Anxiety relief - advice needed

Discussion in 'Medical School Interviews' started by ceciafb, Oct 23, 2014.

  1. ceciafb

    ceciafb New Member

    Oct 19, 2014
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    This may be a bit premature of me (as I have just sent my application off) but do any med students/previous applicants have some advice for lowering your anxiety before a med school interview? I want to start working on it now during my early prep because it is quite a big problem for me.

    I've had a lot of experience in healthcare and I know I'm really good at communicating with patients and healthcare professionals, including really senior ones and in high-pressured situations, so I'd like to think its not a case of 'the interview weeds out those who cant handle it' - I'm also quite chilled out about exams, but the thought of a medicine interview makes me so anxious, partly because I want it so much.

    Unfortunately it is a necessary evil for med school ha! Its just very frustrating because I know I'm a people person and reasonably intelligent, but as soon as I'm in that specific interview environment I get horribly nervous to the point where I stutter and make myself look like a fool.

    I'm applying to loads of jobs in the nhs and hoping I get some interviews, then maybe I can use these as experience to better myself..I'm also planning on setting up some mock interviews with academic staff.. but I don't know about what else to do! The thought that I would fall at this hurdle just due to nerves is really horrible and feeding my anxiety even more!

    I know that it is something that a lot of us struggle with, some (far) more than others, but does anyone have any tips, preferably from personal experience, about relieving anxiety in the time leading up to an interview, and particularly on the day?

    It is a physical thing as much as psychological thing - the whole fight or flight heart pounding, head spinning, feeling sick experience which is feeding how I feel, so I don't know if just telling myself 'this is necessary, they're just seeing if you're suitable' will help

    Sorry if this is long!
  2. Martigan

    Martigan Super Moderator

    Mar 24, 2009
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    Practice, Practice and more Practice, is the key element, as it gives you confidence.
    Do you know any current medical students who can "interview" you?

    There are a few med school interview books which "analyse" standard questions. Many people swear by them. Personally, they were no help to me. Plus as ex interviewer, the stock answers that they tend to direct people to just pissed me off.

    The tactic I was taught, which proved successful for me, was to :-
    a) Consider a list of attributes that are looked for in a good doctor.
    b) Look at what you've done in the past, and how by doing it it demonstrated some of these ideals.
    c) Practice, discussing the examples, by videoing yourself saying them, then play it back to your self, so you can see how they sound. - It really does help you see how your coming across.

    Anyone can say they have certain skills, but it's how to give them some evidence that you have the skills you claim. But you also need to avoid it sounding arrogant or boastful.

    For example.

    Interviewer : "So tell me what you did before applying to medical school?"

    Me : "Previously I was a process and systems consultant for IBM, so I would have to go into businesses and use my analytical skills to rapidly understand their business, it's needs and its constraints, to enable me to suggest some suitable options and opportunities.

    Frequently it involved delivering some hard messages about what they had been doing to need to do which regularly tested my communications skills.

    But it was also about listening to the clients to understand how they wanted to proceed, as to work, the solution needed to be one that fitted with their culture, and one that was their decision to follow, so they had to necessary commitment for it to succeed."

    The practice, helps make your phrases come across a little bit more polished, but can also help you avoid making it sound plastic.

    It also helps you get the balance between you answering the question, and not peeing them off with some tangential spiel!

    Remember, every question has a reason. They are trying to test a desirable attribute or check for an undesirable one. So it's good to have some thoughts as to why are they asking this.

    However, don't over analyse and get yourself paranoid that they are trying to trick you. Trust me, they *want* you to succeed. The questions are designed to help you succeed. Its about using the opportunity.

    So these ideas can help you with your prep. If you feel prepared, you're less likely to panic.

    I did two application rounds. The first time I got know offers. I had interviews, but fought and lost against similar confidence demons that you mention. - Becoming a nervous wreck in the interview.

    Second time, after having some one to coach me on the technique above, I got no rejections...

    I still suffer from exam nerves, especially in OSCE's. While happy on the wards and clinical situations, something about the artificial situation of a OSCE locks me up with self doubt. Making things that I do well in the clinic, feel like a disaster.

    I'm working on a plan (now) which includes relaxation exercises to prep me for my year end OSCE. I don't know the techniques yet, so I can't suggest them to you.

    But also, I think it one of those things, where you have to find the ones that work for you, and we are all different, with different issues.

    So in a nut shell TWO things.

    1) Prep
    2) Relaxation techniques!

    Good Luck!
    #2 Martigan, Oct 23, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2014
  3. ceciafb

    ceciafb New Member

    Oct 19, 2014
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    Thank you so much for your (very detailed) reply, really helpful! Awkwardly my boyfriend and his friends (all final year med students) were helping me out with my application and said they would with interview stuff but we just broke up so probably not the best person to ask! A bit annoying actually because he was involved in med school interviews at uni but ah well haha
    However I think in the time that I have before a (potential) interview I will ask as many people as I can if they know someone that I could have some kind of mock interview to prep me. You're definitely right, can't go wrong with a tonne of practice. I was a bit worried about coming across too rehearsed if I repeatedly go over the same question/answers though.

    Its a bit silly really being so anxious, as I'm well aware that they're just trying to see if you're a good fit for the med school, can cope with/flourish in med school and in a career as a dr, and that you're not talking utter crap..but somehow my subconsciousness cant communicate very effectively with my consciousness..I can see how a similar feeling would come up in OSCEs actually..there is just something that makes face-to-face tests much harder than written! (lack of practice again maybe?)

    I see that you're at SGUL, are you enjoying the course? The current students on the open day I went to weren't amazingly talkative and it was all a bit quiet so didn't really get that much of a feel of the place, but still decided to apply because I love the fact that the uni is basically in the hospital! How did you find the interview process? I'm not sure if it will have changed since you applied? Did you interview elsewhere when you applied? If so were they panel or all MMI? Lots of questions I know.

    Thanks for the good luck! Could really do with it!

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