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What to Ask during Your Medical School Interview

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Interviews are all about questions. Most medical school applicants spend a great deal of time considering what they might be asked and how they will respond. No doubt about it, you will be grilled during your interview for medical school. Although tips for applying to medical school abound, many med school interview candidates don't realize is that the interview is also a time to ask questions. In fact, you will be judged on the quality of your questions.

Asking good questions is important because it shows that you are informed and interested in the program. More importantly, it is only by asking relevant questions that you will gather the information needed to determine if a particular medical school is right for you. The med school admissions committee is not just interviewing you - you are interviewing them. Too often candidates take the position that they will attend any school that admits them. Remember that you need to choose a program that is a good match for you. It is only by asking questions that you determine that.

One caveat about asking questions: Remember to do your homework. You should already know a lot about the program. Your questions should never ask about simple information that can be gleaned off of the website. You are expected to be aware of such materials. Instead your questions should probe and follow up on what you have already learned. Finally, tailor your questions to your interviewer. For example, ask quality of life questions (e.g., about the neighborhood) to students

Questions about the Curriculum

  • Are there any special programs for which this medical school is noted? [Better: Ask about specific programs]
  • Describe the curriculum during the pre-clinical and clinical years.
  • Is there flexibility in the coursework (the number of electives) and the timing of the courses?
Questions about Evaluations and Student Outcomes
  • How are students evaluated academically?
  • What is the course of action should a student perform poorly?
  • How are clinical evaluations performed?
  • How do students from this medical school perform on the National Board Examinations? (percent?)
  • How does the school assist students who do not pass?
  • What type of clinical sites are available? Settings (rural, urban, private)?
  • Are students permitted to do rotations at other institutions? Internationally?
  • May I see a list of residency programs to which this school's recent graduates were accepted?

Questions about Faculty-Student Interactions

  • How are advisors assigned?
  • How are students assigned to work on faculty research?
  • Are there opportunities for students to design, conduct, and publish their own research?

Questions about Resources

  • Tell me about the library. Is electronic access to journals adequate, in your view?
  • What kind of academic, personal, financial, and career counseling is available to students?
  • Are services available for spouses and dependents/children?
  • How diverse is the student body? Are there support services or organizations for ethnic minorities and women?
  • What kinds of computer and technology resources are available to students?
  • Is there a note-taking service? If so, is it university-run or student-run?

Questions about Financial Aid

  • What kinds of financial aid are offered?
  • How common is it for students to have unmet needs in their financial aid package? How do these students come up with the extra funds?
  • Is someone available to assist students with financial aid, budgeting, and financial planning?

Questions about Student Involvement

  • What medical school committees have student representation?
  • What opportunities exist for students to provide program feedback and participate in curriculum planning?
  • Are most students involved in community service?
  • What community service opportunities are available?
  • Is community service encouraged? Required?
  • How active is the student council/government?
  • What other student organizations exist?

Questions about Policies

  • What is the protocol for dealing with student exposure to infectious diseases?
  • Is disability insurance provided?
  • Are vaccinations provided against Hepatitis B or prophylactic AZT treatment in case of a needle-stick or accident?
  • Is there a grievance procedure?

Personal Questions

  • What are the housing facilities like? Do most students live on or off campus?
  • What is the neighborhood like?
  • What are rents like? How easy is it to find housing?
  • Do I need a car?
  • What kinds of stores and restaurants are in the neighborhood? Will I need to travel far to shop for groceries?

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • Does this school provide training in the type of medicine (primary versus specialized care, urban versus rural practice environment, academic medicine versus private practice) that I want to practice?
  • Will I be happy at this school?
  • Will I be happy in this neighborhood?

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