Speed dating to find the next generation of doctors? Well, yes, in a way.
The New York Times recently wrote about the admissions process at Virginia Tech Carilion, where students are chosen as much for their interpersonal qualities as their academic aptitude.
Using the so-called “multiple mini interview,” prospective medical students are ushered in a series of 9 interviews, each designed to test how they would respond to different scenarios and ethical dilemmas.
Here’s how it works:
At Virginia Tech Carilion, 26 candidates showed up on a Saturday in March and stood with their backs to the doors of 26 small rooms. When a bell sounded, the applicants spun around and read a sheet of paper taped to the door that described an ethical conundrum. Two minutes later, the bell sounded again and the applicants charged into the small rooms and found an interviewer waiting. A chorus of cheerful greetings rang out, and the doors shut. The candidates had eight minutes to discuss that room’s situation. Then they moved to the next room, the next surprise conundrum and the next interviewer, who scored each applicant with a number and sometimes a brief note.
The school asked that the actual questions be kept secret, but some sample questions include whether giving patients unproven alternative remedies is ethical, whether pediatricians should support parents who want to circumcise their baby boys and whether insurance co-pays for medical visits are appropriate.
I like it.
There’s more to becoming a doctor than book smarts and high grades. With today’s emphasis on patient safety, communication skills are critical, and arguably just as important as clinical acumen.
Not only do tomorrow’s doctors need these skills to treat patients, they need to work collaboratively in teams and with their peers. Especially with the changes health reform is making to the profession, doctors need to be comfortable both leading, and being part of, teams.
If this technique of screening medical school applicants spreads, as it should, gone will be the days of the technically proficient, but socially inept, doctor.