Columbia Medicine Interview Questions

Past Interview Questions & Tips

Columbia Medicine Interview Format

Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons uses a 45-minute traditional open file interview to make appointments to their MD programme. The interview is conducted by one faculty member who assesses candidates on the following attributes:

  • Personality,
  • Clarity of thought,
  • Strength of academic background,
  • Quality of related clinical and work experience, and
  • Knowledge of the profession.

Key Dates

Interviews generally take place between November and February.

Columbia Medicine Key Application & Interview Statistics

Overall Success Rate (Total Applicants : Total Spaces)
Overall Success Rate (Total Applicants : Total Spaces)
Percentage of Candidates Interviewed
Percentage Of Candidates Interviewed
Interviewee Success Rate
Interviewee Success Rate

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Columbia Medicine Past MMI Stations & Interview Questions

Feedback suggests that the interview format is very relaxed, with the interview itself being very conversational. Heavy emphasis is placed on the candidate’s background, work and volunteer experiences, and motivation and insight into medicine. This means that the interview is tailored to each candidate and their application.   

General/Personal Statement – Candidates should ensure that they are confident in discussing any aspect of their application at length. Personal experiences should be reflected upon and linked to how they will stand the candidate in good stead for their study and eventual practice of medicine. Knowledge of Columbia’s curriculum and how it suits the candidate’s learning style is recommended. Past questions include:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Tell me about your family.
  • Where did you grow up?
  • What was it like growing up in…?
  • What do your parents do? / Are your parent’s doctors?/Do you have any doctors in your family?
  • What is your family life like?
  • Do your parents ever feel that your pursuit of a medical career will interfere with retaining your culture/beliefs/other commitments?
  • How have your parents influenced your academic goals?
  • Tell me about your extracurricular activities.
  • What do you do in your free time?
  • What are you good at?
  • Tell me about why you went to your school.
  • Tell me about your undergraduate institution.
  • Tell me about your activities in college.
  • What were your three favourite undergrad courses?
  • Tell me about this class you took…
  • Explain what ______ class is about.
  • In your volunteer experience, tell me five things that you were you inspired by.
  • Tell me about your research experience.
  • If you were going to write a review of your research, what would you title it?
  • What did you like about your research and what have you learned from it?
  • What will you do if your [research] hypothesis turns out to be wrong?
  • Tell me about X experience.
  • How has X experience influenced your career goals?
  • Tell me about your present job.
  • What brings you to Columbia?
  • What do you know about Columbia?
  • What are your thoughts on our curriculum?
  • What can Columbia do that would make you want to come here?
  • What are the most important factors that will allow you to choose one school over the other?
  • What would you contribute to Columbia and how does that make you different from everyone else I will interview today?
  • Where do you see yourself in ten years?
  • What is a book you recommend I read?
  • Have you read any books about physicians who serve as role models to you?
  • What sort of music do you like?
  • Do you play any instruments?
  • How did you learn so much about ___________?
  • How do you think people make decisions about presidential candidates?

Motivation and Insight into Medicine – These questions examine both your desire to study medicine as well as your general interest in the issues facing the medical community. While an in-depth knowledge is not expected, an awareness of topical issues, particularly those in the media is highly recommended. Questions may include:

  • What brought you to medicine?
  • Did your decision to become a doctor evolve slowly or over the course of a single experience?
  • What influenced you to be a doctor?
  • How long have you been interested in medicine?
  • At what juncture in your life did you decide to become a doctor and why?
  • What speciality/field in medicine do you think you will practice?
  • Are you interested in pursuing geriatric medicine?
  • What was your first encounter/impression of medicine?
  • What do you think will be the most difficult part of medicine?
  • Do you see yourself as a clinician or researcher?”
  • What sort of relationship, long-term or short-term, would you like with your patients?
  • What would you do if you don’t get into medicine?
  • If I were to give you five minutes to design a health care reform plan that would change access to health care in a third-world country like Haiti, what would you do? Who would you ask for help from?
  • Define globalism.
  • How do you propose to fix the problems of globalization?
  • In your opinion, what is the greatest problem in medicine?
  • What needs to change in healthcare in the next ten years?
  • What would it take to see a Universal Health Insurance system through?
  • What do you think of the pharmaceutical companies that make such large profits off of their drugs?
  • Explain how health care extends beyond treating disease.  
  • What are the greatest problems with the health care system today, and how would you fix them?
  • What do you think of the health care bill? Will it be successful?
  • What do you think of the Medicare bill in Congress?
  • Why are kids fatter now?
  • Define capitalism.
  • How do you propose to fix the problems of capitalism?
  • What is the most pressing question in science today?
  • How would you go about bringing in preventive medical practices to the country?
  • Additional Stations with model answers can be found in the MMI Question Bank

Columbia Medicine Interview Questions and Answers

Why do you want to study Medicine at Columbia University?

I am drawn to Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons due to its innovative curriculum and commitment to fostering compassionate and resilient physicians. The program’s unique structure, which includes the Fundamentals, Major Clinical Year, and Differentiation and Integration segments, encourages self-directed learning and teamwork, aligning with my educational goals. Additionally, Columbia’s mission to develop leaders in patient care, research, education, and healthcare policy resonates with my career aspirations. The emphasis on humanism and professionalism in medicine, combined with opportunities for personalized education through research, electives, and diverse student activities, makes Columbia an ideal place for my medical training.

What do you know about the Medicine course structure at Columbia University?

Columbia University’s MD program offers an innovative and flexible curriculum that eschews traditional year designations in favor of three major segments: Fundamentals, Major Clinical Year, and Differentiation and Integration. This structure allows for a more holistic and integrated approach to medical education, promoting self-directed learning and teamwork. Starting from the first week, students engage in patient care, integrating practical skills with theoretical knowledge. The curriculum also encourages exploration of individual medical goals, fostering a diverse range of skills and interests. Graduating from this program requires successful completion of all curriculum segments, a scholarly project, and passing the USMLE exams, ensuring a comprehensive medical education.

Can you discuss the research opportunities available at Columbia University's Medical School?

Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons offers extensive research opportunities, allowing students to delve into various medical fields and contribute to groundbreaking discoveries. The curriculum is designed to inspire students to question data and seek new insights in medicine. Students have the opportunity to engage in research projects in their area of interest, be it clinical research, public health, or biomedical sciences. Additionally, the college offers combined degree programs and a fifth-year research option, providing further avenues for in-depth study and specialization. These research experiences not only enhance students’ academic profiles but also prepare them for careers that may include clinical research and academic medicine.

How does Columbia University's Medical School integrate humanism and professionalism into its curriculum?

Columbia University integrates humanism and professionalism into its curriculum by focusing on the development of compassionate, ethical, and culturally competent physicians. The curriculum emphasizes the importance of understanding and respecting the diverse backgrounds and needs of patients. Through early patient contact and a team-based approach, students learn the value of empathy and effective communication in patient care. The college’s commitment to anti-racism and inclusivity further reinforces these principles, ensuring that graduates are not only medically competent but also sensitive to the social and cultural aspects of healthcare. This approach prepares students to provide equitable and high-quality patient care while upholding the highest standards of professionalism.

What makes Columbia University's Medical School unique in its approach to medical education?

Columbia University stands out for its restructured, innovative curriculum and its commitment to preparing future healthcare leaders. The program’s unique curriculum design, replacing traditional year designations with a more holistic approach, fosters a culture of self-directed learning and teamwork. The emphasis on early patient contact, along with the integration of humanism and professionalism, ensures that students develop both clinical skills and compassionate care practices from the start. Additionally, the college’s focus on anti-racism and inclusion, coupled with opportunities for personalized learning through research, electives, and community service, makes it a leader in shaping well-rounded, socially responsible medical professionals.


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