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5 Tips: Medical Ethics Interview Checklist

Medical interviews can be a stressful experience and ethical scenarios and questions are certainly one of the tougher topics you may have to discuss!

Your interviewer will not be trying to catch you out, but rather they are trying to understand how you approach difficult situations. By preparing in advance and remembering a few important tips, you can ace your ethics questions and really impress your interviewer!   

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1. Try to avoid expressing your opinion straight away

Whilst it can be tempting to launch straight into your personal opinions about abortion or euthanasia, this is not what your interviewers are looking for.

When asked an ethics question, the best thing to do is to pause, fully process the question and think about why they have asked you it. Only then will you be able to answer the question fully, taking a logical approach and showing your insight into tough ethical dilemmas.  

How much do you know about medical ethics? Take the quiz!>>

2. Present a balanced argument

When answering ethical questions, it is important to show that you have considered all possible viewpoints. Showing that you appreciate different standpoints on an issue and weighing them up is a great skill to show-off to your interviewer!

It can often be helpful to start by acknowledging that the issue is debated and that many different viewpoints exist. You can then go on to explain these different viewpoints, discussing similarities and differences between the various views.

Read our guide to medical ethics>>

3. Use the four ethical pillars

The following four ethical pillars are a group of values that can be applied to most ethical scenarios:

Using these principles can be really helpful when answering almost any medical ethics question, especially if you get a bit stuck!

By systematically expressing whether a particular viewpoint on an issue complies with these ethical pillars, you can evaluate the positive and negatives of that particular standpoint.

This will allow you to come to a conclusion (if needed) about how you can best deal with the situation that has been presented to you by your interviewer.

Read our guide to autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice>>

4. Prepare for common ethical scenarios  

There are certain ethical dilemmas that are more likely to be discussed with you. These could include: euthanasia, abortion, organ transplantation, capacity to consent in minors and confidentiality.

As these subjects are so important, doing your research before you interview and having a good idea of what you would talk about can be really helpful!

For example, researching and understanding Gillick competence will really impress your interviewers if you are asked about consent in under 16s – and having an understanding on the UK policy on organ donation may also be useful for discussing organ donation issues.

Additionally, practising applying the four ethical pillars to these scenarios will also be a really good way to prepare.

Whilst doing the research and reading around the topics can be helpful, real practice of discussing these issues can be even more helpful.

Asking your friends and family to ask you some questions about these topics can help you understand how you structure your speech and you may get lucky and cover some questions that your interviewer actually asks you!  

Read how to answer medical ethics questions in an interview>>

5. Stay calm

Ethical scenarios will always be some of the trickier questions you will be asked in your interview. It is understandable to be nervous.

Just remember that your interviewers are not looking for you to understand every possible viewpoint and every legal aspect of certain scenarios. But by showing you have considered more than one point of view and can weigh them up, e.g. by using the ethical pillars, you can show your interviewer that you can think critically and understand complex issues.

By staying calm and speaking slowly with small pauses to process your thoughts, you can answer the question to the best of your ability and really impress your interviewer.

Preparing in advance will also make you feel much more confident and help your nerves not to get the better of you.

Finally, good luck!

Words: Gemma White

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