So, you’ve decided to embark on a career in medicine — fantastic! Now, more than ever, the NHS needs skilled, compassionate, and dedicated people like yourself so that we can begin to address the worst healthcare workforce crisis in modern history. But if you’re going to pursue a career in medicine, you’ll first need to be accepted to study at a medical school.
As you already may be aware, there are two main interview formats in the medical school application process: the organised “panel” interview and the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI). Although certain medical schools (such as Swansea, Glasgow, and Oxbridge) still use the former method, most now solely use MMIs for admittance.
Here we break down what they are and how to prepare for one.
The MMI might be mini by name, but it is not to be underestimated. As the third and final stage in a tougher-than-tough admissions process, students that do well here will have a high chance of making it into their dream medical school.
The MMI consists of a series of assessments, or “stations”, each lasting around 10 minutes at most. Together, the six to ten stations assess your capabilities in a broad range of areas, including:
- Motivation for medicine
- Personal statement
- Work experience
- Evidence of soft-skills
- Evidence of tactile skills
- Ethical awareness
As the format varies widely from university to university, we recommend checking with your top choice medical school for details on what to expect from the process well before you attend the interview.
Medical interviewers are not only testing your knowledge, but also your poise, intuition, and reasoning skills by seeing how you react to a range of tough and unfamiliar questions. During the interview, finding the sweet spot between knowledge demonstration and theoretical application is essential for success.
We advise starting with frequently asked questions and noting your responses to each. Then, practise articulating these answers out loud as clearly, confidently and concisely as possible. For instance, the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) is a tried-and-true way to answer competency or behavioural-based interview questions, such as “can you tell me about a time when you demonstrated leadership skills?”
If, however, you find yourself struggling to nail your interview technique, want to get a taste of the kinds of questions you can expect, or could benefit from some constructive feedback, medical application tutors can be an invaluable asset. 6med, for example, offers tailored mock interview sessions throughout the year, that are run by “knowledgeable medical tutors to give you expert feedback after each mock interview.”
In the NHS, a commitment to ethical behaviour is essential to providing excellent care. Therefore, it isn’t hard to see why universities often prioritise applicants with a demonstrated ability to apply basic ethical concepts in real-world situations.
One or more of the interview stations will likely include questions on medical principles. You might, for example, be asked to debate a topical dilemma, such as “should euthanasia be legalised in the UK?” or “is it right for doctors to go on strike?” Alternatively, you may be asked to list the qualities that make a good doctor or to define your understanding of autonomy — one of the four core principles of medical ethics.
Naturally, you will be unable to prepare an answer for every possible question you could be asked. However, there are many helpful resources available that can prepare you on a broader scale, from being in tune with the NHS News, to thorough reading of the General Medical Council’s Good Medical Practice.
In one (or more) of your MMI stations, you will be required to roleplay a hypothetical scenario with an actor. Like the other stations, this will last up to ten minutes and is purposefully constructed to demonstrate your communication skills and practice of empathy.
Frequently, applicants will be required to act as doctors that have to deliver difficult news, such as unfortunate test results to a patient. However, you can be put in other scenarios, such as speaking to a friend, family member, or colleague about a challenging topic, or even diffusing a fictional conflict.
When practising how to break bad news to patients and their loved ones, we suggest adopting the SPIKES approach: Setting, Perception, Invitation, Knowledge, Emotion, and Summary. Don’t worry, you won’t need an Oscar award-winning performance to wow the admissions team here, however, eye contact, an appropriate tone of voice, and a bit of compassionate improvisation, will go a long way.