Shadowing a DoctorNovember 21, 2014
In this article we discuss one last but crucial question that is commonly asked at medical school interviews.
Have you had any clinical or research experiences? What did you take away from them?
If you have taken part in any kind of clinical work or research work, the interviewers will want to know more about your experiences. Hopefully you’ve made notes along the way. Before the interview, go through your notes and think back to some of the highlights of that period. What interested you most? What were your thoughts at that time? What were the results of any experiments?
This is the perfect time to draw attention to the results of any research that you may have done, new techniques that you’ve learnt or an interesting case that you helped with. Be careful that you never give out names of patients or reveal any specific confidential information from the job. If you were a part of any research work, don’t forget to mention challenges you or your team faced while doing the research along with the intriguing discoveries that you may have come across during the process. While mentioning the outcome of any experiments is important, this is not what you should put all the emphasis on. Instead of focusing on the results of your research, it is more important to highlight aspects of the process that show your progress and how you developed through the process. Let them know that you gained a lot of relevant experience through this work.
If you have done a medical placement in a resource poor country or volunteered with any humanitarian organisation, you will have lots to talk about that will help you underscore your commitment to medicine.
However remember that time is restricted during an interview and you have to make the most of the short time you have. Make notes and focus on a few special incidents that stood out during these experiences. Did you help a midwife during a delivery? How did that make you feel? Is that what triggered your interest in obstetrics in particular? Perhaps you were part of a team that volunteered in a tropical country and that triggered an interest in tropical diseases. Make it a point to mention specific incidents. To the interviewers, the fact that you spent time helping the underserved and that you can single out a few incidents that touched you more than others is an indication that you have more than just a passing interest in medicine and are truly committed to this path.