Personal insight is your self awareness: the knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses, and how you deal with pressure. In many Medical School interview questions, you’ll be asked to give some personal insight. In this blog we look at three reasons why having personal insight is important, and three ways that can help you demonstrate it.
Why is personal insight important?
1. It enables you to be able to continually work towards improving your practice and thereby patient care
During your time at medical school and once you become a doctor, you will be asked to keep a portfolio and to reflect on your experiences. You will need to think back on your interactions with patients and think about what went well and where you could have improved. To be able to do this well requires the ability to look at the situation critically and objectively. You also need to be able to look at yourself, critically and objectively. Think ‘what can I do better? How can I be better?’.
By showing that you are able to engage in this type of self reflection, you are showing the interviewers in your medical school interview that you are committed to continual professional development.
2. It enables you to not lose sight of what you are doing well
This means that you can identify both your strengths and weaknesses. It also gives you the chance to show that you are willing to take action to work on your self-perceived weaknesses. Remember, however, that it is also important to recognise your strengths, and to keep doing what you are doing well.
3. It helps you know the limits of your competence and know when to ask for help that is essential for patient safety
Knowing which areas you find more than difficult than others will enable you to ask for help when you need it. One of the key duties of a doctor is to recognise the limits of your competence and only act within that competence.
How can you demonstrate this?
1. Keep a portfolio and reflect on your experiences before starting Medical School
Keep a record of all your experiences, including your work experience, any extracurricular activities and any situations in which you were part of a team or led a team. Reflect on your role and on what you felt comfortable doing in these types of scenarios. This will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. For example, do you feel comfortable leading a team? Do you feel comfortable speaking in large groups? What kinds of situations do you find stressful or pressurised? How do you deal with that stress? Do you think you have good coping mechanisms? How have you dealt with stressful situations in the past? These are just some of the questions you can utilise to gain further personal insight.
2. Ask your teachers, friends and family to help you prepare for your medical school interview
Ask people who know you well what they consider to be your strengths and weaknesses and ask them to be as honest as possible.
Getting feedback on your weaker areas can potentially be uncomfortable for you to hear. However, remember you will be receiving feedback from all your colleagues in the multidisciplinary team throughout your career during the process of re-validation.
3. What are you doing to work on your weaker areas?
Once you have identified some of your weaker areas, think about ways in which you can take action to help improve them. For example, if you feel you aren’t as good at public speaking as you might perhaps like, what can you do about this? Can you seek out more opportunities to speak in public and gain confidence?
Stay tuned for more tips, and good luck preparing for your medical school interview!
Uploaded by Beth on 17th December, 2015
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