Although it might be tempting to launch straight into your personal opinions about a topic like abortion or euthanasia, this is not what your Medical School interviewers are looking for.
When discussing medical ethics, the best thing to do is: pause, fully process the question and think about why they have asked this.
Remember the four pillars of medical ethics:
Think about which of these principles apply to the ethical dilemma – and how. Do any other principles apply, like consent and capacity?
Once you’ve thought about the ethical principles and the scenario given, it’s important to summarise what you think the key issues are. It’s a good idea to focus on the two or three most important arguments to keep your summary concise.
By showing your thinking, you can help the interviewer understand how you’ve approached the question.
Once you’ve outlined the key arguments, you should also discuss the wider implications.
For example, if you’re asked to analyse a situation in which you consider that a Doctor lying to a patient may be justified, then think about what would happen if you applied this rule to other scenarios. This is always a good way to test out the validity of your ethical viewpoint – and you can explain this to the interviewer.
Where questions have been asked in a seemingly abstract way, try to think about healthcare-related implications.
Ethical scenarios can be some of the trickier questions you face in your Medical School interview.
Try to remember that interviewers aren’t looking for you to understand every possible viewpoint and legal aspect of the scenario. But by showing that 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 are able to think critically and understand complex issues.
Stay calm, speak slowly, and allow yourself to take pauses. This shows that you’re processing your thoughts, so you can answer to the best of your ability and impress your interviewer. Don’t feel pressured to fill the silence by saying things that don’t have any real meaning.
Some interview questions are more likely to be asked than others, so have a look at common ethics questions and familiarise yourself with current hot topics. Also try to keep up with medical/health-related news, because something topical could come up in your Medical School interview.
If you practise applying the four pillars to different ethical scenarios, it will begin to feel more natural. It’s a good idea to practise saying your answers aloud and with other people if you can.
To get some expert feedback on how you answer ethics questions, book a mock interview or some interview tutoring.
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