Choosing the best for medical degree program

Published 14 December 2012

stethoscope_smallMore than 600 people who wish to study medicine have undergone a rigorous selection process that will set some of them on the road next year to gaining a medical degree through the Joint Medical Program (JMP).

The JMP interviews have been conducted simultaneously, over a period of two weeks, by the two universities involved in the innovative partnership: the University of New England and the University of Newcastle. One third of the applicants have been interviewed at UNE.

Admission to the JMP is highly competitive, with only 170 applicants receiving a place – 60 of these at UNE. To determine which applicants are most likely to be successful medical students and then doctors, the JMP measures their personal qualities through a series of short interviews and considers this alongside their academic ability.

This is the second year that the interviews have been in this “multiple mini interview” form, in which applicants move through a series of eight separate, one-on-one interviews designed to reveal the strength and balance of qualities that the JMP believes are required in a doctor.

The interviews seek information about a candidate’s ability to learn independently, their decision-making ability, their interpersonal and communication skills, and their desire to be a doctor.

As the process is designed to reveal a wide range of personal qualities, half of the interviewers are drawn from the general community and half from a range of academic disciplines.

Associate Professor Graham Lloyd Jones, academic supervisor of the multiple mini interview process at UNE, said interviewers commented that applicants were “exceptional and highly-motivated young men and women”.

“It’s a huge commitment from all the interviewers who have given freely of their time to attend training, carry out the interviews over a two-week period, and contribute to our evaluation process,” Dr Lloyd Jones said. “The University is very grateful for their assistance, which enables such a large number of students to be interviewed on the UNE campus.”

At UNE, the whole University worked together to make the applicants feel welcome and able to fully engage in the interview process.

“Although the campus at which they are interviewed is not necessarily the one at which they will study, it is a great opportunity to show applicants what UNE can offer them as students,” Dr Lloyd Jones said. “Feedback about Armidale and the facilities on campus for students has been very positive.”

Many of the applicants interviewed at UNE’s School of Rural Medicine come from rural areas across Australia – auguring well for a program aimed at increasing the number of doctors working in the regions. The JMP also provides strong incentives for Indigenous applicants, interviewing around 25 Indigenous candidates each year.

The first round of general offers into the JMP will be announced around 16 January, 2013.