Wednesday, December 31, 2014

CHM: 50 Years (And Beyond) of Innovative Thinking

Today marks the last day of 2014, officially closing out a very special year for the MSU College of Human Medicine (CHM)—our 50th Anniversary.

Green. White. Golden.

MSU College of Human Medicine 1964–2014 from MSU MD on Vimeo.

As national pioneers of community-based medicine, the trait that Dean Marsha Rappley feels is most commonly associated with the College is innovation. And through innovative thinking, our goal has always been to prepare future physicians to meet the ever-changing needs of the medically underserved.

A main way to do that is naturally through curriculum. With so many medical advancements in the last half-century, CHM has always understood that thoroughly preparing our students means being continuously self-aware in regards to updating the curriculum through time.

From emphasizing new angles on primary care and family practice to growing the concepts of problem-based learning, medical students have had the opportunity to get actively involved in consuming the sciences with clinical content at affiliated campuses across the entire state. Even in 2014 are great minds discussing new curriculum designs, meant to prepare ambitious students as well as possible.

Beyond the classroom, CHM has always been active with administration too, utilizing faculty and staff who've consistently promoted what is, for their time, uncommon of academic establishments. A solid foundation for female faculty, staff and, students is one initiative among others seeded in our history to ensure geographic, cultural and socio-economic diversity.

Since 1964, CHM has been about opportunity. As CHM has expanded, so has our will to be further embedded in the community. The Secchia Center was built in 2010 on Grand Rapids' medical mile, allowing the College to increase our research portfolio. This, in turn, now allows collaborations with the likes of respected organizations like the Van Andel Institute and Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital.

Recently, another opportunity to strengthen our communities arose closer to eastern shores. We had the opportunity in November to expand our medical education and public health programs in Flint.

Our sites in Flint and Grand Rapids are just two examples of opportunities that stemmed from the past yet are advantageous to many more in the future, such as the plan to further make an imprint in Grand Rapids with a new biomedical research facility.
"We felt, as we still do, [that] medicine is human life. And to understand how to be a good doctor, you have to understand how people live and how people think and how people live in communities."
-Art Kohrman, MD
 Associate Dean for Educational Affairs (Retired)
Times change. People change. Schools change. But our propensity for innovative thinking will not. We are still committed to community-based medicine. What has guided us from day one...will continue to do so.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

It's All About Fit: A Holistic Approach To CHM Admissions

By Joel Maurer, MD, FACOG
Assistant Dean, Admissions
Michigan State University College of 
Human Medicine

Over the last five years, CHM Admissions has solidified its commitment to an admissions process that uses principles of holistic review (a balanced consideration of academic metrics, activities in preparation for a career in medicine, and personal characteristics consistent with the kind of physician we strive to train and graduate) in selecting each incoming class of medical students.

Historically, our College has long understood that intelligence is a key component in becoming a successful doctor, but it also appreciates that above and beyond a certain level of "smartness" does not necessarily make a better doctor.  While activities listed and discussed on a medical school application and during an interview process also remain a key component in the decision-making process, the evaluation of personal characteristics consistent with becoming a successful doctor has been more challenging.

In order to provide a more structured evaluation of applicant personal characteristics in the admissions process, the admissions committee agreed to transition our interview format three years ago from one that placed heavy emphasis on a semi-structured, one-on-one process to one that uses a series of eight highly-structured, short (eight-minute) "interview" stations that are specifically designed to evaluate personal characteristics, such as compassion, cultural sensitivity, maturity, self-awareness, etc.

This interview instrument is called a multiple mini-interview (or MMI) and not only relies on faculty involvement, but also respects the important evaluative input of or students, staff, alumni, and vested community interviewers.  Topics are discussed using a variety of interview and observational modalities: direct questioning regarding a predetermined topic, project collaboration between two applicants, and role play situations.

Though early in its use among other medical schools, evidence-based research tends to support the validity and reliability of the information gathered by the MMI over other modalities of interview.  Our MMI data supports improved applicant satisfaction using the MMI over traditional interviews that are comparable across multiple demographic factors (race/ethnicity, age, disadvantage status, and gender).

It is our hope that future data will show that the use of this interview format will result in improved academic performance and professional conduct of each applicant who matriculates.

Yet to get to the interview portion of the process, one must first display a strong passion for becoming a physician, supplemented by activities and interests that resonate with our mission. At CHM, there are no specific MCAT or GPA cutoffs as we strongly consider nonacademic variables to be an important aspect in determining one's fit with the College.

Holistic review of medical school applicants is relatively new and beneficial to both the school and student. Innovations in medical education are redefining what it means to be a modern physician. As more and more admissions committees make this philosophical transition (over 1/3 of medical schools in the U.S. now use holistic reviews at each stage of the admissions process), the Association of American Medical Colleges has been proactive in making changes to the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) that now allow applicants to submit information about their upbringing and life experiences.

Other factors like letters of evaluation, secondary application essays, and personal statements are also very important among others to our review. From the AMCAS application to the interview, we are looking for specific competencies that align with the College's direction.

We want to ensure that each individual who puts on a white coat from the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine is a great fit.

Indeed, it's all about fit.