Healthcare News & Insights

Could your doctors pass this ‘people skills’ test?

More medical schools are relying on “soft skills” testing along with grades and test scores to determine who they’ll admit as students.

Anyone who’s worked in the health field knows that some doctors can be less-than-stellar at inter-personal communication. And having great technical knowledge doesn’t help all that much when a doc’s bedside manner is lacking. Poor communication with co-workers can have equally bad consequences for the entire health care team, and impact patients’ outcomes.

Which is why some medical schools are starting to use multiple mini interviews (MMIs) to help weed out students who’ve applied.

The MMIs require students to do nine brief interviews designed to test their social skills and overall ability to communicate. MMIs are being used by at least 21 medical schools in North America, including Stanford University.

A typical interview would present a prospective student with an ethical question on a topic ranging from insurance co-pays to using unproven alternate therapies. The interviewee then has eight minutes to discuss the topic with the interviewer.

The questions have no set right/wrong answer. Instead, candidates are scored on more subjective criteria such as how well they react to the emotional response of the interviewer, how they respond when they’re disagreed with, and if they jump to conclusions or fail to listen to another viewpoint.

Advocates of the MMI say the scores on these interviews tend to correlate closely with the licensing tests doctors take when they finish school.

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  1. […] Overall, measures of factors such as wait time and one-on-one time with doctors show that most patients are satisfied with the care they receive. […]