Amidst a looming doctor shortage, the use of holistic review in medical admissions is gaining traction. Holistic review is a an approach to admissions wherein the applicant’s non-cognitive attributes such as personality, empathy, investment in learning, and confidence are reviewed alongside the typical cognitive focused admissions criterion such as test scores, letters of recommendation, and GPA. In taking a step back to look at the applicant as a whole person instead as a set of applicant data, medical schools hope to increase student diversity and engagement, and to ensure the quality and preparedness of future physicians.
Holistic review has been implemented in a handful of medical admissions departments as throughout the country and the Association of American Medical Colleges has shown its’ support by introducing an initiative to explore the topic. This initiative aims to develop best practices in implementing holistic review in medical schools through inter-institutional collaboration, professional support, and research. For the AAMC, the end goal of holistic review is to ” increase the presence of individuals from underrepresented populations in medicine.”
As defined by the AAMC, holistic review is
“…a flexible, highly-individualized process by which balanced consideration is given to the multiple ways in which applicants may prepare for and demonstrate suitability as medical students and future physicians. Under a holistic review framework, candidates are evaluated by criteria that are institution-specific, broad-based, and mission-driven and that are applied equitably across the entire candidate pool.”
Holistic review offers many benefits for schools that aim to achieve focused changes within their applicant pool. Boston University School of Medicine implemented holistic review in 2003 and later found favorable results in their medical school classes; while standard measures of success (such as test scores and GPA) remained about the same as previous years, they found that diversity increased as well as overall student engagement, both in the classroom and outside.
“The general sense of the faculty, particularly those who teach our small-group problem seminars, is that the students are more collegial, more supportive of one another, more engaged in the curriculum, and more open to new ideas and to perspectives different from their own.” (Witzburgh & Sondheimer)
When considering a jump to holistic review, medical school admissions offices must first carefully evaluate best practices for holistic review, their programs’s mission, and the school’s long term admissions goals. It is important to approach this change with preparedness in mind. AMP paperless admissions is the perfect software tool to handle your new admissions process because their development team recently custom-built a module specifically for a holistic admissions workflow. Very few admissions software companies cater to new trends in admissions, but AMP paperless admissions has always been on the cutting edge of building tools for new admissions processes.