Hi guys! To introduce myself: my name is Ruby and I am a third year medic at the University of Birmingham. I wanted to share with you today six articles from sources that I believe are super useful both in preparing for your medicine interviews and for expanding your knowledge of the medical field.

1.) The Role of Empathy in Medicine

The first article I’d like to talk about surrounds the vast and ever-expanding field of medical ethics. This topic can sometimes feel daunting for students, so I’d like to alleviate some of the anxiety by introducing you to an article from the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics. Reading articles from ethics journals can be really useful for understanding the key principles of medical ethics and how they can be applied to real-life scenarios. A solid understanding of this will really impress a medical school interviewer and will also give you a head start for some of the modules in the medicine degree!

In summary, this article deals with the role empathy plays in the day-to-day life of a healthcare practitioner. The reason I have picked this article is because it highlights the importance of this quality in strengthening your doctor-patient relationship and also the art of portraying your feelings to a patient whilst remaining able to partake in shared decision-making with them. As well as this, the article clarifies the difference between empathy and sympathy; two terms which can often be confused. If asked at interview about the qualities a doctor should possess, empathy is a good starting point.

Side note: A book that cleared up many questions I had about medical ethics and simplified difficult concepts was ‘A Very Short Introduction to Medical Ethics’ by Tony Hope. I would really recommend having a read!

2.) Covid-19: Mercedes F1 to provide breathing aid as alternative to ventilator

This second article, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), details how engineers have rallied to join the battle against COVID-19.

The BMJ publishes a wide variety of different articles, such as clinical research reviews on medical advances and opinion pieces. It is a peer-viewed journal that advocates for evidence-based medicine (EBM), meaning it has integrity. EBM is where clinicians apply a checklist of stringent qualities to a scientific paper in order to check that conclusions made in the article are based on good quality evidence. These evidence-based articles can be used by clinicians to help make treatment decisions.

If asked in your interview about a current medical advancement/innovation you have knowledge of, have a couple of articles from reputable sources, such as this one, at the ready! If appropriate, mentioning EBM and explaining the concept could be a good way to really impress the interviewer.

3.) The Role of 3D Printing in Medical Applications: A State of the Art

Talking of medical innovation! A great example of this is the concept of 3D printing. As well as being super fascinating, it is an example of how techniques used in other industries have been adopted to advance the medical field.

This 2019 article is quite detailed, so take the key points out of this. I would suggest reading subsections 4, 4.1, 4.2 and 5 for a solid understanding of the applications of 3D printing and some issues surrounding its use.

4.) Landmark study to transform cancer treatment

Current statistics show that 1 in 2 of us will get cancer in our lifetime, which is most likely why cancer constantly makes our newspaper headlines. However, the good news is that there have been some major breakthroughs in this field, particularly in the sector of genetic sequencing. With so many cancer articles published, it can be tricky to know which sources are reliable. One answer to this is to look at peer-reviewed journals, like the journals discussed previously. Another place to check is the reputable website ‘BBC Health’. BBC Health is a really great resource for keeping up to date with current medical news, as well as being easy to understand.

5.) How does the NHS in England work? An alternative guide

Taking a different tack now, I’d like to focus on a couple of articles that can help with understanding the structure of our NHS, how it functions and topical issues within it.

I have to admit, this topic used to fill me with dread when I was applying to medical school, as I wasn’t sure how I was meant to find the answers to such questions. That’s where organisations such as ‘The Kings Fund’ can help. I was introduced to this organisation during medical school and I wish I had known about it when I was applying!

‘The Kings Fund’ is a charitable organisation that aims to improve health care for all members of society in England. Their website covers topics such as leadership and organisation in the NHS, the various care models it embodies and how government policies are applied to the NHS. The link given includes a video that perfectly explains the structure of the NHS and also a flow diagram to show how the NHS is financed.

6.) Beds in the NHS

My last article is about bed shortages within the NHS. Again, as this is a key issue facing the NHS, it can crop up in interview. This article is from the British Medical Association (BMA) website, which is another credible resource to use.

This particular article deals with the topic of ‘escalation beds’, which are extra beds that are brought in to cope with surging demand. The idea was that these beds would be kept for periods when demand was expected to be greater, such as during the winter. However, current evidence shows that many NHS hospitals are forced to use these beds all-year round.

Bed shortages can significantly hinder the patients’ journey through hospital and can cause a multitude of problems, such as the postponement of elective surgeries. Therefore, coming up with ideas to eliminate this issue is of high priority for the NHS.

This article below gives some ideas as to how this situation could be resolved.

Words by Ruby Hill