How to Answer Ethical MMI Questions | MMI Ethics

The Multiple Mini Interview tests applicants on their suitability for a healthcare profession. Aspects of their character like ethics, professionalism, empathy, and bedside manner are all tested in the MMI.
Direct Medical School Entry and Early Medical School Entry: What Is It?

MMI Questions: 7 Ethics Terms You Should Learn Before Your Test

Improve Your Performance on the MMI

The Multiple Mini Interview tests applicants on their suitability for a healthcare profession. Aspects of their character like ethics, professionalism, empathy, and bedside manner are all tested in the MMI.

Typically an MMI lasts about two hours and consists of ten or more interview stations. Each station tests the applicant on different categories of their personality. The most difficult of these interviews is medical ethics.

The morally ambiguous and difficult to answer MMI questions test applicants on their ethical and moral compasses. Often, interviewers ask applicants open-ended or morally grey questions that require deep thought to answer adequately.

The eight to ten-minute time constraint on MMIs puts pressure on the applicant to come up with the best possible answer in a short period. It’s very difficult to answer these questions in several hours, let alone a few minutes.

There’s no way to prepare for every possible MMI question, as no one knows what will be on the MMI. Studying examples of questions and coming up with scripted answers are good ways to practice, but it’s impossible to rely on these scripts to succeed in your MMI.

The best way to prepare for MMI questions is a combination of rehearsals, scripts, and, most importantly, understanding the broad ethical concepts that are tested. Medical ethics is an ancient set of ideas that every healthcare professional must adhere to and embody.

Values such as respect for human rights, patient privacy, and benevolence have been the backbone of medical practice for hundreds of years. The MMI tests the applicant on these sets of principles to ensure that only the highest quality, ethical healthcare professionals are released into the field.


7 Ethics Terms You Must Know for MMI Ethical Questions

There are specific ethical principles that every healthcare practitioner exemplifies in their craft. MMI ethical questions test applicants on these very principles.

Specifically, applicants must know seven ethical terms to ace the biomedical ethics stations of their MMI. Often, the medical ethical terms are also transferred to the non-medical world and adapted to challenging non-medical ethical scenarios. The MMI uses this variation to throw candidates of their game. Approaching every interview question with this knowledge will help guide your answers.

1 Beneficence

The principle of beneficence means that a doctor must advance the good of others as long as there’s no harm to oneself. Essentially, it’s the goal of every doctor to provide beneficial treatment to help every patient.

It’s important to note that advancing the good of others is in direct relation to the patient’s values, not the values of the doctor. A doctor’s proposed treatment has to benefit the patient from the patient’s perspective, not the doctor’s perspective.

2 Non-maleficence

Non-maleficence is the principle of always doing what’s best for the patient, the idea of “doing no harm.” For example, there is a famous line from the Hippocratic Oath that essentially means that every physician must prevent harm to their patients.

Just like beneficence, harm is what’s perceived as what is harmful by the patient, not the physician. A physician cannot force a patient to undergo something they do not wish to do, even if the physician thinks it’s in the patient’s best interest.

3 & 4 Justice and Equality

Justice and equality is the ethical principle that all people who are in the same circumstances and conditions should be treated alike. Equality, however, doesn’t mean that two people should be treated identically.

A physician must treat people equitably, meaning their individual circumstances should be considered when a decision is made. The concept of justice and equality is mostly used in scenarios involving scarce resource distribution, such as when patients receive rare organ transplants.

Scarce resource distribution is still a heavily debated topic; determining who gets a life-saving transplant, and under what criteria, is a difficult subject in medicine.

5 Autonomy

Autonomy is the ethical concept that every individual has a fundamental right to respect and self-determination. Decisions cannot be made for an individual without their consent or knowledge.

In medicine, this means the patient must have the ultimate authority in accepting or refusing medical care. This ethical model is what governs healthcare practice across North America. Autonomy-related scenarios are among the typical types of ethical questions on the MMI.

6 Paternalism

Paternalism is the exact opposite of autonomy. In the paternalistic model, the physician’s knowledge confers upon them ultimate authority. This authority gives physicians the right to make all treatment decisions for patients.

While these decisions are still made in the patient’s best interest, they ignore the patient’s autonomy and right to informed consent. The paternalistic model was prevalent historically and is still used in some countries. In modern medical practice, patient-centered care is the primary mechanism of patient interaction.

7 Fiduciary

Fiduciary is comes from the Latin word for trust. In the world of ethical medical practices, there should be a trust-based relationship between the physician and the patient. In this relationship, the autonomy of the patient is respected, while the expert authority of the physician is also considered.

In the fiduciary model, the difference in power between patient and physician is respected without the autonomy of the patient being compromised. It is a precarious balancing act. The patient, however, has the ultimate say in the direction of any intervention provided by the physician.

This model is the contemporary standard for ethical healthcare and is practiced across North America and in many other areas of the world.


Application of Ethics Terms

When it comes to ethics, you should not use these terms verbatim in your MMI, but rather internalize them so that your answers follow their ethical principles. If asked a complex ethical problem, try to use these ethical principles to guide your answers, as they are the principles that guide modern medicine.

MMI Ethical Questions

Ethical MMI questions are created to test the applicant’s grasp of modern medical ethics. They are often open-ended questions that are ambiguous in their potential answers.

Here are some examples of MMI ethical questions:

MMI Ethical Scenario #1:

You are an emergency doctor on duty when two patients are rushed into the hospital soon after one another. Both patients require an emergency heart transplant, but you only have one donor available.

One patient is a 36-year-old single father with two children, and the other is a 35-year-old basketball champion.

Who do you give the heart to, and why?

MMI Ethical Scenario #2:

A 14-year-old boy has asked you for an STI test that has come back positive for HIV. He has asked you not to tell his parents. What do you do?

The Medapps Guarantee

We are so confident that we can meaningfully impact your application and interview that we fully stand behind our coaching services.

How to Answer Ethical MMI Questions

Ethical questions on the MMI typically present the applicant with an issue that has conflicting ethical imperatives. To whom should you give the donor heart? Should you tell the boy’s parents about his infection?

Answering MMI questions requires a nuanced understanding of medical ethics and their applications to real-world issues. It is the physician’s responsibility to use their best judgment to decide which ethical imperative takes precedence in a given situation.

Answering ethical MMI questions requires the applicant to weigh both sides of the issue thoughtfully, examine every outcome, and decide what’s best based on the given situation. It is important to understand the ethical tension present and clearly elaborate on any relevant details.

The applicant must clarify their assumptions and clearly state the pros and cons of both sides of the ethical argument. For example, illustrate the dilemma in the HIV positive boy’s case. The boy’s autonomy must be respected, but that it is at odds with his underage status and the rights of his parents.

After the argument’s assumptions are made clear, the argument for one side must be presented. The applicant should clearly state their decision and coherently present a firm conclusion based on it.

These MMI ethical questions are designed to both engage your critical thinking and highlight your personality traits through the answers you give.


Practice Real MMI Questions and Answers With MedApplications

Are you preparing for the MMI and looking to practice MMI ethical scenarios and questions? The MMI is a comprehensive test that requires a lot of preparation and strong critical thinking skills.

MedApplications can help you improve your chances of doing well on the MMI. Our team of doctors and medical experts understand how the MMI works, the types of ethical questions you will get asked, and the answers to those questions.

Our pharmacists, dentists and veterinary consultants are also ready to help you with your specific MMI preparation for healthcare professional programs.

Contact us today if you’re interested in learning how to answer ethical MMI questions before your test.


MedApplications provides expertise and consulting services to those currently in or seeking to join the medical field. We are the leading provider of medical school admissions preparation in North America for high school and university applicants. Our experts help guide you through application, interview, CASPer®, and residency matching process.

Connect on LinkedIn

About MedApplications

Since 2008, we’ve blazed a trail in successful admissions, ranking as North America’s leading provider of medical school application preparation and coaching. With a 92% Admission Success Rate, our Medical Coaches will help you succeed in getting into your dream medical school of your choiceLearn more about MedApplications here.

Get Coached with MedApps

With countless applicants vying for limited spots, standing out is crucial. That's where our single coaching session comes in. Get help in any of these areas:
  • Comprehensive Review
  • Strategic Planning
  • Essay Excellence
  • Interview Preparedness


Based on 2000 reviews

Related Articles

The Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) has become the most common interview method for medical schools worldwide, integrating timed independent assessments…
Participate in voluntary experiences that show leadership skills, experts recommend. Students of medicine can do several things to be attractive…
MMI Current Evеntѕ Topic 1: Childhood оbеѕіtу has a lіfеlоng іmрасt on thе hеаlth оf our families аnd соmmunіtіеѕ. Child…

Thank you

Thank you for your inquiry with MedApplications. We are currently reviewing your submission and we will be in touch.

For immediate assistance: [email protected]

UBC MMI Writing Station

Thank you

Thank you for booking a single coaching session with MedApps. We are currently reviewing your submission and one of our medical advisors will be in touch.

For immediate assistance: [email protected]

Thank you

Thank you for booking a consultation with MedApplications. We are currently reviewing your submission and one of our medical advisors will be in touch.

For immediate assistance: [email protected]