Medical School Interview:
The MDT: Its Role and how to Understand it for Medicine Interviews
- What is an MDT?
- Who might you expect to work alongside in an MDT?
- What qualities make for a good team player?
- How can you facilitate working alongside other roles and specialties?
- Describe a time when you worked with other people who had different roles or backgrounds.
What is an MDT?
An MDT is a Multidisciplinary Team. It involves professionals from different fields working together with the goal of improving patient care and treatment efficiency. Originally stemming from oncology teams, the MDT is now a part of Medicine, hospitals and patient care in general. You should expect to see a range of professionals from one organisation, or multiple organisations, brought together as a new and unique team. The composition of the team may change over time to reflect changes in the patient’s condition - that is, MDTs can be patient specific.
Within an MDT, you might expect to find oncologists, radiologists, senior nurses, junior doctors, allied health professionals like occupational therapists or physiotherapists, psychiatrists or psychologists, or a range of doctors from different disciplines depending on the case.
An MDT should bestow advantages on both the patient and the healthcare workers within the team. These will include improved health outcomes, greater satisfaction with care and less anxiety or worry for the patient, and more efficient use of time and resources, with increased job satisfaction, for the team members - who are more able to care for the patient appropriately.
For an MDT to function effectively, the MDT will need to have clearly defined roles, with the goal and outcomes of care carefully planned. In order for a team to work together, there must be mutual respect, honesty and integrity between the members of the team, an appreciation of the skills of different team members and a method of best using or deploying those skills, an agreement on leadership and oversight, and protocols for communication and meetings.
The MDT should be focused on person-centred care: that is, it should consider the patient as a whole person, and ensure that it is able to treat them holistically.
How to Approach MDT Questions
You should be aware of the role and functioning of an MDT, and show an ability to apply your knowledge and experience of team-working to it. Make sure to reflect on your own experiences and show your suitability for a team-working environment, as well as demonstrating that you have seen examples of team-working in a medical setting already.
Let’s look at an example MDT question.
‘Can you describe the MDT and its role in Medicine?’
A poor answer might as follows:
‘I think that the MDT is the team that doctors work in. It helps them treat patients better as doctors can work together to bring their expertise to bear - meaning that the patient will have a better outcome.’
This answer fails to properly define an MDT, and neglects to mention the importance of interdisciplinary working - an MDT is not just doctors. It also fails to consider the outcomes of the MDT, or the attributes that make a successful team - and how the student themself displays these qualities.
A good answer could be as follows:
‘The MDT is the Multidisciplinary Team. It’s a team of professionals from different fields within healthcare - be that doctors from different specialties, nurses, GPs, psychologists, or other allied healthcare professionals. Through working together on specific cases this team is able to improve patient outcomes. They can provide more efficient care, draw on shared expertise, and provide a greater satisfaction with care for the patient. An MDT will draw upon the team-working skills of its members - they must understand their roles, their aims, and be honest and flexible when working together. I have seen first-hand the importance of the MDT whilst shadowing in a geriatrics ward, where patients presented with complex cases requiring input from different specialties. I will relish the chance to work in teams like these, as I have already experienced working in teams of different backgrounds and expertise both through playing sports at a county level, and leading volunteering projects that involved different schools across the region.’
We see that this answer defines the MDT much more ably, and understands its role, how its team members might interact, and gives an example of when they have seen an MDT in operation. They also link their own experience to the question, showing that they are a suitable candidate.