Dear applicant, what are your strengths?

This is one question, I am pretty sure will come after ” Why Medicine?” in all med school interviews. Rightly so, for in the short span of 20-30 minutes, this is one question which helps the interviewer in figuring out what you think about yourself, not that it matters too much for they already know what they think about you but yeah, it tells them what you think you are worth.

So, 2 minutes and 17 years of life. How do you sum up what you think brought you so far? What would you say to this? Would you give the same answer every other applicant gives, would you say that you are competent, caring and calm with an inherent prowess for holding the scalpel. Trying to sound unique is even harder than being unique.
I have compiled a list of adjectives which I think can and should be used to answer this question and others of the same vein:-

1. Compassionate- a pretty strong attribute to have considering that medicine thrives on human to human contact. This may sound like a pretty clichéd term to use but I believe that the world can never have enough of compassionate people.

2. Perseverant- In the race to medical school finish line, I think this is one trait that gives one an edge. What is it like to be perseverant?Is it the tendency to not give up and persist against all odds. For me, the confidence to apply to a UK medical school among loads of home applicants and the ability to fight for the small number of seats offered to international applicants is in itself an example of perseverance. Maybe not the best example to give in an interview but the perfect one for a ranting blog.

3. Practicality- The virtue of being clear enough to separate logic from emotions and feelings from reality. How important would this trait be in a situation where the plug is to be pulled on a chronically ill patient or when the rationing of resources needs an objective mind.

4. Emotional- Although in striking contrast to #3, this would be of ample use in the world of medicine, a world where objectivity is fast replacing the humanitarian touch of mankind.

5.Enthusiastic- Yes, maybe all the 15 applicants for the interview are enthusiastic, but then can the university ever accept an applicant, who has the lack of zeal? Yes, you have an important lecture at 6 in the morning, who do you think will attend it, the enthusiastic applicant or the one with the clear lack of it.

6.Initiative- It takes a hell lot of initiative to make a blog on topics related to the journey of a novice through the webs of healthcare. I did it because I wanted to. Most importantly, I know it took you a whole lot of initiative to read this post, but you did it because you wanted to. See, when we can devote so much time and energy onto a mere blog, what would we do as doctors?

7. Ethical- I am tremendously impressed by the scope of medical ethics. I treat it as an amalgamation of science and art. I try to stay well versed with the Abortion act, the ideals of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the ethics of eugenics and stem cell therapy but for you it might just be the morality of everyday life. It does not matter, what does however is the fact that it plays a crucial role in our dealing with people.

8. Scientific- Medicine at first look ,looks like a boring collection of facts, journals and theories applied to ailing people. Trust me, no matter what they tell you, it is just that. The importance of having a scientific bent of mind can never be underestimated.

9. Effective communication skills- The ability to navigate through the maze of questions posed in an interview, this itself requires immense communication skills. I would like to include- effective speaking, listening and writing as a subset of this trait.

10. Independence- No man/woman can function alone, but as a healthcare professional, you may have to. The gist of this trait is that by this I would like to emphasize upon the self-reliant nature of mine.

These are 10 traits, I can think of at the moment. There are numerous other adjectives which could successfully be used to elaborate on oneself. The more the merrier……….

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