This article is sponsored by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).
Applying to medical school can be daunting, so undertaking research to try and find out more about the process is very important and could give you a real advantage. Once you’ve sent off your medical school application form and your chosen schools have reviewed your information, you may be invited for interview.
Preparing for your medical school interview is almost as important as the application itself. If you are well prepared, the whole experience will be far smoother, plus you’ll benefit from the chance to visit the institution and explore its facilities, which you may not have had the chance to do if you are applying to medical school as an international student.
Many medical schools in the UK use an interview technique called multiple mini interviews (MMIs). Here at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) we are no exception, interviewing international applicants to our undergraduate medical program, MBBS, in December and March at our Preston campus in the UK, January in Hong Kong, and April in Dubai.
What are multiple mini interviews (MMIs)?
Multiple mini interviews are a new and fairer method of selecting students who are applying to medical school. In essence, the process means that each candidate moves around the room every seven minutes, talking to a different member of staff and completing a particular activity.
Here at UCLan, we have chosen the MMI method for our medical school interviews because we believe it gives everyone a fair opportunity to demonstrate the range of skills and attitudes they possess, as well as their desire to become a caring professional doctor. The MMI activities are designed to test both educational and personal qualities.
There are many applicants per place for medical school, and entry is highly competitive for medicine at UCLan. We want to select the best applicants. The MMIs are designed to reveal something of your personality and critical thinking skills. There is often no correct or ideal answer.
What do medical school MMIs involve?
The UCLan MMIs involve 10 individual activities, each lasting seven minutes, during which there are two minutes to read about the activity and five minutes of interaction with an MMI assessor to do the activity. The assessor might be a scientist or clinical teacher; they could also be a patient volunteer or actor.
The MMI activities will see if you can “think on your feet”, rather than provide rehearsed answers. Ask the assessor if you do not understand the task.
During the MMIs you will move from one activity to the next until you have completed all 10 activities. So, in effect the entire medical school interview lasts 70 minutes. This can seem a long time, but this offers the school the fairest way to decide whether you should be given the opportunity to study medicine above other applicants.
At UCLan we have one MMI station dedicated to discussing your transferable skills statement, a document which we ask you to complete which lets you tell us about your experience of caring for others.
How is performance assessed during medical school MMIs?
At each MMI station your performance is assessed. The stations are all worth the same amount of marks and your overall total will be calculated and compared to that of other applicants. If you perform poorly in one station, don’t be put off – remember it is only worth 10% and you can recover by gaining a much better performance in another station. However, failure at four or more stations will mean an overall interview fail at UCLan.
No immediate feedback on your performance will be given. You are assessed against a range of criteria and also given an overall station performance score. Candidates are ranked according to their score. Feedback is provided after you have been informed whether you have been offered a place. You will be given your numerical score and that of the cohort average.
How can you prepare for medical school multiple mini interviews?
The MMI is difficult to prepare for – but look at the skills and attributes of a doctor listed on websites such as the General Medical Council and journals such as student British Medical Journal. Keep up to date with current news in the medical field, and review the types of dilemmas that health professionals have to consider.
Don’t forget you’ve done really well to get this far. Keep calm and listen carefully. Read the instructions and make sure you know what you are being asked to do. Make sure you aware of the time you are taking so you complete the activity. Make the most of your medical school interviews, ask all the questions you have and take time to meet the staff and explore the facilities... Hopefully this will be where you study for the next five years!
About the UCLan MBBS program
The University of Central Lancashire’s MBBS program for self-funded and sponsored international (non-EU) students offers an innovative approach to medical education, with a state-of-the-art curriculum co-designed with local patients. Our facilities are some of the most modern in the UK and in a recent survey, 96% of our students rated their learning experience as good or very good.