Va.-Md. veterinary school pioneers interview screening process

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Scripted questions designed to gauge applicants communication, critical thinking skills.

The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine recently invited 312 prospective students vying for 120 spots in the class of 2019 to participate in multiple mini-interviews-a process it has modeled for other U.S. veterinary programs.

The multiple mini-interview (MMI) approach, developed at McMaster's Medical School in Canada, is gaining popularity in education. The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine was the first U.S. veterinary program to adopt the process in 2009, says Jacque Pelzer, DVM, and director of admissions and student services. It has trained representatives from Michigan State University, Oregon State University and Colorado State University in the process.

Faculty members, current students and regional veterinary practitioners lead the interviews. During the process, interviewees rotate through rooms where an interviewer evaluates their response to a scenario dealing with communication, critical thinking and problem solving, individual and team management, entrepreneurship, ethical and moral decision making, and cultural diversity.

The scenarios don't have right or wrong answers, Pelzer says.

“Instead, we trying to determine whether the prospective students have a broad understanding of the competencies and know how to interact well with those they will be serving as veterinarians,” Pelzer says in a university release.

Pelzer's own experience applying for veterinary school influenced her decision to adopt the MMI process.

“I was a little traumatized when I went through vet school and my interviews,” she told dvm360. “It was a panel interview, and I did well on it, but I came out and there were people crying in the waiting room-some of my classmates couldn't talk when they went in there. That always stuck with me as to why interviewing had to be that way.”

Feedback after the MMI interviews suggest the applicants appreciate the format, according to the release.

“I really enjoyed the whole process and was thoroughly impressed with your attention to detail,” an interviewee wrote. “It was obvious that [the veterinary college] values its students and their well-being, which definitely made me feel more at ease throughout the whole interview process.”

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