Dr Rony Sanyal is a 2nd year of GP training. He attended Leicester Medical School and spent one year on the interview panel at Nottingham University. He also established and ran Situational Judgement Test courses in Birmingham and Nottingham. He is theMSAG's Online Interview Course Manager.
So, you’re almost there with your medical school interview preparation. You’ve done all the research into the NHS you can, you have mastered ethical scenarios, your mind is bursting with facts you can now see in your dreams. And yet, after all this preparation, there’s still one tiny ounce of doubt in your mind, about one very popular station in Multi Mini Interview (MMI) circuits, you will have to face whether you like it or not: The role play interview station.
It’s because it allows them to visually assess your communication skills in real life. Communication is really a fundamental part of medicine. As a doctor, you will rely on your communication skills every day. The role play station creates a group exercise where the applicant interacts with the role play team member and can show that he or she actually possess the communication skills needed to be a doctor.
The scenarios can be different, the circumstances can be different, the actors can be different but you should always be able to recognise the type of role pay station you’re in. There are three general types of role play stations:
This can be anything from telling a patient they have been diagnosed with cancer to explaining to a friend that they can’t be captain of your football team anymore.
You could be asked to explain the health implications of chronic alcohol consumption to an alcoholic or asked to explain how to memorise a script for a play.
This could involve taking a history from a patient in clinic or finding out why one of your friends does not want to go to a football match today. The role player may become angry, upset or emotional in these stations. As the station progresses, you should find the role player’s ‘hidden agenda’ and be able to solve problems to come to a solution.
In addition to the general tips, there are some specific things you need to do once you have recognised the type of scenario you are faced with!
The key skill to display in this station is empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand, share or experience the feeling someone is going through.
This type of station may require you to look for information or comfort someone. Use the ICE technique to gather the information you need:
Ask open questions and repeat some of the information given to show active listening skills. When comforting someone, ask questions to clarify their feelings but don’t compromise your values, duties as a doctor or ethical principles in the process! Instead, acknowledge their issues but respectfully show them a different perspective.
Once you have made it to the assessment centre where the interview is held remember to remain calm and think before you answer. You will always get some time before you begin to read some information, pay attention to detail before you begin. Focus on answering three main questions on what you read:
Next, take a moment to plan how you approach the scenario since each scenario is different. Being armed with this knowledge before you begin comes in handy for scoring points. Use these questions while practicing in your role play exercises.
There are several key skills which you should display in any roleplay station. These will score you easy points on the marking schemes:
These small things all add up to help you pass the MMI station so make sure you include them.
That’s about it, folks! Well done, you’re now equipped with all the knowledge and secret techniques you ’ll need to use for those roleplays! Practice with your friends and family and use resources available to help you. Best of luck with your medical school interviews!
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