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That "What would you do if you weren't a physician question"...

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by PicardAndRoll, 05.16.14.

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  1. PicardAndRoll

    PicardAndRoll

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    So I was looking at some practice interview questions for medical school before I went to bed last night in the event that one day down the line I get lucky and get one: (I know the questions aren't going to be exact, but there are some basic questions that you have to have a response for so you don't look like a clueless idiot in a hypothetical interview)....

    A common one asks what would you do if you weren't a physician.

    I honestly would do one of those teaching gigs in Africa or SE Asia, where you teach in a foreign country because I've always had this intense desire to travel (especially to those places, fascinated by those cultures. I know the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of most parts of the world). I've researched it heavily, and it looks like something I would do.

    Coupled with the fact that I have 4+ years tutoring at a learning center for kids, helping others in that aspect of life is something I could see as a secondary option.

    My questions is:

    Considering I'm applying OOS, does it look psychologically bad to a potential adcom that I'm going to leave the US? I.e, OOS schools are selective to their in state residents, and one of the reasons is that the logic is that people from that state usually stay in that state, and the resources and subsidies of that state's medical schools are conserved....so they might think, if this guy is willing to leave the US to live elsewhere, what's stopping him from leaving this state or allocating himself to another geographical area that isn't this state? Some of my OOS schools are California, where they are STRICT on OOS applicants.

    I know there aren't necessarily any RIGHT questions for a medical school interview, but are there wrong ones? Like the latter?
     
    Last edited: 05.16.14
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  3. tetraflower

    tetraflower Probationary Status 2+ Year Member

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    i dunno but i feel like they're testing if you're committed to becoming a doctor or not. even though i probably would do something, i always say, "i've always wanted to become a doctor and i don't think i would be here at this interview if i wasn't serious enough in pursuing this goal"
     
  4. PicardAndRoll

    PicardAndRoll

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    Good point.
     
  5. OrgasmicChemistry

    OrgasmicChemistry

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    This may be true, but I think this is a pretty terrible answer. Some docs would probably get a boner for it, but if I were interviewing, I would insist that you actually answer my freaking question!

    To find your own better answer, pick one aspect of doctoring that you love (the science/contact with patients/caring for people/affecting people's lives), and then pick a career attached to it. Ex: "I'd probably be a teacher because I need to be doing something where I get to talk to people on a daily basis, [blah blah blah]... That is one aspect of medicine I love and is actually the first thing that drew me to the field [blah blah blah]... My favorite part of volunteering at the hospital was talking to patients [blah blah blah].... etc.". They may then ask why you don't pursue that profession, so you should be able to answer that as well in a way that makes clear that you prefer medicine.

    But don't worry, as long as you're not a complete tool the interview doesn't matter (in my experience).
     
  6. tetraflower

    tetraflower Probationary Status 2+ Year Member

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    ^ I personally think this is risky which is why I would never to say this (that's not to say this is a bad answer).
     
  7. Mad Jack

    Mad Jack Critically Caring Gold Donor 2+ Year Member

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    I'd say something along the lines of "If I don't get into medical school this year, I will improve my application and try again. This is my goal in life, and I'll keep trying until I achieve it." If they got all "srsly tho, what would you do if it just wasn't an option, for a medical reason or the like?" I'd be honest and say "probably save up my money and open a hostel in Europe or South America, or do my best to get into a career in the Foreign Service." Give those adcoms some honesty, beginning to end. Adcoms dig honesty.
     
  8. DrCharlemagne

    DrCharlemagne Old Maid in Training 5+ Year Member

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    I told them point blank that I knew I wouldn't be happy, but as a non-trad I have a history in another career path to point to as evidence. Then, like Orgasmic, I answered with jobs I'd looked into that entailed some aspect of physicianhood that I prize. For instance, I said I would want to be a docent at a science museum who also got to do some research so I could make new knowledge and share it with my community.

    I don't think it's a test of dedication so much as asking if you've taken the time to seriously consider alternate careers and whether you're cognitively flexible enough to adapt to not getting what you want/think you deserve.
     
  9. justAstudent

    justAstudent SDN Gold Donor Gold Donor 5+ Year Member

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    Why not just answer honestly?
     
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  10. lumpyduster

    lumpyduster 2+ Year Member

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    I agree with OrgasmicChemistry's approach (and I wish your name was actually a type of chemistry). For me there's been so many jobs that I have considered throughout undergrad in an attempt to avoid the painstaking process that is becoming a doctor (on the plus side now I know the downsides of a medical career pale in comparison to the downsides of the other careers I was thinking of and I'm 100% sure this is what I will be happiest doing). All the jobs I liked other than physician have been science related and generally are about as people focused as that particular career path could be.

    I'm the type of person who answers questions without thinking sometimes and I know for interviews I will need to take a step back and think about why they are asking that question. If OrgasmicChemistry hadn't said what they did I would have probably rattled off ten careers I could find myself enjoying if doctor was completely off the table.
     
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  11. jvquarterback

    jvquarterback 2+ Year Member

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    I always said I'd go back and try minor league baseball. It made people laugh.
     
  12. tetraflower

    tetraflower Probationary Status 2+ Year Member

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    even though i think these are good answers, i feel like when you go into an interview, you need to kind of have an absolutist approach and just believe in the place you're applying too. of course, it is always good to have a back-up plan but when you're interviewing at a MED school, they need to know how badly you want to go to MED school (not how badly you wanna become x, y, or z).
     
  13. breakintheroof

    breakintheroof MS-Zero 2+ Year Member

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    I would note that happiness isn't entirely dependent on one's profession. I suspect even most premeds would carve out a happy existence if medicine did not exist as a career option.

    I would talk about what led me to medicine, like serving others, being challenged intellectually--and also what makes me happy, like spending time with family and friends, and participating in activities I love. Not becoming a physician would be a disappointment, but wouldn't destroy who I am. I would then go on in the manner of @OrgasmicChemistry and @DrCharlemagne and talk about careers where my motivations to go into medicine could also lead me.
     
  14. GFP

    GFP 2+ Year Member

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    So there are obviously a few variations of this question: "What would you do if you could NEVER be a doctor?"

    An approach to the answer above, as I was told by a physician I shadowed (and who happened to be on the interview committee at a med school), is to initially "express sadness" that you could "never be a doctor," and then proceed to give your honest answer. He said a great example was something on the lines of: "Wait, never??!! Wow, I would be so sad to not be able to pursue my dream. Well, in that case, I would become X, because of ABC." The ABC part is important because it reveals what qualities you value in a career, strengths you have, what your passions are, etc.

    Another variation of the question is: "What would you do if you don't get into medical school?"

    Definitely do not tell them that you are going to switch into law or some other field. Tell them that you will whatever it takes to strengthen your app and re-apply until you get in.
     
  15. DrCharlemagne

    DrCharlemagne Old Maid in Training 5+ Year Member

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    I really disagree, though I definitely understand why you feel that way. I got a much different impression about what the interviewers who posed this question to me were after, and I don't feel like it was a litmus test. If you refuse to move off of medicine, you run the risk of looking like you never considered anything else (red flag) or are stubborn (red flag). I would hope your dedication to pursuing medicine would be demonstrated by your performance to date.
     
  16. terp720

    terp720 2+ Year Member

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    +1 to exactly this.
    I have gotten many variations. The "what would you do if you don't get in this year?" question.. in which case you strengthen your app and reapply if you really want to be a physician.

    I've gotten the "what if you could never be in a medical profession?", so no medicine at all (MD, RN, PA, etc etc). In which case I did what GFP said.. and gave an honest answer. I think they want to see that you have thought about it, aren't just blindly choosing medicine, but also have other interests.
     
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  17. OrgasmicChemistry

    OrgasmicChemistry

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    I really, really don't think that just disagreeing with the premise of a question an interviewer asks you is a good way to go... ever. The interviewer is the one that gets to ask the questions for whatever reason they want. By refusing to give a real answer, you're saying that you shouldn't be bothered with providing an actual, thoughtful response to a question that they obviously feel is worthwhile to ask. I think it borders on disrespectful, and I wouldn't have any of it if I were interviewing.

    Like I said though, some docs would love that answer... As with everything, it all depends on your audience. I am merely cautioning against this strategy because I believe that a majority of interviewers would find it annoying at best.

    e: I am kind of a dick interviewer though... most interviewers for med school toss you up the biggest softballs in the world, and then let you off the hook if you struggling. Seriously the easiest interviews of my life.
     
    Last edited: 05.16.14
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  18. ciestar

    ciestar 2+ Year Member

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    What I don't like about this question is that I can think of a few things I could answer, but what I'm more worried about is coming off like I'd rather do the "replacement" career.
     
  19. InGen

    InGen 2+ Year Member

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  20. gyngyn

    gyngyn Professor Gold Donor 5+ Year Member

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    This question tests adaptability and self awareness, not commitment to medicine
     
    Last edited: 05.16.14
  21. Microglia

    Microglia 2+ Year Member

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    "Research." 'Nuff said. Hahaha ;)
     
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  22. Mayday_

    Mayday_ 2+ Year Member

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    I agree with those that have mentioned sticking to the question asked and answering honestly. I can see it being frustrating for interviewers to have their questions avoided. If you're asked specifically what you would do if medicine was not an option (for whatever reason), that is the question you should answer. Of course, that's just my take on it though :)
     
  23. Gregor Wiesmann

    Gregor Wiesmann

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    I'd open up a Taco Stand to work in the summer, and then become a Ski Bum in the winter.(Probably build myself a little 200 square foot ski cabin.) Seriously though, I would only do that if my other plans failed first. Here are my current plans:

    Plan A: Go to either Medical or Dental school(haven't done enough shadowing to decide yet)
    Plan B: Go to PA school if I don't get accepted to Med/Dent.
    Plan C: Taco stand here I come.

    I've also considered becoming a Chemistry Professor because I absolutely loved that class, and I'm also a Photographer, so doing Landscape/Wildlife photos printed on canvas would be pretty sweet too!
     
  24. DrCharlemagne

    DrCharlemagne Old Maid in Training 5+ Year Member

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    Honestly, I think that if you dropped the PA bit, these are perfectly lovely answers to the question. The taco stand/ski bum is funny, but the professor/photograph gives insight to what you're passionate about.
     
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  25. toostressful

    toostressful 2+ Year Member

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    What's wrong with PA as an answer to this question? Assuming they are asking only if you couldn't be a physician.
     
  26. gyngyn

    gyngyn Professor Gold Donor 5+ Year Member

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    Applicants who are evasive, rigid and stubborn actually make the interviewer's job so much easier!
     
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  27. DrCharlemagne

    DrCharlemagne Old Maid in Training 5+ Year Member

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    This is only based on my experience, but again I felt like the interviewers were asking me whether I'd investigaed my options outside medicine and trying to flush out what I valued in my work. Picking an alternate health profession feels a little like dodging the question to me, but I will freely admit this is personal bias and I have no idea how an adcom member would regard such an answer. I guess just be ready to dodge the, "Well, why not a PA then?" bullet, and you'll be golden.
     
  28. familyaerospace

    familyaerospace 5+ Year Member

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    I wish I had been asked this question, but out of the 7 medical school interviews I've had that has never come up, but I'm a non-trad and have had several jobs including research (which I loved), business owner (eh), teaching (I liked adults, not kids), psychology (which I liked), writer (liked that too), and clergy (which half was ok, but I felt I was in the wrong religion at a point), health care volunteer (I liked the patient contact).

    I would say go with honesty.
     
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  29. gyngyn

    gyngyn Professor Gold Donor 5+ Year Member

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    Non-trads tend not to get this question!
     
  30. familyaerospace

    familyaerospace 5+ Year Member

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    I actually love you for this.

    I went to a doctor's appointment a few weeks ago. I've gone there for a few years so it's not like they don't know me, but every time I get to update my contact information even if I just did it a month prior. I normally either put student or business owner for occupation. This time, I was a wiseguy and put down something like "professional bum/freeloader." Made all the women at the front desk laugh.

    If I knew how to ski I would join you. Maybe I will ride the rails instead. ;)
     
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  31. familyaerospace

    familyaerospace 5+ Year Member

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    I can believe it, but I was also not asked very much about medicine either.
     
  32. QuantumJ

    QuantumJ Cryogenics Expert 2+ Year Member

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    I think your answer would be fine. I got the "if not medicine what" everytime. I don't feel like I gave an outstanding answer but I told the truth in a positive light and didn't think much of the question after that. I usually goofed at some other, easier question.
     
  33. Goro

    Goro 5+ Year Member

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    .Quit fussing over a hypothetical answer to a hypothetical question. Yours is a very fine answer.

    The worst answer is "I can't see myself doing anything else, so I'll keep on applying even if I'm 65".



    Considering I'm applying OOS, does it look psychologically bad to a potential adcom that I'm going to leave the US? I

    I know there aren't necessarily any RIGHT questions for a medical school interview, but are there wrong ones? Like the latter?
     
    Last edited: 05.17.14
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  34. mimelim

    mimelim Vascular Surgery 5+ Year Member

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    I told interviewers that I'd apply to law school. I also told some that my dream job was supreme court justice. Definitely didn't hurt me.
     
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  35. Essene

    Essene People don't bury nickels 2+ Year Member

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    I doubt that I would ever answer this question honestly if I get asked it during a future interview. However, among peers, I'd probably still be in a band, drinking excessively, doing prescription drugs(perhaps even worse), going to a bunch of parties and clubs, avoiding churches at all costs, and puking the rainbow every morning. I'd probably also still have a ton of piercings, plus some new additions. I'd definitely have more tattoos.

    Cliffs: being in a band and eventually becoming a bartender.

    Mostly joking. I did have a lot of fun being in a band though.
     
    Last edited: 05.17.14
  36. Thales

    Thales C8H10N4O2 7+ Year Member

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    "I've had other jobs and couldn't see myself doing anything else. I feel that medicine is a unique and challenging opportunity to help others, which is something I wouldn't be able to find in another career."
    If they're persistent;
    "Well, I have always found epidemiology to be of interest."
     
  37. hxkenshin

    hxkenshin 2+ Year Member

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    Probably go into nursing, and strive for a DNP
     
  38. taniaekal

    taniaekal 2+ Year Member

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    Child Life Specialist, criminal defense lawyer, or a structural engineer.
     
  39. xnfs93hy

    xnfs93hy 7+ Year Member

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    If you've already held a job post-undergrad, would this question still come up?
     
  40. ExtremeProton

    ExtremeProton Banned Banned Account on Hold

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    LOL I bet you could get rejected quick if you said, "Well, I really want to be a primary care physician, so if I can't get to medical school I'll just be a DNP and be licensed as a primary care provider anyway."
     
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  41. ThisCouldBeYou

    ThisCouldBeYou

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    This question is something I've struggled to answer for the past two years. I have two very strong passions, medicine and sports (seriously), but to do them well, I know I wouldn't be able to do them both at least not at the same time through years of medical school. So I have this dilemma that's kinda hitting me hard. In both cases, giving up one now for the other will set up on very different paths that I'm afraid I won't be able to go back to. I mean, you can see that I wouldn't be able to go back to this sport after I have my degree. But I'm concerned that I won't get back into the routine of studying those long hours if I wait. Suggestions?

    And it's not as if I can say I'd like to do both. I think that makes me seem as if I haven't thought about this.
     
  42. gyngyn

    gyngyn Professor Gold Donor 5+ Year Member

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    Depends on the job.
     
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  43. Gregor Wiesmann

    Gregor Wiesmann

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    What makes you think you can't go back into the sport when practicing as a Physician?
     
  44. ThisCouldBeYou

    ThisCouldBeYou

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    Do you see any minor leaguers rookies at age 33? I'm not so sure I'll be as fit as I am now.
     
  45. Gregor Wiesmann

    Gregor Wiesmann

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    I don't watch baseball, so I wouldn't know. However, maybe you just answered your own question?
     
  46. phunky

    phunky 2+ Year Member

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    Well, it's pretty clear that a lot of people have terrible answers for this question.
     
  47. optimistic3

    optimistic3 2+ Year Member

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    I'd probably say something like going into microbiology, biotechnology, or forensic science, which are all things I've actually looked into instead of medicine. I guess I'd need to learn more details to explain WHY though (I doubt it'd suffice if I just said I find them fascinating, even though it's true).
     
  48. Shazam243

    Shazam243 2+ Year Member

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    Awesome thread--would have been great if I had seen it earlier, as I was actually asked this question.
     
  49. J Senpai

    J Senpai Grab my arm. Other arm. MY other arm. 5+ Year Member

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    Without a thought I would say either apply to law school or be some kind of cop. Maybe with the FBI. :cool:
     
  50. keevwu

    keevwu 2+ Year Member

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    medical researcher?

    health-care lawyer so you can defend against the ticky tack cases other lawyers try to pull in order to squeeze every dime that they can out of hard-working physicians when they just want to heal and save lives?
     
  51. Mt Kilimanjaro

    Mt Kilimanjaro

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    I am a career changer and this was the second or third question in my first interview. It rattled a little me because I couldn't help but conclude she had already made up her mind. I thought it was a silly question because the true answer for anyone who has to support themselves and their family is, "If this doesn't work out after a cycle or two, I'll have to find a job doing something else and, statistically speaking, probably won't be any less happy long-term than if I had gone to med school." Instead I said something about becoming a PA or an NP and they jumped all over that and was the only school that rejected me post interview.
     

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