MMI Interview Prep: Policy/Current Event Questions

Medical School
September 16, 2019

MMI Interview Preparation: Policy & Current Events

Whether you are participating in an MMI or a traditional medical school interview, you need to prepare for a policy/current event type question.

This type of question is designed to ensure that you are well informed, that you keep yourself up to date with what is going on in the world.

And if you want to become a doctor, you are going to want to know a good amount about the issues affecting your field.

So in this post, we go over some of those issues, show you some best practices for how to research them, and devise a strategy to answer this question on your interview day.

Common Policy/Current Event Topics

This question could be about anything, but will most likely revolve around the medical field.

Furthermore, they will probably let you pick the topic. But since they technically could ask you about any specific thing, it’s best to have a broad understanding. These are some of the topics that you should focus on.

● Access to Healthcare

● Rising Healthcare Costs

● Medical Marijuana/Recreational Legalization of Marijuana

● Integrating Technology Into Patient Care

● Cybersecurity in regard to Patient Data

● Mental Health

● Obesity

● Chronic Illness

A few of these topics run together, so researching about one will help you with the other.

If there were two you should focus on, it would be access to healthcare and rising healthcare costs (especially if you are in the United States).

These are the hot topics in healthcare right now.

But since you will most likely get to pick the topic you talk about, if you are passionate about a particular issue (even if it is not on this list), feel free to use it!

Preparation Before Your Interview

Preparing for these types of questions is all about research. You need to inform yourself on every side of an issue.

The information that you need can be found through Google searches.

The main thing that you need to look out for is biased articles and information. This is especially important if you are researching a highly partisan topic like access to healthcare.

Even resources that claim to be “non-partisan” and “non-biased” will leave out certain details that make a certain side look better.

When you read an article, do a quick search of the website and the author. See if they have any background that would lead them to be heavily biased.

The best thing to do to protect yourself from being misled is to read multiple articles from different sources. This helps you see all the sides of an issue, and you can come to a conclusion for yourself based on the information.

Don’t stress too much though. The healthcare system is massive and any decision made is going to have adverse effects in some way.

They are not expecting you to have an answer to all the world’s problems. They just want you to know enough to be able to talk about it intelligently.

Answering The Question

For this example, we will use this prompt:

What, in your opinion, is one of the biggest issues healthcare faces today?

For an MMI, you will be given two minutes to prepare before entering the room. These are the questions that you should ask yourself during that time period to give an informed answer.

● What is the biggest issue in healthcare?

● What problems are people facing because of this issue?

● How, in your opinion, can we fix the problem/take on the challenge

What is the biggest issue in healthcare?

If you have a topic picked for you, then you don’t have to ask this question. You already have your answer.

For our example prompt, we have to pick something. Most likely, you will be able to pick the topic as well, so pick the topic that you are passionate about.

We will pick healthcare costs as one of the biggest issues facing healthcare today.

What problems are people facing because of this issue?

This is where we talk about the world as it is. What is at the core of your problem and how is it affecting people.

These are some issues that could be used for healthcare costs.

● Increased cost makes it harder for people to get the treatment they need

● Insurance premiums are increasing, putting a strain on employers and the self-employed

● Since people can’t afford healthcare, they don’t go to the doctor, then end up with more serious and expensive conditions later

These are some of the issues, not all. But for the purpose of answering this question, these issues will be sufficient.

How, in your opinion, can we start to fix the problem/take on the challenge?

When answering this question, you want to make sure your answer talks about both sides of an argument. (If there is one. Some issues like mental health may not be as divisive as something like healthcare costs.)

You could start with the causes of the problem and then provide a solution to the issue.

For healthcare, it could look something like this:

Problem: Aging population and certain types of chronic disease is putting a strain on the healthcare system

Solution: A focus on preventative medicine to lower rates of preventable chronic illnesses. Insurance companies would not have to spend as much money on them, lowering costs for everyone.

Problem: Medical costs are not transparent. You can’t tell what one doctor is charging compared to the other.

Solution: Ensure medical costs are transparent, allowing customers to compare costs. Competition could decrease the price of certain medical procedures.

Lastly, you could talk about more divisive topics, like national healthcare. This is where it is best to bring up both sides of an argument.

This is just one of the positions you could take. You don’t have to, but this is just for example.

Problem: Increased healthcare costs

Argument: National healthcare would be able to make healthcare affordable by controlling the cost of insurance and medicine.

Counterpoint: Some say that a national healthcare system would decrease the quality of healthcare.

Back to your solution: A cheaper system will allow people to go to the doctors more, diagnosing conditions earlier and help people live healthier lives in the long run.

Again, this is a position that you could take. This is not the only thing that you should use when formulating your own argument for or against nationalized healthcare. You must do that research for yourself.

Answering the question

To answer the question, when you walk into the room, you just take each question in order to formulate your argument.

For example:

If I were to pick the biggest issue in healthcare today, I think it would be the extremely high cost of healthcare. These high costs make it harder for people to get treatment. Insurance premiums have been a huge cost to employers and the self-employed. Lastly, since people can’t get to the doctor for a regular checkup because it is too expensive, they often develop even more serious and expensive problems because of it.

Now there are a few ways to handle this issue. The first would be to provide an emphasis on preventative care. The reason why is because there are a lot of preventable chronic diseases putting a strain on the healthcare system. If we could lower these costs, insurance companies would not have to spend as much money on them and those savings could be passed onto the consumer.

Hospitals could also be more upfront with their costs, especially for more routine appointments. This would allow people to choose who they go to, increase competition, and keep costs down for the patients.

Lastly, I believe that a national healthcare system designed to keep insurance and drug costs down for the patients is important. There are some who say that government intervention leads to a less effective healthcare system. Although this is a valid argument, I believe that affordable healthcare would allow people to go to the doctor more often, prevent preventable diseases and help people lead healthier lives overall.

Note the above answer isn't our perspective nor is it encompassing many, many issues in a very nuanced debate. You don't need to have all of the answers, you just need to be thoughtful.

Last Notes

You may not be able to take every factor into account. Healthcare is a massive multifaceted system and you are not going to be able to solve all its issues within your 8 minute MMI session.

Again, the most important thing is to show that you are well informed.

If you can do that, you will be golden for your policy/current event question.

If you have any more questions or are wondering what else is on the MMI, check out our overview here. Then you can make sure you are prepared to kill it on your MMI interview day!

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