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The Admissions Summit: Connecting Healthcare Admissions Professionals

The month of June brought the inaugural Admissions Summit to Toronto. For two days, healthcare admissions professionals were able to meet with peers, experts, and advisors to discuss the current state of admissions, tackle best practices, and work through challenges in their field.  A series of presentations, workshops, and working sessions helped healthcare admissions professionals address the issues they face and learn from other teams to develop their own strategies.

With a renewed focus on holistic practices, transparency, the value of standardized testing, and finding applicants who will best fit a program, there was a need for a forum that openly discusses unique or widespread challenges admissions departments face and the new strategies currently being implemented in admissions. The Admissions Summit was created to connect admissions teams and allow them to have a space to talk about admissions specifically and connect to their peers from around the world. As one speaker,  Lyndal Parker Newlyn, explains: 

“.. the interesting thing about medical education and medical selection is that even in different contexts around the world, we have the same issues. And so there are different nuances – political nuances, financial nuances, but some of the fundamental issues of too many talented candidates and not enough places, and certain underserved minority groups that need to be supported, making sure we meet the needs of our communities. All that stuff is actually universal and so I think if we stay within our own country, our own region, we actually miss the knowledge. I think international meetings like this allow us to share knowledge from across the world, to get inspired by other people’s solutions and see if we can fit them into our own problems”

While there are conferences that are focused on specific programs, or centred around research, there is no event designed for the people who do the work of admissions. The need for this type of conference, and the interest in driving real change in the admissions process, was perfectly reflected by the enthusiastic and hardworking attendees.

Some attendees travelled from as far away as the UK, Qatar, and Australia for the opportunity to participate in the inaugural event and meet their admissions peers. As the conference developed, the audience remained highly engaged for each speaker, fully participated in the workshops, and most importantly, conversations that started in these workshops, or during ignite sessions, continued into the breaks and after the closing remarks. It was immediately clear that admissions professionals had been looking for an event tailored to their unique profession, and were fully taking advantage of the opportunity to learn how they can improve their own admissions process, or validate their current processes.

With the beautiful downtown Toronto skyline and the CN tower as their backdrop, The Admissions Summit’s speakers presented  on topics that directly spoke to disruptions and challenges in admissions, as well as strategies for finding the right students from an increasingly diverse, and changing, pool of applicants.

Some of the highlights included Nathan Kuncel’s talk on “Modernizing Admissions”. Nathan focused on how students do a lot more than earn grades, and as a result, defining a successful applicant has become more multidimensional and requires looking at other aspects of student’s skills, personality, and character. 

Attendees were very pleased with Nathan’s presentation, and commented on how he made data-driven information fun and accessible. Viewers laughed throughout the presentation, but also picked up valuable suggestions they could immediately apply to their admissions process. 

Scott Page, an author and professor from the University of Michigan, directly addressed the positive impact diversity can have on a healthcare team, which he calls the “diversity bonus”. Scott demonstrated how an idea to increase not only racial diversity, but cognitive and social diversity as well, in the classroom can improve the field of healthcare and the way care is delivered to patients. 

Scott’s provocative presentation left attendees wanting more. Because of the volume of useable information given, some attendees actually requested a longer session for Scott at the next summit. He effectively brought in insights from outside of the healthcare admissions process, and gave an industry point of view, to help admissions professionals see another angle of their own process. 

Lyndal Parker-Newlyn, who travelled all the way from the University of Wollongong in Australia, gave a riveting talk on how her admissions team uses a CV experience portfolio to find candidates who have the right personal qualities to succeed in their medical school program. 

Lyndal’s very unique approach to the admissions process kept the audience engaged and intrigued. The info, which many found applicable to their own processes, was presented in a lighthearted and humorous way that kept the audience learning and smiling. 

Complementing the talks and presentations, attendees were able to collaborate on, and discuss, ideas and strategies their peers find effective during workshops which were curated based on feedback from the admissions community. Throughout the day the idea of “what works for you and what doesn’t” was consistently a hot topic for attendees. One of the driving goals behind the summit was for attendees to leave with a bigger, supportive, more international, network than when they came that they could rely on to solve tough challenges in their profession.

The workshops encouraged people to learn new strategies and discuss challenges that admissions teams all feel, regardless of their program, country, or institution. Most importantly, it helped to build a close knit  community feeling at the Admissions Summit, which will hopefully carry onas attendees return to their own institutions. Discussions on new admissions practices, major disruptions, and integrating new strategies are now easier to begin.

While the summit focused on many key issues, the overall goal remained clear: building a network of connections within the medical admissions community. From the themed discussion tables to the “connection recommendations” on the back of each participants’ badges, every aspect of the summit was designed to encourage people to connect and meet their peers in the admissions community. 

Attendees were given a chance to share authentic stories and experiences with others who fully understand their specific challenges. They shared insights, taught, learned, constructively argued at times, and most importantly, connected. And, thanks to the blue shirted Toronto summit ambassadors, attendees were able to finish their days by experiencing the best the city has to offer. 

As a way to give back to an amazing community, Altus Assessments was incredibly pleased with the feedback from Admissions Summit attendees. They would like to thank everyone who travelled, from near and far, to attend the summit. There were many laughs, new friendships, and some positive connections that will help the healthcare admissions process continue to develop. A very big thank you to all the attendees who made this event so positive and helped to ensure that the experience was amazing for all.