Washington State University Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine Interview Questions

Past Interview Questions & Tips

Washington Medicine Interview Format

Washington State University uses the multiple-mini interview format.  It consists of a series of seven one-on-one interview sessions each taking five minutes. In these sessions, applicants are assessed on their response to a structured scenario and are given two minutes at the beginning of these stations to consider their answer to the scenario. The eighth session is a 13-minute one-on-one semi-structured interview with an Admissions Committee member. Unlike the other stations, candidates are not given the questions for the eighth station prior to entering the interview room. There is also one five-minute rest station. Applicants will be assessed on the following:

  • Experience with rural and/or underserved communities and populations: Experience to understand the unique challenges and opportunities in rural environments and/or underserved communities and populations
  • Clinical exposure: Quality of experience (including shadowing, scribing, helping care within your family, emergency medical technician) AND amount of exposure
  • Service: Engages in non-healthcare activities that serve others beyond oneself
  • Experience beyond the classroom: Cultural experiences, arts, work, new language, hobbies, passion outside of academics, entrepreneurship
  • Leadership: Demonstrated leadership which has inspired others; capacity to mobilize people toward a goal; potential to excel as a leader through actions and activities; inclusive of diverse voices
  • Communication/Interpersonal skills: Social skills, active listening, emotional intelligence, professionalism; ability to address conflict in a positive, productive manner; verbal and nonverbal skills
  • Intellectual excellence: Uses creative and critical thinking to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, and/or approaches to problems; ability to succeed academically; capacity for improvement
  • Ethical responsibility to self and others: Sound ethical judgement; integrity; empathy; altruism; recognizes and addresses bias in oneself
  • Teamwork/collaboration: Demonstrates effective ability to work with others; intergroup collaborations with diverse individuals; puts team goals ahead of individual goals
  • Resilience/Adaptability: Perseveres in the face of internal or external challenges; recovers from setbacks; tolerance of stressful and changing situations; adaptable

Key Dates

Interviews generally take place between August and February.

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Washington State University Elson S. Floyd College Medicine Past MMI Stations & Interview Questions

General/Personal Statement – With interviewers having access to the candidate’s application, a great deal of emphasis is placed on their background and work experience. Many interviewers begin with the open-ended question “tell me about yourself”.  Applicants should expect to be asked to elaborate on any and every aspect of their personal statement and provide examples to support their answers. 

  • What sets you apart from other candidates?
  • Who would you pick as Time’s Person of the Year?
  • If a friend was sitting in the room what would be 2 positives and 2 negatives they would say about you?
  • What makes you unique?
  • Describe one failure in your life so far.
  • How did you end up where you are?
  • What’s the last book you read?
  • What have you been doing since you applied to Washington State?
  • Where do you see yourself in 12 years? And, what challenges do you foresee in your plan?
  • Who is someone that embodies professionalism in your eyes, and why?
  • Tell us about a patient you remember from _______ experience? – What was her name?- How old was she? – What was her diagnosis? – Did you follow up on her after she left your care? – What did you learn from her? ***Note. Confidentiality Trap***
  • Tell us about a patient you remember from one of your shadowing experiences
  • What are the three most important things you observed in the rural family practice clinic?
  • What did you learn/what most impacted you about your experience volunteering at ___________?
  • What medical experience have you had?
  • What volunteering experience has stood out in your mind?
  • What physician do you admire and what qualities does he/she embody that you would like to emulate?
  • Why did you choose to go to ___________ for undergrad? Did you apply to many schools?
  • How did you prepare for the MCAT?
  • Describe your research experience.
  • What would you do if you don’t get into medical school no matter how hard you tried?
  • During your experience as a volunteer, what was something that impacted you in a negative aspect? How would you remedy that?
  • What do you do in your spare time?
  • What was your favourite class in college? What was your least favourite class in college?
  • How did you pick all the schools you applied to?
  • What is the most significant experience you have had that made you want to become a physician?
  • How has your major prepared me for a career in medicine?
  • Why have you chosen Washington State?
  • What is your favourite movie?
  • Where do you see yourself in 20 years? Where will your ambition have taken you?

Motivation and Insight into Medicine – These stations explore your reasons for wanting to pursue a career in medicine.  Candidates will also be required to demonstrate a realistic view of the physician as well as practising medicine. Topics which are currently in the media, as well as issues which the medical community are facing, are also possible discussion points. Examples of these types of questions include: 

  • What inspired your interest in the field of medicine and why are you pursuing it?
  • Why did you choose to be a doctor?
  • What are the qualities of a good physician?
  • Is there any physician you admire?
  • What brought you to this table today?
  • Why do you want to be a doctor and why this state? Have you had rural medical experience in this state? 
  • What speciality are you interested in? 
  • Why do you want to change from your current career field into medicine?
  • How do you know you want to be a doctor?
  • Tell me why you want to be a physician.
  • Why an M.D. and not a PhD?
  • Why medicine at this school?
  • Tell us your story of deciding on medicine.
  • How have your experiences prepared you for medicine? Tell us about a specific patient you have encountered, what did you learn from that experience?

Insight into Medicine:

  • Give me your analysis and opinion on the democratic and republican viewpoints on healthcare reform.
  • When might a physician refuse to care for a patient? What if they are the only doctor for miles and miles in rural Alaska?
  • How would you spend $1 million to improve healthcare in the US
  • How should we modify the SGR going forward?
  • What is wrong with the health care industry today and what would you do to fix it?
  • What are the biggest problems facing health care?
  • What is not working with the health care system of the United States? (then follow up question) What do you think is not working with Canada’s (or other countries’)
  • What are your thoughts on the current healthcare system? 
  • Why is health care so expensive in the United States and how would you fix it?
  • Do you see a universal, single-payer healthcare system working in the US?
  • What is the healthcare system like in your hometown?
  • You are on the President’s health advisory team. What two things would you urge him to do/consider?
  • What frustrations have you experienced with healthcare restrictions when providing patient care? Do you anticipate having the same frustrations as a physician?
  • What are some of the difficulties facing paediatricians today?
  • What are some of the challenges in primary care medicine that you’ve seen/experienced?”
  • Why does the US spend so much money and get such poor results compared to other countries?
  • Who would negatively benefit from socialized medicine?
  • Why do you think HIV/AIDS is so prevalent in Africa?
  • What is the biggest problem in health care delivery in the US?
  • You are in charge of the country. How would you fix health care?
  • Some people are worried that National Health Insurance would result in the rationing of care. What about specialist fees? I’m an oncologist and new cancer treatments are extremely beneficial but expensive, what about them? Did you know that over half of healthcare spending occurs in the last 2 months of peoples’ lives? What do we do about that? Should we ration their care?
  • What are the issues around health coverage for the elderly, especially when resources are limited?
  • What is medicare?
  • Which presidential candidate’s health policy do you support?
  • How is the Canadian system different from the US? What are the main problems of the US system? What would you do to change it? Why is that a solution? Is cost the only factor?
  • Let’s say the US is switched to a Universal Health Care system like Oregon state, where everyone got basic health care, but certain procedures were not covered. For example, a 40 year old man, regardless of situation/health, will be refused a kidney transplant. Is this fair?
  • How does the Japanese healthcare system differ from the US healthcare system?
  • What do you think about premium medical services available to those who can pay for the added service?
  • What do you see as the three most important issues in medicine today?
  • Name three significant problems with healthcare in developing countries.
  • What challenges will you face working in a rural area?
  • How do we fix the problem of 43 million people being uninsured?
  • You give a medicare patient a much-needed treatment, she immediately tosses it in the trash saying she can’t afford it…What do you do?
  • What do you think are the biggest challenges you will face as a practicing doctor in ten years?

Ethical Scenarios – These stations have no clear right or wrong answer. Instead, the candidate’s ability to analyse the issue from multiple viewpoints and make a well-considered and justified judgement call are being assessed. Ethical dilemmas may be in the form of hypothetical scenarios or be given as an individual question.  Recent examples include the following: 

  • You are an oncologist with a young patient who requires chemotherapy. His mother has refused the treatment as she is concerned that the chemo will make him sick.  Discuss how you would deal with the patient and his mother.
  • A woman with two children has come to you to request a tubal ligation. Discuss what you would do in this situation.
  • You have two teenage daughters and one of their 15-year-old friends comes to you as a physician asking for birth control without parental consent.  
  • What would you do? You decide to prescribe the medication. Her mother discovers the pill pack with your name on it and angrily confronts you about it in the supermarket. Discuss how you would manage this situation.  
  • As a paediatrician, a mother brings in her six year old boy who is very sick. After getting them situated in an exam room, an administrator comes to you and says that they are illegal immigrants, have no insurance, your clinic has met its quota of Medicaid and Medicare patients for the month and you can’t afford to treat the boy. What do you do?
  • A mother brings in her 12-year-old son and says he is very ill and needs a note to excuse him from school for the next few days, but when you examine him there is nothing wrong, what would you do?
  • A patient with a common serious but relatively time-tested successful treatment plan wants to be disconnected from her ventilator before treatment is initiated. She is a nurse, and thus understands the implications of her request. Do you grant her wish or refuse, knowing that she will probably be fine with treatment but die without it?
  • Discuss the ethics of treatment resources used on patients not following doctors orders/making lifestyle changes
  • One of your patients is obese and needs to make changes to his diet from one of high fat to one that which is more nutritious. However, the patient does not want to modify his diet. Outline how you would approach this situation.
  • A woman has expressed the past that she never wants to be on a breathing machine. Three months later, she must go on a breathing machine or die. You get her to try it for a week. After six days on the machine, she is progressing positively and she wants the breathing machine removed. You are not certain that she is ready, but she wants it done now. What do you do?
  • You have a patient who was a chronic alcoholic and wants a liver transplant. Would you add that person to the national list for liver rationing? Explain your decision.
  • As a physician, you are against abortion.  A 14-year-old girl comes to you requesting the procedure. What do you do?
  • A patient is suing another doctor for medical malpractice and comes to see you, would you treat that patient and how would you deal with them?
  • Your patient is on a ventilator and wants to have it removed even though he won’t live without it. What do you do?
  • You are an ED doctor and your patient (a Jehovah’s Witness) refuses blood transplant, without it, they will die. What do you do? Does your decision change based on whether the patient is old patient/young, conscious/unconscious?
  • Your terminally-ill patient asks you for extra pills. You are aware that he has been storing them up and is going to take them to end his life. What do you do?
  • You have a patient who just lost his wife and found that he has prostate cancer but refuse treatment. His family is begging you to force him to have the treatment done. What do you do?
  • What is your opinion of the recent octuplet birth in California? How would you have approached the situation if you were the doctor? Do you think the doctor should be reprimanded in a non-litigating manner?
  • Is it ever okay to lie to a patient?
  • What kind of relationship should exist between pharmaceutical companies and physicians?
  • Stem cell research has generated heated debate. What are the pros and cons of this issue?
  • What is your opinion on physician-assisted suicide?
  • If a patient wants a prescription to buy drugs in Canada, do you do it?
  • Would you prescribe a lethal dose of morphine to a patient who was terminal if requested?
  • What are your views on cloning humans?
  • Additional MMI Ethical Scenarios with Model Answers can be found in the MMI Question Bank.

Role Play Stations – These stations often involve interactions with a trained actor under observation.  Often these situations may aim to replicate the clinical situations you may experience in a medical practice. Review BlackStone Tutors “6 Stages of MMI Role-Play” to develop the necessary techniques to successfully navigate these scenarios. For Example:

  • An obese man, with a chronic respiratory condition due to life-long smoking requests oxygen, but you as the physician refuse. What are your options?
  • Convince a person (actor) to stop smoking.
  • Your patient wants antibiotics for a viral illness. Convince them that they are unnecessary. 
  • Additional Role Play Stations with model answers can be found in the MMI Question Bank ​

Washington State Medicine Interview Questions and Answers

Why do you want to study Medicine at Washington State University's Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine?

Washington State University’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine stands out for its community-based medical education model. This innovative approach addresses the growing need for physicians in medically underserved and rural communities in Washington. By training in various healthcare settings across the state, I will gain exposure to a wide spectrum of health care environments and patient needs. This model aligns with my desire to contribute to communities where healthcare is most needed. The curriculum’s emphasis on developing well-rounded physicians capable of serving in diverse settings, from urban hospitals to rural clinics, and its focus on leadership skills and health system acumen, make it an ideal choice for my medical education.

What do you know about the Medicine course structure at Washington State University's College of Medicine?

The Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine offers a distinctive curriculum structured in a mix of clinical and classroom training. Starting in the first year, students engage in basic science and clinical training, integrating classroom lessons with clinical experiences. In the third and fourth years, the focus shifts heavily to clinical immersion, where students train largely in community-based settings, learning from experienced clinicians. This structure is augmented by the innovative Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LIC) model, which enables students to follow patient cases over an extended period, fostering deeper understanding and empathy. The program’s structure ensures that students are not only proficient in medical knowledge but also gain practical experience in diverse healthcare settings.

How does Washington State University's LIC model enhance medical training?

Washington State University’s Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LIC) model is a pioneering approach that significantly enhances medical training. Unlike traditional block clerkships, the LIC integrates students across various disciplines simultaneously over a 10-month span, allowing them to form lasting relationships with patients and clinicians. This model enables students to gain clinical competency across specialties and experience continuity of care. By actively participating in patient care through these longitudinal relationships, students develop a deeper understanding of the healthcare process and a stronger sense of empathy. This innovative approach not only refines their clinical skills but also mirrors the experiences they will have as residents and practicing physicians, preparing them for a successful career in medicine.

Discuss the community-based medical education approach at Washington State University's Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.

The Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine adopts a community-based medical education approach, which has profound benefits for both students and patients. By training in hospitals and clinics across Washington, students gain firsthand experience in a variety of health care settings, from urban centers to rural areas. This approach is particularly beneficial in addressing physician shortages in underserved communities. The distributive model of medical education allows students to learn in the environments where they are most likely to practice, increasing the likelihood that they will serve in these communities after graduation. This model equips future physicians with the skills and experiences to become healthcare leaders in areas where they are needed most, fostering a deep connection with the communities they serve.

What unique opportunities does Washington State University offer for medical students in terms of clinical experiences and training?

Washington State University offers unique clinical experiences and training through its innovative curriculum and LIC model. Students begin their clinical experiences early in their medical education, working alongside seasoned physicians in a variety of settings. The LIC model allows students to follow patient cases longitudinally, providing a more in-depth and empathetic approach to patient care. The curriculum prepares students to succeed in all healthcare environments, including large urban hospitals and rural critical access centers. Moreover, students have the opportunity to learn primarily from seasoned clinician faculty preceptors, receiving constant feedback and hands-on experience. These experiences are crucial in developing the confidence and competence of medical students, preparing them to deliver high-quality care in any setting they choose to practice in after graduation.

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