Context Medical school admissions traditionally rely heavily on cognitive variables, with non-cognitive measures assessed through interviews only. In recognition of the unsatisfactory reliability and validity of traditional interviews, medical schools are increasingly exploring alternative approaches that can provide improved measures of candidates’ personal and interpersonal qualities.
Methods An innovative assessment centre (MOR [Hebrew acronym for ‘selection for medicine’]) was designed to measure candidates’ personal and interpersonal attributes. Three assessment tools were developed: behavioural stations, including encounters with simulated patients and group tasks; an autobiographical questionnaire, and a judgement and decision-making questionnaire. Candidates were evaluated by trained raters on four qualities: interpersonal communication; ability to handle stress; initiative and responsibility, and self-awareness.
Results In the years 2004–05, the 588 medical school candidates with the highest cognitive scores were tested; this resulted in a change of approximately 20% in the cohort of accepted students compared with previous admission criteria. Internal consistency ranged from 0.80 to 0.88; inter-rater reliability ranged from 0.62 to 0.77 for the behavioural stations and from 0.72 to 0.95 for the questionnaires; test–retest score correlation was 0.7. The correlation between candidates’ MOR scores and cognitive scores approached zero, reflecting the value of MOR in the screening process. Feedback from participants indicated that MOR was perceived as fair and appropriate for medical school screening.
Discussion MOR is a reliable tool for measuring non-cognitive attributes in medical school candidates. It has high content and face validity. Furthermore, its implementation conveys the importance of maintaining humanist characteristics in the medical profession to students and faculty staff.