What KINDS of questions do they ask in interviews?

Ok, here’s the reason that I ask this question… I was doing some reading and found that a common question at interviews is something about alternative therapies.
IE, If a patient walked in and said they wanted to try alternative therapies, what would you say? Or a patient that is hypertensive walks in and says they’ve quit taking their normal medication and are now taking a home remedy and feel fine, what would you say?
Now, in general, I am in support of alternative therapies (to an extent, and not necessarily wholeheartedly in the second case), so how would I answer a question like that. My interpretation of that type of question would be the school looking to see if you’d use conventional medicine or alternative therapies instead, or trying to weed you out if you were “alternative”. Considering that this question came up in the interviews of many students at 2 of the schools that I intend to apply, this disturbs me. I refuse to lie in an interview for med school. But at the same time, if they are asking ME questions like this, then how do I answer as to not jeopardize my chances?
(Please let’s not make this a discussion on the value of alternative therapies. Let’s just base it on answering weird interview questions-thanks)

hmmm, I think maybe they are asking that question more to get people to discuss a touchy subject and see how they handle it. Does the interviewee have really “out there” opinions which are not based on any rational thought process? Does the interviewee change his mind as soon as the interviewer responds challengingly? Is the interviewee able to state her opinion and support it clearly and succinctly?
I had an interviewer ask me to explain a medical procedure, which freaked me out for a second until I realized she wanted to know if I could explain things in a way that a layperson could understand.
My philosophy while I was preparing for interviews was that I would answer with my honest opinion. There’s no way to know exactly what the interviewer wants to hear and it’s dangerous to try and guess. On the one hand, maybe they want to know that you discount alternative medicine. On the other hand, maybe your interviewer believes an open mind is crucial for a good doctor! And maybe they just want to see what you do when you are uncomfortable.
This is where the cliched advice “be yourself” is actually quite useful. And hey, any school that wouldn’t accept you on the basis of an opinion about alternative medicine (or any other touchy subject) might not be the right school for you anyway.

The schools might be looking to see how you regard your prospective patient population…if you respect their opinions or just want them to do what you say.

I would tell my patient that my job is to inform them of their choices and to make recommendations. Ultimately, the decision about a treatment plan is up to them. I’d respect their decision no matter what it is, but I would let them know if I believed a treatment might cause them harm.

As doctors, we should be facilitators, NOT godlike authority figures. Of course, if a patient comes in unable to communicate and needs immediate emergency surgery, with no family, etc…then it’s up to us to determine the best course of action.

I have had a discussion with someone who used to be on the interview panel. She told me that most questions like that have no right or wrong answer, they are just interested in your thought process.
The best way to answer those questions is to think out loud. Don’t sit there, mull it over and then give a short answer. Say out loud all of your thinking, the pros and cons of each side, and then say what your opinion or course of action would be.
In most cases where the question involves a conflict between what the patient wants and what you may think is the best you need to make sure that you talk with them and give them options.


My interpretation of that type of question would be the school looking to see if you’d use conventional medicine or alternative therapies instead, or trying to weed you out if you were “alternative”.

This is probably the LEAST likely explanation for asking these sorts of questions. It’s almost surely not going to be a sort of “litmus test” on your opinions or beliefs about alternative medicine. As already pointed out, it could be a chance to show how you can express and defend your opinion. It could also be a chance to find out how you will handle your “position of authority” as a physician - would you come down on the patient like a ton of bricks? refuse to treat them? explain why they are stupid? …IMHO these are less desirable choices … or might you describe talking to a patient to find out his motivations for wanting alternative therapy, concerns about medications, possible compromises in treatment that could be negotiated etc. There are lots of shadings and nuances, and I am pretty confident in saying that an interview question like this is aimed at the nuances of knowing you better.