University of California San Francisco UCSF Medicine Interview Questions

Past Interview Questions & Tips

University of California, San Francisco Medicine Interview Format

Candidates are given two, closed file interviews, each lasting approximately 40 minutes.  At least one interviewer will be a faculty member, and the other is usually a medical student. The interviews are closed-file.

Interviews are to be conducted online for the 2023 intake.

Key Dates

Interviews generally take place between September and February.

California, San Francisco Medicine Key Application & Interview Statistics

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

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University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Medicine Past MMI Stations & Interview Questions

General/Personal Statement – These interviews are closed file therefore, candidates should expect to be asked a lot of background information. The most common question asked in this situation is “Tell me about yourself” with all subsequent questions following on from here. This is a chance for the candidate to control the direction of the interview to a certain extent. Other questions which may follow on from this include:

  • Use 3 words to describe yourself.
  • Summarize who you are in about five bullet points
  • What should I know about you?
  • How would your best friend describe you?
  • What is your GPA and MCAT score?
  • Do you have any mentors?
  • Who had the biggest influence on your life?
  • What do you do for fun?
  • What do you do in your free time?         
  • What book are you reading right now?
  • What High School did you go to?
  • Have you endured any hardships/challenges?
  • Which classes were your favourite in High school and College?
  • What level of education do your parents have?
  • How important to you is your family?
  • Why do you like to help people?
  • What community health-based experiences have you had?
  • What would you tell others about the values learned from volunteering with _______?
  • What is one thing you would like to change about yourself?
  • How do you think UCSF fits you?
  • Explain your involvement in research
  • What are some personal qualities that you would like to work on while you are in medical school?
  • What do you expect will be the most challenging aspect of the program for you?
  • What was the most important thing you learned as an undergraduate student?
  • What have you heard about San Francisco?
  • Will there be any surprises when I finally get to read your application?”
  • If there is one thing that you could have me convey to the admissions committee about you, what would you like me to tell them?
  • Where do you see yourself in ten years?
  • We try to represent all walks of life in each of our medical school classes. How do you feel you could contribute to our incoming class?”
  • If you had to choose a career outside medicine, what would it be?

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:

  • Why medicine?
  • What experiences have led you here?
  • You mentioned X activity… how did that inspire you to pursue medicine?
  • What’s wrong with health care today? What would you do to fix it?
  • Implementation of universal coverage will probably lower physician pay, how do you feel about that?
  • How do you think pharmaceutical companies should interact with hospitals and medical institutions?
  • Do you have any fears about going into medicine?
  • If you could change one thing about the state of healthcare in America, what would it be?
  • What type of medicine are you interested in?
  • If not medicine, what profession would you take?
  • What are going to be the biggest problems in medicine in the future?
  • Why do you think you will be a good doctor?
  • What have you learned from your cultural background that will help you in medical school?
  • How would you deal with a patient who you feel doesn’t listen to you or who you can’t connect with?
  • What qualities do you think you have that would make a good physician?            
  • If you decide to be a doctor in the rural area, how would you survive financially?
  • What do think about the patient-physician relationship?
  • What do you think the role of religion should be in medicine?
  • What do you like about the culture of medicine?
  • What type of patient do you think you would be able to help the most?

Ethical Scenarios – These questions may be based on the candidate’s clinical work experience or on controversial topics currently in the media, especially those which government is reviewing legislation for. These questions are aimed at examining the candidates’ ability to consider the multi-faceted nature of the issue. Questions which have been used in prior interview rounds include:

  • Do you think doctors really need to be honest with patients? Why?
  • What is your view on euthanasia?
  • What do you think about funding for abusive men to get counselling instead of abused women?
  • Is health care a right or a privilege–if privilege, what sort of model would you put in place to provide care to everyone?
  • Have we been too successful in recruiting women into the medical field? Should the incoming class be 50-50 men/women no matter how many women apply?
  • Do you think we should provide healthcare for illegal immigrants?
  • What is the difference between medical futility and simply focusing on the quality of life during end-of-life care?
  • What is your opinion on smokers needing more antibiotics than the average person and thus contributing to antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria?
  • Additional MMI Ethical Scenarios with Model Answers can be found in the MMI Question Bank.

Communication Stations – Candidates’ communication skills are often assessed in conjunction with other interpersonal skills, such as their ability to show empathy. On some occasions, however, the candidates’ ability to communicate may be assessed in isolation; ensure that you utilise the 7 Stages of MMI Communication Stations to excel in these tasks. Questions which have been used previously include: 

  • Describe your research without the use of jargon; explain what you did in a way that someone with my little experience can understand.
  • Explain to me how to tie my shoelace.
  • Explain the rules for _____________ activity. 
  • Additional Communication Stations with model answers can be found in the MMI Question Bank

UCSF Medicine Interview Questions and Answers

Why do you want to study Medicine at UCSF School of Medicine?

UCSF School of Medicine offers an innovative, research-intensive environment that is at the forefront of biomedical discovery and clinical application. Its Bridges Curriculum is uniquely structured to integrate foundational knowledge with clinical experiences and personalized education. The emphasis on developing the skills of an inquiring physician aligns with my ambition to contribute meaningfully to patient care and medical science. Additionally, UCSF’s collaborative culture, coupled with its location in a hub of medical innovation, provides unparalleled opportunities for interdisciplinary learning and research. This environment is ideal for nurturing my goal to become a physician capable of advancing healthcare through scientific discovery and compassionate patient care.

What do you know about the Medicine course structure at UCSF School of Medicine?

The UCSF School of Medicine’s Bridges Curriculum is a progressive, fully integrated program delivered over four years. It comprises three phases: Foundations 1, where students build foundational knowledge in basic and clinical sciences; Foundations 2, focusing on advancing patient care skills in team-based clinical settings; and Career Launch, an individualized phase where students choose clinical experiences and a scholarly project aligned with their career goals. This curriculum emphasizes the development of the habits of an inquiring physician, with a strong focus on patient care, systems improvement, and the application of foundational science in clinical decision-making. Such an approach ensures a comprehensive and adaptable medical education, preparing students for the challenges of modern healthcare.

How does UCSF School of Medicine's Inquiry Curriculum enhance student learning?

UCSF School of Medicine’s Inquiry Curriculum is a pivotal component of the Bridges Curriculum, designed to cultivate a deep understanding of the limits of current medical knowledge and the process of scientific discovery. This curriculum encourages students to approach healthcare problems through various scientific lenses, fostering critical thinking and innovation. By engaging students in the process of inquiry from the early stages of their education, UCSF ensures that graduates are not just knowledgeable in medical sciences but are also equipped with the skills to continually advance the field through research and scientific exploration. This focus on inquiry and discovery is instrumental in preparing students for a medical career that is both dynamic and impactful.

Discuss the significance of the Clinical Microsystems Clerkship (CMC) in UCSF's medical education.

The Clinical Microsystems Clerkship (CMC) at UCSF School of Medicine is a longitudinal clinical skills curriculum that begins in the Foundations 1 phase. Its significance lies in its innovative approach to clinical education, where students learn to navigate and improve the healthcare system right from the start of their training. This clerkship focuses on the health of populations and the effectiveness of health care systems, thereby ingraining in students an understanding of the broader context of patient care. Such early and continuous exposure to real-world clinical settings cultivates students’ skills in patient care, systems improvement, and healthcare navigation, making them adept at addressing the complexities of modern healthcare systems.

What opportunities does UCSF School of Medicine offer for individualized learning and career development?

UCSF School of Medicine excels in offering a flexible and personalized learning environment. The Bridges Curriculum provides opportunities for students to individualize their clinical and scientific learning to support their specific career goals. This includes dedicated time for scholarly projects, where students can delve into research within core domains of science, addressing today’s healthcare challenges. Additionally, the personalized advising system and close mentorship at UCSF ensure that students receive guidance tailored to their professional aspirations. The school’s commitment to individualized education allows students to explore their interests deeply and develop a career path that aligns with their unique skills and passions, preparing them for diverse roles in the medical field.


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