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Ottawa-Shanghai Joint School of Medicine Held the First Admissions Interviews in Shanghai

The Ottawa-Shanghai Joint School of Medicine (OSJSM) Admissions Committee composed of community members, clinicians and student members interviewed 32 Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine (SJTUSM) PreMedicine program students over two days. The interviews revealed the joint school’s unique requirements for choosing future doctors. “We are not simply selecting straight-A students, we are looking for those who also possess the humanistic side.”, one Committee member told the reporter.

 “Tell me about the biggest crisis you have met? And how did you overcome it?”, “If you tell me the biggest difficulty you have ever had was on the school sports team, I cannot ask you to show us your moves because we don’t have a sports field ready to go. I will instead ask you about how you managed that difficulty.” Mr. Maury Hill is very humorous. But when it comes to interviews he is very serious, he said, “We need to see how the student is really like and experience has shown that if we ask follow up questions to get a better understanding than we can help the candidates reveal their true potential.”

This joint medical school is quite a unique endeavor. The Ottawa-Shanghai Joint School of Medicine is co-established by Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine and the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine (UO, FoM). This four undergraduate medical education program is the one and only joint program approved by the Chinese Ministry of Education. It consists of a 1 year pre-med program which offers basic science and humanities courses, followed by 4 years of integrated undergraduate medical curriculum. At the end of the pre-med year during which students are taught by international professors from the UO and the SJTUSM, candidates will be invited to an interview based on their PreMedicine program’s GPA. Successful candidates will enroll in the OSJSM UGME program. The importance of the interview cannot be overplayed.

“We won’t ask you how many bones the human body has or what the largest organ of the human body is. The interview is more like a chat, focusing on primarily why you want to be a doctor.” Dr. Barbara Power, Director of Physician Skills Development at the UO told us.

“Communication, empathy, cooperation, conflict-resolution, resilience, critical thinking are all the qualities that patients want to see in their physicians. We are looking for the future physicians who can connect with people.”

The four Canadian interviewers represent both the medical world and the community served by the physicians. Dr. Barbara Power is a geriatrics physician at the

 

Ottawa Hospital; Dr. Kendall Noel is a family physician affiliated with the Montfort Hospital; Mr. Maury Hill and Dr. Marc Ekker represent the community. Mr. Hill is a safety management expert, and Mr. Ekker is a neuroscientist at UO. The inclusion of  community members as interviewers is a long standing tradition at the University of Ottawa.

What is also very interesting is that students are also invited to join the Admissions committee as members interviewing potential candidates. The students can examine different aspects of the candidate compared with the other members of the interview team. The physicians focus is on professionalism. The students are selecting who they are going to work with in the future. And the community members are choosing future doctors from a “consumer” perspective.

The University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Medicine has been doing interviews for more than 25 years and is continuously adjusting the process according to new research findings.

Why does University of Ottawa attach so much importance to the interview? Mr. Hill said, “We are choosing doctors who are going to treat us in the future.” These interviewers are recruited by UO, and are volunteers.

The interview is just the beginning for the joint medical education program. Chancellor CHEN Guoqiang of Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine said that by aligning the Chinese medical education model with the Canadian medical education model, it is hoped that it will promote local (Chinese) medical education reform. And the OSJSM is a pilot program for a series of new medical education approaches.

 
 
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