A few years ago I scored an interview for med school at Monash University. I was thrilled about the offer as it was interstate, a new style of interview (multiple-stations) and had been based on a my competitive GAMSAT score and application lodged via ACER. I flew down to Melbourne for the weekend and on the day was ready for anything. Towards the end I thought I was doing okay, but then I had one scenario that completely stumped me…

Outside the interview room we were given a minute to read a brief introduction;

“You are in charge of a breast milk bank with a shortage of breast milk. What would be your approach to resolving this crisis”.

I was dumbfounded.  

The bell rang – and I walked in. I felt uncomfortable with the concept of a “Breast Milk Bank” nagging me. AIl wanted to do was ask if such a thing existed and for what good reason!? I did the best I could by discussing how dairy milk is processed for pharmaceutical companies, the need for batch testing and quality assurance and the distribution schemes to ensure year-round production. To an extent also how these relate to managing blood bank resources. My ignorance started to really show when I went on to say that “it’s probably not the end of the world” if babies are fed formulae by default when mothers can’t breastfeed – “I turned out just fine!”.
 I was receiving suspicious and doubtful looks at this point –  clearly any fumbled argument I wanted to make was going to be extraneous and not well received. I tried to develop a few ideas during the interview around the issues of formulae baby feed – like how there ought to be a synthetic milk that adequately substitutes the breast milk for the immune system. The same should be said of artificial blood. Also I questioned the moral significance of breast milk banks – as to whether it could be equated with vaccination or any other kind of public health debate (Fluoridation in QLD?)

I think that pretty much cooked my chances of med school that year. Clearly I felt embarrassed by my ignorance and handling of this – but most people agree that it was a fairly awkward situation to be in (Awkies). 


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