Written by Jordan Truong
Barts typically uses a panel-style interview format, which is great news for students who might prefer a slower-paced session (compared to MMIs) and the chance to take part in a more engaging discussion with their future lecturers! Carefully targeting my preparation and keeping some key prompt points in mind greatly improved my performance and landed me a place on the MBBS program! Recounting my experience below will hopefully help some of you as well, and calm some nerves for the big day itself.
Barts interviews are unique in that attached to the interview invitation, is some assigned reading on a medical/NHS ‘hot topic’, which will form the basis of your discussion with them. Make sure you take the time before the panel to fully read the article back-to-back, identifying the key message, along with any points you can take away and elaborate on later. Printing the document out and annotating your notes along the margins is a great way to keep everything together while making sure you’re fully engaged with the reading!
Researching the science and biomedical concepts behind the subject of the article is also a great way to keep yourself engaged and showcase your analytical and problem-solving skills!
A great place to get started is to look up any statistics or further studies related to the topic; this puts everything in context, helps you critique the article and is a surefire way to impress your interviewers. If you have time, you could also consider how you could apply the pillars of medical ethics to the topic in question.
It’s safe to say that Medicine can be a fairly contentious subject at the best of times, and that’s not even factoring in the ethical and social issues brought up by issues like vaccines and euthanasia! However, it’s imperative that you take a balanced and objective approach to the interview discussion; carefully weighing up opposing views while considering them with equal weight can be challenging, and that’s exactly what the interviewers will be looking out for!
This may seem counterproductive, given my last point. But once you’ve weighed up all the possible viewpoints in the discussion, it’s better to give an opinion than sit on the fence.
Having a definitive conclusion for yourself, that you can then explain to the panel based on your prior understanding of the article and your own experiences, will take you far. After all, half the job of a Doctor is to make sure that their decisions are as informed as possible, and then also stick to them!
If you can link your answers to the scientific or ethical issues from the article, your expectations of a career in Medicine or the qualities needed by a Doctor, you’ll undoubtedly be placed in the top tier of interviewees.
For example, describing the challenges posed in the clinic by ‘anti-vaxxers’ could then be linked to how Doctors must always show professionalism and maintain confidentiality; this then builds trust and confidence in the profession while also perhaps allaying some fears people have of modern Medicine. Expanding and developing your answers this way will go far to demonstrate that you’re informed about the responsibilities and challenges of a medical career.
Academic aptitude isn’t everything; above all, Medical School admissions staff are looking for well-rounded people who can effectively balance their university studies with their personal and social lives. That’s because those with a healthy work-life balance are less likely to burn out both as a student and as a Doctor.
In particular, you should consider how you can actively contribute to life within the Medical School when taking a break from studies, as this shows you are a team player who is also active within your local community.
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