How a leading college of osteopathic medicine is enhancing their holistic admissions process

Since opening its doors in 2007, the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York (TouroCOM) has become a highly respected college in the U.S. for osteopathic medicine. Of the 18,000 aspiring Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs) that apply to American colleges each year, 10,000 of them — over half of all applicants — knock on TouroCOM’s door.

Why the demand? TouroCOM has a cutting-edge curriculum and is committed to training osteopathic physicians with an interest in practicing medicine in underserved communities, an ever-growing need in North America. The school is also dedicated to creating a fair and effective admissions process, one that ensures that underrepresented minorities in medicine are given an equal chance at admission. A fully fleshed-out holistic review process has been used since the very early days of TouroCOM.

But even with a robust admissions process in place, the school has a desire to enhance their widely used admissions tools (namely, personal statements and interviews) to identify the best candidates to meet their mission.

All tools — including personal statements, reference letters, the holistic review, and interviews — are meant to complement each other in the admissions process. For decades, academic institutions have used any combination of these tools to admit students to a variety of academic programs. In addition to selecting applicants that have the academic potential to succeed in their medical training, TouroCOM seeks to find applicants who will deliver compassionate care with the highest level of ethics and professionalism.

Students with deficiencies in the areas of personal characteristics and professionalism have negative consequences for academic programs; the hospitals where the students have their clinical rotations; and, the students in question. Programs incur the burden of dealing with these students, who can become problematic and unprofessional. Current admissions tools are unreliable in assessing positive personal characteristics and professionalism, with many medical schools striving to seek the best way to consistently and accurately evaluate these attributes in candidates. This approach, to ensure high ethics and professionalism in medical school graduates, is a core value of the teaching philosophy at TouroCOM.

For TouroCOM, Casper will provide an additional piece of information, in addition to the interview stage, about the applicant’s inherent non-academic competencies, or ‘people skills.’ With Casper, applicants are given a small window of time to navigate ethical dilemmas. The test aims to assess an applicant’s real, authentic self, which becomes more apparent as they progress through the test. Casper will be able to add another component to the holistic file review, empowering TouroCOM to find the best, most well-suited and well-rounded individuals for osteopathic medicine.

Photo courtesy of Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine

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