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  • Amy van Dongen

University of St Andrew’s Medical School Interview 2022/2023 – EXPLAINED

The University of St Andrew's is the oldest medical school in Scotland and one of the most prestigious in the world. Famous alumni include small pox vaccine pioneer Edward Jenner, revolutionary journalist Jean-Paul Marat, and inventor of beta blockers and H2 receptor antagonists, Nobel Prize in Medicine winner Sir James Black.

St Andrews Medical school is different to most medical schools in that you will be able to spend the first 3 years of your degree in St Andrews, and then the latter 3 years studying in one of its partner medical schools. It’s a unique opportunity to study medicine in more than one area of the country, so keep reading to make sure you are as prepared as you can be for the interview!

Interview selection

Once you’ve sent off your application, you will be assessed against other candidates on the bases of:

- Academic performance

- Personal statement and reference

- UCAT score

It is these criteria that determine whether or not you land an interview, so click HERE for more information on how you can maximise your chance of an invitation.

How does the St. Andrews interview work?

At St. Andrews, you will be faced with a 6-station MMI, with each station lasting just 6 minutes! This is significantly shorter than interviews at most medical schools, so it is imperative that you practice your interview skills and articulating your thoughts concisely so you can mention everything you want to in the real interview.

For students whose fee status will be overseas, interviews will be held online for 2023 entry, while all other students will have in-person interviews.

To experience a mock St Andrews interview where you can practice this, click HERE to find MasterMed’s 1-1 mock interview tutoring, where we offer University-specific mock interviews!

What will St Andrews test at interview?

St Andrews lay out a number of different things that they wish to test during your interview. These are:

- Understanding of medicine as a career and appreciate the realities of working in healthcare

- Communication and interpersonal skills

- Role play and interactions with an actor

- Critical thinking skills

- Reflection

- Ability to discuss ethical scenarios

You will also be expected to talk about an reflect on your work experience. St Andrew’s will expect you to have completed work experience in a caring or health environment. Experiences they suggest are shadowing in a hospital or GP practice, working in a nursing home or hospice, or working with people with ill-health or disability.

Reflection stations

St Andrews will expect you to be able to reflect on a number of things at interview. The questions could be about what you have learned on work experience, what you now understand about working in healthcare, or even reflecting o different qualities that you think are important in medicine.

When asked to reflect in a station, it is important that you use your own experiences to back up what you are saying. For example, if you are asked to speak about you want to pursue medicine, it would be great to talk about something you witnessed on work experience that particularly inspired you, as this will give your answer a much more personal feel. You could also comment on an aspect of your work experience that you found difficult, which will show the interviewer that you are aware of the realities of working in healthcare. To go further, you could then reflect on qualities that you have or that you will work on to help you overcome these challenges – again, make sure you reflect on a time you have demonstrated these qualities, or talk about how you are trying to improve on them.

When reflecting on qualities you have that make you suitable for medicine, a structure you could follow to help you stay on track is:

1. Tell the interviewer the quality your have e.g. empathy

2. Talk about a time when you demonstrated this (this could be in your social life, at school, or on work experience)

3. Discuss the importance of this quality in medical practice

4. Reflect on a time on work experience where you saw another healthcare professional demonstrate this quality in a positive way.

Qualities that St Andrews are particularly looking for in candidates are empathy, good communication and listening skills, leadership, teamwork, resilience, and commitment to medicine and study.

TOP TIP: while it is important to emphasise things that will make you a great candidate for medicine, it will be equally important for you to be able to reflect on your weaknesses and how you are trying to improve on them!

Role play station

In the role play station, you will be asked to have a conversation with an actor for a few minutes. These kinds of stations are typically quite laid back, and the actors will be friendly. These stations are designed to test your communication skills to see how well you are able to articulate information, listen to others, and empathise with what they are feeling.

Be aware, that while the actors will try to be accommodating, they may come across as very neutral, or even quite cold while you are talking with them. Don’t panic if this is the case! This will not be because of how your doing, and more likely a demonstration of some of the tricky interactions you could have and will be expected to handle at medical school. Ensuring that you are empathetic and listen well to the actor will give you a solid grounding for this station.

ICE stands for Ideas, Concerns and Expectations, and using ICE will help you think of questions if you are struggling!

Asking the actor what they think has happened and why, what they are particularly concerned or anxious about, and what they are hoping will happen, are good ways to start a conversation and will hopefully enable to to elicit some more information from the actor.

Some examples of role play stations could be:

1. You are a medical student in a GP practice, and have been asked to speak to one of the patients in the waiting room who is quite nervous.

2. You are on work experience in a nursing home and you’ve noticed one of the nurses hasn’t been washing her hands between dealing with each patient. Speak to her about this.

3. You are a junior doctor at a GP surgery, and a patient has come to see you as his referral has taken a long time to come through. You’ve discovered that the referral was lost, and so will need to be re-done, taking even longer. Please break this news to them.

Ethical scenarios

In stations where you are faced with an ethical scenario, you could either be asked to argue one side of an ethical argument, or asked to weight up both sides of an argument and ultimately come to your own conclusion, justifying your reasoning.

In either of these cases, it’s important that you have a solid understanding of medical ethics. This includes understanding and applying the Four Pillars of ethics, as well as other ideas such as informed consent, capacity and confidentiality.

Alongside having a strong understanding of these ethical principles, it’s vital that you are aware of the different opinions surrounding some key ethical issues, for example euthanasia, organ donation and abortion to name just a few. You will also be expected to understand the UK’s stance on these topics, and be able to discuss this in relation to the ethics.

When talking about ethical issues, using the Four Pillars is a good way to answered in a structured manner while also hitting all the key points. Practice discussing some of these issues with family and friends so that you can become familiar with the different opinions there are surrounding these topics, but also so you can practice articulating your own thoughts.

Summary: St Andrew's University Medicine Interview

Being able to reflect, empathise and communicate, and weigh up an argument are vital for the St Andrew’s interview. Practicing with family and friends and taking the tips from this blog will ensure that you are prepared, so good luck and be yourself!

For more interview practice, click HERE for a link to MasterMed’s 1-1 interview coaching.

Resources for St Andrew's Medicine Interview


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