When it comes to applying for programs like medicine, physician assistant, nursing and teacher education, there’s always a large emphasis placed on grades. But we all know that grades aren’t everything.
You have to be able to keep up with coursework and perform academically, of course, but you need more than that to be successful in a program. You need professionalism.
Professionalism is essential for success in an academic program and in the workplace. That’s why several programs have adapted their application process to include an assessment of professionalism and other personal characteristics — the CASPer® test.
CASPer® isn’t just another tedious requirement in the admissions process; it can actually be a good thing for applicants.
Here are five reasons to apply to a program that uses CASPer® to assess for non-academic skills.
1. The program sees you beyond just grades
If a school or program is screening for more than just academic ability, it’s a strong indication that they care about their students on a deeper level beyond their academic rankings or reputation. Instead of running their institution like a business, pumping students out year after year, the program is taking the time to screen, admit and train individuals who are best suited for the profession, whether it be serving a patient population as a doctor or nurse, or teaching children in grade school. They want to graduate the best people for the job.
2. The program values diversity
Academic metrics such as grade point average (GPA) and standardized tests, like the MCAT, often put some applicants at a disadvantage. For example, it’s often difficult to maintain high grades if you need to work outside of school to help support your family or finance your tuition. Similarly, paying for prep courses or taking the summer off to study can help you ace the MCAT, but not everyone can afford to do that.
The existing medical school admissions process tends to favor traditional applicants, and despite the increasing diversity in the patient population, diversity in medical education has lagged behind. Many UIM (Underrepresented in Medicine) applicants are shut out from the admissions process year after year because the system works against their favor.
A recent study at New York Medical College found that CASPer® had a smaller negative impact on UIMs when compared to GPA and the MCAT. What’s more is that individuals who had paid employment before the age of 18 — which can be an indicator of lower socio-economic status — actually performed better on CASPer® than their counterparts. This indicates that programs that use CASPer® give URMs and UIMs a better chance at getting in.
Diverse populations require diversity in the workplace; therefore, a more fair and holistic approach to admissions that’s proven to help increase diversity in enrolment is something we all need to get behind.
3. You’ll be a part of a diverse and interesting cohort
“The way to get a B+ is to work with other people who look like and think like you. The way to get an A+ is to work with people who are different from you” — Professor Scott E. Page, University of Michigan.
That’s what Professor Page calls the diversity bonus. It’s a term that describes the “improved problem solving, increased innovation, and more accurate predictions” enjoyed by groups comprised of diverse members. Individuals from all walks of life can bring unique insights and perspectives to your learning experience. How can you possibly learn from your peers and colleagues if you’ve all been through the exact same experiences?
We’ve heard from applicants who have made it into programs that use CASPer® that their classes are made up of individuals who come from a broad range of backgrounds and academic experiences. This cognitive and identity diversity has enriched the overall learning experience. It has also prepared students for life after graduation, where they will likely be working within diverse teams.
4. You’ll be better prepared for the real world
Upon graduation, some graduates will start specialty training while others will join the workforce. While most programs will try to prepare you for the real working world through case studies and simulations, it’s never quite like the real thing. That’s why it’s important for students to already have well-developed professional competencies, such as ethics, equity, problem-solving and professionalism.
These are competencies that are assessed using CASPer. So if a program is using CASPer® as part of its admissions process, it’s dedicated to selecting individuals that already have these real-world skills and to making sure that its graduates are prepared for the workforce.
5. You’ll know sooner whether a program is right for you
It’s not talked about much, but students often change their minds about the field they’re studying. In medical programs, for example, some students may complete their coursework in the first part of the program before advancing to the clinical years, when they realize medicine is not for them. This results in a loss of time, effort and money spent, and can also create an emotional burden for the student, who has already invested years in their studies.
This often happens when a student doesn’t have the skills they need to succeed. And not just academic skills, but professional and personal competencies.
Students who meet the cognitive requirements to make it into professional programs such as medicine or nursing are typically very smart. But that’s not the issue. It’s once they’re in situations like clinical settings or collaboration with peers that the absence of certain required professional skills becomes obvious.
CASPer® can help identify potential gaps earlier in the process, so both applicants and programs get a sense of when there might not be a strong enough fit for medicine. This saves both the applicant and the program valuable time and money.
Author: Diana Ibranovic, Marketing Manager