During medical school interviews, discussing teamwork is an important aspect that showcases your ability to work effectively in a collaborative healthcare environment. Medical schools want to assess your interpersonal skills, leadership potential, communication abilities, and your understanding of the importance of teamwork in providing quality patient care.
Reflect on your experiences and be prepared to provide specific examples that demonstrate your teamwork skills and highlight your ability to contribute effectively to a collaborative healthcare environment.
The reason why you’re so likely to get asked about teamwork in Medical School interviews is that Medicine is a team sport.
As a doctor, you will work with many different people in the ‘multi-disciplinary team’ (MDT), including Nurses and Allied Health professionals. It’s important to recognise this and address it in your interview.
Teamwork can sometimes involve conflicts or disagreements. Demonstrate your ability to handle conflicts constructively by discussing situations where you successfully resolved conflicts or worked through challenges within a team setting. Emphasize your ability to listen, understand different perspectives, and find mutually beneficial solutions.
Leadership skills are also important in Medicine, but remember that you’re going to spend many years of your career as a member of a team and not the leader. Being able to work in a team and carry out assigned tasks efficiently is a key skill to develop and something you should definitely talk about at interview.
If you have a team task to complete, one way you can show leadership constructively is to include someone who might be feeling left out or need some more encouragement to speak.
For example, if someone hasn’t said anything, ask them if they think the group is going in the right direction. They may have a great idea that they haven’t been able to voice yet, or they may be the only person to have realised that the group is about to run into difficulty with the task.
One of the best ways to prove you have good teamwork skills is to show, rather than tell. So make sure you model the very best teamwork behaviour during your interview, whether it’s an MMI or a panel interview.
For example, it’s good to speak up and get your point across, but make sure you are allowing other people to get theirs across too. Even if you don’t agree with what the other person is saying and think you have a better idea, wait until they have finished speaking. Then acknowledge their idea and put forward your own, always remaining polite and courteous.
Some candidates may come to interview with six weeks of work experience at six different hospitals – while others may have two weeks of work experience with their local GP. This difference doesn’t really matter, because quality is more important than quantity.
The most important thing about your work experience is what you learned from it and how well you can reflect on your experiences of teamwork.
When you talk about your teamwork skills, you will need to share examples. Can you think of a time when you worked well within a team – and did that have a positive outcome? Perhaps you observed great teamwork during your work experience, and can talk about the impact of that?
The best examples will have a positive outcome that is verifiable (e.g. your team winning a competition) and where you made a positive contribution to the team. It’s useful to get feedback from someone outside the team about how well you all worked together so that you can also cite this in your answer.
Does an experience truly mean anything if you can’t reflect on what you’ve learned? Medical schools are interested in candidates who can reflect on their teamwork experiences and identify areas for improvement. Discuss instances where you have learned from teamwork experiences, adapted your approach, and grown both personally and professionally.
Acknowledge that effective teamwork plays a crucial role in providing patient-centered care and can have a significant impact on patient outcomes, satisfaction, and the overall quality of care.
“During my clinical rotations, I had the opportunity to work in a multidisciplinary team in the emergency department. One particular case stands out to me where a patient came in with a complex medical condition requiring immediate intervention. As a team, we had to quickly assess the situation, prioritize tasks, and coordinate our efforts to provide the best care possible.
In this scenario, effective communication was crucial. I actively listened to my colleagues’ input, shared relevant information, and asked clarifying questions to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the patient’s condition. I also contributed my own observations and suggestions, fostering an environment of open dialogue and collaboration.
As a team, we assigned roles and responsibilities based on our individual strengths and expertise. I took on the role of documenting the patient’s medical history and relaying important information to the attending physician. This allowed us to streamline our workflow and ensure that everyone was working towards a common goal.
During the course of the patient’s treatment, we encountered some challenges and differences in opinion. However, we approached these conflicts with a focus on finding solutions and maintaining a patient-centered approach. We engaged in respectful discussions, considered alternative perspectives, and ultimately reached a consensus that was in the best interest of the patient.
Reflecting on this experience, I realized the importance of effective teamwork in delivering high-quality patient care. It reinforced my belief that collaboration and communication are essential in healthcare settings. I have since sought out opportunities to further develop my teamwork skills, such as participating in interprofessional education activities and volunteering in team-based healthcare projects.
Overall, this experience taught me the value of teamwork in healthcare and how it can positively impact patient outcomes. I am committed to continuing to enhance my teamwork skills and contribute effectively to collaborative healthcare environments.”
Note how in this example, the medical student effectively highlights their ability to communicate, collaborate, and resolve conflicts within a team setting. They provide a specific example which demonstrates their understanding of patient-centered care while not forgetting to reflect on their experience.
Review example teamwork questions and practise answering them before your interview.
This will help you get to know the sort of questions you might be asked and practise articulating your teamwork experiences.
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