9th December 2021
Role plays are a common feature of MMIs, and it’s likely you will face a scenario with an actor posing as a patient or someone you know. Follow these tips from Sharon to maximise your interview prep and improve your performance at MMI role play stations.

Be Aware Of Your Role

At this type of MMI station, you will be given a particular role to play. For example, you could be told that you’re playing a Doctor or a Med student, or it could be a non-medical scenario where you are the other person’s friend or neighbour.

It’s important that you stay within the remit of your role, and you should also try to get into character. So if you are supposed to be the other person’s friend, you should be friendly to the actor in the same way that you would with a friend in real life. This will improve your performance in the role play as it shows that you’re enthusiastic and have understood the scenario.

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Use A Structured Approach To Break Bad News

You might be given a scenario where you’re asked to break bad news to someone, e.g. you are the hockey captain and have to reject your best friend from the team. In this type of scenario, you can use the SPIKES framework to structure your approach and stay focused.

SPIKES stands for:

  • Setting the scene – e.g. if the news is shocking or upsetting, you might want the other person to be sat down
  • Perception – see what they already think about the situation
  • Invitation – warn them that you are about to break some bad news
  • Knowledge – give them the information
  • Emotions and empathy – respond to their reaction, e.g. sadness/shock
  • Strategy or summary – try to think of solutions to help them

Make It A Conversation

Since you only have a certain amount of time at the station, you might feel tempted to convey all of the information to the other person in one big block of speech – but you should avoid doing this. It’s intended to be a conversation, so you need to give the other person a chance to speak as well.

Sometimes silence on your part can be helpful because it gives the other person an opportunity to give you information that you can work with. Also be careful not to interrupt them. Focus on listening to what they are saying and try to respond to them with empathy.

See more tips for breaking bad news at MMIs in this blog.

Think About Non-Verbal Communication Too

Make sure you have open body language which invites the other person to speak to you. This is important due to the sensitive nature of the information you are conveying. Also nod your head to show the other person that you are listening to them.

Despite how awkward you might feel doing this station, try to maintain eye contact with the other person, as you would with a patient or friend in real life, and try not to come across like you’re embarrassed.

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Don’t Forget To Apologise

Many role play stations involve a scenario where you have made a mistake. For example, you have lost your friend’s dog and need to explain this to them. In these situations, it’s important that you acknowledge your mistake and apologise to the other person.

The other person will likely be very distressed, so don’t try to overcomplicate things. It’s best to apologise and then try to come up with solutions to help overcome the problem.

Practise

Role play stations can be daunting because they’re unlike anything you’ve done before as part of your school exams. However, because the scenarios don’t require any advanced medical knowledge, you can easily practise with friends or family members.

Find example role play scenarios online, and use these to practise and improve your confidence dealing with this type of station. This will help you to feel more prepared and less nervous when it comes to your real interview.

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