Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science

Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science




Dr. Laura Witte, Ph.D., PA-C



Increased focus on noncognitive traits of physician assistant (PA) school applicants is proposed as an innovative method to improve workforce diversity and clinician success in the healthcare industry. Both an increased decision-making weight, and a hierarchical assessment of noncognitive factors to determine PA school admission could lead to the betterment of the scholastic experience, diversity of the workforce, clinician’s transition to practicing medicine, and an ability to manage a fluid healthcare environment. While various methods exist to measure noncognitive traits, the multiple mini-interviewer (MMI) technique is validated and widely used in other healthcare education environments. MMI is a standardized interview model in which applicants are asked to respond to given prompts designed to evaluate certain noncognitive skills such as empathy or critical thinking. Universal adoption of this structured interview practice in PA admissions was developed for a more objective, unbiased assessment of applicants and thus improves the matriculants' diversity, longevity, and sustainability. The standardized use of MMI in PA admissions interviews in combination with an increased weighting of noncognitive skills in the admissions equation has far-reaching potential for the future of the students, classmates, clinicians, co-workers, patients, and the profession.


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