Aug 14, 2014
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I have a couple of MMIs coming up and have been trying to prepare. Among other things, I watched a sample MMI (from a Canadian medical school). See here:
The upshot is that the applicant was presented with a scenario: she has just moved into a new apartment building with a fancy fitness facility. Residents have a code they use to enter the facility. A childhood friend who is "a single mother" has asked her for the code so she can use the facility and get healthy. What should she say/do? Honestly, I don't think this is a terribly challenging question. The applicant gives what seems to me to be an answer with a fair amount of extraneous info that made the whole interaction take approximately 8 minutes. It would never occur to me to throw in all the extraneous stuff, and on some level it seemed a bit rambling and excessive. I mean, really, is there that much to say about how terrible it would be to lose a friend over this?! The way I saw it, one would just hit the key points--assuming the building rules do in fact forbid you from giving out the code like this, certainly you cannot give out the code. But you can try to find other ways to help your friend--ask if she is allowed to accompany you as a guest, ask your friend if you can help her work out by providing childcare while she works out, ask your friend if you can help her by making a plan to go for a jog with her every week (maybe she doesn't feel safe jogging alone), help your friend locate inexpensive or free public facilities that she can use, ask your friend if you can in some way subsidize her purchase of a gym membership, etc.

My question is, what is the ideal answer supposed to sound like, in this situation? More tight and focused, or address every possible related thing? Put differently, I used to be a lawyer. In law school, you often answer an exam question by raising every possibility, no matter how ridiculous, and you pick up points for almost everything you throw in. But in practice, you would never address an issue this way--you want to go straight to the core of the problem. Which is the right approach here?
 
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Okay, is this such a terrible or inappropriate question? I would love some input from anyone with experience, be it a med student who succeeded at an MMI or an adcom.
 

chocolatecheese

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An important thing about the MMI is to consider ALL options and perspectives, which this person was very good at doing. She could've done a better job at organizing her thoughts (which would've made her answer a bit briefer). She spoke for 5 minutes in her initial pre-amble, which is pretty standard.
 

Glazedonutlove

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What I was wondering is whether the answer really has to take up the 8 minutes--I thought they had follow up questions that you should make time for? or do you just walk in with a prepared 8 min thing/ ramble on until you cover the time
 
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chocolatecheese

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What I was wondering is whether the answer really has to take up the 8 minutes--I thought they had follow up questions that you should make time for? or do you just walk in with a prepared 8 min thing/ ramble on until you cover the time
No it doesn't have to fill up 8 minutes (the girl in the video filled up a bit less than 5). They'll have follow-up questions until the 8 minutes are complete.
 
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Dr. Death

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This girl's answer is terrible. It is not a good example at all. She rambles and rambles and restates everything at least once or twice. Here's what I would say. "If I moved into an apartment building and had a friend who wanted to use the facility, I would find a time when we could work out together. Most apartment complexes have a policy allowing one guest, that way we could both get in shape and have fun while we do it." If my doctor rambled this much when I asked a question I would find a new one pronto.
 

bc65

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This was a weak question and a poor answer. The interviewee just rambled on and on and repeated herself.

However, using this as an example, what she should do is:

1. Identify the question/problem. In this case, should she give her friend the key
2. Identify what the real problem is: Her friend wants to get into shape
3. Discuss both sides of the question; Should she give the key to her friend or not, why yes, why no.
4. Are there alternatives? Buy her a gym membership; etc (as discussed)
Don't forget to discuss the ethics and the legalities if applicable.

Similarly, if someone wants help with assisted suicide, don't just discuss assisted suicide, but ask, "why do they want assisted suicide? Are they in pain? Depressed? I could address those first."

4. Discuss why you choose your side.

5. Then, in a real MMI, you would likely be asked further hypothetical questions based on the scenario:

What if it was your sister instead of a friend? What if it was your identical twin, so no one would ever find out?

What if instead of wanting to use your gym they wanted to use your insurance card to get urgent medical care?

What if instead of using your gym, they were fleeing an abusive relationship and needed to stay with you with a baby, but the lease prohibited overnight guests? In this case, I might then follow up with a discussion of AirBnB. If you use it, are you responsible for making sure that the person renting you a room is allowed to do so? What if you know they don't pay the hotel room tax? Should you? etc ...

Depending on your answer, you might be asked different follow up questions to either clarify your position or perhaps force you to modify or change a previously stated principle. It's not just a matter of answering the question. You should be prepared to think on your feet. That's why reading sample questions in MMI interview books isn't very helpful.
 
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Thanks everyone for your thoughts. It would be lovely to hear an adcom weigh in on this, but many of you have echoed my initial impression. The prehealth advising folks at my postbacc school seem to be holding this out as some kind of example and I was somewhat surprised. I searched for info on MMIs on here and I noticed another thread where a current med student said that at their school, they expect you to just go for the whole 8 minutes with no follow up questions to guide you at all. That also sounded a little crazy to me and I hope that is not true at my MMIs.
 
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Some MMIs have actors, which makes things easier in that they respond to you, which makes it easier to fill up the allotted time.
The question sucked, the girl did a decent job of answering the question, it was just awkward because she tried to fill up as much time as possible.
Not sure if med schools want that kind of thing, but if they do, that's ridiculous.
 

Samir Desai

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You don't have to fill up the entire time. I believe you can make a strong argument for stopping several minutes before time ends. In the event that you didn't cover something, the interviewer can ask you a follow-up question. That question may be what's needed to elevate your answer, and earn you a higher rating. If you take up the entire time, you lose out on this opportunity.

Samir Desai, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Baylor College of Medicine
 
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StudyLater

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Some MMIs have actors, which makes things easier in that they respond to you, which makes it easier to fill up the allotted time.
The question sucked, the girl did a decent job of answering the question, it was just awkward because she tried to fill up as much time as possible.
Not sure if med schools want that kind of thing, but if they do, that's ridiculous.
They give you, what, 7-10min to talk through these issues. In my opinion that's way too much time. I'd rather give a 1-2min response and spend the rest of the time on followup questions or a discussion with the interviewer.

How the f*ck could anyone talk coherently about an issue like this for 7-10min, put entirely on the spot?

Imo she did a fantastic job. Bit of a goody two shoes though ;)
 

RuffDay

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She lost me after talking for longer than 2 minutes.
 

starlite911

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They used this as an example of a bad MMI response in a course I took...
 

bearintraining

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The thing that makes me laugh a bit about this whole thing is.. I have watched the video and didn't think her response was particularly well done. I have interviewed twice at Calgary which this video is from.. My scaled MMI score (which they disclose to unsuccessful applicants at the end of the cycle).. get this.. has been exactly identical *both times*.. down to the second decimal. :/..

I think the one thing to take into account is this: When you attend an MMI interview, you need to score better than others who were invited to the interview - giving an answer that is "good" in view of the general public, may not be good enough in the selected subset. Sorry I can't be more helpful.
 

whitemagic

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Hey guys! Sorry for the bump on this thread but I have my first interview (MMI) coming up later this weekend and I was wondering if some of the adcom's, @gyngyn, @Goro, @LizzyM (sorry for the tagging, I feel like a noob) wouldn't mind sharing their thoughts with me regarding the video that OP posted. I've seen lots of comments on YouTube that have said "wow she killed that interview" "awesome job," and at the same time others who have said "my school used this as an example of how NOT to get accepted." I feel extremely confused because I thought this was a pretty decent job and by no means would I consider it a horrible interview. I would really appreciate it if I could get an ADCOM's perspective on this. Thank you in advance for your time.
 

Glazedonutlove

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The thing that makes me laugh a bit about this whole thing is.. I have watched the video and didn't think her response was particularly well done. I have interviewed twice at Calgary which this video is from.. My scaled MMI score (which they disclose to unsuccessful applicants at the end of the cycle).. get this.. has been exactly identical *both times*.. down to the second decimal. :/..

I think the one thing to take into account is this: When you attend an MMI interview, you need to score better than others who were invited to the interview - giving an answer that is "good" in view of the general public, may not be good enough in the selected subset. Sorry I can't be more helpful.
ugh this is what I dislike about mmi
 
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Goro

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The answer is really a no-brainer.

Hint: do the right thing.


Hey guys! Sorry for the bump on this thread but I have my first interview (MMI) coming up later this weekend and I was wondering if some of the adcom's, @gyngyn, @Goro, @LizzyM (sorry for the tagging, I feel like a noob) wouldn't mind sharing their thoughts with me regarding the video that OP posted. I've seen lots of comments on YouTube that have said "wow she killed that interview" "awesome job," and at the same time others who have said "my school used this as an example of how NOT to get accepted." I feel extremely confused because I thought this was a pretty decent job and by no means would I consider it a horrible interview. I would really appreciate it if I could get an ADCOM's perspective on this. Thank you in advance for your time.
 

Glazedonutlove

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The answer is really a no-brainer.

Hint: do the right thing.
Goro how much ethics do we need to study? Do I need to know the nitty gritty of state laws of the school where the interview is??
 

Goro

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No, that's silly. We don't expect you to have insider info, either, like, for example, to know the laws concerning required hospitalization on suicidal ideation.

But if someone asks you, "A fellow classmate makes comments about suicide after a hard exam block and he feels he did very poorly.

What do you do?

No, I'm not giving you the answer...there is not right answer, but there can be a wrong answer. You SHOULD be able to come up with something, though, for nearly any ethical situation, because we all expect you to have a sense of decency, right and wrong, and/or the ability to reason. In addition, you should be able to justify your beliefs. Whether you're pro-choice, or anti-abortion, you should be able to explain why.



Goro how much ethics do we need to study? Do I need to know the nitty gritty of state laws of the school where the interview is??
 
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Glazedonutlove

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No, that's silly. We don't expect you to have insider info, either, like, for example, to know the laws concerning required hospitalization on suicidal ideation.

But if someone asks you, "A fellow classmate makes comments about suicide after a hard exam block and he feels he did very poorly.

What do you do?

No, I'm not giving you the answer...there is not right answer, but there can be a wrong answer. You SHOULD be able to come up with something, though, for nearly any ethical situation, because we all expect you to have a sense of decency, right and wrong, and/or the ability to reason. In addition, you should be able to justify your beliefs. Whether you're pro-choice, or anti-abortion, you should be able to explain why.
this is a relief
so more common sense and less legal stuff
 
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Freezer

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Something I find often overlooked by all of these MMI discussions is that these interviewers are often members of the community who have been instructed to ask themselves "do I want this applicant as my doctor?". It is not about finding the right answer to a scenario but more, finding the right answer for the role the interviewer is playing. That means embracing all of their concerns and working together to find an appropriate outcome, even if their own views are radically different from your own. Also, memorizing the school's mission statement is extremely helpful in adding icing on the cake. For example, if the school advertises they have a strong focus in interdisciplinary curriculum, stating that you "would love to introduce your friend to a nutritionist friend you know" in the OP's example would really work in your favor. Just a few pointers...
 
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