Common Medical School Interview Question #2

"Tell me about a time when you acted unprofessionally."

There was a time in my early academic career when I could not accept feedback, even constructive feedback. One of my professors in an English Literature course in my freshman year of college gave me a fairly poor grade for a term paper and provided me with a lot of notes, edits, and comments. What’s more, she actually gave me with a chance to resubmit my essay based on her feedback. At first, I was very hurt that an essay I thought to be so brilliant received such a poor grade. Right after getting the paper back, I went to my professor’s office hours to stand my ground.

But when we started to review her comments and edits for my paper, my perspective changed dramatically, and I felt very embarrassed that I did not take the time to review her feedback. It was very perceptive and improved the quality of my paper significantly. I knew then that this closed-off attitude towards feedback would hold me back as a student and a future professional. How can I learn if I refuse to hear feedback openly?

I apologized to my professor for my rush judgment and read every single note she left for me. Furthermore, I resubmitted my paper with edits based on her notes, and not only received a better grade, but also reconsidered a great piece of literature I thought I understood so well! Truly, another person’s perspective can open up a whole world. This humbling experience led me to start a book club with my English Literature classmates. Hearing their points of view on the books we read was also just as eye-opening as my visit with Prof. Coulson. Since then, we have kept the book club going virtually.

I understand how important feedback and being open to feedback is in medicine, but this issue has never again occurred in my professional and academic life. So, I am ready to learn and improve via feedback from my instructors, investigators, and peers in medical school. I have learned my lesson in humility and openness to feedback.

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