You’ve written your white space questions, collated your portfolio, and sent off your AFP application. What now? Most will simply wait to be invited for the interview. If you’re on this page, you’re smarter than that. Get prepared.
For many students applying for the AFP, their interview may be the first time they have been formally interviewed since they applied to medical school, and understandably this can be nerve-racking. This week for Medics.Academy, I’m sharing my experience interviewing for the AFP. I applied successfully for an AFP job in the London deanery in 2018.
You’ll be invited for a clinical interview and an academic interview. There are tricks you need to know for both, but the academic interview is the one you’ll probably need to prepare more for.
The Clinical Interview
The clinical interview is relatively straightforward and preparing for it will overlap with your preparation for finals. You are given a clinical scenario, which will often include two or three different patients that have differing levels of clinical urgency. The main objectives of this station are to ensure you are clinically safe, you work well within a team and that you are aware of the resources available to you in a hospital setting.
The interview will usually begin with a very open question such as ‘talk us through what you would do in this scenario.’ To prove that you are clinically safe you need to be able to justify the reason you will go and see the patient you chose first. They want you to speak all your thoughts aloud in a logical process. The ABCDE approach is underrated and remains the most important acronym to show your interviewers that you will be a safe junior doctor.
Another very important part of the clinical interview is demonstrating that you work well within a team. There are many ways in which you can incorporate this into your answers. An easy way is to ask for more information about the patient when you arrive at the bedside from the nurses. You should also demonstrate that you are aware of the resources available to you in a hospital. When you are seeing an unwell patient, it is important to bleep the senior doctor taking care of that patient and if they are not answering to show that you are aware of teams like clinical outreach.
The Academic Interview
The academic interview consists of a 10 minute interview with a panel academics working in a sub-sector of healthcare. Their backgrounds will remain unknown to you throughout the whole interview process. You will often be asked to appraise an abstract or paper. Academic interviews, in my opinion, are the most difficult to prepare for because there is often no right or wrong answer. I believe there are two very important ways in which one must prepare for this interview.
First, familiarise yourself with the language and statistics used in medical research. Start by knowing the pros and cons of common study designs especially randomised control trials, cohort studies and case control studies. Understanding statistical tests and the significance of the results can also be very helpful when analysing the strengths of the results of a paper. The best book I found was called Users’ Guides to the Medical Literature by Guyatt et al. If you are to purchase any book, I would recommend this one as it covers all you need to know for the AFP interviews and beyond.
The second important tip is to practice appraising many different abstracts and discuss them with your peers in a mock interview setting. This will allow you to learn to confidently articulate your appraisal thoughts aloud, as well as gain exposure to different points of view. After practicing a good number of abstracts, you will find that you naturally choose a structure to your discussion. Many people choose the PICO (Patient, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome) structure, while others simply divide their thoughts into methods vs results. Remember to note both the strengths and weaknesses of the paper you are given.
This clip was taken from How to Get into the Academic Foundation Programme by George Miller.
In London, I arrived at the interview centre and was asked to sign in and have a document check. Some people were to be randomly selected, and advised before their interview, to bring in their whole portfolio for a document check. Make sure you carry all the documents you’re putting onto your application to hand. After the document check, I was given an abstract and a clinical scenario. I had 25 minutes to read the pieces and prepare. Most of the interview surrounded academic and clinical medicine, but there was a question or two on you personally. Candidates are often asked something like ‘tell me about your research’ or ‘tell me about why you’ve applied to the AFP.’ For these questions keep the answer concise, interesting and relevant to the AFPs that you have applied for.
The most important tip for any interview is prepare prepare prepare!!
Remember that different deaneries will have slightly different requirements, so check any documentation you have been sent regarding your interview very carefully.
How can Medics.Academy help?
Dr George Miller’s AFP application was ranked in the top 10% nationally. He was also among the first cohort of the Healthcare Leadership Academy. Through his membership he met Johann, and decided to create a course on applying to the Academic Foundation Programme.
With his training, you can strengthen your written application and better prepare for interviews. Join our online final-year study group to gain access to a discount to the Final Year Bundle, which includes George’s course, or go straight to How to Get into the Academic Foundation Programme if you only want that course.
About the Author
Giulia Rinaldi is an Academic Foundation Doctor at Guys and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. She has a keen interest in Dermatology and was president of St. George’s University DermSoc when they won the Battel of the DermSocs in 2019 by raising the most money for the British Skin Foundation. She is also the Junior Doctor Representative for the British Association of Dermatologists National DermSoc UK’s Committee. Her research interests are varied, but currently she is focussing on the use of laser treatments for skin conditions and the cost-effectiveness of health care interventions.