Storytelling is at the core of the profession of medicine – it is often the first exchange between doctor and patient as they begin their relationship. Similarly, when you tell your story during medical school and residency admissions processes, your future professor/colleague will be listening. Like the patient’s chart, your application will tell your story, but it will come to life only when you arrive on campus and meet people in the admissions or program office and interview with faculty members.
Interviewers often will ask you, “tell me about yourself” or “why medicine?” – this is your cue to tell your story. The better you know your story, the better you will tell it. A great answer can convey how insightful you are, how thoughtful, how reflective. Are you familiar with yourself on a deep level? Have you reflected on your decision to pursue medicine and discussed it with a few trusted friends or family? Have you journaled about it, even your concerns? Every good story has a beginning and an end, one or more problems or dilemmas, and high and low points. To captivate your interviewer with how you arrived at this moment of pursuing medicine or residency, you need to go back a ways – to the beginning wherever that is for you – and be open to sharing some personal information that led to your decision. Think about your favorite work of fiction or non-fiction, or your favorite movie. Now go a step further and figure out why it resonates with you. Take cues from that story and craft your own.
Students often worry that whatever their story, the interviewer has “heard it before.” Not true. Just as every patient has a story uniquely his own, so too does the applicant. Before your interview, spend some time thinking about what your story really is. If you prepare for this question and then answer it honestly and engagingly, your story will be compelling.
By Laurie Brown Tansey, MA
Senior Consultant, MedEdits Medical Admissions
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