More medical schools are adopting the multiple mini interview (MMI) as their standard interview format. Research shows that the MMI format provides a more reliable assessment of a candidate and reduces bias. During a traditional interview, an applicant interviews with two or three people at most. This allows for much more subjectivity, sometimes overemphasizing the opinions of only a few people. The MMI has a better chance to be more objective given that six to ten interviews are done. With that being said, rather than fear the MMI, you should embrace it as the more objective interview format.
So how do you prepare for the MMI? Some admissions committee members compare it to speed dating because you meet so many people in a short time and you have to constantly think on your feet and talk about various topics. In a sense, it is very difficult to acutely prepare for an MMI because it assesses your belief system, thought process, and communication skills (things that you can’t change in a short period of time). In another sense, you can prepare for it by knowing what you’re getting yourself into and developing a method to successfully articulate your responses.
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1. Solidify your morals and principles
What is your belief system? How do you define what is right or wrong? Why do you do the things you do? The MMI will test your morals and principles and ask you to defend why you believe what you believe. During the interview, you may be asked to state how you will behave in a certain situation. In order to answer the question, you not only have to say what actions you will take, but more importantly, why you would take those actions. Why do you think it is wrong to not tell a patient that she got more anesthesia than expected? Is it ever OK to withhold information from the patient? Why is it important that you don’t criticize your attending in front of other staff members? You must not only be consistent with your worldview but your worldview should be carefully considered prior to answering any of these questions.
2. Understand the four primary bioethical principles
Autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, and justice are the four commonly accepted bioethical principles. University of Washington’s Bioethics Department has a good website that will help you understand these. As you learn about these principles, you must combine them with your own principles and determine how you would act in these challenging situations. Ethics is tricky because there isn’t always a right answer. However, you must be able to defend whatever answer you give.
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3. Discover what it means to be patient-centered
Medical schools are looking for applicants who are compassionate and patient-centered. “Patient-centered care” is a buzz-phrase that many health-care systems and medical schools are emphasizing as the culture of medicine is transitioning. Dying are the days of overlord physicians who dictate their patient’s care. Effective, compassionate communication is seen as the key to be a good physician. That is why you as a multiple mini interviewer must understand what it means to be patient-centered. At the core, you must do your best to see things from a patient’s perspective and be able to identify with that. Why did the patient go to the emergency room in the middle of the night when she only had a migraine? Maybe because she thought she was having a stroke or brain bleed from bumping her head on a door. You just told a patient that he has prostate cancer and men rarely die from it. Then why did the patient tell you during his next appointment that he sold all of his belongings in preparation for his death? A good way to start is by asking yourself, “If I were the patient and I was very unfamiliar to the world of medicine, how would I act in this situation?”
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4. Have lively discussions with friends and family
We often shy away from having serious and controversial conversations even with those who we are comfortable with. Nevertheless, this is one of the best ways to prepare for the MMI. Have these types of conversations with people that are close to you and will be honest with you so that they can question your reasoning, beliefs, and decision-making. It gives you the opportunity to articulate your thoughts while also being open to other ideas. Be teachable and open-minded because interviewers want to see that applicants are passionate and opinionated but also very open to other ideas.