Motivation-Based Medical School Admissions: How to Reduce Admissions Bias While Selecting Higher-Performing, More Satisfied Physicians

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The stakes in the medical school admissions process are high and research in areas of medical education and medical school admissions process have been intense for decades. Universities spend a lot of time and resources hoping to select applicants most likely to become fantastic doctors in the future, possessing the essential core competencies & frameworks valued in the profession.

Professional misconduct and burnout could be prevented during the selection process by selecting the best-suited candidates for admission. Our physicians accumulate a vast amount of training and expertise, which they use in service of their communities. I personally have tremendous respect for medical doctors both because of my own personal history with medical doctors who have literally saved my life and allowed me to enjoy a quality of life that would not have been possible otherwise, but also because I have been fortunate enough to work with, learn from, and teach with over 50 medical doctors over the past several years. However, professional misconduct and burnout remain of great concern for the profession, its reputation, and the healthcare recipients. Is it possible to prevent these problematic issues at the earliest stage of the training process, at candidate selection? Selecting the right candidates during admissions could reduce these problems, AND produce higher performers who are happy at their job. However, this difficult task has eluded admissions thus far.

But why is it so hard to select future doctors that possess the essential core competencies given decades of research? Read more...

Top 5 Dangers of Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs)

situational judgement tests, sjt, top reasons to avoid situational judgement tests

Web-based situational judgment tests (SJTs) present an outdated technology, which has been used by businesses for decades with no avail. Sadly, a handful of for-profit companies have started marketing them as a "novel solution". In such tests, applicants are shown hypothetical real-life situations in a video or written prompt and asked to indicate how they would respond. These tests are claimed to examine “non-cognitive” abilities like problem solving, decision-making and interpersonal skills. But, in our opinion, the evidence against the use such tests is overwhelming for reasons we'll discuss below:

  • Danger #1: Hypothetical Questions Lead to Hypothetical Applicants

Asking hypothetical questions, generally leads the applicants to provide socially acceptable responses and those with higher socioeconomic status normally do better on such tests as a result. This is called the “context principle”. Our behaviors are modified by the context of our environment. Therefore, asking applicants in a test setting how they would react to some hypothetical situation might not be of any value because the applicants know they are being tested and they know that their response has to be a response that brings a favorable outcome, such as being accepted to their program of choice. This means that the applicants might not necessarily act in the same way under real-life situations when there are no supervisions and test pressures. This is the same reason that someone who may be shy in one setting might be fully outgoing in another setting. Read more...

The Ultimate Guide to Admission Screening – How to Select Top Performing Applicants While Promoting Diversity AND Reducing Time & Cost

admissions assessment, admission assessment best practices, professional school admissions assessment


In film, casting can make or break a picture. Can you imagine Indiana Jones played by anyone but Harrison Ford. Would the first movie spawned have ever happened if Steven Spielberg decided to give the titular role to Peter Coyote or Tom Selleck as he initially planned instead?

It is yet even more important in university admissions. The wrong doctor or lawyer can be rude to those they are meant to serve, or worse cause damage to their patients and clients, and bring down the reputation of a whole profession.

While candidate selection is of paramount importance, there is a great variability in how universities enact this critical process. Many continuously fall into antiquated and ineffective practices such as these, which cause implicit bias, cost time, money and in many cases the reputation of the entire university.

If you want a thriving program or an entire university that becomes a household name and attracts future noble prizewinners, the bottom line is this:

You must master the art of selecting the RIGHT students with the RIGHT skills and the RIGHT motivation.

Here are the proven 14 rules you MUST follow to ensure that your institution is comprised of the most passionate, skilled, and collaborative students. Read more...

SortSmart® American Medical School Admissions Research

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4 Options to view the study results:

Option #1: Full Report (Time to read: 30 minutes)

Includes all data.

Click here to read the full report. (For best viewing experience, click the full screen icon to read the report in full screen mode.)

Option #2: Conference Presentation (Time to watch: 29 minutes)

Live-recorded conference presentation of the results including background, rationale, hypothesis, select results and analysis.

Click here to watch the presentation.

Option #3: Brief Analysis (Time to read: 11 minutes)

Short commentary on the results including background information, rationale, data validation, analysis, and future directions.

Click here to read the brief analysis.

Option #4: Study Highlights (Time to read: 1 min)

  • 95% of medical students and residents believe current admissions practices need an overhaul and 94% would support a new, improved and transparent admissions screening tool.
  • Majority (75%) of future doctors report they were primarily motivated to apply to medical school by status, financial gain, or familial tradition.
  • Only 25% of current student & residents are intrinsically motivated and are willing to pursue medicine without external rewards.
  • 30% of medical trainees come from households with an annual income of over $120,000/year at the time of medical school application.
  • 54% of overall medical students and residents identify themselves as Caucasian with 39% of those from families earning over $120,000/year, the highest proportion of all groups.
  • On the other hand, 61% of those identifying as visible minorities were from families earning less than $80,000/year.
  • Use of MCAT preparation and admissions consulting services is not correlated with wealth.
  • No notable differences were observed in the reported trends across various admissions tools used to select applicants.
  • No correlation was found between cultural background or socioeconomic status and intrinsic motivation to pursue medicine.
  • Selecting applicants based on intrinsic motivation reveals a new approach to admissions practices in an effort to reduce socioeconomic and racial bias, while selecting best-suited future medical doctors. Read more...
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