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If you want to learn more about MMIs run by each university, jump to the article below.
Table of Content
- How Hard Is It To Get Into Medicine?
- The Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) Explained
- MMIs - Are They All the Same?
- MMIs at Monash University
- MMIs at the University of Melbourne
- MMIs at the University of Notre Dame
- MMIs at the University of Wollongong
- MMIs at Deakin University
- MMIs at Griffith University
- MMIs at the Australian National University
- MMIs at the University of Western Australia
- MMIs at Macquarie
- MMIs at The University of Queensland
How Hard Is It To Get Into Medicine?
Some of you may have a family member, a neighbour, or a friend that was accepted and trained in medicine over 20 years ago. I’m sure that you will also note their inability to understand the challenge that you face as you try to navigate into medical school. Australian medical schools have drastically changed how they select their students over the past 20 years, so it’s likely that what they remember is very different to today.
What was once a simple score, similar to the ATAR, has now given way to an assortment of selection procedures that question and reduce even the most assured of applicants. If you’ve ever asked yourself, ‘why do they make it so damn hard?’ you’re not alone. Let us shed some light on the method behind this seeming madness and how long does it take for medical interview prep.
The Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) Explained
The multiple mini-interview, or ‘MMI’, was an idea that originally came out of McMaster University in Canada. As an aside, the Canadians also came up with the idea of the CASPer exam, so we have them to thank for a lot of our current and future application headaches.
The MMI involves applicants moving through a series of unique stations with different examiners. Here, they may need to do any one of: respond to a text, act, or even explain a difficult topic in a simplistic way. The MMI is in stark contrast to the original ‘panel interview’, which instead involves two to three people questioning and grilling an applicant for half an hour. It is clear that if the outcome of your application falls in the hands of two or three people, as it does the panel interview, there is a possibility of bias negatively impacting the application process. On the other hand, in the MMI, if you muck up you are able to brush yourself off and start fresh in your next station. The MMI is structured so that examiners can be moderated for fairness and data can be collected for quality improvements.
Whether we like them or not, the MMI is our best current option for ensuring that applicants are assessed without bias, in a way that is as evidence-based as possible. Medical MMI Prep and learning how to ace an MMI interview process are crucial for success.
MMIs - Are They All the Same?
Even with an interview style as structured as the MMI, scoring between universities varies, with some stations testing completely different things to what may initially seem obvious. Each university marks and ranks applicants objectively, but based upon their own unique criteria. What this means is that different schools will weigh up qualities differently, based upon the type of applicant they are trying to attract.
Although slightly different, the medical schools are similar in wanting someone who is academic as well as empathetic, responsible and emotionally stable. In light of this, it is clear that the approach to the interview needs to be tackled in a manner that strikes a balance of generalisable ‘ideal qualities’, whilst tailoring emphasis to each quality on an institution specific basis. Furthermore, MMI stations will vary in length and type. So, are MMIs all the same? Well, yes in essence, but on closer inspection they have the potential to vary dramatically in what they are looking for. It is for this reason that you can’t really say that there is a ‘one-size fits all’ approach to the MMI. To make it easier for you, we’ve broken down the details of every university one by one.
MMIs at Monash University
Interviews for the Monash postgraduate program are only offered to existing Monash students. If you are lucky enough to be offered an interview, you will need to travel to the Monash Churchill campus for the big day. You will be interviewed by a mix of Monash staff and members of the community.
Monash interviews are a little different to other universities. The Monash MMI consists of 6 stations with 2 minutes reading time and 8 minutes for responding. All 6 stations are based on a scenario. This is usually an ethical dilemma, an Australian health topic or an interpersonal situation. The scenario will be provided for reading time, but the questions on it will be revealed to you one by one whilst in the interview.
An ideal Monash candidate will have strong communication skills and thoughtful responses. Monash is looking for students who can explain their thought process when responding to a scenario. There also tends to be a focus on rural health, seeing as the first year is based in Churchill, and a strong candidate will have a good understanding of the problems that rural communities face.
MMIs at the University of Melbourne
The University of Melbourne’s MMIs take place on their main campus in Parkville, situated only minutes from Melbourne’s central business district. The MMIs are run over a week with multiple MMI sessions running on each day. There are 7 different stations, which students rotate around one by one.
The stations for the MMI at the University of Melbourne encompass a wide range of situations to test a number of skills required to perform well in medicine including ethical mindset, communication, empathy, logical and critical thinking. The stations that test these skills include: acting stations, ethical scenarios, detech stations, and an assessment of contemporary medical issues for the Australian Healthcare System.
The first station for all candidates is typically “Why Medicine?” and requires students to provide a thoughtful and genuine response to the infamous question. In ethical scenarios, candidates are prompted with a moral or ethical dilemma and asked a series of questions about the scenario and their response to the scenario. Similarly, stations on the Australian healthcare system involve a series of questions relating to the content of the issue. Detech stations require candidates to perform a task, such as explaining verbally to the examiner how to draw a pattern in front of them, whereas acting stations require a candidate to communicate with a member of the community based on a prompt - both of these stations are designed to test your communication skills.
MMIs at the University of Notre Dame
The University of Notre Dame holds its interviews at the Darlinghurst campus, in tutorial rooms. There are 8 stations of 8 minutes length including one rest station in the MMI. Approximately 300 candidates are interviewed for 120 places.
The general procedure is to enter the room, sit down away from the interviewers and read the prompt for 2 minutes, write down on a piece of paper anything you want to, and then as the bell rings, approach the interviewers, greet them (as nicely as possible) and then when they signal, you may begin answering. Don’t be put off if they interrupt or move on to the follow up questions, this is very common and they want you to do the best job possible.
The interview questions are a little less medical than at most other universities, with the emphasis instead being on core ethics, ideas, and values. In the ethical dilemma stations, the interviewers really just want to hear the reasoning behind your choices more so than the choices themselves. In the stations that are a bit more abstract, such as the picture station or the quote station you will better be able to showcase your individuality, personality and ability to think outside the box.
Overall, the MMI is very focused on non-medical scenarios and questions, as you are being interviewed not for your medical knowledge, but for your personality, ability to reason, values, and ideas.
MMIs at the University of Wollongong
The University of Wollongong (UoW) has a unique approach to the MMI. Interviews are held at either the main campus in Wollongong or the more rural campus in Nowra. It is one of the longest MMIs with 11 stations of 8 mins each. It makes for quite a long process but allows you to give UoW a great idea of who you are beyond your GPA/GAMSAT score.
The questions range from personal questions where you are provided a copy of your portfolio (a crucial part to the UoW application) to speak about, to ethical scenarios that can be quite tough and often have a strong rural focus. A number of the UoW MMI stations have a rural touch, so be sure to walk in confident in your knowledge about the importance of good rural healthcare, and some of the problems that rural communities face. The interviewers themselves range in age and profession, there are even members of the local community involved in the interviewing.
Overall, UoW is looking for a well-rounded candidate who uses the MMI to show they are passionate about rural health care and with strong interests outside of academics and medicine.
MMIs at Deakin University
Deakin University holds their MMIs at the Waurn Ponds Campus, which is about 10 minutes’ drive from the centre of Geelong. Like other universities, the MMIs are run over a week, with multiple MMI sessions per day.
The Deakin MMI is much longer than many of the MMIs done at other universities. You have to do twelve different stations each with 2 minutes reading time and 8 minutes to respond. In a way, this makes things easier as if you don’t do as well on one station, there are 11 more chances to make up for it! In the room, you sit facing an interviewer; the station stem is also on a piece of paper in front of you, in case you forgot what it was.
Deakin has a wide mix of topics across their MMIs. Some are focused on current ethical or public health issues, and others will be the standard “Why do you want to do medicine?.” You can be sure to expect questions about rural medicine and Indigenous health, which are a major focus in the Deakin program.
A strong applicant will give authentic, original answers to their questions, instead of reciting things they have memorised.
MMIs at Griffith University
Interviews for Griffith Medicine take place at the Griffith Health Centre on the Gold Coast Campus. There will be 8 MMI stations, each with 7 minutes reading time, 5 minutes to respond to the station and ending with 7 minutes of rest before the next station.
An ideal Griffith applicant will be able to respond to difficult scenarios with good communication skills, and will be able to demonstrate empathy throughout the interview. Griffith places a lot of importance on empathy throughout the degree, so it is understandable that they are looking for applicants who can respond to various scenarios with a strong sense of empathy.
The MMI stations require applicants to respond to difficult situations as if you are an actor in a scenario. It might require you to ‘take lead,’ balance leadership with listening skills, or to respond to an emotional situation, which requires you to speak with care and reassure the person you may be calming down. For this reason there’s no one perfect answer for any given station, and instead the focus is on the overall impression you are giving. On the other hand, there are also a few traditional ‘interview’ style questions, where a strong candidate will use examples from their own life or experiences to respond.
MMIs at the Australian National University
The MMIs for ANU Medicine take place in-person at the Canberra campus but are much more exclusive than other universities. Rather than offering a large number of interviews to then cut down from, ANU offers fewer interviews with a higher percentage of candidates thus being offered a place in the course.
ANU begins with a panel interview that precedes the MMI process. This will involve two questions asked by a panel of examiners. These are traditionally ‘why medicine’ and ‘why you?’ style prompts, that require you to impress a panel of different members of the community and ANU staff.
The ANU MMI has 6 stations of 6 minutes length and 2 minutes reading time. These questions can come from a broad pool of possibilities, but often focus on a range of ethical and public health scenarios. There is a large focus on how applicants respond to difficult scenarios and this requires a candidate to show their thought process when answering. ANU is also known for strange ‘practical tasks’ such as playing a puzzle-style game with the examiner, requiring you to impress them with your problem-solving and reasoning skills.
MMIs at the University of Western Australia
MMIs at UWA consist of 8 stations of 7 minutes in length. There are also 1-2 rest stations, depending on the year. The MMIs take place at the Perth campus each year and are assessed entirely by university representatives.
UWA has a slightly unique way of selecting and grading their stations each year. Each station is marked on 7 criteria, including: communication skills, presentation skills, and motivation for medicine. The remaining four criteria for each year are selected from the following 6 possible options: awareness of social diversity, provision of assistance, self-awareness, trustworthiness, ethics, and working with others. With this in mind, UWA tends to have a wide variety of station types, including standard ‘why medicine’ questions, and other ethical or moral dilemmas where applicants need to explore how they might act in the given scenario. It’s important to keep the criteria in mind when answering these questions, and trying to cover multiple perspectives to a question
An ideal candidate applying to UWA will have strong verbal reasoning skills, and will display a strong sense of ethics and values. To impress UWA, you need to focus on explaining your thought process when approaching any scenario and justify the decisions you make.
MMIs at Macquarie
Macquarie’s MMIs involve 10 active stations and 2 rest stations, with no specified reading time. These are all the longer-style MMI stations of 8 minutes where the stem is continued with a number of follow-up questions. These take place at Macquarie University Hospital, where the medical school is located. There are 60 places in the course, with approximately 180 interviews undertaken over the course of a single day.
The MMIs themselves are notably different from other universities. Instead of a broad range of questions, Macquarie focuses on one style of question, that being ethical scenarios. This involves being given a scenario that contains a complex ethical issue. After responding, a candidate will be given 4-5 follow up questions. These require a candidate to think through how their answer would change if certain aspects of the scenario were to change. In some scenarios, candidates are shown a video in place of the scenario. Commonly, students finish well before the 8 minutes and are told that they have answered adequately and can return to standing outside of their door. You do not need to use the full 8 minutes to perform highly in a station if this occurs.
Macquarie are looking for prospective students with a strong awareness of the different socioeconomic and political factors that play into difficult day-to-day scenarios. These are commonly not in the setting of a healthcare scenario. Being a relatively modern medical school, Macquarie seems to favour students with a progressive outlook and a strong moral and ethical foundation.
MMIs at The University of Queensland
MMIs at UQ are a relatively new occurrence having only commenced in 2019. These are to be offered to all provisional entry applicants and graduate entry applicants for the 2021 medicine intake. There are 280 domestic places and 90 international places on offer in the Medicine cohort and the MMI consists of 8 stations, with each station lasting 7 minutes in length.
In their first year, UQ had a mix of questions covering many of the traditional categories from other universities. These included ethical scenarios and general questions about dealing with stress and failure. There does seem to be a heavier focus on ethical scenarios at UQ compared to other universities, as well as public health topics such as rural and ATSI health.
UQ are looking for an applicant who can provide clear answers that show their thinking process when approaching each scenario. They particularly value strong communication skills, reasoning skills and thus have a greater focus on how you get to an answer rather than the specifics of an answer itself. Furthermore, an ideal candidate will show notable empathy and ethics in their approaches.
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