June 11, 2019

Medical school application process crucial for faculty also

Have you ever wondered how Vanderbilt University School of Medicine recruits each year an outstanding class of future physician leaders and scientists? It is truly a team effort


Have you ever wondered how Vanderbilt University School of Medicine recruits each year an outstanding class of future physician leaders and scientists? It is truly a team effort, led by a core group and supported by faculty from more than 33 departments and divisions in Vanderbilt University Medical Center plus medical school student representatives.

Representation from multiple specialties provides a window through which applicants learn about the diversity of options for training and the development of specific career paths. Co-chairs of the Admissions Committee are committed to developing faculty participation that is representative of a broad range of perspectives with a goal of recruiting a class of students with diverse life experiences and career goals who are prepared to engage in the challenging Curriculum 2.0.

Faculty involved in admissions range from the rank of instructor to full professor. Opportunities are many. The Admissions Office receives more than 6,000 qualified applications for 78 MD-only students. This is in conjunction with recruitment of applicants that yield 14 Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) physician scientist trainees, three Medical Innovators Development Program (MIDP) applied physician-engineer trainees, and one Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery trainee.

It takes a large team of dedicated and diverse faculty to move from 6,000 applicants to 78 students. There are two teams that sequentially screen applications in order to determine who to interview. The interview process includes both a traditional interview with review of the application in advance and a unique interview that is behaviorally based and assesses students’ perspectives on problem solving and resilience in complex situations.

Finally, there is a team that reviews all of the applicant-supplied material and the comments of faculty reviewers from each step of the process before assigning a final priority score that guides final admissions decisions. Each step requires a significant number of faculty to ensure a fair assessment of each applicant and to maintain a focus on identifying those applicants that can best engage our curriculum and learning environment.

Why do faculty choose to include medical admissions duties in an already busy professional schedule? You may suspect that the answers might be as diverse as the interests of the faculty. However, a common thread emerges that is focused on the joy and satisfaction of learning about and recruiting accomplished and enthusiastic young people to begin their career in medicine at Vanderbilt.

“I have been part of the admissions process in various roles for many years. I enjoy very much learning about the experiences of the medical school applications, being inspired by their motivations and energies and diverse backgrounds. I especially enjoy being part of recruiting the outstanding students that we hope will make up our next wonderful class at VUSM,” said Agnes Fogo, MD, John L. Shapriro Professor of Pathology and professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology.

“Sitting on the admissions committee allows me to renew my enthusiasm for the journey that began when I received my acceptance letter to medical school 23 years ago. The admissions committee is in the enviable position of being able to choose the best of the best. I am proud of the work that we do because we get to shape the next generation of physicians, “said Terako Amison, MD, assistant professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

“I am continually impressed by the future wave of professionals that are coming into the field both in terms of their academic qualifications, but more importantly, in their depth of character, humanity, and compassion. Helping the school select the highest quality of individuals both for their scholastic achievements and their quality of character ensures that Vanderbilt will continue to thrive as an institute that produces not just top minds, but first-rate people entering the field of medicine. The interaction with the applicants and hearing their stories has given me a chance to reflect upon my own values, life experiences, and direction and has made me a better person for it,” said Travis Crook, MD, assistant professor of Pediatrics

If you are interested in learning about how you might become involved in medical school admissions, please contact Joey Barnett, PhD, at joey.barnett@vanderbilt.edu or Catherine.fuchs@vumc.org.