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An Approach to MMI Teamwork Stations

Published on
May 13, 2024

Teamwork Makes The Dream-Work

How To Approach MMI Teamwork Questions 

Everyone knows that teamwork is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Equipped with a diverse and multidisciplinary team, no problem will remain unsolved, and no dispute unsettled. Unfortunately, if this starry-eyed vision of teamwork sounds unrealistic, it’s because it is – and any MMI interviewer knows as much. The reality of the hospital is that teams are a necessity because of heavy patient workloads, and the complexity of medical cases. Often, specialists have conflicting priorities, and perhaps even conflicting opinions. But the wards are no place for a vigorous scientific debate – there are likely patient lives at stake! This means that a good clinician is one that can practice the art of compromise. Balancing the interests of different stakeholders is exactly what medical interviews aim to assess – and this emphasis is anything but arbitrary.

What Does ‘Teamwork’ Actually Mean?

The first step to a good MMI response on any topic is sincerity. It is critical that you establish a clear picture of what teamwork means to you, and more importantly, why it’s so relevant to the hospital environment. This means moving beyond the empty platitudes of open communication, collaboration, and encouraging difference of opinion. Far more important is the question of how you aim to achieve these outcomes. Are you a proactive leader that assigns roles? What are your techniques for setting viable deadlines in projects? This is just one of the many questions you should be asking yourself.

Are you all set to answer the medical interview question about your motivation to pursue medicine? Here's a snappy article that gives you some of the best approaches to the 'Why do you want to study medicine?' interview question!

A good anchor to test whether your ideas on teams are practical is to reflect on times you have had to work with others. This could be in the context of a university assignment, sports team, or even a workplace. The key here is that if your approach to MMI scenarios is incompatible with what an individual would likely do in real situations, perhaps it is time to reevaluate your strategy. Reflecting on past experiences is also useful when it comes to empathetic communication. Consider circumstances where you felt overwhelmed, or conversely when you felt empowered by your team – how would you have wanted to be treated? Treating every MMI teamwork scenario as though you are personally invested in the outcome is key to an emotionally intelligent answer.

What Makes Teamwork So Great?

As mentioned earlier – teamwork is critical to the hospital setting. There are simply too many patients for one doctor to attend to, and the number of medical conditions is too great for any singular person to understand. Cooperation in the clinical environment is not a luxury – it’s a necessity. The University of Sydney is affiliated with some of the largest and busiest healthcare providers in Australia. When the admissions committee for this medical school asks for the advantages of teamwork your responses should be pragmatic rather than idealistic.

Read further to understand why medical ethics form an important component in the hospital environment.

As a candidate for a competitive place in a medical program, you need to demonstrate knowledge of qualities that would be an asset to your team while on clinical placement. For example – a valuable team member is an active listener, that can reflect and respond to the discussions being had by the treating team. This is useful as both a learning exercise for the student, and a second pair of medically trained eyes for the staff. Another hallmark of a good team worker is being proactive. An enthusiastic assistant is worth much more to the team than a passive commentator. So, to answer the big question – during the MMI, your goal is not to explain why a multidisciplinary approach is advantageous, rather, you should aim to demonstrate why you are an asset to a group environment. In other words, is your strategy for cooperation, and how do you make use of the resources that a team provides you.

What About When Everything Falls Apart?

Appropriate use of resources is also critical when it comes to one of the most common types of MMI stations. If your medical university interview presents a teamwork scenario, you are almost guaranteed some form of conflict resolution discussion in a follow-up question. This follow-up may be a specific case describing a disagreement.

Equally, the University of Melbourne admissions committee has, in the past, included stations requiring you to draw on and describe your own experiences. Addressing the first instance of scenarios – the most important aspect of your response should be a strategy for escalation. Simply put, at what stage in the dispute are you willing to present a complaint to a higher authority? This is quite a deceptive question. Common sense would dictate that the most straightforward resolution requires an experienced supervisor’s mediation. After all, this removes any aspect of personal confrontation. The reality is, once again, rooted in the ultimate goal of the MMI teamwork station.

As a junior physician, you will have a significant responsibility to bear. It would be just as inappropriate to escalate every mildly complex scenario to your superiors, in the same way, it is inappropriate to waste physical hospital resources. It is also important to recall the concept of empathy which is deeply ingrained in each possible interview station. How would you feel if a colleague simply reported a disagreement to a supervisor rather than engaging you in a productive, complex discussion? The bottom line here is as follows – conflict resolution escalates slowly, and at every step of the way give your colleague plenty of notice and benefit of the doubt. Because even in disagreements, it is important to demonstrate cooperation.

To wrap everything up – every MMI station harbours the secret agenda of discovering whether you are fit for medical practice. Even if the station appears completely left of field, the question you should be asking yourself is this: how would a doctor, trained in professionalism, teamwork, and empathic communication, approach this case? This will help you avoid the pitfalls of responding with hollow and generic clichés.

Always remember, there is no 'I' in teamwork! Good luck!

Where To From Here?

Hope you found our article on the MMI Teamwork station useful and can develop your insights on how to be an efficient team player. Remember to present your ideas without sounding dominant and condescending when asked to resolve conflict resolution. Convey your approaches without hurting your team's sentiments. Here's another article that provides simple tips to help perfect your medical interview tone and engage in meaningful conversations during the medical interview.

Alternatively, listed below are some of our articles on various other types of MMI stations - Acting-based stations, Ethical scenarios and public health stations.

To improve your performance in the medical interview, check out our Free Resources and Tools. Or undertake one of our interview prep courses and receive one-on-one feedback for all your medical interview responses.