Physical therapist education programs often evaluate applicants through a complex process assessing academic metric and noncognitive variables. An increased emphasis on noncognitive abilities has been advocated as an approach to increase diversity within the profession. However, there remains a paucity of evidence guiding methods of noncognitive assessment for physical therapy. The Multiple-Mini Interview (MMI), designed to assess noncognitive attributes has previously demonstrated increased reliability over traditional interviews among applicants to medical school. The purpose of this study was to report preliminary outcomes of MMI utilization in a single physical therapist education program.
Three hundred thirty-one applicants to a Doctor of Physical Therapy program during two consecutive application cycles from 2014-2016 were interviewed using the MMI format. Each MMI consisted of seven 5-minute interview stations. At each station, applicants were asked to respond to a combination of discussion questions, interact with a standardized person, or work collaboratively with another applicant. Following interviews, students and faculty were surveyed on their response to the MMI.
Ninety-eight percent of students were satisfied with the MMI format (n=283) and ninety-six percent (n=257) identified the MMI as a more positive experience as compared with a traditional interview. Ninety-one percent of interviewers (n=44) believed the MMI allowed more consistent and less biased evaluations. MMI scores for accepted applicants were significantly greater than applicants denied admission (p<.001). MMI scores did not correlate with other academic metrics with the exception of Graduate Record Examination Verbal Reasoning measures. Although MMI scores were significantly higher for females (p<.01), scores were not influenced by under-represented minority status (p=.650). Furthermore, socioeconomic status did not impact MMI scores (p=.339).
Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: The Pursuit of Excellence in Physical Therapy Education
While further research on predictive validity is required, this study provides evidence of positive attitudes toward the MMI among applicants and faculty. The MMI did not disfavor applicants underrepresented in the physical therapy profession or from lower socioeconomic status backgrounds. Physical therapy programs may consider the MMI for assessing noncognitive attributes in applicants.
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