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University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine Interview Questions

Past Interview Questions & Tips

Calgary Cumming School Medicine Interview Format (Historically)

Interviews for the Cumming School of Medicine take the form of Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI). The interview is run as two separate circuits and a group task:

  • The short format circuit consists of seven, seven-minute stations each with two minutes outside the room to read the prompt for the station. This circuit has a more conventional MMI structure with scripted questions which interviewers must address in a given order. Interviewers are unable to clarify or probe the candidate for further information. This circuit lasts approximately 70 minutes. Prompts exist both outside and inside the room, so there is no need for taking notes during the reading time.
  • The long format circuit consists of two, 20-minute semi-structured panel interviews or ‘stations’, each with two interviewers.
  • The group task includes 4-5 applicants with one assessor. The group is given a task to complete in 18 minutes while the assessor observes the group dynamics. At the end of the task, the group reports back/presents their solution to the assessor.

 
Interviewers may include members of the faculty, current medical school students, allied health care professionals (e.g. nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists etc) or members of the general public. 
The non-cognitive attributes they assess fall into three categories:

  • Students behaviour which reflects:
    • Altruism
    • Compassion
    • Empathy
    • Integrity

  

  • Professional relationships which demonstrate:
    • Trustworthiness and honesty
    • Respect for others
    • The ability to maintain confidences
    • Self-directed learning
    • Willingness to self-assess
    • Willingness to work hard
    • Effective communication skills

 

  • Character traits including:
    • The ability to manage time
    • The ability to tolerate ambiguity
    • The ability to tolerate stress
    • Good judgement
    • Enthusiasm for their work
    • Attention to detail
    • Recognition and respect for the roles of other healthcare disciplines

Key Dates

Interviews generally take place in March each year.

Calgary Cumming School Medicine Key Application & Interview Statistics

Overall Success Rate (Total Applicants : Total Spaces)
Overall Success Rate (Total Applicants : Total Spaces)

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University of Calgary Cumming School Medicine Past MMI Stations & Interview Questions

Ethical Scenarios – These stations often do not have a clear right or wrong answer. Instead, they expect you to be able to demonstrate that you can explore the multiple sides to the issue and confidently justify your stance. Ensure that you have a good understanding of Ethical Scenarios: Two Sorts, Two Sides prior to your interviews. Ethical dilemmas may include:

In 2007, The American Family Physician Journal published an article exploring the issue of physicians as role models, using a scenario in which an obese physician is offering nutrition and exercise counselling to his obese patients. According to the authors’ research, patients have more confidence in the health-counselling advice of non-obese versus obese physicians, and physicians with poor personal lifestyle habits are less likely to counsel patients about a healthy lifestyle. Based on these research findings, do physicians have a responsibility to act as healthy role models to their patients? Please elaborate.

Follow Up Probing Questions:

  • Is a physician who does not follow a healthy lifestyle employing a double standard when they are providing lifestyle-counselling? Explain.
  • Do you think that there is a difference between unhealthy lifestyle habits which manifest themselves more visibly than others (e.g. smoking or alcohol consumption)? Explain.
  • What determines whether or not another person is a role model? Who decides and why?
  • What are the limits of this responsibility?
  • Do you have any additional comments before we end this discussion?

Every week, your classmates gather at the local coffee house to review the lessons from that week. In the last month, everyone has been working on a major paper on Roman history which accounts for 40% of the course grade. One of your classmates has copies of two of the papers that last years’ students wrote for the same course. Your classmate has emailed copies of the papers to you and the other people in the group. What would you do in this situation and explain why?

Follow Up Probing Questions:

  • Discuss what values and choices are relevant in this situation?
  • What are the implications if you decide to read the papers from last year?
  • What are the implications if you decline the offer to read the papers from last year?
  • What would you do if one of the classmates decided to draw upon the material from the two papers in developing their submission?
  • Do you have any additional comments before we end this discussion?
  • Additional MMI Ethical Scenarios with Model Answers can be found in the MMI Question Bank.

Role Play Stations – This may involve interactions with a trained actor, or medical school student as well as an observer. Role-play scenarios often test a number of different attributes at once, for example, communication skills, empathy and ethical principles. For effective ways to navigate this type of station review BlackStone Tutors “6 Stages of MMI Role Play”

Communication Stations – These stations may include hypothetical scenarios of a medical or non-medical nature or may involve the use of visual aids to answer questions. To excel in these stations, review BlackStone Tutors “The 7 Stages of MMI Communication Stations”Examples of communication stations may include:

You are halfway through your first year of medical school. Your school has a peer professionalism assessment program that requires that six of your classmates assess you each year. You also do a self-assessment. The results of your performance evaluation done by yourself and your peers, as well as the class mean,  suggest that you handle conflict poorly and are less empathetic than your colleagues. Discuss these results with the interviewer.

Follow up probing questions:

  1. Based on these results, what would you do differently?
  2. What other information might you seek to guide your professional development?
  3. How would you create an action plan so that next year’s results will be different?
  4. How will you monitor your performance to ensure that you are making progress?
  5. Do you have any additional comments before we end this discussion?

As president of the University of Calgary Medical Students Association, you have been asked to respond to a proposed bill which would require all Canadian to vote in federal, provincial and municipal elections or face a $100 fine. What will you include in your response?

Follow Up Probing Questions:

  1. What general principles would you apply to justify your response?
  2. What is more important – the rights of the individual or the needs of the society?
  3. Is the balance between individual rights and societal needs different where the medical profession is concerned?
  4. Do you have any additional comments before we end this discussion?

You are a third-year medical student on an elective rotation. You are working with another medical student, resident and a staff physician, Dr Kerry. During rounds, Dr Kerry and the resident make several demeaning comments to the nurses. After rounds in the doctor’s lounge, the conversation continues. Several condescending comments were said by Dr Kerry and the resident about the patient management suggestions made by nursing staff. You are bothered by the comments. You know that Dr Kerry and the resident will be doing your evaluation at the end of the rotation. Other medical students tell you that you will get a better evaluation if you just fit in. However, you decide that it is necessary to speak to Dr Kerry about the situation. What will you say?

Follow Up Probing Questions:

  1. In this case how important is it that you speak to the staff physician? Please rank the importance on a scale of 1-10 and justify your response.
  2. What is your primary motivation in this case?
  3. Do you see any potential risks and/or long-term implications of your decision to speak to the staff physician?
  4. How does that decision contribute to your developing professionalism?
  5. Do you have any additional comments before we end this discussion?

You have recently taken the initiative to volunteer at a homeless shelter. On this particular day, you meet a 42-year-old woman dying from alcohol-related liver disease. Her skin and her eyes are very yellow from a lifetime of alcohol abuse and she complains of significant generalized pain which worsens with movement. She confides in you that she hasn’t had a drink in two days and “wants to get hammered” before she dies, but cannot get the last bottle of vodka out of her locker. You know that alcohol is not allowed at the shelter. There is another woman lying on her side three beds away who is watching your interactions closely. What will you say or do?

Follow Up Probing Questions:

  1. In medicine, there are often other options to be taken into consideration: what options can be considered and/or dismissed?
  2. What attitudes does this situation raise?
  3. In this situation, how might emotion and logic interact in your decision?
  4. How can individuals demonstrate empathy without imposing your own values?
  5. Do you have any additional comments before we end this discussion?


Teamwork Station – This is a multiple applicant station aimed to observe group work skills. To maximise your performance in this station review BlackStone Tutors “MMI Teamwork Stations: Key Tips and Common Pitfalls”. An example of a scenario that has been used in the past is the following: 

  • Your group is stranded on a desert island after a plane crash. Discuss with your group which ten of the following thirty items do you decide to take with you, explaining your reasoning? 
  • Additional teamwork stations with example answers can be found in the MMI Question Bank

Long Panel Stations (2 Stations, 20 Minutes Each)
• The questions are based around the desired attributes. Interviewers have recommended questions and are allowed to seek clarification but there is no set script to which they must adhere. These interviews aim to probe at the candidate’s thought process. 
• Candidates should expect questions with a degree of depth, with appropriate detail also expected in the answers given. No prompts for long format interviews. There will be no small talk questions e.g. what is your greatest weakness, where are you from, spare time etc. 
• One of the panels will involve a discussion of your top 10. Interviewers will have a copy of what you wrote in your application. This information will be used as a starting point for one of your panel interviews and to extract the attributes they are looking to assess. 

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