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You can diagnose, sure, but how’s your bedside manner?

A stethoscope.
A stethoscope.
chickenlump/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

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Med school could be changing in a very big way. At Virginia Tech Carilion, administrators have started to rely on more than just grades and test scores to determine admission. Additionally, they have instituted the multiple mini interview (M.M.I.), a series of nine unprompted interviews focusing on social skills, ethics and communicative ability. Students get two minutes to read a hypothetical situation taped onto a door. Then, they enter the room and discuss the situation for eight minutes with an interviewer. This process is then repeated eight times. The practice is spreading to other med schools, who rely on it to weed out candidates who only look good on paper. The choice is further buttressed by the trend in healthcare moving from individual experts to a team effort of doctors, specialists, nurses and hospital managers, which will require superb and nuanced communication. Have you ever felt that your doctor could have been more friendly or warm in dealing with you? Does this test detract value from scientific knowledge and surgical skill? What do we really want out of the professionals who keep us healthy and alive?


Dr. Charles Prober, Senior Associate Dean, Stanford University School of Medicine

Dr. Carleen Eaton, Founder,, an admissions consulting company