Free CASPer Snapshot Questions & Answers

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Snapshot Scenario 1


How would you differentiate between empathy and sympathy?


Snapshot Scenario 1 Example Answer


I believe that this is a relatively straightforward concept when explained clearly, and therefore one that I took the time to learn about in order that I can explain it myself. The difference in meaning is described through sympathy meaning that you share the feelings of another, whereas empathy is when you understand those feelings, without having to share them. Sympathy is defined as the ‘act or capacity of entering into or sharing the feelings or interests of another.’ Sympathy typically makes one think of emotional pain and one sharing that pain. Empathy requires one to understand not only what someone might be going through, but also to be able to apply the context of who they are, and the situation that they are in, when interacting with them. Empathy is a newer term than sympathy, stemming from the field of psychology. As defined by the JAMA in 1958, ‘Empathy, on the other hand, not only is an identification of sorts but also connotes an awareness of one’s separateness from the observed. One of the most difficult tasks put upon man is reflective commitment to another’s problem while maintaining his own identity.’ A good doctor should be compassionate, and should show and understand the role of empathy in healthcare.


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Snapshot Scenario 2


How do you deal with difficult or stressful situations?


Snapshot Scenario 2 Example Answer


When dealing with difficult situations, I think there are multiple ways of approaching them that result in a positive outcome. Firstly, and most obviously, is having experienced such a situation before and therefore being able to draw on prior experience. Training that is specific to stressful situations will enable one to deal with them better, especially if that training is repeated and reinforced such that it becomes second nature. Personally, I have found that listening as much as possible is the best way of dealing with a difficult situation, and using open questions to allow people to feel listened to, understood, and empathised with. I also do my best to reflect on similar situations I may have encountered or heard about, to remember if there were lessons I learnt that could be applied. I have dealt with many difficult situations as part of my volunteering with organisations for disadvantaged youth, including helping children that have been abused, and having to calm down angry parents. I find it relatively easy to keep calm and maintain a rational viewpoint – and I believe that these abilities will prove crucial to my future practice as a doctor.


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Snapshot Scenario 3


Should doctors admit their mistakes?


Snapshot Scenario 3 Example Answer


Doctors should always be honest with their patients. Only through honesty can doctors develop trust with their patients. Trust is crucial as it will permit patients to feel comfortable in revealing information to their doctor – information which in turn could be vital in diagnosing the patient’s condition, or in offering them the correct support. Therefore, if a doctor makes a mistake, they should take the time to admit this to the patient, in the correct manner. This will involve considering the way they deliver the information, the patient’s possible reaction, and choosing a suitable place and time to talk. They should reflect on the mistake and show that they have reflected, as well as noting it down as required by any regulations. Doctors should be careful when addressing mistakes made by others however – whilst it is fair and sensible to offer a general apology to patients who feel that their care has been substandard, or who have been left upset, one should not apologise for another doctor’s actions without a clear and detailed overview of what exactly happened. In general, if doctors do not admit their mistakes they risk distancing themselves from their patients and failing to create a working doctor-patient relationship.


Snapshot Scenario 4


What Is Your Learning Style?


Snapshot Scenario 4 Example Answer


I believe that my learning style lies somewhere between being an auditory learner and being a reading-based learner. Throughout school, I normally find myself writing notes, then re-writing these notes in a briefer and more succinct manner in order to ensure that key points are memorised. I will re-read these succinct notes, and if need be I can refer back to the previous notes for more detail. When struggling with a concept, I read around it in more detail, and then write notes on it again. Through the action of writing, I do find that I am able to memorise information. In terms of auditory learning, I have always found that complex concepts are best learnt as a group, through speaking through them with others. There are often situations in which one person’s knowledge might, when added to another’s, allow both to fully understand the situation. It is therefore through group learning and through auditory learning – repeating concepts aloud to one another – that I believe my written learning can best be added to. This also stands for lecturers delivering concepts that they are well practised in teaching, and whose words I find myself able to remember well – but I will still be reliant on written notes when working off lectures or teacher’s words.


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