How to Prepare for those “Hot Topics in Medicine” Questions During Medical School Interviews

Medical School interview season brings on a lot of additional stress and preparing for different types of interview questions can be challenging.  I found one of the more intimidating types of questions were ones based on ‘hot topics in medicine’ such as MAID (Medical Assistance In Dying), vaccinations/anti-vax, legalization of marijuana, abortion, physician shortage crisis, rural healthcare crisis, rising aging population, etc. While other types of questions are based on personal experiences and opinions, these types of questions require research and previous knowledge. With limited time to prepare (while also still in school) I wanted to learn about these topics quickly and be best prepared for these types of questions. So here are a couple tips to help prepare for questions about hot topics in medicine:

  1. Listen to podcasts
  • My favourite way to learn about hot topics in medicine was to listen to podcasts while walking to class/work and while getting ready in the morning. Podcasts like CMAJ and White Coat, Black Art provide an overview of many different topics in medicine and give expert opinions. These podcasts are free on the Podcast app and on platforms such as Spotify.
  1. Make pros and cons lists
  • Often times interviewers will ask you to weigh the pros and cons of new policies or procedures (abortion, legalization of marijuana, etc)  in relation to the impact on a patient. Preparing for these questions by writing out lists allows you to easily pull on those points. This can help alleviate stress on the day of, as you have prepared to answer these questions in advance.  
  1. Discuss these topics with friends (specifically non-science friends)
  • Discussing these topics with friends will not only allow you to practice talking about the subject but it could also provide you with new perspectives on the topic. Friends from different backgrounds may interpret the topic differently from you or may not have heard of the topic before which allows you to practice describing the issue to somebody else. 
  1. Read the news
  • Staying up to date on the news allows you to relate the hot topic to current issues happening in the world. This can show the interviewer that you understand the impacts of the topic on a larger scale and that you have interests beyond medicine. For example if the topic were healthcare staffing shortages, you could bring up these effects in relation to its impact on COVID.
  1.  Try to understand opposing opinions on a topic
  • One of the ways interviews will ask you ‘hot topic’ questions is through role play scenarios where the interviewer will pretend to be a patient with an opposing opinion to yours (acts as a patient who is anti-vax). Understanding why somebody would hold this opinion will allow you to better address their concerns. For example, some people who are anti-vax may hold these views due to religious reasons, lack of knowledge, believe in natural medicine, deem vaccines unnecessary, etc. 

Hopefully these tips are helpful, good luck!

For even more free resources on interview prep check out:
Online Medical School Interviews During COVID-19: Tips & Advice
Interviewing Well for Medical School: What is non-verbal communication and how can it help you?
Approaching Acting MMI Questions
Canadian Medical School Interviews: Personal Questions
Responding to Ethical Stations
Preparing for Medical School Interviews
5 Tips for Medical School Interviews
Interview Tips from a Medical Student
Sample MMI Question and How to Approach it
6 Tips for the MMI
Premed Interview Prep
Free Interview Videos

Book your online interview prep consultation today!