Medical schools are very different – in their philosophies, faculties, curricula, and the type of students they attract. However, they all expect applicants to have a good enough background knowledge on health and medical related topics and issues.
The following topics was compiled by medical students to assist you in preparing for your interview. This list is by no means complete; it is designed to serve as a base for developing your background knowledge and preparing for your medical school interview.
1. The Birth And History of Medicine
It is important to understand where medicine stems from and how it has developed over the years. Understand and develop your own opinion on how medicine was practiced by trained professionals from ancient times to the present. I came across this article by Tom Lambert it gives a brief history of medicine, use this as starting point.
2. The National Health Service (NHS)
It is important to also understand how the NHS works, Look into how it came about and how it operates. Also look into its history, scandals over the years and ethical debates regarding National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Don’t get bogged down into years and dates, develop a rational opinion on the growth of the health services and the issues it faces. This article on the NHS website is a good starting point on the history of the organisation.
3. Key Bodies And Their Roles
Understanding the various bodies that govern our health service and medical educational system is very important. Take the time to learn the roles and issues faced by the following bodies:
- General Medical Council (GMC),
- The Royal Colleges
- British Medical Association (BMA)
- Medical Defence Union (MDU)
- Medical Protection Society (MPS)
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)
- Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Develop a rational opinion of their roles in the health system, understand their importance, look into the issues they face. Look at past events they have played a vital role and how the public responded either negatively or positively.
4. The Structure and Duration Of Medical Training
Interviewers might want to double check you are aware of what you are signing up for, the structure of medical training varies between specialities. Some specialities might take longer than others, so look into it. If you mentioned in your personal statement you want to practice a specific field of medicine, interviewers might ask questions to check you are aware of the structure and duration of training.
5. Clinical Governance
Clinical governance is a concept that should familiar with all future doctors. It is a set of principles and behaviours that all doctors should adhere to in order to ensure that they offer their patients the best quality clinical care. I was actually asked a questions on clinical governance during one of my interviews. The duties of a doctor guide by the GMC covers this well.
6. The Four Ethical Principles
In an interview you will most likely be asked ethical questions either in the form of a scenario, case study or popular debate. If you are aware of the four ethical principles these questions are actually fairly easy to answer. The four principles are as follows
- Justice ( or equity)
- Right to confidentiality – the fifth element
I seriously recommend you take time to fully understand these principles. Right to confidentiality is not strictly speaking an ethical principle but it is linked to some of them, for instance confidentiality can be linked to a patient’s autonomy. I found this short article on the Stanford University website, use this as a starting point.
7. Informed Consent
Informed consent means that the patient has granted permission to a procedure or treatment, having been given and having considered all the facts that were necessary for them to make a decision in their own best interest. Understanding the definition of is not enough, look into what type of information a doctor must provide to patients, look into case studies or stories where patients have made an “illogical” decision that makes people question their competence to give consent. Try to understand how complicated issues, like seeking consent from children, is handled. Develop a rational opinion on this, understand both sides of the argument.
Patient confidentiality is a principle familiar with everyone, all doctors should protect the confidentiality of their patients at all costs but there a very specific circumstances where confidentiality can be breached. Make sure you fully understand these circumstances an interviewer might test your knowledge on this. This article on the GMC website covers the confidentiality guidance in detail. I recommend reading this and looking into case studies as well. Develop a rational opinion and look at both sides of the argument when confidentiality is breached.
9. Euthanasia And Assisted Suicide
Euthanasia refers to the act of deliberately ending a person’s life to relieve suffering and assisted suicide refers to the act of deliberately assisting or encouraging another person to kill themselves. Both are huge issues impacting our society today. Take the time to understand the following:
- Arguments in favor
- Arguments against
- The legal position
- The swiss connection (Institutes abroad that offer euthanasia)
I recommend looking into case studies and understanding the ethical dilemma for doctor in each scenario.
Consent can only be taken from patients who are deemed “competent”. Take the time to understand the factors that determine if a patient is competent, how does this vary between adults and children under the age of 16. Look into case studies and look into arguments in favor or against medical judgement.