Professor Stephen Leeder


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Prof. Leeder’s address to ANU medical students

Interview with Prof. Leeder

There’s this parable about an accountant to an affluent family that had recently lost their stereotypically shrewd businessman father. Because the rest of the family didn’t know anything about the business or finances, the generous soul volunteered to help manage their inherited wealth for them. Of course, he remained the biggest benefactor to the wealth, sparing just enough for the family to get by and not burden themselves into investigating why their lifestyle took a bigger blow than the father did from the oncoming train.

Earlier this year, Prof. Stephen Leeder was let go from the Medical Journal of Australia; for raising objections about the decision to outsource production of the magazine to the academic publishing company, Elsevier. In summary, the company has been implicated in practices that threaten academic integrity. Fears are that the Dutch company will threaten the autonomy in the quality of papers submitted; a result of the increased role that the company will have over the production of the journal.

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Interview Techniques

I mentioned before preparing for medical school interviews is really important. Don’t listen to people who advise otherwise. Leading up to the interviews I was practising on a nightly basis with whoever was willing to put up with me!

When you practice you need to develop techniques to ensure that you tackle interview questions efficiently and comprehensively, whilst avoiding the risk of sounding rehearsed. Sounding rehearsed is less likely to occur for MMI style universities but can be a major issue with traditional panel interviews. However, with the following strategy I found it reduced the risk of sounding rehearsed for any interview style.  

  • Situation – describe the situation or the context that you had found yourself.
  • Task – What were your tasks  that you had to tackle in the scenario that you have outlined
  • Activity – How did you go about achieving the tasks that you set out for yourself
  • Result – What were the outcomes of your activities. Did you adequately resolve the scenario if not why? What did you learn from the experience.

As you can see using this approach enables much greater focus and structure whilst reducing the risk sounding rehearsed. I’ve found that I was able to address many questions that were asked during the interview. The structure also ensure that your answers are clear and succinct (so you don’t waste time babbling on).

There is also an approach that you can employ the tackle the ethical scenarios that may be asked. The approaches is inspired by the Hippocratic Oath.

Consider these scenarios with the following ethical frameworks:

  • Justice: any approach you propose to tackle the ethical scenarios must be ensure that it fits within the law (so long as the law is within reason e.g killing a population because it is enshrined in the law is not an adequate excuse for the action – refer to the Nuremberg Trials and Nazi experimentation)
  • Autonomy: refers to respecting the patient’s right to choose the course of their life without external interference, e.g you can’t normally a force a treatment onto a patient.
  • Beneficence: you’re actions should be of benefit to the patient and or the individuals involved in the scenario
  • Non-Maleficence: do no harm (pretty self explanatory)  

If you get issues relating to consent or a scenario trying to explore your understanding consent you can approach this by considering the following points:

  • Informed: does the patient or person understand the information you are providing them?
  • Capacity: does the patient or person have the capacity to comprehend the information you are providing them? For example is a child able to provide informed consent (read more about Gallick Competency).
  • Free from duress: did the patient/person consent under their own volition or were they influenced by family/friends.