The MMI are usually one-on-one and is made up of multiple stations with a set scenario or task that aims to test a particular skill or attribute. There is a short break in between and each station is usually around 5 minutes long.
Although there’s a bigger focus on role-play and an ability to adapt to certain situations, there’s an overlap between the kinds of things tested in a traditional interview and a MMI: you’ll see many of the common questions appear in both and medical schools will always be looking for the same attributes. By preparing for one, you’ll be inevitably be preparing for the other.
Medical schools like using MMIs because it gives students an opportunity to prove they can demonstrate the qualities they claimed to have in their personal statements. Effectively, to have gotten an interview, you must have looked pretty good on paper, but would you be able to actually prove you have the skills in a real-life situation? You may be pushed to think on your feet, and don’t worry, the MMI isn’t a clinical or scientific test.
Before a MMI, It helps immensely to know the commonly tested themes, and this will vary depending on your medical school – do your research thoroughly beforehand.
Outline of MMIs
Here is a breakdown of the areas that are tested and that you’ll come across in a MMI:
- Communication Scenarios
We’ve made this a broad category because, ultimately, a lot of what these medical schools are testing boils down to having strong communication, and this is a key attribute medical schools are looking for. MMIs are notorious for having students do role-plays where you have to interact with an actor. This is standard stuff – you’ll do plenty more of it when you get to medical school. Candidates are evaluated on their ability to show tact, empathy, compassion, self-awareness, and an ability to listen. The kinds of scenarios that demand good communication are wide ranging: from breaking bad news to a family or telling somebody they have cancer, to explaining the UK laws on euthanasia to a care home manager.
- Ethical Reasoning and Professionalism
You’ll probably know that you’ll be expected to have a decent grasp on the common medical ethics themes – this will be tested in various ways in a MMI and most likely as a role-play or an explanation of an ethical situation to an interviewer. There’ll be an ethics section later on the book, but key themes will include: euthanasia, consent, abortion, resource allocation, and confidentiality. You’ll be expected to show you understand all sides of an issue, as well as make decisions whilst examining issues from multiple perspectives. Similar to the situational judgment test for the UKCAT, you should be able to distinguish the most appropriate course of action in certain situations, especially in the clinical environment – for example, you may be put with an actor who plays a stranger who claims he needs the details of a patient in hospital, and you’ll have to decide whether to give him the details or not and explain why. You’re going to be expected to act in accordance with professional codes of conduct, and so being aware of these is important.
- Heath care knowledge, role of the doctor and current affairs
The NHS is something of a national treasure for some, and a breeding ground for hostility in others. Either way, interviewers expect you have a good grasp of the future organization you’ll be working for: what the NHS does; how it’s structured; its history; and the issues that it has met with in the past, as well as current concerns. Alongside this, you’re expected to understand the role of the doctor – especially, the key qualities and duties of a doctor. You should also be up to date with key health news – for example, the Ebola crisis, or the researcher who used olfactory bulb stem cells in the spinal cord to restore some movement to a patient, and through encouraging regeneration in the CNS.
- Critical thinking and data interpretation
Some medical schools want to test how well you can work under pressure and will do this by giving you a problem-solving task. You could be presented with a piece of writing and asked to evaluate it – you must be able to articulate all sides of an issue and thinking critically, identifying all the implications and people involved. Data interpretations tasks are usually relatively simple, and if you need to do maths for anything, it should only be a level expected for the UKCAT. Brush up on basic data interpretation and GCSE maths if you find this is to be one of your weak areas.
- Standard interview questions
These are the kind of questions most candidates are expecting when they think of a medical school interview, and you can potentially be asked any of the questions you’ll get for a semi-structured interview. Surprisingly though, these don’t always come up and it really depends on the interviewer or medical school. You should always have a good response for questions such as, ‘Why do you want to be a doctor?’ or ‘Why apply to this medical school?’. At the same time, they could ask you a few weirder questions, and some of which you may not be expecting at all. You can prepare for a lot of the common questions, but we’re also going to give you a system of making sure you give more powerful answers for many of the questions they could throw at you.
Differences between MMI and structured interviews
You’re unlikely to get any role-plays in a semi-structured interview, and you won’t get as many straight or general questions in a MMI. The MMI can be more challenging because it demands you demonstrate a wider skillset and under timed conditions. At the same time, the MMI can be good because you have more than one opportunity to make a good impression on the interviewer, whereas if you start poorly in a semi-structured interview, you’re going to need to play catch-up and impress.
Apart from that, there aren’t actually that many differences between the two interview formats, and the way you prepare should be the same. Medical schools want to find the applicants who have the best chance of becoming good doctors – everything will be geared towards that.