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Different MMI interview systems between Australian medical schools

How the MMI differs between Australian medical schools

by , 31 August, 2023
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The pathway to medical school involves more than just acing the GAMSAT® and maintaining a stellar GPA. Once you've proven your academic prowess, you'll face a new challenge—the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) format, which is the prevailing interview structure for medical schools in Australia. Understanding this format is crucial as you embark on your journey towards becoming a doctor.
Imagine a dynamic interview setup: a series of stations where candidates rotate, encountering various tasks or sets of questions at each one. However, it's worth noting that each medical school tailors its MMI experience slightly, altering the types of stations, the number of stations, and the time allocated for each. Since you could receive an interview offer from any of your top 6 GEMSAS preferences (and potentially University of Sydney or Flinders University), familiarising yourself with the diverse facets of the MMI is essential for your medical school interview preparation.

What types of stations can I expect on the MMI?’


Ethical Scenarios

One station type that frequently appears is ethical scenarios. These stations plunge you into a scenario and ask for your course of action. You might be cast as a doctor, a medical student, or even yourself in the given scenario. The situations can be everyday scenarios or present clinical contexts. You're presented with an initial question followed by a cascade of additional ones that encourage you to view the situation from multiple angles or revise your approach. Here's an example case:

Imagine you're a medical student completing an internship at a local hospital. One day, a close friend who is also a patient in the hospital unexpectedly requests your assistance. They ask you to access their medical records and provide them with information about their condition, treatment plan, and prognosis. They express concern that the medical staff isn't fully transparent with them. How would you handle this situation?
  1. What ethical considerations come into play in this scenario?
  2. If another patient in the hospital, who knows your friend, approaches you and asks about your friend's health, how would you respond?
  3. The hospital's administration becomes aware of your friend's request and asks you for an explanation. How would you address this situation?
  4. If your friend insists that you share their medical information with them, even though it goes against hospital policies, what steps would you take?
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Remember that ethical scenarios don't have strict right or wrong answers; what's vital is your capacity to justify your decisions. Moreover, you needn't be an expert in medical ethics or medicolegal matters. Relying on your present values and life experiences to reach a conclusion suffices to satisfy your interviewers. Navigating these ethical prompts requires not only ethical reasoning but also the ability to weigh various perspectives, communicate thoughtfully, and maintain patient confidentiality. It's a chance to demonstrate your capacity to handle complex situations with empathy, professionalism, and ethical integrity.


Motivation to Study Medicine

Undoubtedly, you've encountered this question previously: Why do you want to become a doctor? Given how long it takes to become a doctor, a robust motivation is essential. Condensing your reasons into a genuine, informed, intelligent, and motivated response in about five minutes is the challenge. However, it's crucial to strike a balance—convincing without sounding arrogant, well-thought-out without seeming naive, and enthusiastic without coming across as flippant. As a twist, some medical schools might avoid the direct "Why medicine?" question, as it's often predicted. Instead, they might present related queries to probe your perspective, like "If you couldn't pursue medicine, what alternative path would you choose?" or "How do you plan to balance work and personal life.

Explaining in Layman’s Terms

Another station type involves explaining medical or other complex concepts in layman's terms—think explaining "cell" or "nucleus" to someone unfamiliar with the field. This skill is indispensable for doctors who often need to convey intricate diagnoses and treatment plans to patients. Competently conveying complex ideas in a comprehensible manner is a pivotal attribute for medical professionals, making these tasks a valuable part of the MMI.

Health and Medico-literacy

Health knowledge stations gauge your comprehension of complex health issues, particularly in the context of Australia. While you aren't expected to solve the nation's problems, demonstrating insights into these issues requires some background knowledge. So, start reading – is a great online resource that will help with this one. Below are examples of questions that might appear in this station:
What are some of the biggest challenges in “Closing the Gap” in healthcare outcomes between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians?

In an era where misinformation about medical treatments spreads quickly online, how would you guide a patient who expresses doubts about a recommended treatment due to information they've found on the internet?

Imagine you have a patient who has difficulty understanding written medication instructions due to limited health literacy. How would you effectively communicate the proper usage of their prescribed medication to ensure their safety and adherence?

Navigating Behavioural Questions

You might recognize behavioural questions from job interviews. These queries touch on diverse personal qualities. Employing the STAR technique (situation, task, action, response) is a strategic approach to tackling these questions effectively. It's a great idea to familiarize yourself with this technique before your MMI.

Tell us about a time when you took the initiative to lead a group, whether it was in an academic, extracurricular, or work setting. What challenges did you face, and how did you navigate them to achieve a positive outcome?

Describe a situation in which you had to quickly adapt to unexpected changes or challenges. How did you handle the situation, and what did you learn from the experience?

Practical Tasks and Puzzles

Some stations involve practical tasks or puzzles. In these scenarios, you'll either instruct the interviewer or another candidate (where roles reverse for a two-part station) to complete a task—like origami folding, rope tying, or block arrangement. The crux isn't solely solving the task but demonstrating clear communication and effective collaboration. While some thrive on these challenges, others find them daunting, especially when they catch you off guard. Remember, the goal isn't merely task completion, but showcasing your ability to work cohesively and communicate adeptly.

Group Work

Certain medical schools, such as ANU, incorporate group workstations into the MMI. Here, candidates are grouped to solve a problem, such as resource allocation or proposing public policies. This type of station often precedes the MMI, and it's wise to seek insights from ANU students or those familiar with assessment centre interviews at prominent organizations like the Big 4. Like practical tasks, your teamwork and communication skills are in the spotlight more than your task-solving prowess.

How the MMI Differs between medical schools
Preparing for the MMI involves mastering these station types. As you immerse yourself in ethical dilemmas, articulate motivations, tackle de-tech inquiries, broaden your health knowledge, respond to behavioural prompts, solve puzzles, and collaborate effectively, you're honing the multidimensional skills required of a future medical professional. Each station presents a unique challenge, but with diligent preparation and the right mindset, you're well on your way to shining in the MMI and ultimately pursuing your medical aspirations. You can use the table above as reference to what stations to expect for different medical schools. Hopefully it points you in the right direction and gives you a better idea of medical school entry requirements and what to expect come interview season!