it is something you will go and learn about after the interview, then this should not be a significant problem.

What is this Medicine interview question trying to assess?

This medicine interview question is designed to assess your background knowledge about medical issues, in this case, the importance of consent. Having a background knowledge implies that your decision to study medicine is a well-informed one based on research, not merely a burning desire and that your motivations are genuine. Additionally, you can demonstrate your explanation skills.

How to approach answering this Medicine interview question

We discuss the meaning of informed consent in the medicine interview question, “What do you understand by the term informed consent?” Some instances where consent may not be necessary are listed below:

In an emergency but the patient is incapacitated – GMC guidance states “In an emergency, you can provide treatment that is immediately necessary to save life or prevent deterioration in health without consent” (Personal Beliefs and Medical Practice, paragraph 27 [GMC, 2013]). You should act in the patient’s best interest and explain to them what was done to them and why once they have recovered enough to understand.

Immediately requires an additional emergency procedure during an operation – There must be a clear medical justification why it would be unsafe to finish the operation and ask the patient their consent when they have recovered. This cannot merely be for convenience.

Is a risk to public health due to conditions such as tuberculosis, rabies, cholera – In this situation the impact on society outweighs the patient’s autonomy to refuse treatment.

Patients with severe mental health conditions who lack the capacity to consent themselves – there is a fine line between doing something in the best interest of a mentally ill patient and with compassion and justice in mind versus forcing your will on someone. Society has not always gotten this balance right and has historically treated people with mental illnesses appallingly. In modern times, people with severe mental health conditions and lacking the capacity to consent to their treatment can be treated against their will but this is a carefully considered process with checks and balances along the way, time limits, rights to appeal etc. to make sure that doctors and the state are not overstepping their power.

Treating someone under 16 – Consent for treatment can be gained from a young person if they are sufficiently capable of making this decision or from their legal guardians. In some situations, it is possible to act against the will of a young person or their parent’s wishes if it is in their best interest, e.g. to provide a life-saving blood transfusion to a young child whose parents are refusing as they are Jehovah’s Witnesses. We deal with issues such as when can a young persons consent or non-consent to treatment be followed and when can in it be overridden in two medicine interview questions in the medical ethics questions and answers section. Firstly the medicine interview question about a 14-year-old girl seeking an abortion and also in the question about the Jehovah’s Witness who refuses a blood transfusion (specifically under the subsection “what would happen if the patient was a child?”).

Is severely ill and living in unhygienic conditions – under the National Assistance Act 1948; a person who is severely ill or infirm and is living in unsanitary conditions can be taken to a place of care without their consent

To make your answer stand out you can include examples you have seen in your experience or read about.

Common Mistakes to avoid when answering this Medicine interview question

Panicking if you do not know the answer – Interviewers do not expect you to know everything and understand that you are nervous. Where not knowing something becomes a real problem is if you become flustered or show no self-awareness that you do not know something, as this reflects poorly on your character. However, if you can stay calm in such situations and say that you do not know the answer and that it is something you will go and learn about after the interview, then this should not be a significant problem.

What is this Medicine interview question trying to assess?

This is a simple factual medicine interview questions designed to assess your background knowledge about medicine. Having a background knowledge implies that your decision to study medicine is a well-informed one based on research, not merely a burning desire and that your motivations are genuine. Additionally, this medicine interview question will allow you to demonstrate your explanation skills.

How to approach answering this Medicine interview question

When answering this medicine interview question, after explaining what the BMA is, you can mention that the public have become more aware of the BMA due to the recent junior doctor strikes as the BMA played a prominent role in this. You could also mention that the BMA produce the BMJ which you have previously read. Notice how these two topics are not part of the original question but wording your answer to bring up these topics demonstrates that you have further background knowledge about medicine. A medicine interview is in some ways like a driving test; you must make it obvious to the examiner that you possess certain skills. Make sure when applying this technique to a medicine interview question, you still answer the original question. If you raise other topics, you should be comfortable talking about them as you may be asked further questions.

Background Information – What is the BMA?

In a nutshell:

The trade union and professional body for doctors. Over two-thirds of practising doctors are members. Many medical students are too. Membership is voluntary. In junior years membership is sometimes free, or a small amount.

In more detail:

The BMA represents the interests of doctors and medical students. They campaign and lobby on behalf of the medical professions and give recommendations to the government. For example, they negotiated the junior doctor’s contract with the government which covered doctors pay and working conditions. They provide extensive support, advice and training for all aspects of a medical professional’s career. This can include employment advice, help with workplace disputes, extensive training, education and professional development, services for health and well-being.

What is the BMJ? (British Medical Journal)

Part of the BMA, the BMJ is the company that produces various medical journals and educational products and services. It also produces the self-named BMJ or British Medical Journal which is one of the most widely read and respected medical journals in the world. Often when people say the BMJ or “do you read the BMJ?” they are referring to the journal rather than the company. Content can be read online, in paper journals or on the mobile apps. They also produce the student BMJ, which is read by many medical students. It would be worthwhile reading the student BMJ from time to time. Content in the BMJ will typically reflect current medical news.

Common Mistakes to avoid when answering this Medicine interview question

Panicking if you do not know the answer – Interviewers do not expect you to know everything and understand that you are nervous. Where not knowing something becomes a real problem is if you become flustered or show no self-awareness that you do not know something, as this reflects poorly on your character. However, if you can stay calm in such situations and say that you do not know the answer and that it is something you will go and learn about after the interview, then this should not be a significant problem.

What is this Medicine interview question trying to assess?

This is a simple factual medicine interview questions designed to assess your background knowledge about medicine. Having a background knowledge implies that your decision to study medicine is a well-informed one based on research, not merely a burning desire and that your motivations are genuine. Additionally, this medicine interview question will allow you to demonstrate your explanation skills.

How to approach answering this Medicine interview question

As well as knowing what the GMC is, you should read some of their guidance in preparation for your medicine interview, including “Good Medical Practice” to gain an understanding of the types of behaviours and attitudes expected of doctors. It will greatly help when asked about medical ethics questions and you may even be directly asked if you had read this document. You can mention that you have read this in your answer, even though this was not specifically asked as doing so highlights that you have done your research and is still on topic.

Background Information – Who are the GMC?

The GMC is a regulatory body designed to protect patients. They do this by:

  • Deciding which doctors are qualified to work in the UK – to practice as a doctor in the UK, it is mandatory to be registered with the GMC. The GMC maintains a list of who can practice Medicine in the UK. If you have ever heard of a doctor being “struck off”, it is a reference to being removed from this list and no longer having a license to practice Medicine in the UK.
  • Setting standards that doctors need to follow throughout their career (e.g. Good Medical Practice, professionalism, confidentiality, keeping skills and knowledge up to date)
  • Where necessary, taking action to prevent a doctor from putting the safety of patients, or the public’s confidence in doctors, at risk, e.g. by suspending or removing their licence to practice.
  • Setting standards for medical schools and postgraduate education including judging if a medical school’s curriculum is acceptable

Many other professions have regulating bodies which have similar functions to the GMC. For example, the General Dental Council or the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Doctors pay an annual fee to the GMC which helps the GMC pay for its costs. The GMC help doctors by providing educational materials and guidance, but their ultimate aim is to protect the public. Doctors instead have different bodies such as the BMA to look after their interests.

Common Mistakes to avoid when answering this Medicine interview question

Panicking if you do not know the answer – Interviewers do not expect you to know everything and understand that you are nervous. Where not knowing something becomes a real problem is if you become flustered or show no self-awareness that you do not know something, as this reflects poorly on your character. However, if you can stay calm in such situations and say that you do not know the answer and that it is something you will go and learn about after the interview, then this should not be a significant problem.

What is this Medicine interview question trying to assess?

This medicine interview question is designed to assess your background knowledge about medical issues, in this case, the importance of confidentiality. Having a background knowledge implies that your decision to study medicine is a well-informed one based on research, not merely a burning desire and that your motivations are genuine. Additionally, you can demonstrate your explanation skills.

This question was part of a number of questions asked in one MMI station at Sheffield Medical School. It has also been asked in panel interviews as a standalone medical school interview question.

How to approach answering this Medicine interview question

In answering this medicine interview question, you should try and demonstrate why confidentiality is important in medicine and the reasoning behind breaking it. You can make your answer more personal by including something you saw in your work experience. It does not have to be something exciting, a routine case would do. Below is the background information needed to answer this medical school interview question.

Why is confidentiality important?

Confidential medical care is recognised by law to be in the public interest as it benefits society as well as the individual if people are confident in accessing good medical healthcare. Members of the public are less likely to underreport symptoms or avoid obtaining medical help if they are not worried that their information could be disclosed to others or not handled carefully. It also benefits doctors as confidentiality ensures that patients are more likely to tell doctors all the facts, which helps doctors in their decision making as they do not need to always second guess if the patient is withholding or misrepresenting information due to patients not trusting them.

Why should confidentiality be broken?

There are, however, instances where the public interest outweighs an individual’s right to confidentiality. For example, if it is in the case of preventing a serious crime (it would not usually be justified for smaller crimes, i.e. it would be very unlikely that you would break the confidentiality of someone who takes drugs) or at the request of a court order, or to protect the best interests of a young or vulnerable person (e.g. if they are being abused). Even this is a careful process where doctors must make sure it is indeed justified to break confidentiality and doing so is better than the other options.

Where acceptable and practical, doctors usually try to encourage the patient to disclose matters to the relevant body themselves. For example, if someone cannot drive due a medical condition, but the doctor sees that they have driven to your GP practice, the doctor should encourage the patient to disclose this to the DVLA themselves. If the doctor is forced to make the disclosure themselves, then they should, where acceptable and practical, inform the patient that they will be doing this. These actions are to maintain the trust between doctors and patients.

Read our analysis of the question about a 14-year girl requesting an abortion. It is under the ethics and critical thinking section. There we cover some of the issues about confidentiality for young people. In the case of children, generally you would respect their confidentiality (you should explore why they want to keep things from their parents) if they have Gillick Competence (discussed in that question), and their parents do not automatically have a right to access their medical records. However, you also need to consider the best interests of young people, meaning there are many instances where you will have to break the confidentiality of young people if it is in their best interest and to protect them from harm or abuse. This may include involving the police or social services. Again, where acceptable and appropriate you should inform the person you are doing this.

Common Mistakes to avoid when answering this Medicine interview question

Panicking if you do not know the answer – Interviewers do not expect you to know everything and understand that you are nervous. Where not knowing something becomes a real problem is if you become flustered or show no self-awareness that you do not know something, as this reflects poorly on your character. However, if you can stay calm in such situations and say that you do not know the answer and that it is something you will go and learn about after the interview, then this should not be a significant problem.

What is this Medicine interview question trying to assess?

This is a simple factual medicine interview questions designed to assess your background knowledge about medicine. Having a background knowledge implies that your decision to study medicine is a well-informed one based on research, not merely a burning desire and that your motivations are genuine. Additionally, this medicine interview question will allow you to demonstrate your explanation skills.

Example of an answer to this medicine interview question

“Antibiotic resistance is a microorganism’s resistance to an antibiotic that was previously able to treat an infection by that microorganism. It occurs naturally but is being accelerated by the widespread use of antibiotics in humans and in agriculture. It is one of the biggest threats to global health and food security today. I remember reading about infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and gonorrhoea all developing multidrug-resistant strains and of course superbugs such as MRSA. This is made worse by the fact research is not producing many new antibiotics or viable replacements. People are using antibiotics in some cases where they are not required or in excess, inappropriately like not finishing their courses, or using the wrong kind. I remember a while ago seeing in a documentary how in some countries very strong antibiotics can simply be bought over the counter and even in single doses, not the full courses.

In my work experience at the hospital, I saw how infection control measures like handwashing were really important in stopping the spread of bugs. At the GP, I saw how the GP would use good communication skills to help explain to patients why antibiotics were not needed in their case. Also, the GP would make sure that patients knew about finishing their course of antibiotics even if they started to feel better and explained the rationale behind this, so patients were more likely to do so and felt more involved in their care. They would also use “safety netting”, to explain some “red flag symptoms” patients should look out for and in what cases they should come back or seek further care. Apart from better management of our use of antibiotics, there are steps governments can take such as regulating antibiotic use in agriculture and funding research into alternatives.”

Analysis

This is an excellent answer to this medicine interview question. The candidate appears very knowledgeable about the subject even though they have spoken about it in quite general terms, without becoming very specific about the minutiae. It would still be a very strong answer if all the points were not included. If you are unable to talk about a topic in as much detail as this, that is fine, but by using general language like this, coupled with some interview techniques and practice, you can talk about a wide range of topics in an informed manner.

Notice how the candidate has managed to include their work experience in this answer too, even though it was not asked. As the work experience is in a related area to the topic, it demonstrates to interviewers that the candidate can relate their knowledge to their real-life experiences.

For further information about antibiotic resistance visit:

http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/antibiotic-resistance 

Common Mistakes to avoid when answering this Medicine interview question

Panicking if you do not know the answer – Interviewers do not expect you to know everything and understand that you are nervous. Where not knowing something becomes a real problem is if you become flustered or show no self-awareness that you do not know something, as this reflects poorly on your character. However, if you can stay calm in such situations and say that you do not know the answer and that it is something you will go and learn about after the interview, then this should not be a significant problem.