Most MMIs will have at least one role-play station and these often seem scary. But these stations aren’t about you showing off your Oscar-winning acting chops, they’re in fact testing how well you can deal with people and difficult situations. Below are some common role-play scenarios and ideas on how to approach them to help you in your MMI.
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This is a super common station. The scenario can be anything, from a patient who’s angry at how long they’ve been waiting in A&E to an angry customer at the cafe you work at.
First of all, you must keep your cool throughout. The actor will try to provoke you but if you continue to keep calm you will find that they will begin to reflect your demeanour. Once they’ve calmed down a bit they’ll be much easier to talk to.
Be careful of patronising the actor. Don’t belittle their problem or make them feel like you think they’re overreacting. Think about what phrases you can use to show them that you are listening and taking their concerns seriously.
Even though it’s important to be confident throughout your whole interview, it’s especially so in this scenario. If you are too apologetic or unsure of yourself the actor will see you as an easy target to throw their anger at. But don’t be overconfident and come across as aloof – this will only add fuel to the fire. Work on finding a balance between being assertive yet sincere.
You may have come across ICE during your interview prep. It’s an acronym for ideas, concerns and expectations and med schools love it.
You should use ICE every time you speak to a patient to find out:
Ideas: does the patient have any ideas regarding their condition/ situation?
Concerns: what is worrying the patient?
Expectations: what is the patient expecting to gain from this consultation?
This may seem fairly simple but it can be difficult to get patients/the actor to give you their personal thoughts. This means you’ll need to be persistent, but not pushy. Ask open questions which will encourage the actor to talk.
Pick up on the cues they give you. For example if the actor says they are concerned because they feel tired all the time, don’t just leave it at that. Probe further, ask why they feel tired and how long have they been feeling this way and so on.
In this station, you may also be given an actor who talks at a hundred miles an hour nonstop. You’ll need to find ways to keep the conversation on track so that you can complete ICE within the time limit of the station. Think of how you can steer the conversation without seeming rude or breaking the rapport you’ve built up with the actor.
A tough but common one. It can be anything from telling a neighbour that their pet has been run over to explaining to your bestie that they’ve been dropped from the sports team you both play for.
First of all you will need to foreshadow and prepare the person for the bad news. Make sure that you are both seated. Consider the wording you want to use – for example, something along the lines of ‘I have something to tell you, it’s about XYZ’. Whatever you decide to say though, you need to feel comfortable saying it or they may feel like your sympathy isn’t real.
Your non-verbal communication and empathy skills are incredibly important in this station. Make good eye contact and soften the tone of your voice. But, as with the first station, avoid being patronising. You don’t know how the actor will react to the bad news and you really don’t want to anger them.
After breaking the bad news, the actor may be quiet. Allow the silence and don’t feel pressured into filling it with small talk. Giving the actor time to take in the news is about as important as actually breaking the news.
Wondering how to respond to role play situations? See our example MMI questions and answers in our Interview Question Bank>>
These are just three common scenarios and there are many more that can come up. You can apply the tips above to pretty much any scenario they give you. But a final top tip for you all: forget that this is role-play and think about what you would actually do if this was a real life situation.
Created by doctors, our MMI Circuit is designed to recreate a real MMI interview experience through 20 practice MMI stations, including MMI role play scenarios, providing you with comprehensive feedback.