Oxbridge Interview Technique Guide 4: Medicine Questions

What to Expect

Whilst the Oxbridge interviews are panel-based and much more traditional than the MMIs you will now typically find at other universities, you should still expect to cover the core questions around why you are interested in studying Medicine; unlike at other universities, expect to face detailed questions delving into the science of Medicine and the broader context of Medicine and the NHS.

You will be expected to answer why you want to be a doctor, as you will anywhere else. Ensure that you are well-prepared for this question with an answer that makes sense in the context of Oxbridge (e.g. you are interested in research as well as the reward of directly helping people and feel that a role as a clinician who is actively engaged in research is therefore perfect for you). You will need to be aware of the attributes that make a good doctor, and the GMC guidance for both doctors and medical students.

You should be able to succinctly and efficiently illustrate your points with relevant work experience and shadowing. You should show that you have reflected in great detail on said experience.

Unlike at other universities, you will be expected not only to understand the NHS, public health, and recent changes in Medicine, but also show an ability with the sciences that underpin Medicine. This might involve questions specific to biology or chemistry (covered in Technique Guide 5) but will also involve questions that are better seen as being part of Medicine. 

5 Example Questions

What makes a good doctor?
What is the greatest medical innovation of this century?
How does the body recognise and remove poison?
What is your motivation for studying Medicine?
What did you learn from your work experience?

Recommended Technique & Steps

These questions rely on knowledge that you have gained and answers that you have, to some extent, prepared. Your technique will therefore be reliant on what works best for you, and the type of question being asked. In general, you should consider:

i) What knowledge am I expected to have or show?
ii) How can I link my experience to the question and reflect on it?
iii) What extra reading can I add to the answer that shows the breadth of my knowledge?

For the more complex questions that require a mixture of problem-solving and medical knowledge, or require scientific knowledge, you will need to use a structure more similar to that seen in Technique Guide 2: Critical Thinking questions. 

Implemented Example: What did you learn from your work experience?

Here, it should be clear that your goal is to provide some overview of your work experience, and crucially to then hone in on a specific detail of it and show detailed reflection on it.

I did my best to undertake as varied a series of placements and forms of work experience as possible. I was able to learn about general practice, epidemiology, orthopaedic surgery, amongst other specialties and forms of healthcare. The single most important learning point from my work experience was the value of the patient to the doctor. One often has an idea of the doctor as the provider of care, as the active member of the doctor-patient relationship. However, this is clearly an outdated and paternalistic way of looking at Medicine. Instead, we ought to see the patient as the doctor’s equal, someone who is there with them to make decisions. Patients have autonomy, and must be given enough information, in terms that they can understand, that they feel confident in deciding on their own health. This certainly surprised me at the outset. I was surprised too, when looking at Medicine from a broader perspective, more in-line with public health, by the importance of consultations with the general public.

This made me excited to combine hands-on patient exposure with scientific learning, and in time to combine clinical practice with research. I believe that being able to learn from patients in a human way, through speaking to them and engaging with them, can be allied with learning through research in order to make one as rounded a doctor as possible. We should see patient and doctor as evolving and learning together; after all, both are reliant on the other in their own way.

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