Interviewers love to find out why you want to be a doctor… and rightly so. Who would want someone money-hungry and power-thirsty cracking open their skull and not being fully committed to them or interested in what they are doing? This fuels the need for interviewees to be able to articulate why they want to be a doctor. And at the end of all of this questioning, it is not uncommon for you to be asked, “What else do you bring to the table?” In other words, what else makes you, you? I’m sure we’ve all met that one person who makes it well known that they are absorbed in one aspect of life.

The truth is, that’s dull, and lacks a certain curiosity, intrigue, and flexibility that doctors tend to need. Dealing with a wide variety of patients, places, diseases, etc. necessitates doctors to want to cure, no matter the illness, to be interested, even if it’s not their specialty, and to be willing to learn something new in order to improve their patients’ health.Being driven in a specialty is great and necessary, but don’t misinterpret the message. Even specialists give themselves a benefit by having a hobby or outside interests. These make doctors able to relate to patients on a human level. It can remind us who we are dealing with, and most importantly, it may give some insight that other doctors may not know.

For lack of a real-world example, Dr. Gregory House, M.D. is a good example. The man is hopelessly obsessed with being the best at his passions: music, science, medicine, cooking… the list could probably go on. And in one episode, he uses his musical prowess to help a diagnosis: he rules out a brain condition that affects one hemisphere of the brain, because the patient is able to play the piano, a global brain process.

Along with some insight, you want to be able to connect with your classmates, and other future doctors. Having a shared interest can help spark important relationships you may need later in practice or even sooner, during your coursework. So give it some thought and put some emphasis on who you are and what you do outside of medicine. As a few examples:

  • Play music: global process; familiarity performing in front of groups; creativity; tend to be mathematically inclined or capable
  • Sports: hard-working; team player; knows about adversity; good dexterity

And if you are really at a lack of what else you have, try this one for creativity and an ice-breaker:

  • Video games: teleconference experience; great hand-eye coordination1; problem-solving

1: – Yes, this is a link to show a study about playing video games and improving hand-eye coordination.

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2021-10-06T10:23:18+00:00Interview Practice questions|Comments Off on What are your outside interests?

About the Author:

I'm a medical student at Cambridge University, and one of the co-founders of 6med. I created the BMAT Crash Course and Interview Crash Course, and helped code BMAT Ninja and UKCAT Ninja. If you need a hand with anything, feel free to give me a shout!