How Important is Work Experience & Interviews?
Unlike in many other countries, work experience is not a mandatory component of medical school applications in Australia and New Zealand. However, it should not be disregarded because it is a favourable asset to include in applications. In fact, some universities even include questions about medical work experience within their application forms.
Clinical work experience also helps you stand out on your applications, as it enables you to express your passion for pursuing medicine with relevant examples.
Work Experience Opportunities
Clinical work experience can be sought from the following sources:
- Community health services
- Allied health practices
- GP clinics
- Community welfare and support organisations
- Overseas medical work experience via private companies
Bonded Medical Place
Some medical schools embed compulsory work placements within their degrees. This is called a Bonded Medical Place. A Bonded Medical Place, also referred to as BMP, is an enrollment place in an Australian medical school that requires students who graduate from the program to work in an area of workforce shortage upon completing their fellowship.
If you apply to universities that offer this opportunity, you can also expect questions about rural medicine, service quality and indigenous health. Doctors who graduate from a Bonded Medical Place in a medical program must work a number of years in an area of workforce shortage equal to the number of years of their medical degree.
The term 'bonded' means that medical students who graduate from the program are bound by a legal contract to serve in an area of workforce shortage stipulated by the Australian government.
Medical School Interviews
The interview stage of the application process is vital. Although you should avoid rehearsing answers to presumed questions, or having preconceived notions of how the interview will be conducted, preparation is necessary. Each medical school has the right to change the interview structure with little to no notice at all. That said, being well-aware and familiar with the available interview formats will play a major role in your success.
Medical School Interview Formats
There are 3 interview processes which are used across universities in Australia & New Zealand:
- Panel Interview, conducted by 2 to 3 members for around 20-40 minutes
- Semi-Structured Panel Interview, which can be broken down to two parts (activities)
- MMI: Multiple Mini Interviews with 4-9 stations with allocated time limits per station
Most of them usually stick to a set style, however they also have the right to change the format with very little or no notice at all. So students should keep an open mind when going to each of their interviews and prepare for the different styles.
There is a trend of more universities starting to adapt the latter format. This is because the MMI interview format is much more standardised and reduces any possible bias, as students are able to meet a variety of interviewers for each separate station.
Tips for Interview Preparation
- Be aware of any university-specific training
- Avoid the urge to memorise answers
- Remember that preparation needs to start with researching the field of medicine in terms of its advantages, disadvantages, challenges and potential
- Keep an open mind with regards to the interview format and style to expect
- Avoid answers that undermine specialisations in the industry
Following interviews, you can expect to receive your university offers any time up until February each year. Good luck!