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June 2004

Volume 24 | Number 2

Special Theme: Measuring and Evaluating Non-Academic Qualities

Assessing Professional Behavior: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
Louise Arnold, Ph.D.

The author interprets the state of the art of assessing professional behavior. She reviewed the literature on professionalism from the last 30 years, most of which appeared in peer reviewed journals. Synthesizing the results of this review from a knowledgeable perspective, she defines the concept of professionalism, reviews the psychometric properties of key approaches to assessing professionalism, conveys major findings that these approaches produced, and discusses recommendations to improve the assessment of professionalism. The article also includes an extensive bibliography.

The MCAT Communication Skills Research Project
Patricia Etienne, Ed.D.

The author presents the rationale for adding a “communication skills” component to the MCAT. Test researchers have proposed adding a set of streaming video scenarios that would require test takers to “make decisions about possible subsequent courses of action associated with some of the personal interactions depicted.” More information about the MCAT Communication Skills project can be found at www.aamc.org/students/mcat/research/comskillfaq.htm.

Quantifying the Art of Medicine
Ryan Gregory, M.A.

Whether to include the “art” of medicine as well as the science in an evaluation of medical school applicants, and how to do so is the subject of this article. While questioning the feasibility of finding a way to quantify qualities like professionalism and altruism, he advocates placing these on a par with GPA and test scores in admission decisions.

Why We Should Use Noncognitive Variables With Graduate and Professional Students
William E. Sedlacek, Ph.D.

The author defines noncognitive variables “as those that appear to reflect Sternberg’s experiential or contextual intelligence.” He argues that standardized tests such as the GRE do not assess these intelligences, and that the range in scores for both GRE and GPA is restricted. Over reliance on quantitative measures increases homogeneity, decreasing diversity among those admitted to colleges of veterinary medicine. Dr. Sedlacek proposes multiple methods be employed to select applicants. These include: questionnaires, interviewers trained to identify high or low scores on noncognitive variables, portfolios, and raters trained to score essay material on noncognitive variables. Table 1 in the article lists and briefly describes noncognitive admissions variables.

Toward a Career Development Model for Post-baccalaureate Premedical Programs: From Theory to Practice
Paul Henry, Ph.D.

“Career maturity” and “professional identity” are used interchangeably in the article. Both are used as terms for developmental and self-assessment processes, which lead students to choose medicine as a career and help them to define a concept of themselves as physicians. This article reported on the use of the Medical Career Development Inventory, which was administered to 168 minority and disadvantaged premedical students. A previous study by Inglehart and Brown reported that “the more students choose medicine based on professional identities, the better their performance on National Board” examinations. Thus, a purpose of the study was to help identify an effective model for intervening during exploratory stages of career development, and allow practitioners to focus on meeting the needs of students in various stages of development.

Transmitting Letters of Evaluation Using a Secure Web-Based System
Kay H. Singer, Ph.D.
Saeed T. Richardson

This article explains the rationale for the development of VirtualEvals and provides a history of the project. Although digital technology made it feasible, VirtualEvals happened because the authors sought a more efficient means for advisors to transmit letters of evaluation from undergraduate institutions to medical schools. VirtualEvals has moved past the pilot stage described in the article, but readers should find useful information, including an itemized cost estimate for sending letters via the traditional (U.S. Post Office) route. Using this as a model can help an advisor work out cost comparisons.

Book Review: This Side of Doctoring: Reflections from Women in Medicine
Edited by Eliza Lo Chin, M.D.
Review by Jenette Wheeler, M.D.

Liaison Report: Association of Physician Assistant Programs
Susan Gormely

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