Medical Ethics and your Med/Health Professions School Application

When applying to health professions school, your ability to wrestle with complex ethical situations is an important predictor of how well you’ll be able to handle such situations as a practitioner.

Medical schools and other health professions schools assess this competence in several ways during your application period.

What to Expect

  • Casper – Casper is an 80-minute online situational judgment test. It is required by some but not all medical schools.
  • PREview – PREview is a 75-minute online situation judgment test. It is required by fewer medical schools, most notably the schools in the University of California system.
  • Multiple Mini Interviews – Multiple Mini Interviews (referred to as MMIs) is an interview format used by medical schools in addition to or instead of the traditional behavioral interview style. In the MMI format, interviewees are asked to share how they would handle a scenario and articulate this verbally to the interview. Read here for more information on the MMI interview is available here.

How to Approach Situational Judgment Tests

To cultivate your ability to address ethical scenarios, Prehealth Advising & the PKG Public Service Center have teamed up to offer this guidance:

Incorporate self-reflection

  • Show self-reflection and self-awareness; demonstrate that you’re aware of how you are connected to a situation (identity, limits, strengths)

Use ethical principles

  • Show sound judgement and ethical responsibility, especially as it relates to your situation (Beneficence, non-maleficence, patient autonomy, justice)

Acknowledge power/positionality

  • Consider your power, privilege, and positionality in working with patients and colleagues.

Take an asset-based approach

  • Use an asset-based lens vs. a deficit-based lens. Value and respect the lived experience of patients.

Medical schools are primarily assessing the following:

  • Effective Communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Professionalism
  • Ethics
  • Opinions on healthcare issues

By practicing these skills in advance, you’ll be able to combine your strong instincts with a firm understanding of how to navigate the ambiguity inherent in many situations.

By Ariel Ackermann
Ariel Ackermann