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Medical school interviews are daunting and there’s no denying that.
Having been on both sides of the panel, as an interviewer and interviewee, I'm in an excellent position to advise you on common themes and questions that are repeated time and time again!
Whilst it's important not to over-rehearse in preparation for your interivew, being aware of the common tropes in questions is a good strategy for focussing your preperation. I've summaraised 4 key areas for you to focus on as international students. This is no means an exhaustive list however it's a good starting point and remember that you can contact me anytime for more information!
Open questions are a double edged sword. You're able to express the full depth and breathde of your knowledge and all of your hard work and research will seemingly pay off. However, as tempting as it is to immedatly spout off the full history of the NHS from conception to current times, this isn't what examiners are looking for. They will expect a structured answer with the basic facts.
a. Meets everyone’s needs
b. Free at the point of delivery
c. Based on the clinical needs of the patient rather than the ability to pay
a. A patient goes to their GP complaining of tiredness, weight gain and an inability to tolerate cold weather. The GP conducts a blood test and suspects the patient of having thyroid issues.
b. The GP refers this patient to an endocrinologist, who prescribes medication. However, after 2 years of treatment the endocrinologist discovers a potentially cancerous mass in the patient’s neck.
c. The endocrinologist refers the patient to a specialized surgeon to remove the mass.
a. If you're doing interviews in multiples countries in the UK, remember that not all NHS care carries over.
b. Research some key differences between Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England
This question is a great opportunity for you to bring in any work experience you've had in your home country as well as demonstrate your knowledge of the NHS. If you were able to shadow a doctor in a hospital or GP in your home country. This is a nice segue into comparing healthcare systems on a more personal level.
For instance, if your home country charges for prescriptions without exceptions, you can comment on how this isn’t the case in UK and give some reasons as to which policy you think is more beneficial.
This isn’t about which healthcare system is ‘better’ but about comparing and contrasting.
a. Is healthcare seen as a ‘right’.
b. Do religious or cultural influences determine how healthcare is regarded by the public or provided by the government?
c. Do cultural influences determine how healthcare is regarded by the public or provided by the government?
This is another open question, don’t be afraid to mix personal reasons with professional ones.
If you’re from a small country or have lived somewhere for a long time, moving to a new country for university is a chance to gain valuable life experience that you won’t receive at home.
Be sure to give examples during your explanation and be knowledgeable on them. There will be most likely be follow up questions if the interviewer doesn’t think you’re being specific enough.
a. The opportunity for research in specific field
b. Specific career ideas that you have in mind
c. Accreditation, a medical degree from the UK is widely accepted and recognized
You don’t have to decide on a particular field yet, that’s what medical school is for! But based on your work experience and your own research, it’s fine to have some ideas of what interests you.
Universities are aware that international students have unique circumstances when it comes to social support and family network. They want to know that you’re aware of the adjustment and that you’ve considered all the pros and cons.
a. Do you have hobbies or sports that you are passionate about? These will offer a good distraction.
b. Does the university in particular offer any societies that you’ll be interested in?
c. How do you plan to communicate with your family and friends back home, are you aware of the time zone changes?
I hope that advice has been useful! Remember to check out my profile on TAG if you have any other questions about applying to medical school as an International Student!