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Stethoscope-EKGWould you ever lie to a patient?

How would you respond to a terminally ill patient requesting help with suicide?

Do you think health care should be rationed?

Your medical school admission interview will likely involve questions like these about contemporary ethical or economic problems encountered by physicians.

You may be asked to defend a position. If you can, that is fine. If you cannot, you still should be able to demonstrate familiarity with the different sides of the controversy and the thought process involved in its evaluation. This synopsis offers an overview of this material to prepare you to discuss such questions effectively with your interviewer.

These subjects are part of the culture of health care. Facility with them is as important for the practicing physician as is knowledge of clinical medicine. They will be covered in more depth in your later education. For now, in anticipation of your interview, this document will introduce the central problems in each area by providing case examples, a concise discussion of the core issues and points of controversy, guidelines for decision making, and suggested readings

Medical School admission interview preparation is key. I strongly recommend you read as many of the supplementary references as possible. More important, you should discuss these problems, ideally with physician mentors, or at least with your colleagues. In other words, do your critical thinking about this material before meeting your interviewer.

by Charles F. Thurber, M.D., M.A.

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