Map Oxbridge Applications. 14 – 16 Waterloo Place, London, SW1Y 4AR

Happy New Year to you all! For all those readers who were expecting their university admissions results over the last few weeks, I hope your ambitions were successful and you gained placement at your first choice university! While it can be tense to await such results, I am confident that all your hard work and preparation paid off! For those of you earlier in your university application process, or new to this blog, then welcome! By way of refresher, in this blog I cover a range of science and medical related topics that are aimed to help you prepare for your interviews at Oxbridge or top-medical colleges at the end of the year. These topics may range from the more operational, such as how best to improve your interview performance, through to subject matter specific, such as deep dive on a recent piece of research.

In today’s blog I wanted to focus more on medical ethics. This is an important topic, especially for medical students that can sometimes fall by the way side during interview preparations in lieu of the hard science. However, it is a crucially important topic and one that will certainly be discussed during any interview process. Like medical research, medical ethics are too always in flux and frequent reading of the newspaper (online or offline) is crucial for medical students to stay aware of changes in the law or high-profile medical ethics cases that are being discussed on a regional or national level. For example, take the recent example of Polly Kitzinger. The BBC recently did a deep-dive into her difficult case which I highly suggest you read. Once you have finished the article, I’d like you to spend just five minutes pulling together the top three arguments from each side’s perspective; that of the medical professionals that kept Polly alive and those of her immediate family. This is a great exercise to perform as it reflects the sort of exercise you might have to perform in an interview situation. Furthermore, it is an exercise you should be mentally performing anyway when confronted with any ethically challenging situation as medical school interviewers (and further down the road hospital recruitment interviewers) are always wary of those who see medical ethics as black and white, where nuance and circumstance is seen as irrelevant in assessing a situation.

One fact to consider, and that you should be aware of, is what is the patient’s right in cases such as these? In this case, there is a distinct mandate and set of laws, all spelt out in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and in guidelines from the Royal College of Physicians and the British Medical Association. Specifically, it is called an advance decision (or advance directive in Scotland):

  • An advance decision (sometimes known as a living will) is a legally binding decision to refuse a specific type of treatment in the future if you lose capacity to make the decision for yourself at the time
  • Advance statements are non-legally binding statements that sets down your values, wishes preferences and beliefs regarding your future care

Read more about it here.

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