Applying holistic review practices to a Combined Baccalaureate/Medical Degree Program: Reflections on lessons learned

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PROBLEM: Despite the implementation of holistic review in the medical school application process, there is little information about how this can be utilized in Combined Baccalaureate/Medical Degree pipeline programs, especially since many programs offer reserved spots to their students in the medical school. Implementing holistic review in a Combined Baccalaureate/Medical Degree program and intentionally structuring it to align with the medical school mission and admissions practices and processes, can improve the diversification of the physician workforce, contribute to more primary care doctors, and promote in-state practice.

INTERVENTION: Utilizing the medical school admissions by-laws, committee structure, shared training, and educational processes, we successfully engrained in our committee members the values and mission alignment to select the best applicants to fulfill the medical school mission using holistic review. To our knowledge, no other program has written about how holistic review is used in Combined Baccalaureate/Medical Degree programs and how it contributes to program outcomes.

CONTEXT: The Combined Baccalaureate/Medical Degree Program is a partnership between the undergraduate College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Medicine. The Combined Baccalaureate/Medical Degree admissions committee is a subcommittee of the School of Medicine admissions committee but has a separate membership. Hence, the holistic admissions process for the program mirrors the School of Medicine admissions process. To determine the outcome of this process, we analyzed practice specialty, practice location, gender, race and ethnicity of program alumni.

IMPACT: To date, the Combined Baccalaureate/Medical Degree holistic admissions processes have supported the medical school mission, "…To meet the physician workforce needs of the state by selection of students who are likely to train in specialty areas of need and to remain in or return to the areas of our state needing physicians." This implementation has resulted in 75% (37/49) of our practicing alumni selecting a primary care specialty, and 69% (34/49) practicing in the state. In addition, 55% (27/49) identify as Underrepresented in Medicine.

LESSONS LEARNED: We observed that having an intentional structured alignment in place allowed for implementation of holistic practices in the Combined Baccalaureate/Medical Degree admissions process. The high retention rates and specialty of graduates from the Combined Baccalaureate/Medical Degree Program support our intentional efforts to diversify our admissions committees and align the Combined Baccalaureate/Medical Degree program's holistic review admissions process with our School of Medicine mission and admissions practices and processes, as key strategies to reach our diversity-related goals.


Slack for the National Medical Association

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Journal of the National Medical Association







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