Medical School Interview: Strong Applicant


David, hello. Dr Agrawal, How do you do? Very well, thanks. Nice to meet you. Excellent. So how was your journey today? It was good, thanks. Good. We’d like to get to know you a bit better. So why do you want to do medicine? Well, it’s something that I’ve thought for quite a number of years. I’m really interested in science. I’ve been interested in doing some of the sort of practical applications of science. I’ve done a lot of work experience recently and I’ve really enjoyed all the different parts of medicine that I’ve seen in that. So it’s really just reinforced that. Tell me about this work experience. You seem to enjoy it. Well, quite a few different things. The biggest one… I was in hospital for a bit of time with the surgical team in ENT. Okay. What did you see? Oh, quite a lot really. They were really good. They gave me a chance to get involved, so go to theatre and see some of the procedures, see some patients going through the clinic and then sort of watch what happened to them. It just seemed like I could see a lot of what the team was…going on with the team. I could the see the difference it made and it seemed really interesting. It was interesting going through the procedure and how it would work, did a lot of theory behind it. Good. So you were with the ENT team learning, but were you actually doing anything? Not really. It was very much risk observation, to be honest. They were always trying to involve me. Kind of answer my questions and talk about it. I didn’t really get the chance to do anything practical, so to speak. Okay. So that’s something you’d be interesting in as a career? Possibly, yeah. I mean it’s still early to say. I want to make sure I’ve seen a good sample of everything first. I want to make sure I’ve seen a good sample of everything first. Yes. But it’s definitely something… Well, from what I’ve seen so far I’d be interested in. It was a really fascinating speciality. So would you ever consider other specialities, such as nursing for example? Well, I haven’t so much thought of nursing. Why is that? I mean it’s a really worthwhile job, nurses are hugely important. Absolutely. A very important job in hospitals, but I’m sort of bridging on from the scientific ends. I’d like a bit more of an intellectual challenge. But why not be a scientist? It’s a fair career path, but from what I’ve seen from my work experience, I’d like to work in a hospital. It’ seems really worthwhile thing to do. It seems a good kind of applied science. The application of sciences is something I feel like a good job. Good. And so why have you applied here specifically? Well, a few reasons. I’d really like to be… I’d do the integrated course with early patient contact. That’s something that really appeals to me, especially having went through my work experience seeing… being with patients and seeing sort of the clinical side of their… It just… I think a long time to wait. Sort of go through two or three years of just doing science. I really want to get a bit of experience with patients early on. That’s a very fair comment. What disadvantages do you think this course has? I guess from the sort of patient integration sort of thing. Okay, so you obviously approach patients with some knowledge, good background knowledge, so I guess that’s something to… It’s always a balance, but I think on balance I would probably like to see patients as early as possible. So I have to learn those skills as early as possible. So do you think for a doctor it’s more important to be knowledgeable or good with patients? I’m not sure you’d think … Having a good doctor is both from what I’ve seen. All of the doctors I’ve been most impressed with in work experience are those people who you can tell they’re really knowledgeable but the patients seem to connect with them as well. So I think they’re both really important. I don’t have a view point to be able to say. Do you think you can learn to be a good communicator? Do you think you’re born with it? I really don’t know. I mean some people find it easy, so probably just naturals with people and it comes more easily. And again, I’m sure it’s something that you can learn, especially like…I’ve seen some of the ways that doctors approach consultations. Some of the things that really impressed me, so I’m sure they’re skills that over time, with the right kind of training you can improve upon. Absolutely. I mean here we do emphasise communication skills. You get quite a lot of teaching in it. What do you think’s… Obviously medicine is an excellent profession, but what do you think are some of the disadvantages? I guess it can be quite stressful at times. In my work experience in the medical teams, I was in geriatrics and that seemed quite difficult at times. Some of the patients are quite ill and quite difficult family circumstances. It can be quite emotionally difficult, quite stressful. Did you find it emotionally difficult? A little bit. It wasn’t… I wasn’t as directly involved. I could see I would be if I was actually the person responsible, but it did have an effect on me. Well, in 20 years you may be responsible for these people’s care. How would you deal with it? How do you deal with stress at the moment? I think it’s good to have something as well as work. So I mean, at the moment I do quite a lot of music. I sing with my choir. I perform in an orchestra. I think it’s having something where you can sort of go away and relax and take some time away from the work. That can be helpful. I keep things in perceptive and approach each thing fresh and ready. Yeah, I mean I was looking through your personal statement. I noticed you do quite a lot of music. Is that something you’re quite passionate about? It’s just something I really enjoy. I’d like to keep it going as long as possible because I just think having another thing on the side it’s just useful to have. Having the music has helped. I really enjoy it. I’ve performed in… I do a lot of church pieces. I’ve performed in a lot of cathedrals around the UK, occasionally do an overseas performance as well. Okay. Quite an accomplished musician. I want to ask you a bit more about the situations you’ve been in. You’ve obviously done a bit of music. I notice you do a bit of refereeing. Yes. So can you tell me about a situation where you made a difference to the team? I think music’s one of those things where you do notice, especially as a team everyone needs, you know, performing together. You know, in a choir, in an orchestra, in something like that. There are certain times when someone… in a music setting, so like a soloist and like a lot rests on that person because if it’s quite a long solo and no one else who’s prepared who’s practiced it to the same extent. So they’ve got to make sure they’re there and on time and they fit and ready to sing. There can be a bit of pressure for that because you know a lot of people are counting on you being able to do it and no one else can step in. So I think it makes a big difference to the team. So what did you that in that situation? How did you make a difference? I think when you‘re in that position it’s all about preparation. It’s saying that you can’t just turn up and just expect things to go well. You’ve got to make sure you learn the part. Is there any specific instance you’re thinking of? Well, there was quite a big performance, for instance… It was in St Paul’s Cathedral sort of six to seven months ago now. So I had a solo part for that but it was going to be eight or ten minutes of music to learn. Somehow that’s quite a lot. Absolutely. That’s not really a team exercise. What would you say to that? I think it’s a good exercise in the sense… You’re playing one important part of the team as a whole. Like it’s not all about you. It’s about you. It’s about the other soloists. It’s about the whole choir in total. It’s about the accompanists, and it’s just like when you have an important role you have to sort of do your job well but your job alone doesn ’t make it. It’s all how it fits in. It’s making sure you’re prepared so you don’t let the team down. Making sure that everything kind of fits together, no wrong notes. Okay, and obviously you’ve been doing that for a few years now. Is that right? Yeah. That’s great. The next part of the interview I want to talk a bit about the ethical situations you may come across… Okay, yeah. …when you become a junior doctor. Now recently there’s been a lot made of NHS reforms. Do you know anything about the NHS reforms? Well, from what I understand it there’s a lot more controls being given to GP’s. So GP’s are getting more responsibility for how they allocate funds, what treatments are funded and what treatments aren’t funded. So that’s my sort of understanding of the general practice. I was thinking of the overall aims of these reforms, what we’re trying to do with them. A lot of it’s because they need to save money. Yes. So imagine for example you’ve been made the Health Minister. Congratulations! And you’ve found a surplus of one million pounds. Now you’ve got the choice of spending that on…to invest in a MRI machine. Do you know what a MRI machine is? Yes, I saw them last week. In ENT they use it actually for some of the imaging. Exactly, imaging or you can use that one million to perform a few operations. Specifically operations to help…operations with liver transplants. The caveat for those is they’ll only be used for patients who are suffering from alcohol induced liver sclerosis. Okay. And it’s your choice now whether you choose to spend that on the MRI machine or the 50 liver transplants for the alcohol patients. What would you do? So you’ve got a sort of… a hiatus of money and it’s either a MRI machine in a hospital and are there any upkeep costs in that or…? Yes. They’ll be maintained by the NHS Trust. Okay. So you probably…having an MRI machine or you don’t have it and you do the operations? Yes. What would happen if you didn’t do the operations? Do you know anything about people who have liver failure? To the extent that it can regenerate… In these cases with people who require liver transplants they will almost inevitably die if they don’t get that transplant. So I guess, what would you do? Well, I guess it probably think in terms of a time scale because… It would concern me to neglect the transplants that need doing because that’s sort of… That’s 50 people… That’s 50 lives that would be lost if we didn’t go that route. But then again you do have to consider how many people the MRI machine could help. It would help far more. Would it have such a big influence? So if you go with the transplants you’d save people more directly. You’d save 50 people directly. I guess it comes down to sort of how…what the kind of…how useful the MRI machine is. I mean obviously it would be a huge patient group, but how much difference would it make to each one? Sort of balancing the benefits, which one would give more benefit overall. What do you think? It’s hard to say really. I’m always kind of concerned to kind of neglect people who need operations. I always think that…and that’s probably one way I’d be swinging towards doing the operations. Just thinking that for those people it’s really important. They’re defined people whereas for the MRI machine it’s a futuristic sort of thing. Maybe could there be some other way of diagnosing or something. So obviously very hard to say, but maybe I’d lean towards the operations. I just think it’s more direct. It’s doing good more directly to those people. There was a caveat to that question. These people are alcoholic so one could argue it’s self-induced. Would you still do it? It is self- induced, but it’s a really difficult line to draw. If you say, you know, it’s self-induced, that person doesn’t deserve treatment then where do -you draw the line? What about…? It could be smokers. It could be people… It could be anyone. It could be someone doesn’t have a good diet or someone had a sporting injury. I just think it’s really dangerous. Would it be relevant? I feel that it shouldn’t be. So do you think it’s fair that we discriminate or should we aim to treat everyone equally? I think the fairest thing… I mean, it seems to me it’s more fair to treat people based on what they need rather than sort of on the basis of who deserves it. Just to say [? ] Yes. I guess that’s what the reforms are all about. Okay, well let’s move on to the second scenario. So this is not an uncommon situation. So say you’re a junior doctor on call on a busy A&E shift. An ambulance brings in a 16 year old girl. She’s lost a lot of blood because she was involved in a road traffic accident and she needs a blood transfusion urgently. As a good doctor you start the transfusion only to hear her say that she’s a Jehovah’s Witness and doesn’t want the blood transfusion. What would you do? So how old is she? She’s 16? Yes. She’s 16. So she needs the transfusion. She needs the treatment but she’s refusing it? Yes. So if… are the parents around? The parents are on their way but they’re not here. They’ll be about half an hour by which time it may be too late. Okay… So… she’s still a child but is 16 old enough to make those decisions? I know you can consent to treatment if you’re… You have an understanding you can consent to treatment without your parents knowing about it… If you’re less than that [?] So I guess she can refuse if she wanted to. Yes, it’s strange, isn’t it? The way you said it made perfectly logical sense. If you can consent at 16, you can’t refuse treatment if it’s in their best interest and there’s no other person around. So in that case it would be fairly straightforward. You would transfuse. Obviously try and find out and let the parents know. This becomes slightly more complicated if they’re a 28 year old, for example. What would you do then? Well, I guess they do have the right to refuse treatment if they didn’t want it. I mean to make the decision, they’d have to understand the situation, they’d have to understand what the problem is. If, for instance, they thought it was a minor thing and they’re refusing it thinking it was minor when actually it was a really important thing which could potentially have an influence on their life, it wouldn’t then be a valid decision. So to make the decision they would be torn… I guess they could refuse it though. If she knew the consequences and if she knew what the consequence of not having the transfusion, then she decided that she didn’t want it, then she would have the right to refuse it surely. Possibly. That’s all I’ve got time for. Thank you very much for coming down. Thank you. How was that? It was quite tough actually. I thought things started okay because I was prepared for those sorts of questions but I was expecting to be asked why I had applied here, but when it came down to the ethical types of situational things, I found that really hard. They were very tough decisions. I didn’t know how best to approach it. Yeah, they are tough questions. I think I would agree with you. You started off very well, very strong. If anything, you were almost too quick to answer some of the questions. I thought you could take slightly longer. Okay. We were speeding through a lot of the questions initially and it almost gave me the impression you’d rehearsed these a few times too much. But in general your answers to those were very well constructed and quite personal to you, which was very well… you’re quite well spoken. When I asked you about the situation question. I asked you to tell me about a time when you’ve worked in a team well, showed good team work, how did you think that question you were asked… Well, I was trying to think of a circumstance. Team work’s…I do a lot of music and it’s team work, but to think of an exact situation because it’s like…there’s that balance between individual and team work. The more of a team it is the less… potentially the less of a role each individual has. Everyone has the solo parts. I wanted to try and think of something where it was about everyone, but where I had a particular responsibility for a particular role. That’s why I tried to focus it on when I was in St Paul’s Cathedral. Do you think it was quite focused or you could have done better? I took a while to… It did. I kind of felt you were rambling for the first part, not just giving me the… There’s a really simple thing you should do with these. You should set the scene. Say this was my role and this is where I was and this is how I made a difference, and the final points what you learned from it for the future. I did get all the information. It was quite easy to get there, although all over the place. I think just slightly more structured would have been quite good. Okay. Is that fair? I think so. I just…if I felt I had a better structured approach then maybe it would have flowed a bit better. So I started by setting the scene. Yes. And then talk about the situation itself. So what you actually did and then how it made a difference. How it improved. What the result was. You can apply that for all of them, so tell me about good leadership, good communication skills, made a difference in the team That’s really again a complex example of what you did, then all of these are actually very valid. Let’s talk about the ethics. Now the first ethics I think you did… I personally thought you tackled very well. I liked how you got more information out of us, that was very well done. How do you think it went after though? I think the second one, I don’t think I knew exactly the legal stance. I knew about consenting to treatment but in terms of refusal I didn’t know exactly where the legal stance stands. Well, this was an ethical situation question hybrid and before we go on to the Jehovah’s Witness question, I want to go back to the MRI machine. There are a few ethical principles you must know, and if you know those, you know 95 per cent of the ethical questions you’re going to get then. I think I did read something actually. Yeah, it’s a paper written by [?] in 1982. The important thing is there are four or five principles you need to know. Have you heard of them? To do good is better. To avoid harm. The patient has the right to choose, so autonomy. And then the final one – justice. So in those, the best way to do, this will be covered later is to think about which ethical principles are actually valid. So the most important one there, which one do you think it is? I guess it’s avoiding harm Possibly more important? Justice? So you don’t harm them explicitly but I think if you use that framework you’re likely to cover all your bases. So that’s a really useful tip. You said the question. Try and recruit as much information as you can. Pro’s and cons using the ethical framework and then finally give your own opinion, which you did at the end. And then the Jehovah’s Witness, you kind of fell into a trap because you assumed that because they were a Jehovah’s Witness they couldn’t have a blood transfusion. Can you think of any reasons why they wouldn’t want a blood transfusion? Could be like a lack of understanding about the procedure. It could be that they don’t understand it’s important. They think it’s unnecessary. It could be a friend or relative, that sort of… Absolutely, when you’ve lost a lot of blood, you could be quite dizzy or disorientated. You would be very confused or have a fear of needles. These response options. So with the ethics, when you’re asked for information I think the second part was okay. Don’t fall into these traps that are scattered around. But in general I thought it was quite a strong interview. Obviously the first half was more strong than the second, but the second half even then wasn’t by any means weak. But you’ve got things to do to work on. Okay. Any questions? I think that’s really helpful. No problems. Okay, thank you. Take Care

39 thoughts on “Medical School Interview: Strong Applicant

  1. I'm an american applying to schools in america. do you think putting on the british accent will help me charm and arouse the interviewers?

  2. To be fair, I didn't watch much, but he seems very jittery. Also, do they not require suit jacks for interviews in the UK?

  3. Did anyone make out who was the author of the paper that was written in 1982? The interviewer mentioned the name too quickly for me or closed captioning to understand.

  4. The people in this comments section who are grilling this guy have probably never been interviewed by a med school. It's a difficult situation that you can't prepare for and this interviewee did well based on the questions he was asked.

  5. I would absolutely suck at the team work/ leadership question. I don't like to lead people if I'm not an expert it's like I would be telling people how to do things that I don't even know is the correct thing.

  6. The world sucks nowadays with its overrated academic filters to weed out average people from jobs. They want extroverted leadership skills yet they want introverted listening skills and they want only the highest academics yet they want to use the amazing discoveries and inventions of average people of the past that would not make the cut in today's med school.

  7. I understand he's a strong applicant but his answer to the challenges of medicine was really odd. Dealing with older patients and death? I mean everyone in the medical field will have to deal with that – from nurses to dentists. Wouldn't the tough hours and high work load be a better answer? I mean no offence but maybe he got into Cambridge because he's book smart.

  8. So not all liver transplants will be successful, there is a high risk of rejection – why would you risk wasting 1 million dollars.

  9. Have only had one interview – which was the one that got me into med school and it was nothing like this. Most schools (including mine) now use a MMI format where you go through multiple stations. I was asked 1-4 questions per station, with 6 stations in total. Every candidate received the same questions. This keeps the interview fair and by having multiple stations if you screw up you start the next station fresh!

  10. are the NHS reforms he talked about (GPs having more control) still applicable now? I think I watched a video a while ago that said GPs didn't want the responsibility anymore

  11. To those commenting on his clothes I would quote from Cambridges interview letter – wear whatever you want, we are assessing your potential to be a doctor, not whether you prefer H&M to Topshop

    That made me laugh, and relax a bit

  12. He has the personality of a piece of cardboard, he should smile, and look happy about being there and whats to come

  13. I love that I can confidently answer all these questions like a professional….by myself, but I KNOW as soon as I face a panel of experts I freeze up and forget how to talk.

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