MMI Situational Questions
You should expect to face situational questions in an MMI. These will often involve roleplay, and will cover common scenarios that you might encounter as a medical student – or just as a student in general. Here we’ll take a look at four different situations, and consider a suitable response to each.
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MMI Situational Question 1
You are having a quick snack with one of your medical student colleagues, Sarah, on an evening shift. She suddenly becomes very upset and begins to cry. She reveals that she can’t keep up with the amount of learning required and the other demands on her time. She thinks that the team she’s shadowing in and working as part of is particularly busy, and that most other medical students are having a much easier time than she is. How would you respond?
Answer: I should keep her concerns private and focus on her. I would therefore explore her concerns with her in more detail and see how I can help. I would ensure that I used open questions and gave her adequate time to express herself. I would then explain to her that I was happy to discuss her concerns with her tutor with her, if she felt that she needed support in doing so. Equally, I would urge her to speak to senior members of the team that she’s currently part of, and voice her concerns directly to them.
MMI Situational Question 2
You are a junior doctor walking to the hospital shop on your lunch break, after a busy morning working on the renal ward ward. Whilst you are walking, one of your colleagues, Tom, reveals that his father died last week, at the age of just 59. He explains that he is feeling depressed and unsure of what to do, but doesn’t think that taking compassionate leave is appropriate given that the hospital is already facing staffing problems.
Answer: The most important factor here is showing empathy towards Tom. I would therefore explore how he’s feeling and how the bereavement is affecting him. Of course, before doing so I would ensure that he feels comfortable with this, and that he wouldn’t be rather left alone. This is a serious issue if he feels that his work is being compromised by his personal situation, and equally he ought to feel that he can take personal time if he needs to. I would therefore urge him to explain the situation to a senior figure, like his consultant. I would explain that compassionate leave is suitable for a situation like this, and that the hospital will surely be able to cover him for such a serious situation.
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MMI Situational Question 3
You are a male medical student in your early 20s. A consultant whom you are shadowing makes disparaging remarks about female staff in front of you, and tries to get you to join him in making offensive jokes about them. How would you respond to this situation?
Answer: I would initially consider the comments made and try to catalogue them in my head before I spoke to the consultant, so that I was clear on what I had seen and heard, and what I would need to say in turn. Then, I would ask them to speak in private at a suitable time. I would respectfully and politely explain that some of the comments that they had made were inappropriate, and that I was concerned by his having made them. Hopefully, this discussion would lead to him admitting that their actions were wrong, and perhaps a realisation that these sorts of remarks and jokes have no place today. However, if he was unwilling to change his behaviour then I would discuss it with another senior figure. Equally if the remarks were sufficiently negative that I thought they would be impacting female members of staff, I would report him as per hospital guidelines.
MMI Situational Question 4
‘A doctor must show empathy rather than sympathy.’ Do you agree with this statement?
I agree with this statement, although showing sympathy can be of benefit as well. Empathy is the ability to put oneself in another’s place in order to truly try to understand what they are feeling. Sympathy is showing compassion and caring when another is undergoing a difficult experience. Therefore, empathy is more complex and more involved in terms of logical thought, and can lead to better understanding how to proceed – making it more suitable for a medical professional.